9 free apps you didn't know you couldn't live without

CINCINNATI - Your fingers start to twitch. Your eyes dart down to the mobile device at your side. You get anxious. There's an app on your smartphone that you haven't checked in about fifteen minutes, and you could be missing something very important.

Face it: if you have a smartphone, you have at least one app to which you're completely glued. You roll over and check it as soon as you wake up, and it's the last thing you see before you fall asleep at night.

With hundreds of thousands of apps out there, we selected 9 apps you may not know you need. Bonus: they're all free.

Facebook—If you have a.) a Facebook profile and b.) a smartphone, you may already have the Facebook app. This allows you to connect with and update friends from absolutely anywhere with cell phone service. The number one social platform is as mobile as you are.

Twitter—Twitter is all about immediacy, and it's hard to be immediate if you're chained to a computer. So Twitter rolled out a smartphone app that allows you to break news, update your followers and send pictures from wherever you are. Twitter told me Whitney Houston died while I was at a restaurant. This mobile app is changing the way users receive and send news; and for avid consumers of information, this tool is one of the most powerful things you can have at your fingertips.

Yelp! --"Hey, I heard about this new restaurant that opened up down the street. Should we check it out tonight?" "Nope, it didn't get good reviews on Yelp!" Back in the day, diners would take a risk and try out a new eatery or gym. Now, we count on the reviews of strangers to guide us. A Yelp! sticker on the door of a business is a seal of approval.

Instagram—When you do find the restaurant you're going to frequent, you take a few minutes not eating the delicious meal, but snapping pictures of it and uploading via the Instagram app on your smart phone. Your friends will realize how a.) cultured b.) well-traveled and c.) artistic you  are. Be sure to add a filter; nothing says "technological progress" like making a picture look like it was taken in 1977.

PicStitch—So you take a great picture of your dinner with your smartphone. Then you take another really good picture. And another. Don't waste time (and Facebook posts) trying to post picture after picture; PicStitch allows you to "glue" together your favorite images and create a unique collage that gives your followers and even closer snapshot of what you're seeing and doing.

Shazam—Time was, if you heard a song and you didn't know what it was called or who performed it, you asked anyone within a ten-foot radius. Or if you were really gutsy, you'd call the radio station and ask the DJ. Over time, we started furiously trying to remember the lyrics so we could Google them when we got to a computer. Now, thanks to the advent of Shazam, finding out who sings what could be your new favorite jam is as simple as touching the screen while you hold your iPhone high in the air.

GasBuddy—I will drive to the other side of town just to save $.04 on gas. I'm pretty sure I am not the only person who does this. Regardless, GasBuddy aids me in this obsessive quest to foil big oil. The tool also alerts you to the nearest gas station, good for those road warriors who manage to find themselves on empty on the Appalachian Highway.

Words With Friends— It's Scrabble on the go, it's addictive, and it's actually brain fuel. While getting a few friends together at the same table for board games, it's not hard to connect a few friends via smartphone for, not a game "night," but a game anytime you feel like it. 

Jenny Bak is a community manager for WCPO Digital and 9 On Your Side. What are your must-have apps? Please tell us in the comments section below or Tweet to Jenny @jennyfromthebak.

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