Category: App

Free Apps for Identifying Plants

Wondering if that volunteer plant in your garden is a weed or not? Curious about that gorgeous tree at the park? I know there’s some of you who won’t rest until you know the exact name of the mystery plant you’ve just spotted. And while it’s so easy to jump on social media to ask, it’s often easier and quicker to use better tools.

Powered by AI and plant photography catalogs, free apps can identify plants for you immediately! Take a picture of a plant using the app, and you’ll get detailed info on the spot. There are many such apps, and here a few reputable ones:

There are also websites for this as well, like Pl@ntNet and Plant.id!

Scanning Without a Scanner

Not everyone owns a scanner. And sometimes, the scanner you have becomes difficult or impossible to use (I’m looking at you, HP). If you’re called upon to scan an important document or photo, you do not need a working scanner. You can create a great-looking scan with your smartphone or tablet.

Free PDF Scanning Apps

There are a variety of free apps you can download, that will repurpose your mobile device’s camera as a scanning tool. Using the app, you’ll scan with your device’s camera and create a PDF of whatever you point it at. As long as you have a decent camera and good lighting, this should work really well, even for full-page documents.

Right off the bat, I can recommend these apps:

There are many more apps out there like these, too many for me to vet. Most are safe to use, but check the reviews before trying anything from a developer you’ve not heard of.

Free Photo Scanning Apps

If you’re scanning photos, you might want a photo scanning app, for higher quality scans and retouching tools. Google has you covered with their PhotoScan app, available for both iOS and Android.

Point your phone and this app at any photo, and it will take a series (5) of shots of your original. It then quickly stitches them all together, and makes a superior composite scan. The software eliminates shadows, shines and other defects along the way. I expect you’ll be impressed!

Google Drive

If you use Google Drive, you already have a scanning tool on your mobile device. Drive is ready to scan a document and immediately put it in the cloud for you.

  1. Open Google Drive on your phone/tablet.
  2. Tap the + button.
  3. Tap Scan.
  4. Take a picture of your original.
  5. Use the on-screen tools to adjust, crop and rotate your scan.
  6. Tap Save when you’re ready, and set the name and location for your newly scanned file.

Other Methods

Scanning from a smaller device may not work in all scenarios. Perhaps you have a 200-page document to process, or your flip-phone simply isn’t up to the task. Please know that in a pinch, Staples and some other office-supply stores may have a service counter, where you can walk up and pay for scanning services. It should be quick and inexpensive, if they have a professional-grade multi-function printer back there.

And if you foresee doing a lot of scanning, then you’ll want a long-term solution: Investing in a dedicated scanner. Most printers these days have an adequate scanner built-in, but for daily scanning and jobs involving dozens of pages, you’ll want something with more oomph. I can recommend Fujitsu’s ScanSnap scanners. They can often devour scan jobs at 20 pages per minute (or faster) and can be found at decent prices on Amazon.

The NewProfilePic App

There are always new mobile apps for you to discover, and it looks like NewProfilePic is this month’s all-star. This freebie, available through the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, will transform a selfie photo into something stylized and eye-catching.

All you have to do is upload any photo file((of a single, close-up of a human face. Sorry, no pets!)) you have access to from your mobile device, and dodge a few pop-up ads along the way. The app does the rest, giving you a few different photo filters to try out. And they claim you can check back each week for new filters and tweaks.

As this app took off in popularity, some websites started sounding an alarm about its safety. Claims of data-sharing with Russia are being passed around, but I don’t see any truth to that. It looks to me like these rumors are not based on hard facts, and only being reported on clickbait and junk news sites (nothing mainstream).

In other words, whatever info-collection this app is doing, it’s certainly less invasive than, say, Facebook or Google. If you want to try out this app, feel free and have fun!

Scan QR Codes with Your Phone’s Camera

The title says it all, but I’ll go into more detail: When you see a QR code in public, use your cellphone’s camera on it.

If you open your camera and point it at a QR code, the camera software can “figure it out.” Watch for a clickable link on your screen (you do not need to actually take a picture). If you tap the link that appears, it will do whatever the QR code is programmed for (take you to a website, start an email, etc.).

Do NOT download and install any 3rd party app for QR code reading. Those apps are wholly unnecessary at this point, and can contain adware or worse.

Google Opinion Rewards

Most of the time, online surveys are a waste of time, or worse. They serve to collect & sell your information, while giving nothing back to you, or increasing your spam. But Google Opinion Rewards is an exception, and one that I can vouch for personally.

This app is free to install on your smartphone, and you will get paid for occasionally answering a brief survey. And by brief, I mean 10-30 seconds of your time. The questions are varied and not too personal, but might include things like:

  • Did you visit any of the following stores recently?
  • Are you a college graduate?
  • Have you watched the following video on YouTube and did you like it?

Surveys can be easily answered, skipped or ignored and are not intrusive. And for each survey you answer, you get a bit of money, usually between 10ยข and $1.00. While this cannot be withdrawn as real cash, it does accrue for you to use to buy anything from the Google Play Store. You can use your earnings to buy Games, Apps, Movies or eBooks from Google.

If you don’t want your info being collected any more than it already is, then pass on this app. But if you want to earn a little something when the big tech companies study you, give this a try. In 4 years, I myself have gathered almost $380 in credits from this app. That’s a lot of digital movies!

Google Opinion Rewards for Android

Google Opinion Rewards for iOS

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