As the list of smartphone applications just keeps getting longer, Apple's slogan—"There's an app for that"—is gaining the ring of truth. Below, U.S. News staffers share picks that make their own lives easier or more fun. (Unless noted, they're free.) [See a slide show of 12 of the best apps.]
Angry Birds ($0.99, iPhone/iPad; free, Android phones)
As players advance through the almost 200 levels in this game, they launch furious birds of different colors (the white ones drop bombs, the green ones fly like boomerangs) at the hideouts of enemy pigs who stole their eggs.
Beat the Traffic (multiplatform)
You get a real-time pocket-size travel report, complete with color-coded maps that reveal where the gridlock is, how fast traffic is moving around it, and how to avoid the jam.
Epicurious Recipes & Shopping List (iPhone/iPad; Android phones)
With this free cookbook app from www.epicurious.com, discover new recipes, find instructions on how to prepare your favorites, create a shopping list of ingredients, view images of most of the dishes, and read reviews.
EpicWin ($2.99; iPhone/iPad)
Your to-do list becomes a fantasy role-playing game. Tasks become "quests" to be completed by your character (a dwarf, skeleton, or priestess). Succeed, and your avatar earns gold.
ESPN ScoreCenter (iPhone/iPad; Android phones)
Monitor scores and stats live, or program the app to track vital information about your favorite teams.
Flight Control ($0.99; multiplatform)
In this game, you earn points by successfully landing helicopters and airplanes on runways, aircraft carriers, and other tough spots.
Free Flash (iPhone 4)
It's a no-frills app that turns your camera flash into a flashlight.
Google Goggles (iPhone/iPad; Android phones)
This feature of the Google Mobile App (which gives you localized and voice-activated search results) lets you snap pictures of your surroundings and, effectively, "Google" them. Find out whom a statue depicts, say, or scan a book's cover to learn its latest eBay asking price.
G-Park ($0.99, iPhone; free, iPad)
Press a button to drop a GPS point wherever you park your car and a map will lead you back there if you lose your way.
The mobile app version of the popular local deal-disher website www.groupon.com uses GPS to locate you and pass along daily coupons for food, clothing, and activities. Cashiers can input a code or scan the coupon from your phone.
Gym Buddy ($2.99; iPhone/iPad)
Use it to track your reps, weight used, and cardio activity. You also get feedback on your strength gains and can record your own body weight over time.
Snap a picture, transform it with a variety of retro and artsy filters, and share it almost instantly via Facebook, Twitter, or Flickr.
Magic Piano ($0.99; iPad)
Everyone from beginners to piano virtuosos can perform by following blinking rays of light. Play solo or in a virtual duet with a random partner from across the globe.
Mint.com Personal Finance (iPhone/iPad; Android phones)
Money-managing website www.mint.com has adapted its simple interface and easy-on-the-eyes budget software for mobile use. Sync Mint with your bank accounts to monitor your money in real time, set and track your budget, and check your investments.
Monkey Preschool Lunchbox ($0.99; iPhone/iPad; Android phones)
A virtual monkey helps children ages 2 to 5 play six games that develop their knowledge of matching, shapes, and counting, among other skills.
People with a Netflix account can watch movies and TV shows on the go. BlackBerry and Android versions are expected in late 2010.
NextBus DC ($2.99; multiplatform)
This GPS-based app tells commuters and tourists when the next bus on a given route in Washington, D.C., will arrive (never mind what the schedule says). Similar apps are available for Seattle, Houston, and other major cities.
Pandora Radio (multiplatform)
Plug in the name of an artist or song and Pandora will find similar songs and performers and create a personalized "radio station" for you.