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(MCT)—With a gazillion applications available now for smartphones and tablets, which are really most useful day-to-day?

Here are a few that I find myself returning to.

Stitcher Radio, free from Stitcher Inc., delivers on-demand audio programs that do away with downloads and syncing. It’s an app I fire up most days on my long commute to listen to a handpicked lineup of programs.

I’ll hear a local forecast from the Weather Channel, catch up on last Sunday’s “Meet the Press, or cue up podcasts of news and other programs. The app has a “front page” of breaking-news headlines and links to popular podcasts. It also pulls in live radio from almost anywhere.

I don’t have the latest iPhone, so I don’t have Siri, the app that hears and obeys voice commands. Instead, I’ve used Dragon Dictation, free from Nuance Communications Inc. for iPhone, and the free Vlingo app, from Vlingo Corp. for most devices, to dictate text messages.

Pages is Apple Inc.’s $9.99 word processor for iPad and iPhone. It’s not laden with exhaustive options, and that’s its genius.

Choose a template and then set up a document. Tap in the document space to edit headers, footers, and margins. Touch the upper-right-hand icon of a mountain landscape to insert photos from the camera roll. Tap words for dictionary definitions.

When your document is done, the wrench icon leads to options for printing to a WiFi-connected printer or for e-mailing your work or sharing it via iTunes or a couple of other services. Easily pick whether you want to share in Pages, Word, or the pdf format.

HootSuite is a free app from HootSuite Media Inc. for Apple and Android. With it, you can post to Twitter and Facebook from a single app. Want to set things up in advance so your posts appear at later times? No problem. You’ll look like a round-the-clock tweeter.

For an efficient way to move photos from my smartphone to my laptop or PC, I’ve picked Dropbox, a free cloud storage app from Dropbox Inc. You’ll need to create a Dropbox account and download software to the computers that will share files. Once that’s done, any photo—or other file—on the phone is just a few taps away from Dropbox storage. On an Internet-connected laptop, Dropbox is just another desktop folder. Files in it can be dragged and dropped as needed.

©2012 The Philadelphia Inquirer
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