Thursday, December 11, 2014

My Top Apps

One of the things that the iOS device class has brought to the user is convenience.  Take the iPhone for instance. You now have constant access to the internet, friends using any of the social media services, games, be they stand alone or multiplayer or interactive. This just did not exist in the way it does now before the iPhone.

On the down side for each application type there are a multitude of apps, a multitude ranging from expensive to free, from excellent to a waste of precious iOS memory. How do you decide between them. I often use reviews but that can be deceptive. You could trawl through forums but that can be tedious. You can ask your friends but often they choose an app on a rather arbitrary basis. There are many tech sites dedicated to bringing you comparative reviews of particular app types and this is probably the best way to find good apps.

This is my attempt to help guide you to what I consider to be my favourite apps and why I favour them. This does not mean that they are the best, only that they are the apps that I happen to like in each category.

I have not counted but I now have many hundreds of apps and no longer use many of them but some I use regularly and some several times a day. I have often collected multiple apps in the same category and I sometimes drift between them from time to time due to feature updates of annoying bugs or sometimes because I can. I am as fickle as the next person so you really need to judge for yourself whether an app will suite you. This is my personal opinion based on whatever random felling or questionable logic I had at the time.

Google Earth Free (universal)
One is one the stable of Google mobile apps. Get a 3D view and lay of the land. To see the other Google apps search for Google in the app store.

There are three decent weather apps which obtain their weather from the BOM they are Pocket Weather,  Oz Weather and Weatherzone. I was using Oz Weather until recently and then shifty Jelly updated Pocket Weather to version 3 with a brand new app and now this is my favourite. It looks gorgeous and the new design is easy to use and full of information. There are still some features I like in Oz Weather and indeed both provide excellent up to date coverage but now Pocket weather has slipped ahead.

Google Maps Free (universal)
Maps Internal
The origonal maps app for the iPhone was provided by Google but it was replaced a couple of years ago by the current version based on Tom Tom maps. I have used both Google Maps and Maps for navigation and both are excellent and pretty close to each other in features.I probably use both equally and have few issues.

In my humble opinion the best free dictionary in the app store and amongst the best of the lower end paid for dictionaries. It has an excellent range and word origins which many of the dictionary apps do not.

Ice TV Free
Not in App shopper since it is not in the US store.
This free app provides a free 7 day rolling TV guide to all Australian TV programs. It can also be used to program your compatible PVR such as BeyonWiz, Topfield, Strong or Dvico, but that requires a subscription which is $99 for 12 months (although I wait for the half price specials). The guide by itself is free. Simply download the app and sign up inside the app and you get your personalised TV guide.
iTV Shows 3 Universal $3.79
 iTV Shows allows you to track which episodes of which series you watch. If like us you have wide ranging tastes it is sometimes difficult keeping track of what you have watched. You get 5 minutes into a show and you realise you have seen it. This app allows you to mark episodes as watched. It also synchronises to the cloud so that you can use it from all of your devices and it updates automatically.

Informant $13.99
This app provides a calendar, todo list, and contacts. It synchronises with whatever service you use including your internal lists. This is on the expensive side but I bought it on discount. I have been using this for many years, ever since I owned a Pocket PC, maybe 2004 at a guess. It is a big improvement on the internal calendar.

eBudy XMS Free iPhone only
This like SMS but free and many more facilities. All of your friends need to use it as well. There are also clients for Android, Windows Mobile, Nokia, blackberry and as a web client on your PC. So whatever smart phone platform your friends use you can communicate using XMS.

Life360 Free iPhone only
This app tracks your friends and family and tells you where they are. Some people are spooked by this but I think it is fantastic. Liesa and I use it to track each other (how else would I know where she is :). Our children also use it to keep track of their children. It gives them great peace of mind. In the free version you can set two way points where you can alert when people arrive or leave. You can also set groups of people so that each group can be private.You can also set avatars, chat check-in and send an alert in the case of an emergency. A circle (group) can pay an additional US$5 for unlimited waypoints expanded history plus a few other features.

DVD Profiler $9.49 (requires paid app for PC or web synchronisation) (universal)
DVD Profiler is one of the best DVD BluRay cataloging programs (PC only). I bought it to catalogue my hundreds of DVDs and now Bly Rays. The iOS app allows me to synchronise with my PC app and also have my entire catalogue on the run. When I buy a ne Blu Ray I scan the bar code on my iPhone, enter the purchase date (today by default) location and cost. I can then synchronise with the PC app and it also allows online synchronisation so that I never loose my catalogue. 

Olive Tree Bible Reader Free (universal)
This is my favourite bible reader for the following reasons
  • Most versions available for purchase
  • Many additional resources available
  • Free app for the Mac and PC
  • Can synchronise books between any platforms meaning that you only have to purchase a book once.
Dropbox Free (universal)
Dropbox is an online free backup facility that gives you 2G free online storage. It has a PC or Mac app that automatically synchronises your Access your important files. The iOS app can access these files so that you can view or edit them whenever you have your iOS device with you and you have internet access. You can also share files and folders with other dropbox users or make them public if you wish. There are a host of applications that utilise Dropbox such as KyPass (see below).

Evernote Free Universal
This is a great note taking app and has been around in various guises for a long time. It was one of the first of its type and it is still amongst the best. You can categorise notes, add pictures, format notes. I use it constantly for keeping random things such as grinding wheel sizes, shirt size, random lists of stuff I need to buy at Bunnings, the list is endless. Notes synchronise between devices so you have you notes wherever you have a device. It is available for PC, Mac, and most hand held devices.

KyPass 3 $7.49 (universal)
I use KeePass to store my passwords. It uses high level single password encryption with an optional secure key. There are several iOS apps that can access a KeePass password database but KyPass seems to be the best of them. Using Dropbox I can access the same password database from any Mac, PC or iOS device. Thus I can have my passwords with me wherever I am and all with a single master password. The PC application also has some nice facilities such as auto type to automatically enter your credentials into a web page for instance.

eBuddy XMS Free
It is like SMS but more powerful. It allows you to chat and send photos with text stickers all for no cost. 

IMDB Free (universal)
On line movie database - need I say more :)

iSip Basic $0.99, Full $6.49
Use this to connect to your favourite VOIP service from your iPhone to save a ton of money on interstate and overseas calls. Two such services are Pennytel and MyNetFone.

As I said above, do your own research and look up comparative reviews on the various tech sites do see which apps provides the features you want.

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