A friend of mine just got her first smartphone, and needless to say, she is excited. I told her I would send her a list of my favorite apps. It’s not a simple task to compile a list of apps and explain why they are recommended. I decided I would just put it in the form of a blog post and share the love with My Pleasant Places readers, as well.
When I first got my iPhone, I took two weeks to download my first app. I can’t remember what my hesitation was. Maybe I didn’t realize how easy it was to delete one if I didn’t like it or use it, and I didn’t want a useless one cluttering up my “desktop.” Whatever the fear, I did get over it. I now have about 80 apps “cluttering” my desktop, and it doesn’t bother me at all. I connect my phone to iTunes on occasion and rearrange the apps, moving the most-used ones to the first two screens and removing those that I do not use. When I read about a new intriguing app, I research it a little, and if I think I might find it useful, I download it and check it out. It’s such a simple task to remove it if it is not useful, so I have become reckless with my downloading.
Obviously, not all apps are free. I do a lot more research on the paid apps than the freebies. Still, the typical cost of the paid apps is less than $5, so I take comfort in knowing that I am not breaking the bank if it turns out to be a dud. For the most part, however, my favorite apps are free.
Following are my ten most-used apps—not in any particular order—followed by a short list of runners-up.
THE WEATHER CHANNEL (TWC)
Though not a glamorous app, the weather app is one of the first things I look at in the morning—especially in the winter. Knowing the temperature outside helps me determine how I need to dress for my run on any given day, and since that is the first decision I generally have to make in a day, I truly appreciate this app. I am not limited to only checking my local weather. I can check the weather (and the forecast) anywhere in the world, so it is a wonderful app for travel planning, too.
I love this app! In “the old days,” the only way I knew how far I was walking or running was to drive my route—which was really a problem when walking a trail in a park. Now, it’s a breeze, because Runkeeper calculates my distance, as well as my time, pace, and route. Whether walking, running, skiing, or biking, if you’re moving, you can track it on Runkeeper. You can also make your workouts a social event by connecting with friends via Runkeeper and cheer one another on. If you’re so inclined, you can connect to Facebook and have your workouts automatically posted there, too.
Runkeeper was one of the first apps that I downloaded. I initially got the free version and was happy with it, though it did have some limitations. After using it for about a year, the developers offered the Pro Version for free, and I immediately jumped on that opportunity (it was normally $9.99). I believe the Pro Version has remained free ever since. There is also an elite version that is pricey, but I am very happy with the Pro.
I set a mileage goal at the beginning of every year, and so I turn on Runkeeper whenever I am out for a run or a walk. Anyone who is committed to fitness will find this app a real boon to their workouts.
You can read more of my thought about Runkeeper in My Favorite Fitness App.
Evernote is a must-have app. In fact, it’s not so much about the app for the phone as it is the program, in general. I have Evernote on all my devices. They are all synced together, so if I change something on one, it’s changed on all of them. If I put a new recipe on my desktop at home, then go shopping without a grocery list, I can pull the recipe up on Evernote on my phone and see what ingredients I need to buy.
I use Evernote more than any other program on my computer, so it is very helpful to have all that information easily accessible—and editable—on my iPhone, as well.
You can read more of my thoughts about Evernote in Another Favorite App and its sequel (Part 2).
FEEDDLER RSS READER
Before I can sing the praises of Feeddler RSS Reader, I first have to sing the praises of Google Reader. I still find it hard to believe how long it took me to discover Google Reader. All that good information I missed out on… But I digress. Anyhow, I learned that I can “subscribe” to the blogs that strike my fancy and get them automatically sent to one place (and NOT my inbox). When I have a moment to read, I just open up my Google Reader, and they’re all there just waiting on me to indulge myself.
You’ve heard it said, “There’s an app for that”? That’s how I discovered Feeddler. I was so in love with Google Reader capabilities but regretted that I had to be at my computer to partake of all the goodness. Then it occurred to me: Could there be an app for that? Well, as a matter of fact, there is. I went on a search, and in a matter of minutes, I had Feeddler on my iPhone. It is all synced up with Google Reader on my computer, so when I read a blog on my phone, it is marked as read in Google Reader, too. When I subscribe to a new blog on one device, it shows up on all devices.
No matter where I am, I have lots of reading material with me. You can read more about Google Reader at A Technology That Will Save You Time and Make You Smarter (and its sequel) and about the Feeddler app in Getting Wiser on the Run.
Are you ever driving along and suddenly remember an email you MUST write? Or a call you forgot to return? If you’re like me, you forgot because there’s just too many things to remember. The QuickVoice app is my solution for those times. It enables you to record a voice message and then email it.
I have QuickVoice on the front page of my iPhone. When a memory jolt hits me, I open the app, hit the record button and state my brief message: “Call so-and-so” or “Get such-and-such” or “Email client about appraisal.” You get the idea. I don’t wax eloquent; I just record enough to remind me of what I forgot! When I’m through, I tap “Stop.” My message is now recorded. You might consider that reminder enough, but it’s not. If all I needed was a voice recorder, I could simply use the one that comes stock with the iPhone. As I continue with my day, I will forget that recording unless there is a way to remind myself again! QuickVoice is that way. It allows me to record a voice message and then email it to myself. I can then rest easy, because when I next check my email, my reminder will be sitting in my inbox.
To be honest, this app needs to be streamlined to be really effective for what I use it for (to send messages to myself when I can’t type or text). As it stands right now, I have to tap 7 buttons to get my message sent. Nevertheless, for those times when you just can’t afford to forget, this is a stopgap measure. You can read more about QuickVoice here.
What Feedler is to the blog world, Kindle is to the world of e-books. When you download an e-book from your account on Amazon.com, for instance, it is automatically available on your Kindle app, as well. Just like Feeddler, you can have Kindle on several devices and have them all synced. When you stop reading a book in the Kindle app on your phone, you can pick right up at the stopping place in your Kindle app on your iPad. Definitely, a must-have app for readers.
There are lots of free Bible apps available, even apps that will read the Bible to you—which is awesome! However, because I am partial to the New International Version, I paid for my app. It was a bargain, though, at $4.99. When I am online—and I am almost always online with my iPhone—I can read many other versions from this Tecarta Bible app, as well. So if I want to see how the Amplified Version reads in a particular verse, I can easily change versions. Or I can have both versions open side by side and compare them verse by verse. This is a great bonus, as I really enjoy reading in lots of different versions. You can take notes, highlight verses, and share verses and thoughts directly from the app, too.
I wrote at length about this app in Where Fitness Meets Geekiness, and again in My NEW 30-Day Challenge in August of 2012. This is an excellent tool for monitoring your dietary habits and for getting a realistic idea of the contribution that exercise makes to your overall calorie budget. I think it would be beneficial to everyone to use the this app for at least a week just to make those necessary connections between food and calories. But if you want to lose weight, this app (or something like it) is a must. I suggest you try the aforementioned “new” 30-day challenge and discover for yourself how valuable this app can be in opening your eyes and helping you become more self-disciplined in the area of your eating.
In A Look Back, I wrote about a self-styled half-marathon I ran with four young girls in which a different young lady joined me every three miles. We accomplished this by using the app, Glympse. This is an exciting app with all kinds of potential uses. On that race day, I shared my location via Glympse with a few select people, including the woman that was transporting the girls to our predetermined meeting places. They could track me “live” throughout the run on the app. It was very accurate.
I send Steve (my husband) a Glympse when I head out on a long run so he can “keep an eye on me.” As I Realtor, I can make use of this app by sharing my location with my office. As a parent, I would have loved to have had something like this when my kids were teenagers. A picture is worth a thousand words, so visit the Glympse website to see how this tool is used.
This is an excellent app for all kinds of downloadable books. I use it mostly for audio books, but it can also be used for reading e-books, too. Downloadable e-books and audio books are available everywhere! I can download from my public library and from several other sites online. This works just like checking out books from a brick and mortar library. You download them for a certain period of time, and when that time is up, the books are no longer available on your phone (or iPad, or reader, or computer—wherever you download them). There are some e-books that are not compatible with Kindle; thus the need for Overdrive. But as I said, I use Overdrive mostly to listen to audio books. I always have some audio book on my phone to listen to while in the car or on my runs.
Following are some apps that I use regularly, but not enough to qualify as a “most-used.”
LIFT – One of my newest apps. An app to track daily habits (or “would be” habits); not essential, but fun; good tool to use with 30-day challenges
JOTNOT – Turn your phone into a scanner; great app for someone who has to email documents on the run
GYMPACT – Get paid to work out; I wrote about this in Another Scheme to Help You Get Fit
QUICK READER and RAPID READING – Speed-reading apps
FLIXSTER – What movie is playing at the theaters near you?
FACEBOOK – Check your newsfeed and make posts while out and about.
OK, I’ve shared my favorite apps with you, now it’s your turn. What’s your most-used app? I’d love to hear about some new ones. Please leave a comment.