Posts tagged Duolingo

Top 10 Apps Of The Year

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Top 10 Apps Of 2013

The time has finally come, when we at Fast Forward have to make the toughest decision of the year: the choice of the top 10 apps of the year. These apps that I have picked are my favorite apps from throughout the year, mixed in with the new, exciting, and most popular apps of 2013, year of the snake. Here they are:

#1: Waze

Maps and directional apps are becoming increasingly important in today’s society, especially since people are relying more than ever on smartphones rather than memorizing street names and how to get around. Waze definitely dominates, allowing users to post problems like bad traffic, police, fallen trees and more. This year, I have definitely used Waze more than even Google Maps, and was essential to living this year. All hail the Waze god!

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#2: QuizUp

QuizUp is truly the epitome of a great game. Trivia games don’t really have a high expectation, but with Quizup on the market, all the other apps have no chance at all. The very well designed and modern game allows users to play online users in a humongous variety topics, ranging from ancient history to dogs to Harry Potter. A social aspect allows you to thoroughly review your recent game, look at your stats and add friends which you can challenge. It’s so good, it would’ve done equally as good even if it was a paid app. This game certainly earns it’s spot in number 2.

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#3: Vine 

The Vine sensation has been sweeping the world, a social network dedicated to showing 6 second videos, which anyone can take right from their phone. This type of video has been popular for anyone to make a short film, topics ranging from art, experimental, cats, and most popular, comedy. Funny and incredible Vines have been topping the charts, such as a prank or someone throwing a basketball off a 60 story building and making it. The giant amount of users and videos makes what the app what it is, and it really is a great social network.

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#4: Duolingo

Duolingo has really sprouted into the big leagues in the past year, becoming the best and most popular language learning app. The unique social aspect of Duolingo’s approach to teaching sets it ahead of the rest, even the famous Rosetta Stone (the app, not the artifact). The app itself is also amazingly designed, allowing the user to surf through languages and lessons with ease. Learning languages has never been easier.

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#5: Candy Crush Saga

Candy Crush Saga. Who hasn’t heard of this sweet game that has taken over it’s category. The addictiveness of Candy Crush and it’s achievements, rewards, Facebook integration left everyone thinking “just one more level than I’ll go back to work”. Candy Crush is so immersive and addicting you could easily play for 10 minutes, then look up from the game and it turns out that it’s 2045. This is the ultimate game for wasting your life away, and has adults and kids global under it’s spell.

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#6: Snapchat

Taking pictures on the fly is really something phones excel at, and people (especially teenagers) like to take advantage of that by using Snapchat. Snapchat is essentially a social network that’s a mix of What’s App and Instagram. The great design lets you take a photo, then draw on it, add a caption to it and send it to another Snapchat user. But when it gets there, the other user holds their finger on it and only gets to look at it for 1-10 seconds, then it disappears forever, erasing the need to go back and delete texts or photos because of limited space. Snapchat is a very practical and fun social network, and it’s amount of downloads and users show that it’s idea is a success.

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#7: Clash Of Clans

It’s in our nature as a human being to want to control more and defeat our enemies. It’s called REVENGE. Clash of Clans is a village building strategy that lets us get the satisfaction of beating our opponents and stealing their gold. This multiplayer online game allows you to build up your village and grow in technology and land. The layout of the game makes it easy to run your village and at the same time chat with your Clan members in a social aspect. Tons of people all over the world are roughing it out with Clash Of Clans, and it has become very popular and a classic game.

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#8: Plague Inc.

The strategy category of games have recently exploded with a bunch of great apps, one of which is Plague Inc. Plague Inc is a hyper realistic game where your goal is to, well, kill the world and everyone in it. You start out with a basic bacteria and your goal in a game it to spread to all the world and kill everyone, but not too fast or your hosts will die but not to slow or the cure will be discovered. Plague Inc brings out the villain in everyone, showing you a world, with amazingly realistic events in a newscast above, where you can collect DNA points and evolve your disease. Definitely the best strategy game of the year.

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#9: Drafts

Many productivity apps are only useful to the overworked and people in need of organization, but Drafts places its uses right in the perfect spot. Everyone could profit from using Draft’s easy interface and it’s ability to distribute information. All you have to do is customize the settings, and when you, say, need to send yourself a quick reminder or post something to Facebook and Twitter at the same time, Drafts is your solution. You can quickly type something into the top section, then send it to one of Drafts many options, such as markdown, Facebook, Twitter, Evernote, Email, Text, Email to _____ (customizable), and many, many more. Drafts can serve you in many more ways than you could imagine, and is definitely a must need app.

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#10: Spotify

Pandora has been dominating the music services apps for years, now, but the time has come when a new option has arrived. Spotify. Spotify is a music app that you can download or play almost ANY song you could think of. There is also a radio, with no advertisements, unlike Pandora. You can make unlimited playlists and radios, but there is one small catch: it has a small monthly fee. Still, it is definitely worth it for those of us who spend ridiculously big amounts of money on iTunes, and is a very useful app for on the go music.

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And that’s it. If any of you don’t have any of these apps, I would highly recommend getting all of them. Below I have given out awards to three different apps; best design, Most Popular App, and Most Practical App. Watch out for my top tech and top app posts for 2014.

Best Design: QuizUp

Most Popular: Candy Crush Saga

Most Practical: Waze

 

 

AOTW: Duolingo, An Easy, Free Way To Learn Languages

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Learning a language is always hard. Especially after the age of about 14, you mind hardens, making it harder for other information to make it’s way in. Fortunately, technology has it’s way of making most of life easier, including learning languages. Since you probably grew up only using one language, it is hardwired into your mine. Just the fact that I am writing this right now is amazing, considering how many words I have memorized over time, if you think about it. Everyone does, but how much information you mind has been storing for thousands of years longer than computers have is astonishing.

Enough philosophy. A common program that is bent on helping people learn new languages is the famous Rosetta Stone. It’s a computer program that drills the language into your brain having you fill in sentences, with pictures underneath to give you a hint. It is perfectly fine….besides the fact that it is over $100. Very expensive. So otherwise you wanted to take lessons, it is pretty much your only option. Until now.

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The Duolingo Owl

Duolingo is a free app for iOS and Android that has same objective as Rosetta Stone, yet a slightly different approach. As part of the lessons, Duolingo the picture approach, but only for filling in the word and gender for current languages, German, Italian, Spanish, French and Portuguese. Most of the Duolingo lessons are set in packets, such as basics, plurals, animals, and number. These packets are each set in a way so that you know sufficient information to fill in the rest of the sentence, while also learning the new words. Inside the packets, there are lessons, with each lesson teaching about 5-6 words. Each lesson is made up of a couple of different types of problems such as translating the sentences (with hints), repeating sentences using the microphone, and probably the most common, translating sentences by picking words out of a batch. There are many others, and this variety makes you learn every aspect of the language to move on. There are just enough hints so that if you don’t know it, you don’t pass. In each lesson, there are 20 questions, with which you only have 3 lives. If you lose all your lives, you have to start over again.

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Sample Duolingo Problems

The great thing about Duolingo is that it is very social. Every time you correctly complete a lesson, you earn 10 XP, plus 1 extra for remaining lives. Your XP is tracked by day, week and month so you can track your usage and learn curve, and once you get a certain amount, you go up a level. You level is your rank in Duolingian society, and the higher rank you have in the most languages the better. You can even compete with your friends and see who has the most XP overall, in the week, and the month.

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The Learning Tree Part Of My Home Screen

Even though Duoling is a great app, they also made a computer version for people really into it. It is built right into the browser, and you can complete lessons and packets just like on the mobile version. The only difference is that the online version has many other side-features that can be very useful. For instance, you can go over the words you have mastered and see which ones are overdue for a revisit, which is easily done, and have discussions about Duolingo and give feedback with other users. Another unique feature in Duolingo is that immerse yourself in article in your language, and even translate them. All these features give Duolingo a step ahead of any other language program.

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Duolingo is always growing. Now that Duolingo has started the Incubator, anyone can sign up to contribute to a growing course. Right now, most growing courses are English in another language, such as Russian or Japanese. Sooner or later, though, there will be more languages so that you can try out as many different languages as possible and see how they all connect. But just starting the Incubator shows how much Duolingo cares about the public, and how they get the best experience possible.

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