App News Today – Storia App, Online Trading App & Turbo Tax

Australian educational publisher Scholastic has developed a free book app aimed at children.  The app, called “Storia,” is free and is currently available for Windows and iPad, with a version for the Android Tablet in the works.  The app is designed to bring children’s educational books in a portable, electronic medium without forcing them to buy a Kindle or a Nook.  According to Scholastic Media President Deborah Forte, Storia will serve to make e-books “more accessible and more relevant.”  The official launch is projected for sometime this fall, and Scholastic Media will make approximately 2,000 books available for the app.  The books will cost between $1.95 and $20.  Forte and VP Jeff Mathews both feel that the added expense of an e-reader such as Nook or Kindle prevent a lot of families from buying them for their children.  They also feel that the design is not child-friendly.  The app is intended for children between three and fourteen years of age, and the app can be customized for any age to fully maximize its potential.  Currently, the app is available at Scholastic Media, and will soon be available at iTunes.  Scholastic Media are giving five free e-books to everyone who downloads the app.

TD Ameritrade have developed a new online trading app that combines the features of other trading apps with a barcode scanner.  A user can scan a barcode in the grocery store, and the app will display the parent company of the product and the current stock quote for that company.  The app is a response to a US market whose online trading frequency has been growing since the advent of the iPad, the iPhone and trading apps.  Two years ago, only two percent of trades through TD Ameritrade were completed on mobile devices.  Now, the figure is around seven percent, and projected to rise even more as the public becomes more and more acclimated to mobile devices.  TD Ameritrade trader group managing director Nicole Sherrod was quoted as saying, “We really think it is the future of investing.”  Many of their competitors, such as Charles Schwab, Fidelity Investments, and Scottrade, currently have mobile apps, but TD Ameritrade is the first to incorporate bar code scanning.  The app, called Snapstock, is free, and is available for both iPhone and Android.  A TD Ameritrade Mobile app, also free, is also required.   According to Dan Wiegrand, a senior analyst for Corporate Insight, based out of New York, the growth pattern of mobile-based trading is at its beginning, and will increase as more apps such as Snapstock are released.

Turbo Tax has announced an app for Android Tablets that allows the user to do his or her taxes on a tablet without being connected to the internet.  The app can be downloaded free at the Android Market, and the user pays Turbo Tax depending upon which level of service he or she needs.  The app features customized keyboards that appear on the screen to help expedite the process.  It also allows the user to e-file taxes and get their refunds within as little as seven days with the direct deposit option.   According to TurboTax, theirs is the only software to offer everyone one on one live tax advice.  The advice can be sought via phone or chat.  Once the user has downloaded the app, pricing is dependent upon how complicated the return is.  TurboTax Deluxe is the entry level product at $29.99.  For those who are only filing a 1040EZ, a free app called SnapTax is available at no charge.

Associated Press has announced a new version of its news app.  The app is available for iPhone and iPad, with Android and other versions in the works.  It is currently free, as are news articles.  The app is said to have improved ease of operation over older versions, and an updated look reminiscent of Facebook.  The app also features pictures with most of their stories. AP organizes the news into sections such as “lifestyle” and “whacky,” and also offers a local tab for most regions of the US.  The app is easily customized the user, allowing the user to virtually create his or her own custom newspaper.   Users can add more than one “local” region to their coverage, and much of the local news actually comes from local papers.  There is no charge for content at the time, but AP is reserving the right to eventually charge consumers for what they call “deep content.”  According to AP, previous apps have already been downloaded over eleven million times, with 3.5 million of those going to Apple products.  USA Today has also created a free app for iPod and iPhone.  According to USA Today, the app provides “a new user experience with simplified navigation.”  The app includes a detailed weather forecast for up to ten areas, and a pitch and zoom weather map.

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