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Some of the Best Apps Do Just One Thing, But Do It Very Well

Illustration for article titled Some of the Best Apps Do Just One Thing, But Do It Very Well
Photo: Getty Images

Not every app on your phone has to be a jack-of-all-trades hub that covers everything from smart home devices to text messaging. Sometimes apps can just do one simple job and do it very well to earn a place on your home screen. These are some of our current favorites.

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1. Hurry

Illustration for article titled Some of the Best Apps Do Just One Thing, But Do It Very Well
Screenshot: Gizmodo
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Hurry is a freemium countdown app for Android that looks fantastic and tells you how many days until a birthday, a vacation, or whatever else. The graphics are top-notch, the app syncs with your calendar if you want it to, there are plenty of customization options, and you get a good number of widgets to play around with too.


2. Compass°

Illustration for article titled Some of the Best Apps Do Just One Thing, But Do It Very Well
Screenshot: Gizmodo

The iPhone has its own compass app—which Apple will try and direct you towards if you have the temerity to look for another compass in the App Store—but we like the free Compass° for iOS better than the default option. It shows the direction your phone is pointing in using big white letters, the accuracy of the reading, and that’s it. Perfect.


3. StepsApp

Illustration for article titled Some of the Best Apps Do Just One Thing, But Do It Very Well
Screenshot: StepsApp
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You have plenty of fitness apps to choose from to track workouts on your phone, but if you just want to log your steps over time, then give StepsApp a shot. The freemium app for Android and iOS presents the steps you’ve taken and the distance you’ve covered in a clean and readable way. You can also set step goals for extra encouragement.


4. GlobeTempus

Illustration for article titled Some of the Best Apps Do Just One Thing, But Do It Very Well
Screenshot: Gizmodo
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You can ask Google, Siri, or Alexa what the time is in another part of the world, or just open up the Clock app on your phone, but none of those options can compete with the simply gorgeous freemium GlobeTempus app for iOS. It shows you what time of day it is in your chosen cities at a glance, and lets you quickly check different times around the globe.


5. WiFi Analyzer

Illustration for article titled Some of the Best Apps Do Just One Thing, But Do It Very Well
Screenshot: WiFi Analyzer
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If you’ve got wifi problems, or want to make sure you avoid them, then WiFi Analyzer for Android is the free tool for you. It gives you just about all the information you could possibly want about your wifi network and then some, including which channels are getting crowded, where interference could be coming from, and current signal strength.


6. GuitarTuna

Illustration for article titled Some of the Best Apps Do Just One Thing, But Do It Very Well
Screenshot: GuitarTuna
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If you’ve got a guitar, bass, ukulele, or other string instrument to tune, then the freemium GuitarTuna for Android and iOS is the single-purpose app you need. It’s simple: The app uses your phone’s microphone and needs no extra cabling, and judging by user reviews, it passes the accuracy test with flying colors.


7. ShopSavvy QR Code Reader

Illustration for article titled Some of the Best Apps Do Just One Thing, But Do It Very Well
Screenshot: ShopSavvy
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While you can use the default Camera app for Android or iOS to scan QR codes, the freemium ShopSavvy app for Android and iOS gets the job done quickly and throws in a few extras, too. Those extras include the option to scan barcodes as well as QR codes, plus a quick price comparison feature and a history page for all your scanned codes.


8. Measure

Illustration for article titled Some of the Best Apps Do Just One Thing, But Do It Very Well
Screenshot: Google
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Both Google and Apple have an augmented reality app called Measure—available for Android and built into iOS/iPadOS respectively—and either app will give you a quick AR-powered estimate of how much room an object is taking up. The accuracy is dependent on your device, so the iPad Pros with LiDAR will be at the top in terms of precision.


9. Streaks

Illustration for article titled Some of the Best Apps Do Just One Thing, But Do It Very Well
Screenshot: Streaks
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Snapchat users know what streaks are, but for everyone else, they mean something different. This app logs the number of successive days that you do something—drink enough water, avoid smoking, floss your teeth, and so on. Streaks the app ($5 for iOS) is a really simple, well-designed way of keeping a record of how consistently you do anything you want to be doing.

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DISCUSSION

The word “freemium” will always get under my skin...