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Sree Tips: NYC Big Apps Winners

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Apps are a big business these days, and New York City wants to be one of the app-making centers of the world.

One way to do that is to encourage folks who have good ideas, and one way to encourage them is to have a contest - the NYC Big Apps contest.

NYC Big Apps is one of the most important app-making challenges around. This year, more than 50 apps were submitted using city data feeds and seven projects won a total of $150,000.

"In four years, NYC BigApps has helped launch nearly 300 new apps and made government more transparent and accountable," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "This year's open, collaborative process raised the bar for the quality of the apps that made it into the competition. The creative atmosphere that our growing tech community has cultivated is making New York City the hottest spot in the tech world."

Sree Sreenivasan, tech expert from our partner network CNET and Columbia University's chief digital officer, was here to tell us about some apps you'll want to know about.

The first app to tell you about is the HealthyOut food app, which was the grand prize winner, getting $55,000. It's available for iPhone.

HealthyOut allows New Yorkers to quickly locate healthy meals at restaurants nearby. Users can search for dishes by nutrition or mood preference. HealthyOut has already cracked the top five apps in the iTunes Food and Drink list with its elegant, simple interface and powerful search tools.

Up next is Hopscotch, which won $20,000 and is available for iPad.

Hopscotch teaches kids to code through an innovative, simple interface. Rather than using the complex syntax found in written programming languages or relying on typing at all, Hopscotch developed a friendly, touch-screen interface that makes it easy for kids to drag and drop interface elements to create their own games, apps and scripts.

Then there is Helping Hands, which is web-based, and won $15,000.

Helping Hands helps New Yorkers navigate, enroll, and apply for a variety of social benefits. As co-creator Madelena
Mak points out, "it's easy to lose hope when faced with the daunting task of finding and browsing through all the information related to applying for benefits. Helping Hands adds a support network of peers, helpers and mentors to the process who add tips, reviews and words of encouragement into the process, making that experience more human and easier to navigate."

Helping Hands was built as an entirely mobile web app that is compatible with a variety of affordable smartphones in order to assist low-income New Yorkers in search of benefit information.

There is also Hired in New York, which is also web-based, and won $10,000.

Hired in New York makes it easy to discover, connect and apply to thousands of jobs at 2,000 New York-based startups and small companies. Hired in New York manages a user's job search through an intelligent, customized to-do list and helps them find the right job.

Here are some other apps worth listing:

Best Jobs and Economic Mobility App: ChildCareDesk ($25,000 winner)
Best Cleanweb: Energy, Environment and Resilience App: SolarList ($20,000 winner)
Best Wildcard App: Poncho ($5,000 winner)

For the full list of winners, click here.

Sree Sreenivasan is CBS2′s technology expert, appearing every Wednesday morning at 6:50 am to discuss ways to save you time, money and aggravation. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook  and on his personal siteE-mail your questions with "CBS New York" as the subject line.

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