If you’re like many, hours of every day are devoted to surfing the pages of top-ranked social network Facebook. However, checking friends’ and foes’ status updates can only provide so many hours of entertainment. So how to amuse yourself in-between checking for new photos, quizzes and other bite-sized distractions? Thankfully, that’s where apps, or “applications” – pint-sized software programs and utilities accessible through Facebook that run right in your Web browser and are devoted to everything from fun to education and productivity – come in. Here are 10 of our favorite selections:
Social Networking: Facebook Mobile
Can over 4 million Facebook users be wrong? Perhaps, but this app allows you to express disdain or keep tabs on all of them by accessing your Facebook page from just about anywhere using your mobile phone. Give the program your cell phone number, enter the confirmation code, and soon you’ll be uploading photos and notes from any camera phone. Instead of trying to scroll and fumble through a choppy site on your cellular handset’s tiny browser, this method uses text messages to make your opinion known. Tweak settings, and you can easily receive friend requests, comments or everything under the Facebook sun.
Personal Communcations: Selective Twitter
So many social networking sites, so little time. Whether you use Twitter and Facebook for business or fun, it’s nice to be able to multitask. However, add the Twitter app and every single tweet will get inserted into your Facebook status, causing information overload. Instead of annoying your friends, try being a bit more selective. Selective Twitter allows users to share specific information from their Twitter accounts. Just add the app, and punch in #fb to every tweet you want to share to make info automatically show up on both sites.
Organization and Day Planning: MyCalendar
Life is filled with birthday parties, meetings, doctor’s appointments, soccer game, and final exams, ensuring that your dance card can get pretty full. Instead of scrawling all of those special dates on napkins, Post-Its or trying to keep things straight in your head, this app does the dirty work for you. It’s not as pretty as your wall calendar with kitties, but it’s certainly easy. Just enter birthdays or other events, and decide whether or not you want to share that special occasion with profile viewers. The app can also be setup to send email reminders and event invites, and let you keep tabs on what all your friends are up to.
Transportation: Facebook Carpool
Imagine using Facebook for the good of mankind. That’s the idea behind Zimride’s inventive app, which allows users to hook up for carpools across the U.S., Canada, and England. Of course, safety is always a concern. However, you can scope out someone’s profile first and possibly find a few friends offering or needing rides. There are a few other added benefits too, such as saving energy or just taking a peek at where people are providing the most interesting rides. The app also integrates Google Maps to keep track of your most frequently searched locations.
Shopping and Classifieds: Oodle/Marketplace
Have oodles of fun on Oodle. This is a great app because there’s nothing to download, but you can reap the goods — literally. Oodle powers all of Facebook’s classifieds, which are also collectively known as the Marketplace. Take a peek and you’ll find as much of a crap-o-rama as you’d find on eBay, for a fraction of the price. Even better, if you’ve got goods to hock, it won’t cost you a dime to post. Frugal shoppers are sure to enjoy.
Movies and Video: Flixster
Chances are that at least a few of your friends probably already have Flixster on their apps list. It all starts out with a simple test, selecting and rating movies that you’ve seen or have interest in — or not. Next thing you know, you are matched up with fellow Flixster users on your friends list with similar tastes. Users can keep things fresh by viewing trailers and adding current box office flicks to their running lists. Also, it wouldn’t be a Facebook app without a ton of quizzes to kill more of your free time.
Music and Audio: iLike
There are a ton of great audio services available on Facebook. However, we like iLike, and to make things slightly less confusing, its developers have recently changed the app’s name to Music. Many of your friends are probably already using this extremely popular app, which allows users to play and share favorite tunes. It’s great for artists, who can upload music and reach multiple fans with a single post. But it’s even better for fans, allowing users to add songs and videos to Facebook profiles, send out dedications and share concert info. Don’t expect to find every song from your favorite artists here, but it still provides a decent selection.
News and Information: RSS-Connect
We love applications that kill multiple birds with one stone. Instead of flip-flopping all over the Web to get your news, this app delivers your favorite RSS feeds right to your facebook profile page. Of course, if you’re into shameless self-promotion, you can also add your own. Choose whether you want to view that feed on your wall or in tabs. Decide how often you want it updated, and let the news fly. Users can also select whether to spread that wealth of information or keep it all private. If friends see something interesting, they can opt to subscribe to similar feeds.
Food and Dining: Restaurant Wars
This app doesn’t have a lot of users, but features plenty of the ingredients needed to succeed with the gourmet crowd. Simply add the app and start searching for restaurants you’ve visited, then enter a review and rating. If any of your friends have reviewed the same spot, you can choose to go to war. While you may not be into the food fight, it’s certainly a fun way to find new eateries and share some of your own culinary experiences via Facebook. Foodies can’t help but enjoy…
Fun & Games: Mafia Wars
Think of it an offer that you can’t refuse — at least over 31,000 other users couldn’t, anyway. After signing up, you can start recruiting friends to join your “mafia family.” While there won’t be any big meals over the course of the game, expect plenty of fighting. Start out with a crowbar and work your way up. Pick up cash, extra energy and even branch out to other locations. Eventually you’ll get enough goodies to get all Goodfellas on your fellow players. Capiche?