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Smartphone health apps available on government website

Many of the applications were developed by federal agencies, and most are free.

By Pamela Lewis Dolan — Posted July 22, 2010

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First Apple had an app store, then came Android, followed by BlackBerry. Now the federal government is launching it own online store for smartphone applications.

The government's website provides a virtual store of apps or links to mobile websites where smartphone users can receive a variety of information and tools on the go.

As of July 9, there were about 20 apps available, or links to mobile websites, five of which are in the health and wellness category. Apps are available for the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry.

In the health and wellness category, there is an app to calculate body mass index; an app to find recalled products, including food and drugs; a mobile web version of Medline Plus; a mobile web version of "My Food-a-Pedia," a calorie counting web tool developed by the Dept. of Agriculture; and an app that allows users to check the UV index and air quality ratings of their locations (link).

The government is soliciting suggestions for new apps to offer.

You can't purchase apps from the USA.gov website itself. Instead, it links users to the appropriate app store or mobile website. Many of the apps, such as "The White House," which sends up-to-the-minute news from the Obama administration straight to a smartphone, were developed by a government agency. Most are free, but some cost a small fee.

This is the second app store project launched by the government. It launched apps.gov in September 2009 for federal employees in an effort to reduce administrative costs for the country's various departments and agencies. At that site, federal agencies and employees can find and download cloud applications to help them do their jobs.

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