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What’s On My iPhone — Part 3

Bobby Travis

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

What's On My iPhone Part 3 | 40Tech Following up on the first and second what’s on my iPhone posts, I continue my micro-reviews of my rapidly expanding app list, proving that my app addiction knows know boundaries. I have no idea how the fact that iPhone OS4 will allow some 2160 apps on the iPhone will affect me. My wife may steal the thing and hide it on me… In any case, this instalment will feature my Reading-for-Entertainment, General Info-Gathering, Alternative Communications (as in: I don’t use them very often), and Other-Stuff-I-Use-But-Not-a-Lot iPhone apps. Micro-reviews, all – enjoy!

Here’s Page 3:

Springboard Page 3

Comic Zeal (Free) – The Comic Zeal iPhone app was a great find for me! Overall, it is a great reader, easy to use and navigate through the frames and is cool in that it has a downloadable library of hundreds of Golden Age Comics (and Jim Shelley’s Flashback Universe) that can be downloaded for free. Biolithic has also created a desktop sync app called Comic Zeal Sync, appropriately enough, that will allow you to sync your library with your desktop, including digital versions of books you already have on your computer. Comic Zeal Sync takes a moment to get used to, but once you get it down, its not too painful a process. Of course, if you are adding your own digital library, make sure that they are comics you already own — always better to avoid murky legal issues.

Stanza (Free) – Stanza for iPhone is an utterly fantastic eReader that has all of the flexibility that other eReader apps for iPhone do not — namely, the ability to port in your own library. I’ve tried Kindle and Barnes & Noble iPhone apps, and while they are both very good, full featured readers, I was unable to convert, upload, download or otherwise connect to my existing library of ebooks to them. They make certain that the only books you can use are the ones that were purchased from their respective.

There is a pretty good ebook converter application for your desktop that Stanza can connect to called Calibre that will actually turn your computer into an ebook server you can download from (you can even connect Calibre to an external server and upload your whole library for Stanza, but that’s playing with legal fire, if you ask me). Other Stanza features:

  • Stanza already reads multiple file formats, but ePub is the best (quickest) one for it, from what I understand.
  • Built in library of over 100,000 classics
  • Great library organization features

There is a desktop app for Stanza as well, but I didn’t like that as much as the iPhone app.

Read It Later (Free) – Read It Later, in general, is one of the most useful pieces of software I have ever come across. I actually learned about it on 40Tech, before I became a writer here. Read it Later allows you to quickly save and tag an article or website/page you found on the web for later reading. It connects to multiple pieces of software, including pretty much all modern browsers, some iPhone Twitter clients like Tweetie2, and more, and it keeps your list online so you you can get at it where ever you can get at the internet. The iPhone app makes it even easier, connecting fairly well with Mobile Safari via bookmarklet, but also downloading and allowing you to read your list in the native app — you can even download beforehand and read offline later.

There is a pro version, but the only real differences are that you get a slightly better bookmarklet, can share your list with others via social networks like Twitter, Delicious, etc., and a few other bells and whistles that, while nice, can easily be lived without. The paid version costs: $4.99.

Yelp (Free) – I’m torn on Yelp, as I mentioned in my last iPhone post, where I talked about Around Me. I use Around Me more, overall, as it seems a bit easier and better connected with my local area, but I use Yelp to supplement. The Yelp app for iPhone is pretty straightforward: it allows for quick searches for local businesses in your area based on your location. It also has user reviews, maps/directions options, bookmarks, sharing (by email), Monocle augmented reality overlays, and Foursquare-like check in features — which I don’t use as I am not interested in the world always knowing where I am, to be perfectly honest. It’s apparently an age thing…?

eBuddy (Free) – eBuddy for iPhone is pretty cool, as mobile messengers go — if that’s all you’re looking for. If you want something that does it all and is a bit funky and confusing, download Fring. eBuddy is free, but ad supported, but not the annoying kind of ads, just a basic banner that pretty much leaves you alone and takes up a bit of space. I also tried Nimbuzz for iPhone and it was ok too, but for some reason, it annoyed me, though I can’t honestly remember why…

eBuddy has a nice clean interface with an easy swipe between conversations feature. It’s free and does what I need it to do: log on to some of my instant message services on occasion and type to people. Supported platforms are: MSN, AIM, Myspace, Facebook Chat, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger and Jabber. You also  get Push Notifications outside of the app for an hour.

The Pro version ($4.99) gets you this:

  • Set your display picture from camera or library
  • Push notifications up to 3 days
  • Send pictures to friends
  • No ads

Bump (Free) – Bump is a very cool app that I confess I haven’t had the opportunity to use. It requires hanging with iPhone/Android users that you previously haven’t met or need to share stuff with – at which time you each open the app, bump fists (while holding your phones in them) and presto: transfer files and info! Like I said: Very Cool. So cool, in fact, that their API is what the new PayPal app for iPhone is based on.

ShopSavvy (Free) – ShopSavvy is a very cool barcode reader that snaps traditional (1D) barcodes with the iPhone camera and looks up information and price comparisons for you. In Canada, where I live, it’s still cool — but not that effective. According to Big In Japan, the developers of ShopSavvy, the Canadian deficiency (go ahead Americans, I left the joke open for you…) is because Canadian retailers — or at least retailers in Canada, as even Walmart was a culprit — are way behind the digital times. Unfortunate, but still good when comparing for web purchases.

JotNot Free (Free) – JotNot is a great little app that allows you to take a picture of a whiteboard, receipt, or pretty much anything at lazy angles and then adjust the image in the app to preserve readability. It actually works really well, overall. The full version of JotNot allows integration with Evernote (but you can always email the free version files to your Evernote email address) as well as a few other nifty things, but the free version has been more than enough to suit my limited needs and save me $4.99 — and saving any amount always makes my wife happy, an important thing when you have a tech addiction, or… in general.

iXpenseIt Lite (Free) – iXpenseit Lite is a great little app to track your expenses via your iPhone. Unfortunately it is also another app that I just don’t use enough — though I plan to use it more, in the near future, to the relief of my ailing pocketbook. My business partner loves iXpenseit though and has found the Lite version has been more than enough to suit his needs. The free version is ad supported, but banner only, and has all the features of the full version but is limited to (for my version, anyway) only 200 expense records. iXpenseit has lots of goodies, including charts and graphs of your categories and spend patterns. The full version is $4.99.

Quicken (Free) – Quicken is the real reason I don’t really use iXpenseit – it is also the reason I probably will use iXpenseit soon… It’s a very cool little app for Quicken Online, which is a very well designed service meant to help you get better with your money. The main problem with Quicken is that the service, and therefore the iPhone app, may not be around for much longer. Intuit, creator of Quicken, acquired Mint.com and will be merging Quicken Online into Mint. That’s all well and good, as Mint is awesome software (and has its own iPhone app) but I can’t use or even get Mint for iPhone in Canada, so, unless the connection to Canadian Banks is ported over, there will be no more Quicken Online for me. Hopefully it will be a smooth port that doesn’t forget Mint and Quicken’s northern neighbours.

Dropbox (Free) – Dropbox is awesome for a tidy bit of free cloud storage and a great way to share and sync files and more. The iPhone app even supports movie files, if you feel like waiting the hours it will take to upload a full movie… All in all, this app and this service are highly recommended!

QuickReader Lite (Free) – QuickReader is a good way to help improve your reading speed and even bring you toward the swift skill of a speed reader. It’s a pretty straightforward app and helps to improve both speed and comprehension when reading. This, of course, saves you time. A good thing in this day and age… The full version costs $4.99 and allows you to upload your own works to read, or buy books from QuickReader. The Lite version is limited to Aesop’s fables…

Compass (Stock) The Compass is a stock iphone app that does one thing only — always points North. It is a very cool little tool to have built into your phone and is why it remains on my third page.

Clock (Stock) – Same with the clock — the standard app does just fine for my needs, and is accessed enough to mess with alarms and such that it stays on my third page.

Producteev (Free) – Producteev is a service I’ve been testing. They have an innovative take on visual project and task management and I’m always game for that sort of thing. In fact, I’ll be in their 2.0 beta come May. The Producteev iPhone app, however, is only ok. Hopefully it will improve by version 2 as, while not bad looking and functional, the overall UI could be much (much!) improved.

NOTE: The free version of the Producteev service offers the following: Up to 3 users, Up to 6 To-Do Lists, Up to 10Mb of file storage, Support : Forum, and SSL 256-BIT encryption — and is only good for testing, really. To really get value out of Producteev you will need to pay at least $5 per month (unless you are a student — they get a pretty good free plan).

There you have it. Page 3 of my springboard: My Reading-for-Entertainment, General Info-Gathering, Alternative Communications (as in: I don’t use them very often), and Other-Stuff-I-Use-But-Not-a-Lot iPhone apps.

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