5 Simple iPhone Apps Often Used, But Easily Taken for Granted

I recently bought an iPad and as I was going through the apps on my phone to see what I might want to download for the iPad, I noticed a number of apps that would have thumb wear marks on them if that were possible. These were small, simple apps I use often, but never really think of when it comes to making suggestions to people on what apps to get for their phones -- something I get asked quite frequently.

A couple of them are built right into the phone while the others have to be downloaded, but all are free and all are like can openers or hammers: There's no reason to ponder them, but they sure do get used a lot. Here's my tribute to the little unsung apps that keep us rolling.

5. Emoji

If you have seen funny little smiley emoticons or weird little icons that look like flags or piles of poop, they are likely from Emoji, the keyboard add-on app that drops several hundred funky little graphics into your phone for use in any app that uses the keyboard. Now, not everyone will be able to see them -- if you put them in a Facebook post, for example, they probably won't show up on most computers -- but they are fun and, as anyone who has been on the Web for a while knows, the use of emoticons online has probably prevented World War III at least a few times. :)

4. Calculator (built in)

The pocket calculator is one of those items all of us old fogies had in school -- back when you wrote on a piece of wood and came to school in a buggy, dagnabit! Today there are a bunch of calculator apps, but the one built into the phone is tremendously handy for things like figuring out how much to tip your waiter. My grandfather used to pull a tiny calculator he got for free from an insurance company out of his shirt pocket at restaurants to figure out what 10 percent was. True story.

3. Flashlight

A few weeks ago, I had the unpleasant experience of having to get some music gear from a rehearsal facility when the lights were out in hallways so dark, I was convinced it was a scene from a horror movie. In my fright, I completely forgot about Flashlight, the app that turns the flash on your camera into a pretty sturdy bright light to help you find a light switch or, at the very least, light up the glowing eyes of the demon before he consumes your soul.

2. Find My iPhone

If you don't have this app, download it immediately. I misplace things all the time. Nothing is more frustrating than losing your keys, wallet, children and, especially, iPhone. This handy dandy little app gives you a way to search for the phone through a computer. It can even force the phone to ring if it ended up between the cushions of the sofa, which is NOT where mine was for several desperate hours last weekend.

1. Clock (built in)

My dad was the kinda guy who went to bed early and got up even earlier. One night, in a sleepy stupor, he tried to pick up the phone (he got a call from a co-worker) and grabbed the electric alarm clock instead. The low hum you'd remember if you were old enough to remember electric clocks (and land-line phones) caused him to exhaustedly say, "There's no one on here but a damn dial tone," after which he proceeded to try and hang up the clock on the phone much to the dismay of my mother, who almost died from lack of oxygen due to laughter. Moral of the story: Use the clock on your phone for your alarm. Then, you'll never try to hang up the phone with an electric alarm clock again.

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