elizabeth lane lawley's thoughts on technology, academia, family, and tangential topics

Monday, 26 January 2009

my must-have iphone apps

After a month with my new iPhone, I’ve managed to load it up with a bunch of apps that have become “must haves” for me. (I’ve also downloaded and then deleted quite a few more that weren’t.) At the request of several friends and colleagues, here’s my top ten list:

1) TruPhone: Excellent VOIP app that works beautifully on the iPhone. Free calls between TruPhone users, very inexpensive calls from TruPhone to a landline or mobile. I used this a lot while traveling in Australia, and was able to call home inexpensively wherever I had decent wifi. Call quality was generally excellent. Today I got email from them saying they’re about to support Gtalk voip, and that Skype is coming soon. If you travel internationally and don’t want to pay outrageous roaming costs, I highly recommend this.

2) Things - I’ve been looking for a productivity app that didn’t require a huge rampup, and would work equally well from my phone and my computer. Entourage and Google Tasks both fail in terms of the phone integration, but Things is a wonderfully elegant solution. It’s not free—the desktop app is $40, and the iphone app is another $10. But it’s beautiful, easy to use, rich in features if you need them, and the sync is flawless (no cables necessary—just have both devices on the same wifi network and it automagically syncs). Highly recommeded.

3) Evernote - I was already using this nice little app before I got my iPhone, because it lets me sync my notes via “the cloud” and access them on nearly any device. I love it for easy access to everything from my frequent flyer numbers to my travel itineraries to photographs of whiteboards.

4) Files/Files Lite - App that lets you easily store and also view a variety of files on your iPhone or iPod Touch. I use it primarily for PDFs—from conference programs to travel guides to crochet patterns. I’m using the free (Lite) version because it’s all I need, but it’s become indispensable for me.

5) Tweetie - There are lots of free Twitter apps, but I didn’t like any of them. I used Twinkle for a while, until I discovered that even though my Twitter feed is protected, anybody near me using Twinkle could see my updates. Erp. So I dropped it in favor of Tweetie ($2.99), which I love. Very clean interface, easy to get to replies/dms, overall a good user experience.

6) Shazam - Who doesn’t love this? It’s magical. Identifies songs that are playing. Even with my fairly eclectic tastes it’s very good.

7) Griffin Clarifi case + Snappr software - Standard (1D) barcode recognition at last! The Clarifi case has a built-in sliding macro lens so you can get good photos of small size text (or barcodes). The improved text capture is great for Evernote (which does OCR), but the barcodes are what I was after. You can download the free Snappr software and use it to decode barcodes and get product info. This means I can finally reboot development on PULP. Stay tuned for more on this!

8) Mobile Fotos - Great little app for sending iPhone photos to Flickr. I tried Shozu and was disappointed (I’ve had trouble with my Shozu account for ages now, and no amount of new account setup or tinkering seems to make things right again). Even better, it has a feature that lets you see photos taken near where you’re current located, which is very fun from a sightseeing perspective.

9) SnapTell - Super cool app that lets you take a photo of the cover of a book, CD, or movie and get product information back on it. Like Shazam for printed stuff :)

10) Assorted Games: I’m grouping these together so that I can fit everything into the list of “ten” :) But all of three of these games are things I’ve got on my first screen, and play regularly (there are other games I like and keep on my iPhone, but these are currently my faves):

Drop7 - My newest addiction, courtesy of the awesome area/code: what happens when you combine Tetris and Sudoku? No, I’m not kidding. Yes, it’s the mobile game equivalent of crack cocaine. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Solebon Solitaire - The best solitaire package I’ve found, with a wide range of games available.

Satori Sudoku - There are lots of Sudoku apps, but I like the interface on this one the best in terms of things like pencil marks.

Posted at 2:17 PM in: technology

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Comment from misnomer on January 27, 2009 10:58 AM (Permalink to Comment)

Have you tried Twitteriffic? I'm wondering if you think Tweetie is superior.

Great list. Some of these I have yet to try. On my list:
I really like Showtimes, it uses the geolocation or a city to show you the nearest movie theaters and what's playing along with show times.

I also really like Shazam, which you can have 'listen' to the radio and identify a song title and artist.

I'm still waiting for video to be developed. I heard it was in the works and saw some teasers on YouTube, but have yet to see product.

Comment from WorldRider on February 8, 2009 12:02 AM (Permalink to Comment)

THINGS is certainly interesting. I played with it. But I found myself getting lost in "Tags"; too much of a rat's next. That's why I committed to "OmniFocus" and the corresponding iphone app which sync over the air with Mobile Me flawlessly or using Bonjour and other protocols...

things is pretty, but OmniFocus works for me!

Comment from zephoria on February 12, 2009 8:06 AM (Permalink to Comment)

I hate you. Recommending Drop 7, even with the warning, was completely unnecessary. Hrmfpt. Saying goodbye, saying goodbye, saying goodbye to productivity....

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Liz sipping melange at Cafe Central in Vienna