A Few of My Favorite Apps

A Few of My Favorite Apps

In this post, I’m sharing apps I use and like. I’ll even list apps I got all excited about and then …. :::crickets:::

Because–and tell me if this happens to you–there are apps that sound like they will change your life from awesomeness, and then you get it and even pony up a few dollars, and then, what’s this? It’s not magic?

You can lead a disorganized person to the Organization app, but you can’t make him sort his receipts.
–JSON

Most of these apps have Android or other OS analogues, but a few are iThing-specific since they solve some iThing-only issues.

My criteria for “useful” is this: 1. Easy to use. 2. Easy to set up/no set up 3. Doesn’t require anything else but updates. 4. Stays out of my way. 5. Worth the money if it’s not a free app.

Apps I Use

Alarm Clock: Alarm Clock Company. Kind of obvious. I like that I can change the color of the display. You can set a nice chime or a klaxon. Shrug.

Who would use this app: People who are paranoid about waking up on time or who get easily bored with the same old display all the time.

aSender: Get the email app on iPhone to send attachments. Who at Apple thought no one would be sending attachments? Kind of klunky, but it works.

Who would use this app: iThing users who need to send attachments other than images.

Calculator: I calculate stuff. Like tips and other math stuff. Works. Keeps out of the way mostly.

Who would use this app: People who don’t trust math results in their head.

CloudOn: Makes your Microsoft Office documents editable in iThings. There are competing apps, but I’ve used this and it works.

Who would use this app:  iThing users who also use MS Office.

Dropbox: File manager. I expect I don’t need to talk much about this. Let me know if I do.

Who would use this app: People who use dropbox.

Freedome: This is a VPN (Virtual Private Network) that I heard about in time to get in on a use-for-6-months-free deal. My six months are almost up and I expect to purchase. Once it’s set up, which is pretty easy, you’re running in a VPN. I’ve noticed some battery life issues, but my phone is getting to end of life anyway.

Who would use this app: The security minded. Which should also be you. Maybe not this app, there are alternatives, but this is one I am using myself. FWIW. YMMV.

Hue: Phillips. I use it daily. Because … lights. I have tried several other apps, but they seemed to have been designed by the kind of engineer who should never go any where near User Interface Design.

Who would use this app: People with Hue lights

Janetter Pro: A twitter client. It’s not perfect, but I’ve tried many other twitter apps (Hootsuite, Twitter, Echophone, and many that died away) and they were even less perfect. I use Janetter on my desktop, too.

Who would use this app: Tweeters

Jigsaw Puzzle Pro: I started with the free version, and upgraded to pay for this one. This app is best used on a tablet. I love jigsaw puzzles. I tried several before I found this one. The others were insultingly easy. This one lets you use your own photos as the basis for puzzles as well as giving you a large selection of puzzles that are free or can be purchased. For your own photos, the higher resolution the better, though you will be limited in the area you can select. Fun.

Who would use this app: Jigsaw Puzzle addicts

Kindle: Every day, people.

Who would use this app: Readers and book-buyers

LastPass: This is the password manager I use. I wish it could be embedded in Safari on my iThings. But even without that, it’s a nice web browser on its own. You can copy and paste passwords into Safari, if need be, which is a possible security risk, but there you go. At least you can get to your super strong passwords…

Who would use this app: People already using LastPass.

Mailbox: This app currently is only for Gmail access, but they intend to add other email systems. It’s not perfect, but I keep using it because it makes it easier to manage the hell that is gmail. I can very quickly check gmail to see what’s there, and then swipe to remove emails I don’t want to see. You can also set actions on emails such as, “remind me about this email on X date” which is really handy.

Who would use this app: Anyone who finds Gmail to be a horror.

Marvin: eBook reader. Paid. This is a nice little app. I like it a lot. Also synchs with Dropbox and other services. I got it when it was free, but it’s worth the money.

Who would use this app: Readers.

Oblique: This is a weird one. It’s supposed to jump start your creativity, idea machine. And danged if it doesn’t. All it does is show you a phrase or sentence that is so New Age-y hoo-haw ish that you’re likely to laugh. And sometimes I do. But dang.

Who would use this app: Creative sorts. I guess.

Paper: 53 iPad only. Drawing app. If you are an artist, this is would be pretty super, I think. I am not an artist, but it’s a go-to app for me. I can “draw” (that’s draw in the sense that yes, I am drawing, but it ain’t art.) maps, sketch out ideas, write notes, and lists, and then erase all or parts. Make images for blog posts… I think it’s free, but you have to pay for the useful tools. Which are worth it. I bought the pencil, too. Then I just take a screenshot of my “art” and voila.

Terrible drawing that is vaguely cat-like. Or a mouse. It's hard to tell

Possibly Not Actual Art

Who would use this app: Artists. Non-artists who want customized images and are photoshop impaired.

Quordy: Word game. It’s word search with a really simple, elegant interface, and it has sounds (which you can turn off) and no ads and I’ve had this app for years. It’s way less annoying than the Zynga games. I love it. I play it all the time.

Who would use this app: Word search lovers

Shazam: If you can get your phone out and the app open in time, you can find out the name of the music you’re listening to in some store or what have you. I used this app to discover Nancy Arjam.

Who would use this app: People who would LOVE to buy a song they can’t identify.

VoiceDream: Voice Dream LLC This a reader app that costs money. It is designed for people who are sight impaired or have other vision issues, including dyslexia. The app extracts text from various document formats and reads it back. It also shows you where it is in the reading, so you can follow along. You can adjust how the document is displayed — crucial for many people. And you can purchase high quality voices for not a whole lot of money. It will connect to Dropbox and similar services.

You can customize a lot: the pronunciation of words, phrases, or names, the speed of the reading, and much more. My favorite voice so far is Micah. He has a Southern accent that disguises some of the imperfections inherent (so far) in digital voices.

Who would use this app: People with visual limitations or other reading disabilities. Anyone who’d like to proofread a document. Useful for anyone needing hands-free documents.

Note: Because I know this app may already be freaking out certain folks: There is an EXPLICIT exception in the US Copyright Act for  accommodating people who are visually impaired. There is no copyright violation in methods and means of making books available to the visually impaired. If you have a problem with this, in my opinion, you are a horrible person.

Further, this is not a substitute for a professionally narrated audio book. These voices are not actors.

YouMail: Voice mail. Their main selling point to potential customers is it’s ability to read you your voice mails. I’ve never ponied up for that. I did upgrade to a non-free version but now there’s yet another layer of pay, and, well, frankly, I find that confusing. What the?

The main reason I use this app is customized smart greetings and a visual voice mail box. Customized greetings means if you’re in my contacts and leave me a voice mail, the greeting says “Hello [Your name]” and it means you can customize greetings for specific calls.

I can actually SEE what voice mails I have. For a while some idiot was butt-dialing me and I got tired of nicely telling him to stop it. I was able to create a custom greeting for his calls in which I said “Dude, you are calling the wrong number, stop it.” And then send his calls right to the trash. It stopped his calls.

You get an email when you have a message AND you can check and listen to emails from your desktop. Nice.

Who would use this app: People looking for more functionality from their voice mail.

Apps that Sit There Making Me Feel Guilty

eReader. I never use it. Marvin is so nice…
Evernote. Just don’t, you know? I know I should be using this app. But I don’t.
Daedalus: This is a nice little writing app. But. Well. Dang. I don’t know.
GRID: This is supposed to be a creativity, mind mapping idea thingee. It defeats me.

Apps for You?

What apps do you actually use? Which ones have defeated you?