Did you know that the average American checks his or her smartphone 150 times a day?
What if, instead of chatting on Facebook and playing bird-slinging games, we used our smartphones to become better investors? There are some great apps available now for doing research, getting the latest news and economic indicators, trading, and more.
Here are some apps that'll help you stay on top of your portfolio and get the information you need to make smart investing decisions.
How it works: This is the mobile version of the FRED database, which is ever-popular with traders, analysts, journalists, and others for its huge range of economic data (FRED stands for Federal Reserve Economic Database). The app gives you access to nearly 210,000 economic data series from 61 regional, national, and international sources.
Why you need it: As well as tracking your own stocks and industry news, you need to keep up with the broader economic indicators. A minor change in jobs or housing data can sometimes send stocks on a rollercoaster ride, so it pays to have all the relevant data at your fingertips.
How it works: This is a good basic stock-tracking app, with real-time stock quotes and charts, as well as market news and analysis. You can see the most active stocks traded today or the biggest gainers and losers, and you can also enter your own stocks to keep track of price movements.
Why you need it: You could clutter your phone up with apps from different news sources, but if you're interested in a particular set of stocks, then it's better to use an app like this one to digest more than 3,000 news sources and feed you the stories that are relevant to your portfolio.
How it works: Most brokers now have apps that let you trade on your smartphone. One of the best is thinkorswim, from TD Ameritrade. It comes with a huge array of charts and data, and you can even watch a live stream of CNBC.
Why you need it: If you're a frequent trader, you don't want to be flipping back and forth between apps all the time. This app lets you do all of your research in one place and then quickly make a trade.
How it works: Bloomberg terminals have been a standard feature on professional traders' desks for decades now. A free smartphone app can't include as much detail as those professional screens, but it's still pretty sophisticated. You can customize it to give you data not only on the stocks that matter to you, but also on bonds, futures, currencies, and commodities. You can also watch Bloomberg Television Live, listen to audio interviews with leading experts, and catch up with the latest news.
Why you need it: Investment research consists of two main components: looking at data and keeping up with news. The Bloomberg app covers both of those areas with a slick, easy-to-use interface. The audio and video options, along with the colorful charts, make it an engaging experience -- still not as fun as Angry Birds, mind you, but definitely more informative.
How it works: Investing, of course, is only one part of your financial life. The Mint app lets you bring everything together, integrating data from your investment accounts, bank accounts, credit cards, and more. You can plan your investing, spending, and saving all in one place.
Why you need it: Many apps do a good job of helping you track a portfolio of stocks, but smart investors take a holistic approach, viewing their stocks as just one part of a larger portfolio that includes bonds, bank accounts, and other savings accounts. Using the Mint app helps you integrate your investing with your overall financial planning -- you can see, for example, when you might be able to invest more in stocks, and when you need to prepare for a withdrawal.
Got some other favorite investing apps we didn't mention here? Let us know with a comment below!