Can digital media make you smarter? It may deliver information galore, easily accessible with no end in sight, but spend all your time reading about the Kardashians and you probably won't boost your IQ. Three new apps, however, are all about making their users more knowledgable, whether they're researching puffins, the environmental sustainability of Chicago, or the perfect table wine.
The More You Know
If you consider yourself to be a curious person and you spend much of your day online, odds are good you've already clocked countless hours on Wikipedia. The site is a treasure trove of information, and as of July, its mobile app is, too. Wikipedia's parent company Wikimedia recently launched a fully redesigned free mobile app for iOS and Android. In addition to searching Wikipedia's 32 million articles, users can edit entries, save favorite pages to read offline, and easily navigate from one subject to the next and back to past pages through a viewing history. There's nothing you can't learn if you know where to look.
Get an Education in Your Environment
Are you living in a green neighborhood or a concrete jungle? DNAinfo recently reported the launch of Chicago Green Score, a new site application that can up your awareness of your community and immediate environment. The tool ranks Chicago neighborhoods based on their green factor, taking into consideration such features as green roofs, community gardens, farmers markets, parks, public transportation, and bike facilities. Users input a Chicago address and answer a few optional survey questions to receive their green score, which can be shared through Facebook and Twitter. The app was designed to "help you find a green community and build a green community." In case you're wondering which neighborhood ranks highest, the Loop is in the lead with a score of 84 out of 100.
Wine Knowledge by the Glass
Are you looking for the perfect wine to accompany your restaurant dinner but lack training as a sommelier? A new iPhone app called WineGlass can help you select the perfect bottle for every occasion and taste. Use your phone to scan the wine menu and the app will provide you with an interactive list on the screen. You can access wine descriptions, ratings, reviews, and suggested food pairings to help you round out your meal. The app costs $4.99 but could save you the disappointment of choosing an expensive wine that isn't what you had in mind. And can you really put a price on the ability to impress your friends?