10 apps worth the asking price

By: Ted Kritsonis

December 10, 2014

It’s always easier to try a smartphone or tablet app that’s free to download, but for the most part, those that do cost something don’t go for more than a few dollars. They may not be free, but these paid apps are worth the price of admission.

Sometimes, there is no better impulse buy than an iTunes or Google Play gift card, where the funds printed on the front can be used to purchase apps that enhance your experience on your phone or tablet. Even as a small business owner, some of these will likely come in handy for getting the job done.

AwesomeNoteAwesome Note (+todo)
$3.99 iOS and Android (Galaxy Note 8.0 only)
While Evernote may be the most notable app to keep you organized, Awesome Note deserves its place here as an app that does the same with some visual flair. Doubling as a to-do and note taking app, it really can apply to both a consumer or business user. Organize the various aspects of life into different colour-coded folders, always knowing what’s on tap in the calendar and scheduler.


The standard Camera app on the iPhone and iPad is decent, but pales in comparison to the depth of Camera+, an app that integrates manual settings and editing into one clean interface. With more control over how you shoot by controlling exposure and utilizing the image stabilizer, it’s highly likely you will end up with better composition. Another that deserves real recognition is VSCO, available for free on iOS and Android. Use both apps on your iPhone or iPad as you see fit.


$0.99 ($1.99 in Google Play)
iOS and Android
The standard keyboards available on iOS and Android are reasonably good, but have long been surpassed by the efficacy of third-party options. SwiftKey deserves an honourable mention here as among the best, but an interesting alternative is Fleksy, which tries to rise above the pack with its unique layout and efficient autocorrect and text prediction. It takes some getting used to, but it’s miles ahead of the standard keyboard on both platforms.


iOS and Android
It might seem like a lot to pay for, but Radsone can completely change how you listen to music on your phone or tablet. Using what it calls “Distinctive Clear Technology”, the term is technospeak for removing the digital clutter that tends to degrade compressed music files like MP3s and AACs. There are preset EQ settings, each ideal for certain listening scenarios, plus the option to create a few of your own. You can create a concert hall effect with some reverb or lower the distortion entirely. Novices and advanced users would both benefit from using this one.


Free ($9.99 for Pro version)
iOS and Android
While free to download, there is an in-app purchase for the full Pro version that opens up the parameters and lets you get better organized with the litany of passwords you have. The point here is to streamline and centralize those passwords so that you’re not scrambling to find one when you can’t remember it, or use the same one across all your accounts.


$4.99 (on iOS and Windows Phone) $1.99 (on Android)
iOS, Android and Windows Phone (BlackBerry 10.3 supported)
If you have an extensive media library of movies, TV shows, music and photos, then Plex is your ticket to reach out and touch them whenever and wherever you can. Using a computer to run the free Plex Server program, point it at the folders and files of your media library and you can then use the app to tap in and stream both at home and remotely. With all the metadata support (artwork, blurbs, etc.) plus the power of the service and interface, this is one of the best media apps currently available.


Android and BlackBerry 10.3 (via Amazon Appstore)
If you have an Android phone or tablet, but use iTunes to manage your music, this is an app that can bridge the gap fairly easily. It requires that you download and install the free iSyncr Desktop program on your Mac or PC, and then allows you to sync over music, video and podcasts over via a direct wired connection or Wi-Fi.


TuneInTuneIn Radio Pro
iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Amazon Kindle
With over 100,000 radio stations spanning the entire globe, it will take a long time to discover everything TuneIn has to offer, but even a fraction of that is worth the small price tag. The Pro version eliminates banner ads from the app, and an extra $9.99 one-time purchase unlocks the ability to record what you’re listening to, so you can listen to it again whenever you want offline. It’s also one of the most widely available music streaming apps available right now.


TorqueTorque Pro
Admittedly, Torque Pro is aimed more at car enthusiasts, but it’s so deep that it’s able to present a full set of diagnostics to gauge how the vehicle is running. It needs to pair with a separately sold module (can be most brands) that plugs into the car’s OBD-II port via Bluetooth. It uses the information from the module to read out error codes like the Check Engine light, determining and explaining why it’s doing so. With precise info in hand, it can be a potential money-saver before going to a mechanic.


SurfEasySurfEasy Mobile VPN
$4.99 per month
iOS and Android
It might seem like a big commitment to pay $5/month for an app, but the beauty of SurfEasy is that it does two things well. It masks your phone or tablet’s IP address to add a layer of security, making it harder to track you, and it also opens up access to services that aren’t available in Canada. If you like the idea of having U.S. Netflix or streaming music from Pandora, this is worth every penny.


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