x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

App of the Week: Howcast tackles all how-tos on your to-do list

Howcast app puts a world of how-tos videos in your pocket.

It takes courage to admit you don't know how to do something. And I'm one of the bravest men on the face of the earth.

That's because my life has been a never-ending string of such heroic revelations since almost day one.

I still remember the first day of first grade, when the teacher asked the class if anyone "still couldn't read". I alone raised my hand. All the giggles left me unfazed. I was sure my honesty would grant me quick access to the playground while all those self-professed readers sat around doing their reading thing.

Turns out, Mrs Murphy's first-grade class didn't offer an illiteracy track, but history would prove my instincts were spot on about all the work I was valiantly trying to avoid.

As I said - brave. Why there's not a statue of me outside Judson Elementary School is beyond me. There must be some sort of funding issue at the district level.

But ever since, from tying ties to dancing the macarena, I've shrugged and said: "Nope, don't know how to do it", for as long as humanly possible (which in the above cases meant until my brother's wedding in 1997, when I was forced to learn how to do both on the same day).

The app

Fortunately, no one need ever aspire to my kind of courage thanks to Howcast (iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry), a smartphone app that houses a seemingly infinite library of short, user-created how-to videos that run the gamut from the practical to the ethereal.

Recent titles on the app's home page include "How to Get Rid of Ants", "Choosing between a 1-Handed and 2-Handed Tennis Backhand", "How to Dance Like Usher", "How to Look Like You've Lost Weight", "How to Behave at an Art Gallery" and "How to Control Your Thoughts".

Browsing the app, which stems from the popular Howcast.com website, you're likely to come face to face with dozens of things you used to want to do, but simply forgot that you wanted to do them.

The details

The Howcast app offers a simple, intuitive user interface. First, you'll see a page of featured how-to videos. At the top left, is a "shuffle" button that will play a popular video at random.

Below are buttons for featured, most recent and recommended videos, a search button, and a "more" button that will help you further hone your how-to preferences. You can also just shake your smartphone and Howcast will automatically pull a video out of its digital hat.

Be sure to click on "more" and then turn off "push notifications", however, unless you like being woken up at 3am to learn "How to Make Balloon Animals".

With Howcast, you can turn all your "I don't know" answers into "I don't know, but wait a minute".

The first-grader in me still thinks that's the coward's way out, but to each his own.

Have some great personal finance apps that you want to share? Write to Curt Brandao at cbrandao@thenational.ae