Likely Santa did at least two things this past year:

1) gobbled up your chocolate chip cookies with reckless abandon, and

2) left a slick, shiny new tablet under your tree.

The outlook for 2014 is even more tablet-focused, with sales expected to rise by 54 percent. Reportedly half of all computing devices shipped in 2014 will be tablets – 65 percent Android and 30 percent Apple.

Tablets used to be the tech version of a mullet – a clumsy mix of business and party – but they are well on their way to cleaning up their act. Okay, that’s a metaphor that you won’t soon forget, but you get my point, right?

Back to your new toy. You’ve got that eye-popping screen. You’ve got blistering speed. You’ve got near ubiquitous Wi-Fi connectivity, or better yet another great reason to pop into the local coffee shop. Ah, but what will be your daily apps of choice?

Billions of apps will be downloaded this year. It’s a 25 billion dollar business – that’s a lot of downloads. On average, consumers have about 60 apps on their device. Choosing a handful of apps out of hundreds of thousands of options can be tricky. The go-to apps are almost universal:

1) Facebook, 2) Twitter, 3) Instagram, 4) Pinterest and 5) YouTube, for instance. Nothing much needs to be said about these. You know them. You use them. They are classics for a reason.

But, what next?

Which apps are right for you and maybe even more importantly, which apps are right for your kids? We’ll focus on apps for adults this month and apps for the younger kids next month. The teens? As if they would listen to you and me anyways! My article would be one word long: Snapchat, followed by dozens of emoji. Just kidding. Sorta.

Forgive me if I don’t discuss all 900,000+ apps available for our downloading pleasure. Space and sanity require that I limit it to just a few:

Flipboard. If you are interested in staying current on art, culture, style, business, tech or whatever else piques your interest, download Flipboard and install it before you finish this paragraph. You’ll

thank me later. It’s a buttery smooth little app. If the Internet is the Universe, then Flipboard is the Milky Way. It’s one of my favorites. It’s the kind of app that makes me wonder how it could ever be any other way. It just works. It’s especially ooey-gooey good on phones. The Flipboard format on my tablet is good, but on my phone, it’s irreplaceable. I’d develop some type of withdrawal without it.

Dropbox. With so many devices floating around our homes, offices and vehicles, it’s increasingly important to be able to have a universal location for all our content. Sure Microsoft and Apple have their own proprietary versions of cloud storage, but there’s something about Dropbox that keeps me coming back to it as my main location of cloud storage. Its simplicity and cross-platform success has been effortless. And, now, Dropbox is taking their game to a new level and making it easier to access content for both personal and business needs. What’s not to like?

TED. Many of you might already be TED Talks fans, perhaps even aficionados. If you’re not, let me be the first to say, there’s something there for you. Whether it’s inspiration, ideas, encouragement or the spark for a new vision, TED has it. Skeptical? Brené Brown’s “The Power of Vulnerability” will win you over. Download the TED app. Fire up Brown’s video. It will not disappoint. I promise. Just try it.

Trello. Now, I have to admit that I haven’t used this one much yet, but as a good nerd, I have a nerd herd that I trust. One of my tech friends highly recommends this one and the more that I get to know about Trello, the more I agree. It’s not flashy, but Trello helps organize our busy lives, projects, activities or life events, which means that there’s a better chance that the great things we have planned actually happen as we would like them to happen.

Four out of a million! It’s not earthshaking, but it’s a head start in an ongoing race to find the select few apps that we want on our devices.

It’s always good to remember that each of us lives, works and plays in our own personal context. These four recommendations might not be the best ones for you, but that may change. And if it doesn’t, the great news is that there are so many more choices. Give these a try. Don’t like them? Delete them and move on to something more suitable for your needs, your likes or your changing life  circumstances. Just like the weather in our fair state, one thing’s for certain– change!

Finally, Happy New Year! I hope you have an amazing 2014!

Richard Singleton, MACE, MAMFC, LPC, is the Executive Director at STARRY in Round Rock.

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