Goodies

There are a lot of great apps which can improve your online experience and that won't cost you anything at all to use! The apps we've chosen for our Goodies list are some that we use and recommend to you. Since they're free, you can try them and, if you don't like them or think "not now," just delete them until/unless you decide to get them again. Check the "Works on" for the platforms that you use.

Education

This is the globe that you always wished you had! Spin it with your fingers, zoom all the way in to be able to see the car in your driveway, turn roads, labels and boundaries on or off. There even are tours of interesting areas, 3D flyovers, and photos and data that users have added. Google Earth is a "must-have" first app for anyone who loves armchair exploration. Many companies and agencies use the Pro version of Google Earth for things like city planning and route development.

Works on: Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, Mac, Windows

Cloud storage

Amazon offers anyone with an Amazon account 5 GB of free space on its Amazon Cloud Drive. They also provide unlimited free cloud storage for digital music purchased from Amazon, and 5 GB of storage for documents and books that you email to your Kindle reader. Amazon's Cloud Drive offering isn't as robust as some others, and Amazon really pushes it only for image and video storage.

Works on: All platforms

Box

Box is a cloud storage whose initial market was serving business and industries, and only recently has pursued the personal cloud services market. Box offers 10 GB of free file storage with its "personal" service, and syncs across all your devices.

Works on: All platforms

OneDrive is Microsoft's cloud storage service, recently renamed from SkyDrive. It has a generous free level, offering the same 15GB free as Google Drive, plus 3GB extra if you sync your photos from your mobile device with it, and another 500MB per referral. If you use Microsoft Office Online or OneNote, your OneDrive is the default place that your files are saved.

Works on: All platforms

Google Drive is an excellent cloud storage and file synchonization service, and comes with a generous 15GB of free space. While Google Drive also has a paid 1TB tier for the same $9.99 per month as Dropbox's 1TB tier, there's also a 100GB tier for $1.99 a month, if you need just a bit more space.

Works on: Android, Chrome, iOS, Mac, Windows

Dropbox is a widely-used cloud storage service that works on every system via an app or dedicated program, or via a web interface. It is easy to master, and blends seamlessly with your computer file system. It's really useful you use different devices, and want to move your files from one to another. It's also handy when you want to share files with friends and family members, or even make a file available for the public to download.

Works on: All platforms

Notes

Evernote is an organizer app that lets you put your notes, to-do lists, outlines, photos, and web "clips" into notebooks. It runs on every platform, and since everything is saved automatically "to the cloud," you can write on your tablet or computer, and then access from your smartphone, if you wish. Essential for students, but great for everyone.

Works on: All platforms

Bookmarks

Better than bookmarks! You can save any web page you want to go back to Pocket, and then read it later on any device. It's free, and it runs on everything you have!

Works on: All platforms

Communication

Facetime is Apple's video chat program for all of its iOS devices and for modern Macs (OS X6.6 and above).  It is installed automatically on iOS devices when you set up and activate it, and if it's not already on your Mac, it is available from the Apple Mac App Store.

Works on: iOS, Mac

Hangouts is a full-featured messaging service from Google. It features instant messaging, telephone (VOIP), audio and video chats, either one-to-one or with a group, screen sharing and file transfer. It is straightforward and easy to use, and all you and the person(s) you're going to "hangout" (sonnect) with have to have it is a free Google+ account. Calling other countries will cost you a little bit (but much less than Skype, like 2¢ a minute to UK landlines) and calling any phone in the US, landline or mobile, is free!

Works on: Android, Chrome, iOS, Mac, Windows

Skype lets you talk to other Skype users, anywhere in the world, by video, audio or instant message at no charge. You can also use Skype to call landlines or cellphones anywhere in the world, on either a pay-as-you-go basis (buy some credit and buy more if/when it runs out) or by subscription. It's available for almost every computer and mobile platform except ChromeOS (Chromebooks).

Works on: Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, Mac, Windows

Language

Have you ever wanted to speak another language? Meet Duolingo! It's fun, it teaches you the language in short, game-like exercises, and it's really and truly free!

Works on: All platforms

Music

Spotify works on mobile devices with an app, and on computers with a downloadable app for Windows and Mac, and a web app for Chromebook. The free level lets you choose from their pre-set "shuffle" playlists and is ad-supported.

Works on: All platforms

Don't let the name fool you -- Slacker Radio has music that will please everyone, with curated "stations" by celebrity hosts, and also has like ABC News, ESPN, and Weather. Like Pandora, it lets you create your own stations, and you can find music by genre, decades, artists, and radio-style "Countdowns" like "55 Top Songs About Summer."

Works on: All platforms

This is one of my new favorite services, and it's also available as an app for iOS or Android, as a web app for Chrome, or in the browser on your computer. Unlike Pandora, Songza has pre-made, curated "channels" (aka sets) which you can browse as genres, moods, activities, or decades. Each of these sets will have from 3 to more than a dozen playlists, and each of those playlists will have 50+ songs.

Works on: All platforms

Pandora is available on everything -- as an app for your phone or tablet from your App Store, as a channel in smart TVs and streaming boxes (like Roku and Apple TV), or as a web app or web page on computers and Chromebooks. Pandora lets you enter an artist's name, or a song, or even a genre like "Show tunes" as a seed, and it creates a "station" that plays the artist and/or song along with similar music.

Works on: All platforms