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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And this morning, we start an occasional series on apps, or applications for smartphones and other mobile gadgets. Apple now has half a million apps for sale. Google has more than 200,000 for devices using its Android platform.

We asked Ben Keighran to share with us some of his favorite apps. He's CEO of Chomp.com. That's a search engine for mobile apps. At the top of his list is something called Square.

Mr. BEN KEIGHRAN (CEO, Chomp.com): Square allows you to take payments, using a real credit card, directly on your iPhone. So...

MONTAGNE: You, you, like me.

Mr. KEIGHRAN: Yes.

MONTAGNE: I've got a garage sale going and I can actually get paid on it with a credit card.

Mr. KEIGHRAN: Exactly. And so you can sign up for the service, they will send you out a little box that you plug into your phone, which is like a little card swiper. And if you want to sell something, you can take your credit card and swipe it through that swiper and it will allow you to take the payment.

And the thing that's so great about this is, whether you're a contractor, whether you're someone that wants to, you know, mow somebody's lawn; this just makes it really easy for anybody to accept payments.

MONTAGNE: Well, that's very practical. What else?

Mr. KEIGHRAN: Another great app is an app called Uber. So I live in San Francisco and driving around San Francisco there's a lot of those black Lincoln cars for hire. If you want to pay the extra money, because it's a little more expensive than a cab, you can jump into one of these nicer cars. And so what Uber does is when you open up the app, it shows you a map of all the black Lincolns that are driving around San Francisco right now. And you can literally like tap on one and say hey, I'll pay you $15 for a ride, and you can watch on the map this car, like, drive all the way up to you and jump in the car and away you go and it all gets billed straight to your credit card.

MONTAGNE: That would seem to be convenient, though where you can't just walk out and flag a cab.

Mr. KEIGHRAN: Right. Or, you know, maybe you just want to go in a nicer car.

There is another app that's called Getaround. It's just like Zipcar but it's with your own car. So it makes you can rent your own car to anybody that wants to rent that car.

MONTAGNE: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. You can rent your car to the people?

Mr. KEIGHRAN: In the street, yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. KEIGHRAN: Yes. Yes. Yes.

MONTAGNE: Hmm.

Mr. KEIGHRAN: It's a brand new service that just came out a few weeks ago.

MONTAGNE: So if I saw a particularly attractive parked car and thought that would be a cool car to drive, will there be a sign in the window or something saying, get a hold of me and get around?

Mr. KEIGHRAN: Well, yeah. The user experience is you open up, again, a map on your phone and you can see all these cars around you that you can rent. It's peer-to-peer commerce, that's basically happening there.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MONTAGNE: Peer-to-peer I don't even want to say that's futuristic, but I...

Mr. KEIGHRAN: Well, I think it is futuristic and I think that, you know, we're moving into that next generation of the Internet, we're going to see more and more of these types of applications come into our lives.

MONTAGNE: A couple of more that you suggested are related: Path and Instagram. Tell us about those.

Mr. KEIGHRAN: So, what I think that Path and Instagram are really great examples of, is they're really great examples of new photo services, designed specifically for this kind of post-PC world.

Instagram is a very public photo-sharing service. Much the same as with Twitter, when you sort of write a message on Twitter, anybody, unless it's set to private, can see it. And Instagram is just like that. You can publish photos and the world can see those photos very easily and very quickly.

Something like Path is all about personal sharing. So on Path you can actually only have up to 50 friends, you can't have any more than that. Which is kind of interesting, because a lot of the social networks are really, really public and privacy is becoming a bigger and bigger concern to some people. And so what Path does that's different to Instagram is it's very limiting to your very, very close friends whereas, something like Instagram is very public and open like Twitter.

MONTAGNE: That's Ben Keighran who runs the app search Website Comp, and spoke to us as part of an occasional series on apps. You can see his full list of picks at npr.org.

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