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App Smart

Forget a birthday? Not if the phone can help it

It’s my birthday this week! It’s a date I am not likely to forget, but I acknowledge that when it comes to the birthdays of friends and family members, my memory is awful.

Often, I even miss the “It’s X’s birthday” alerts that pop up on Facebook. Beyond simple calendar alerts, many apps can help you remember and celebrate a birthday.

Birthday Calendar

Free on iOS and Android

Continue reading below

There are plenty of birthday reminder apps in the app stores, but many are pretty poor. That is a shame for simple apps for such happy events.

However, a great option on iOS is Birthday Calendar by Davia. It’s free.

The app pretty much does what you imagine it would: It displays a calendar view or a simple date-ordered view of friends’ coming birthdays. It can grab data directly from Facebook, from birthdays you have entered into your phone’s contacts, or from what you enter directly into the app.

On a friend’s birthday, you can send a text or a Facebook wall message with just one tap. You can also set reminder alerts, either days in advance or on the day itself, so that you are less likely to miss it.

The app is simple to use, though the pop-up ads can be irritating. There is also an Android edition. The Android interface looks different, but the functions are the same.

So much for reminding you of a coming birthday; what about helping you celebrate? Personally, I love physical cards, but it’s the 21st century and digital cards can be quite nice.

Fotocam Birthday Pro

$2 on iOS

My favorite card-generating app on the iPhone is Fotocam Birthday Pro, which costs $2. As its name suggests, the app creates digital greeting cards based on photos you have taken with your phone. You can use a snapshot of yourself, the family, a pet, or whatever fits, and then use the app’s built-in frames to add that special birthday feeling. There are over 50 frames, each brightly colored, with greetings and images like candles and cakes built in. You can even edit each frame slightly to show more of the photo behind it.

When you have created your masterpiece, the app lets you send your card by SMS, e-mail, or Twitter. One irritation is that the app includes a URL advertisement for the app in the text you send, but this is easily deleted.

Birthday Photo Frames

Free on Android

On Android, a good equivalent is AppBasic’s Birthday Photo Frames, which is free. This app does more or less the same thing, although its many colorful “frames” are a bit chintzy. And while there are lots of options for adjusting the photo you have snapped to fit the frame, it can take a while to get it looking right.

Before I go, one last thing: Remember what your smartphone is really for? Making phone calls! Why not give those special someones the genuine human touch and actually speak to them on their birthdays?

Kit Eaton writes on technology for
The New York Times.
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