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Indeed There’s an App for That

And you don’t have to hold it upside down

(Getty Images/Carolyn-Hebbard)

I’ve never quite gotten over the fascination of having a supercomputer in my pocket.

This is a kid who was thrilled to get his first electronic calculator, even though the most impressive thing I really ever did with the thing was to spell out “shell oil” upside down with the LCD digits.

Growing up, I too hoped for jetpacks and Dick Tracy wristwatches. But I don’t think I really expected ever to be able to have a face-to-face video conversation with my brother from hundreds of miles away on a high-quality screen in my hand.

Now such capability and many others are part of everyday life — if not exactly humdrum, then at least commonplace.

And just when I get accustomed to all the things I can do with my current iPhone, Apple comes out with an even better one. I have barely scratched what my current one can do, on its own or with third-party apps added. But I try to pause and appreciate how incredible these tools really are and how much information we can call on at will, compared to all of the humans who have lived before us.

I’m musing on this because of our story this week, in which I asked a bunch of our friends and readers to tell us about their most useful smartphone apps. Check it out, and let me know your own faves.

Meanwhile, thanks to the internet, I now know that the website Dr. Mike’s Math Games for Kids lists more than 230 words that work for the Upside-Down Calculator Word Game. My childhood “shell oil” would be:


That information makes me happy.