Forgotten Apps That Are Actually Useful

Technology moves fast — so fast that great apps often get ignored if they don't launch full-featured and ready for prime time. This is a selection of our favourite apps that are often forgotten but still offer really helpful features.

Google Goggles

Google Goggles is one of those apps that we know is cool, but is easy to forget about because you're not going to use it every day. If you've forgotten: using Google Goggles, you can take pictures of text and translate it, take pictures landmarks and get information about them, and even snap artwork to identify artist. Amazingly it can also solve Soduku puzzles, digitise business cards, and even help you track down cool wallpapers.

My Tracks

Plenty of apps exist to monitor your movements while running or biking via GPS, but Google's own My Tracks for Android is one of the most full- featured. My Tracks had a rocky start, but now it's one of the better ways to record your outdoor excursions, annotate your path, and export all that data to a spreadsheet for further analysis. It's not as as hyper-focused as a standalone running app, but the newest version makes it substantially more interesting and useful than it was at launch.


Bump was mind-blowing when it was first released. As long as you had two smartphones with Bump installed, you could instantly share contact information. Nowadays, you can also share photos and social network connections. Although the music sharing feature has gone, Bump is still a useful app to keep around if you regularly trade contact information or photos.

Word Lens

Word Lens is an instant translation tool that uses your camera to translate signs. When it first launched it was an exceptionally neat tech demo, but it didn't work that well in practice. Over time Word Lens has become much better, and while Google Goggles (mentioned above) is a much better translation tool, Word Lens still serves a purpose for anyone needing to translate large signs while in an unfamiliar country.

Apple Remote

Apple's Remote was one of the first apps in the iTunes App Store. Initially it only allowed controlled your iTunes music by allowing you to pause, fast forward, rewind or skip tracks. The current version can be used to control both iTunes and your Apple TV, create playlists, manage AirPlay, change speaker volume, and even as a keyboard. It could still be executed better, but it's one of those apps that has grown increasingly useful over time for people who have a lot of Apple hardware.


The Wolfram|Alpha app was originally priced at $US50, and subsequently it was largely ignored. The app is now a much more reasonable $4.49, and if you're a data nut it's an essential addition to your home screen. Pretty much anything you can do on the Wolfram|Alpha site works on mobile, including finding Scrabble words and calculating your calorie burn.

JotNot Scanner/CamScanner

Once you've gone through the process of digitising your life, a desktop scanner will lie around neglected most of the time. Apps such as CamScanner for Android and JotNot Scanner for iPhone enable you to easily scan and share documents from your phone.

What other apps do you find useful, even if they're not something you access every day? Tell us in the comments.


    I've just tried to download Google Goggles and it is not appearing in the App store on my iPhone 5? What gives Google?

      Google goggles is accessed through the google search app, there isn't a separate app for it.

        This could of been made clearer int he article.

    Just to clarify what others have said, Google Goggles is part of the Google search app in iOS, but is a separate app on Android.

    WolframAlpha is a great service, but it has become much slower in recent times, seeming to coincide with the release of Siri. Where you could once plug in a query and have your answer in a few seconds it now takes 30-60 seconds to solve fairly simple equations. While that wont stop me using it, it is disappointing that the service has been allowed to degrade.

    I use Apple Remote a lot, very handy. It's also the app I used to convince my Dad that these new smartphones are actually pretty cool and advanced.

    camscanner is great for digitising sketches. I was amazed at the clarity of the scans

    turning on google location history in the maps app is pretty good. It's also a great way to track which days you go to work/the gym/your mistress etc...

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now