The first in an occasional series on mobile apps.
Smartphone apps let us play games, count calories, find cheap gas — just about anything developers can dream up. And the app market is growing quickly. Last month, Apple hit a milestone of 500,000 apps approved for sale. Competitor Google has more than 200,000 in the Android marketplace.
For tips on hot applications for smartphones, we turned to Ben Keighran, CEO of Chomp, a search engine for mobile apps. His picks range from new ways to find a ride to a better way to run a yard sale. He started with Square, a payment app.
"Square allows you to take payments using a real credit card directly on your iPhone," Keighran tells Morning Edition co-host Renee Montagne. "They'll send you a little card swiper that you plug into your phone."
The idea is that if you're holding a garage sale — they've bargained you down to $6.50 from $10? They can pay you instantly, right then and there, by swiping their credit card using your iPhone.
"The thing that's so great about this," Keighran says, "is, whether you're a contractor, or somebody mowing lawns, it makes it really easy for anybody to accept payments."
Here are more picks from Keighran:
Uber: An upscale taxi service that lets you track black sedans around town, and order one for yourself. The trip is billed to your credit card.
Getaround: "Just like Zipcar, but it's with your own car," Keighran says. Users open a map to see available cars.
Path: This photo-sharing tool allows you to have no more than 50 friends, theoretically limiting users to a circle of close friends.
Instagram: More public than Path, the popular service lets anyone see users' posted photos — a bit like Twitter, but with images, Keighran says.