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Apps tech-savvy moms should love

Give her the gifts of technology and time: These apps can help her stay in touch, share photos, save time and money, and more.

By MSN Money Partner May 7, 2013 2:13PM

This post comes from MSN Money contributor Michelle V. Rafter.

Gift wrap © Image Source/JupiterimagesA dog might be man’s best friend, but these days, a mom’s best friend is her faithful smartphone.


Moms wear many hats: organizer, chef, bargain hunter, homework proofreader, medic, cheerleader, storyteller, limo driver, trip planner, nutrition counselor, fitness instructor, accountant and night watchman.


These days, there are apps to help with all that -- and more.


If you’re looking for the perfect Mother’s Day gift for your smartphone-using mom -- or wife, mother-in-law or grandmother -- here are suggestions from tech-savvy moms. The price is right -- most of these cost nothing or a few dollars to download. Sneak a couple on her phone when she’s not looking:


Staying in touch - Anne Mangan, a communications coordinator for the Portland (Ore.) Development Commission, used this text-messaging app the day of the Boston Marathon bombing to connect with her daughter Dorothy, a Boston University senior who was watching the race with friends a mile from the finish line. “Calls weren’t getting through,” Mangan says. “I told her what was happening where, and she kept me up to date with where they were as they made their way back home and out of harm’s way.” In addition to texting, lets people chat with Facebook and Google Talk friends. Free, for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone devices.


Instagram -- Tweens and teens aren’t the only ones who love this smartphone photo-sharing app. Debra Aho Williamson, a Seattle digital marketing industry analyst, uses Instagram to stay up to speed with what her tween-age daughter is doing. Free, for Apple iPhone and iPad (iOS) and Android devices.



Pandora -- Liz Sheffield, a human-resources writer and mom of two boys who lives outside of Seattle, likes the convenience factor of this ad-free online music app. “I don't have time to download and organize music on my phone or computer, she says. “This provides me with a variety of music anywhere - at the gym or at my desk.” Free, for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Nook and Kindle Fire devices.


Fotor - Jen Singer, the parenting blogger and Microsoft Office brand ambassador, uses this photo-editing app to make collages. “What I like about it is pictures go from my phone to SkyDrive,” the online file hosting service, Singer says. “It’s easy.” Free, for iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices.



Go Try It On - Want a second opinion before forking over big money for a new frock or pair of shoes? Denise Shorthouse, a Vancouver, Wash., fashion consultant, recommends this app, which can be used to share a dressing-room shot of you modeling some new duds so friends or the general public can vote to “Wear it” or “Change it.” Free, for iOS. Shorthouse is also a fan of mobile app versions of discount designer fashion sites Rue La La (Free, for iOS and Android; site membership fee is $9.95), and MyHabit (Free, for iPhone and Android devices), owned by Amazon.


Stylish Girl - The fashion app is a combination closet organizer, outfit planner and personal shopper, through an affiliation with Sara Sutton Fell, a working mom and chief executive at FlexJobs, the flexible-work jobs board, likes it because it lets her “take pictures of your clothes and then helps you mix and match your clothes to make outfits.” Free, for iOS and Android devices.


Shopping and food

The Coupons App - “With this app, I always have my coupons on hand,” Fell says. She uses the app on her iPhone 5 and iPad 2 to double check that food stores or retailers have the items that she has coupons for in stock before she visits. Free, for iPhone and Android devices.


Starbucks - “What can I say? I love that I can use (an app) to pay for my much-needed caffeine,” Fell says. “It tracks my purchases so I earn points toward future savings.” Free, for iOS and Android devices.


Gas Buddy - As a volunteer soccer coach, Singer spend a lot of time driving to and from practices and games around her Kinnelon, N.J., home. She uses this app “to tell me where the cheapest gas is,” she says. Free, for iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone devices.


Dinner Spinner - Singer uses this app from to plan menus and grocery shop for herself and her two teenage sons. She types in “chicken and rice” or other ingredients to see a list of dozens dishes based on those items along with how long they’ll take to cook. She can use the app to create grocery lists, scan items at the store to save to a list, and save favorite recipes. $2.99 for iOS and Android versions; Windows Phone and Kindle Fire versions are free but don’t include grocery scanner.



Saving Grace Travel Packing Aid - Use this packing-list app and you’ll always remember to bring sunscreen to Hawaii and thermal underwear to Vail. Fell uses it to make sure she’s got everything her kids need when they travel, and says, “as our needs change, I can easily switch up what we need to pack as well.” Free, for iOS devices.



My Fitness Pal - Mangan swears by this fitness and food diary app. “I use this constantly,” she says. “I keep track of cardio activities, my weekly weigh in, what I'm eating and the calorie count of virtually everything.” Free, for iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone devices.

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