Five free iPhone apps that can improve your life

Learn something new. Ditch wallet-fattening club cards. Watch a how-to video. Create an accident report on the scene of a fender-bender. And finally, fall asleep with ease.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read
The incredibly handy Howcast app lets you watch thousands of how-to videos. Free. Rick Broida

Apps like Evernote, Shazam, and Mint get all the glory, but there are plenty of other productivity-boosting, life-improving apps out there. Here's a roundup of five I'm loving right now--and because I'm a cheapskate (as well as The Cheapskate), they're all freebies.

  • 6500+ Cool Facts Whether you're a trivia buff or just looking to learn more about the world, this nifty little app delivers. Read a fact, then tap the screen to move on to the next one. That's the entire interface--you can't save favorites or return to previous facts--but so what? Knowledge is power, and there's a ton of knowledge to be gleaned here.
  • CardStar Best. App. Ever. CardStar replaces all the discount, reward, and membership cards in your wallet. To digitize a card, just type in a merchant name and your barcode number. When you get to the checkout, pull up the onscreen barcode and hand over your phone for scanning. My wallet just got four cards thinner!
  • Howcast Need to know how to fix a leaky faucet...while you're standing at the faucet? Howcast delivers how-to videos wherever you need them. You can view featured, recently added, and random videos (just give a shake), or search for what you need. Second-best. App. Ever.
  • iWrecked--Auto Accident Assistant Fender-bender? iWrecked helps you record all the necessary details, complete with photos, and turns them into an insurance company-ready PDF. It can also find nearby taxi and towing services and dial 911. This is one app you hope never to need, but find indispensable when you do.
  • White Noise Lite Trouble falling asleep at night? A little white noise might do the trick. Just choose a sound--a thunderstorm, waves crashing on a beach, chirping crickets, etc.--and set your iPhone (or second-gen Touch) on your nightstand. The app features a volume fader and timer so your handset can "drift off" after you do.

Okay, your turn: What apps make your life easier? I'd prefer to hear about freebies, but don't be shy about nominating apps that cost a few bucks.