There are more than 160 million smartphone users in the United States today. 61% of mobile phone users own a smartphone. And the global smartphone audience surpassed the 1 billion mark in 2012 and will total 1.75 billion in 2014.
Clearly, mobile is here to stay. Consequently, the rapid rise of smartphones and tablet computing has set off a race to produce apps for just about everything. Want to write a book? There’s an app for that. Want to find the best restaurant on your trip? There’s an app for that. Government has gotten into the app game, too.
Here are nine government-produced apps that are making a difference:
- Ask Karen: You can get answers to your food safety questions while at the grocery store, farmers market, in your kitchen, or while at your barbecue grill. You can chat live with a food safety expert on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. EST, and the app provides the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline number (1-888-MPHotline) in case you want to speak to someone directly.
- USAJOBS: The USAJOBS iPhone and Android applications put the power of searching for a federal job at your fingertips. This application is a companion to USAJOBS.gov, the official job site of the US Federal Government and your one-stop source for federal jobs and employment information. You can search and save job listings, receive updates on applications and job search agents and much more.
- My TSA: Can I bring my cough syrup on an airplane? Are thunderstorms affecting travel times at the airport where I need to transfer? Is there a long wait to get screened through security? The TSA app puts a lot of frequently needed data at the top level, such as airport delays updated in real time, so you can find out at a glance if things are running smoothly. You can also drill down into other information, such as how long security lines are at different airports.
- Currency Identifier: The Department of Education's IDEAL Currency Identifier is an app especially designed for people with vision problems. The app uses advanced image recognition technology to read a bill and provide an audible response indicating the bill's denomination. Currency Identifier can recognize three generations of US currency notes beginning in 1993 and doesn't require Internet connectivity.
- Open Payments: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has introduced two apps that help users keep track of, store, and view financial payments and other transfers of value from manufacturers of covered drugs, devices, biologicals, or medical supplies. Open Payments for Physicians is intended for medical professionals that are affected by the Physician Payment Sunshine Act and its regulations. Open Payments for Industry is a version of the same app for manufacturers and group purchasing organizations.
- Financial Aid Toolkit: Learn About Financial Aid. Before you teach students about financial aid, you might want to increase your own knowledge. Learn about types of aid, student eligibility, the FAFSA, and loan repayment. Find ways to raise students' awareness about financial aid for college and career school. And find online or in-person training to get you the skills you need to help your students.
- Arlington National Cemetery Explorer App: The Department of Defense has created a mobile application that allows family members and the public to explore the Arlington National Cemetery's events, locate gravesites, or other points of interest.
- Border Wait Times App: Customs and Border Patrol’s mobile-optimized border wait time page displays the estimated wait times for reaching the primary inspection booth, the first point of contact with CBP when crossing the Canada/U.S. and Mexico/U.S. land borders.
- PTSD Coach: PTSD Coach was designed for veterans and military service members who have, or may have, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This app provides users with education about PTSD, information about professional care, a self-assessment for PTSD, opportunities to find support, and tools that can help users manage the stresses of daily life with PTSD. This app was developed by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.
The nine apps listed above are just a drop in the bucket. USA.gov has the whole list of government-produced mobile applications – and there are more than 400. You can find the entire list here.
Is your favorite app missing from the list? Let us know in the comments below!
And if you’re looking to purchase your next smartphone so you can take advantage of these awesome apps, see if you qualify for Sprint’s government discount here.