Facebook Camera App, Valet Parking App & The Weather Channel App..

The Weather Channel recently released a free app for iPhone. Called “The Weather Channel,” it is a recently-overhauled version of their previous app that debuted in 2008. This app is version 5.0. Though Apple has its weather app built into its operating systems, The Weather Channel has more features.

Users have access to 36-hour and 10-day forecasts updated hourly, severe weather alerts, local and regional video forecasts, and a “dynamic map” that includes eleven different weather metrics. The Weather Channel also has a still shot radar map, and allows the user to load GPS-based locations for later recall.

Many users are combining the free Weather Channel app with NOAA Hi-Def Radar. NOAA Hi-Def Radar is $1.99, and provides moving radar images that are time-stamped for the utmost in accuracy. The NOAA app also has a pushpin which can be dragged and dropped to any location on the map to see the weather there.

Valet parking now has its own app that might change the industry. Flash Valet, based out of Austin, Texas, has created the self-titled app, which is classified as a “software as a service, cloud-based solution” that allows parking valet operators to manage multiple sites, track vehicles, accept payments via mobile phone. Flash Valet also allows operators to keep track of employee time, attendance, and location.

When a customer receives his valet parking ticket, it has a phone number. When the customer wants his or her car back, he or she texts the phone number with the car’s ticket number, and the valet then retrieves the car. When the car is ready, the valet texts the customer. The customer can then pay with a credit card or PayPal.

The commercial app costs $149 per month per location, and is currently being used “about thirty operators” in Austin, Houston, Dallas, and Boston. The app is currently available for iOS, and the company has scheduled releases for BlackBerry, Android, and Windows within the year.

The biggest news in apps over the last few weeks is that Facebook has come out with their own free camera app, mere weeks after they purchased Instagram. Though Facebook says they developed the app “in-house,” users find it strikingly similar to the Instagram app.

The app allows users to instantly share Facebook photos, with most of the same features as Instagram. Users can share multiple photos, and they can also crop and rotate them. In addition, they can also apply filters to photos such as the popular “retro-style” filter.

The New York Times, BBC, and CNN are reporting that Facebook is scheduled to release their own smartphone in 2013. Facebook has just introduced its own app store, which will soon allow developers to write exclusive apps for the Facebook App Center. This makes it seem as though a Facebook smartphone would be a “perfect fit.” Facebook representatives neither confirm nor deny that a phone will be released.

Manhattan Gold and Silver, located in New York, recently introduced a free app called “ the MGS Gold Prices app” for iPhone. The MGS Gold Prices app is free, and helps the user estimate inventory value and compare it to market trends.

The app features a Pennyweight Calculator to convert inventory weight into pennyweights, which is currently the market standard. It also features “London Fixing Prices,” which traces the morning and afternoon price fixings of the London Bullion Market Association and the London Plati9num and Palladium Market.

The MGS Gold Prices app also provides real-time US prices 24 hours a day through its “Real-Time Prices” feature. There is also a feature called “Price Alerts.” Price Alerts allows the user to set a high and low price for any metal, and Price Alerts tells the user when the metal has reached either price in the market.

US First Lady Michelle Obama recently sponsored the “Apps for Healthy Kids Competition,” a contest for health-based apps for kids. One of the winners is called “Smash Your Food.” Created nutritionist Martha De Wulf, Smash Your Food is a game app that helps kids learn how much sugar, oil, and salt is in their food.

Kids compete guessing how many sugar cubes, shakes of salt, and teaspoons of oil are in popular food items such as fries, burgers, and sodas. The kids enter gender, activity levels, and weight into the game, which uses USDA dietary recommendations to determine whether or not the food is OK for them.

The goal of the app is to help kids relate reality to virtual reality. The app also contains a lot of advice for parents to help them use the app to effect changes in their children’s diets.

In Naples, Florida, a hurricane evacuation app was reiterated Lee County Emergency Management. The app, called “LeeEvac,” is free, and available on Apple and Android devices. Users can find out their evacuation zone with the GPS in their phones or searching their address. Users can also sign up to be notified when an evacuation is ordered.

Lee County has had the app since August of 2011, but is re-publicizing it due to the increasing popularity of smartphones and the advent of hurricane season in Florida. Lee County uses Facebook and Twitter besides the more traditional methods of updating the public, and has more apps on the horizon.

According to Lee County Emergency Management Coordinator Celeste Fournier, “There are more apps underway, but I don’t know when they will be out on the market.”