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What’s On My iPhone — Part 2

Bobby Travis

This is a post by Bobby Travis, who wrote with me at 40Tech from 2009 through 2012. Bobby has since moved on to bigger and better things, but I've left all of his great contributions up on the site. - Evan
Bobby Travis

iPhone apps Following up on the first what’s on my iPhone post, I continue my micro-reviews of my rapidly expanding app list, supporting my rapidly deepening (and apparently serious) app addiction.  This time around, I am going through the second springboard page — as always, discounting the possibly useless search page. Page two is, in some semblance of a nutshell, my utilities and multimedia page. Sort of. Read on and judge for yourself.

Here’s Page 2:

 

Springboard Page 2

This is where I keep my utility-ish apps.

 

Just Light (Free) — I can’t overstate the need for a simple app that allows you to have a solid white, persistent backlight (especially when needing your keys or, err, walking your dogs at night). That’s probably why there are so many of them. I can’t quite fathom why anyone would pay for one though, when Just Light does all you really have need for — and does it for free. Highly recommended. Go get it!

Calculator (Stock) — I love the stock calculator app. It is simple and easy to use, and has all the functions I needed in Grade 12 Math when you turn the iPhone to the side. Perfect for a calculator on the go. I see no need to find another at this point. Might not be suitable for hefty advanced mathematics and physics though.

Shazam (Free) — I fell in love with Shazam way back when I was in the Window Mobile dark ages. It is a must have little app for figuring out what that song is and who is singing it, on the radio, in a store, restaurant, or wherever. You can even buy the song right then and there if you want to! The social sharing and tag-saving features are neat too, but I find the free app does more than enough to suit my needs.

Dragon Dictation (Free) — Dragon Dictation is a great app for small jobs, and the voice to text algorithms that the Dragon Naturally Speaking folks over at Nuance have created are pretty fantastic. Only small jobs though, like a quick tweet or message while on the go. The app cuts you off after about 20 seconds, which can be very annoying. If Nuance offered a paid version of the app that allowed you to go on as long as you like (and didn’t cost a fortune), I would very probably buy it.

Dictionary (Free) — I love Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com. Great resources for those days when your spelling or wordsmithing bone craps out. To have them in a pretty and convenient little app in your pocket is a beautiful thing. You should get it!

Google Earth (Free) — You know, I have absolutely no need for Google Earth. I love to play with it though — and the fact that I can do it on my phone just as well as my PC continually blows me away. I highly recommend downloading it just to play. It’s fun!

Google Maps (Stock) — I love that Google Maps comes with the iPhone. The version is pretty cool to, utilizing most elements of the phone’s OS very well. I have one complaint though, that actually makes the Windows Mobile version a bit better in my books: no layer support. If I want to use any of the layer services that Google offers, I have to do it via Safari. Boo. The native app should always be more powerful, feature-wise (or at least just as good), than the web app, in my opinion.

Around Me (Free ) — Around me is still a question mark to me insofar as usefulness is concerned. It is not as up to date in Canada as I would like — which means that it sometimes misses the gas station down the street from me, and I live in one of the more recognized smaller cities in Canada (Vancouver). I tend to supplement with Yelp as it helps to narrow down the possibilities of missed venues. Yelp has the same issues as Around Me in Canada, but I like the Around Me app a bit better. It seems simpler and more to the point — and I just like blue better than red, for the most part. Very subjective, I know.

Flixster (Free) — I love Flixster. I don’t watch enough movies to truly do it justice, but I love it! I was using a different app for movies when I first got the iPhone, but I have since dug into Flixster so much that I have no idea what app that was. Flixster is a great resource for finding movies, showtimes, reviews, trailers, actor information, and whatever else you might need to find relating to your movie experience. It has sharing options, if you’re into that, DVD info, and the capability to buy tickets right from the app. I frickin’ love it.

Epicurious (Free) — Let me tell you something about Epicurious: Their iPhone app changed my wife, a self-professed Luddite when it comes to mobile phone tech (she just wants a phone to be a phone and text tool), into an iPhone convert. I practically had to beg her for the thing back. Why? Recipes, man! Tons and tons of easy to find and fun to search through recipes that you can add to the handy, built in, shopping list tool. When you’re a tech lover and your non-tech wife finds something techy to approve of… you keep it.  ‘Nuff said.

Photos (Stock) — I’m sure there a much better photo viewing apps out there, but so far, the stock one does fine for me — and I can’t delete it anyway, so I may as well use it. Not a glowing review, but, hey, it does what it’s supposed to and it does a decent job of it for the average user — which, in this case, is me.

iPod (Stock) — I never owned an iPod before this. Never saw what the big appeal was, honestly. I do like the integration into the iPhone though. It would be nice to have a bit more control, but that’s an Apple thing. What this app does truly well, is the way it integrates with everything else, especially the phone and voice control functionality. If anyone out there knows an app that can do it all and do it better, let me know in the comments!

WeatherEye (Free) — WeatherEye is a direct line to the Weather Network in my pocket; something I was surprised I cared about, but I do. Sign of getting older, I think… In any case, it is a pretty utilitarian app, as are most of the free weather apps for the iPhone. In this case, Windows Mobile and Android put the iPhone to shame with apps that are often built into the stock OS skin. Better icons, better animations (there are none in WeatherEye), better pretty much everything. For free. I tried the Accuweather app as well, and it had a cool location based feature, but I could never get the thing to work properly. The stock weather app just isn’t accurate. WeatherEye seems to do the trick, overall, and is relatively accurate in my location. I shrug, otherwise.

Tumblr (Free) — For those who photoblog or use Tumblr in general, the Tumblr app (once also called Tumblette, I understand) is an easy way to post new content and access your Dashboard. So far, I am only using Tumblr to (mostly) gather all of my web writings in one place. I haven’t delved into Tumblr too deeply yet, but I really like the app.

PicPosterous (Free) — PicPosterous is a cool little app to connect to your Posterous site or just to store and share photos and videos online. I wish it were more like the Tumblr app though, actually. I would likely use it more if I could just access my Posterous site as easily as I can in a web browser. All in all, it’s worth a try, but definitely more geared toward photo and video sharing.

Pixelpipe (Free) — Pixelpipe is new to me, but pretty cool. With the app, you can easily publish images, videos and text posts to multiple locations at once: Twitter, Facebook, Posterous, Tumblr, Plurk, Zoomr, YouTube and 93 or more other destinations, not to mention custom links to blogs and the like. I’ve tried it. It’s effective. I need to do a bit more work in it to get it humming the way I need it to, however. All in all, it’s worth a shot if you are looking to consolidate posting to your services into one app.

 

There you have it. Page 2 of my springboard: (mostly) utilities.

What are your favourite utility-ish apps? Got any counters to the ones I mentioned above? Let me know in the comments!