My favorite iTouch/iPhone toys (err…tools)
One of the dangers of the iPod Touch/iPhone and the App store is that it is just plain too much fun! I love my n’tbook, and would not trade it for a full size laptop of any kind, but the iDevices are my dream come true: Essentially a full working computer, that you can do real stuff, both work and play, with. Yet it fits in your pocket, turns on almost instantly, and gives you access to the all the riches of the cloud. This I have said before.
Over the past two months I have tried a lot of the free (well some of the free) apps in the App store. Most, after a few days, have drifted toward the back pages of my application set (I have 4 pages now, which is one reason I held out for the 16gb Touch). Only a few have found places on the front page.
I have also purchased a few programs that I thought would be significantly better than free alternatives, or for which there is no free alternative.
I have to say that I am constantly amazed a the quality of the free offerings! Hats off to the community of iDevelopers.
So, what is on my front page?
In no particular order (after the first few which are my most used).
TwitterFon: So far, the best of the free twitter clients, and maybe, unless you need multiple accounts, the best twitter client overall. Lots to like about this program. I use it sometimes by preference even when my n’tbook is up and running.
Facebook: Just upgraded to V2. Excellent client for this popular socail networking site. With this one out there free from the source, no one is going to be tempted to try to better it.
Gmail: The native Mail client has a lot to recommend it, however I have become addicted to the conversation view of my email. Gmail’s mobile client maintains all the functionality of the Gmail site, including Archive, Delete, etc. You can get to it through Google Mobile Apps, but it is easier to bookmark it in Safari and have an icon added to the apps pages.
iBird Explorer Plus: using this more and more. Got a little powered speaker to use the bird calls and songs in the field. With this, I will rarely need to carry a paper guide in the field.
Calendar: with sync set up with my Google Calendar through http://www.nuevasync.com, and all my other calendars (n’tbook, Lotus Notes on my work laptop, and my blackberry through an enterprise server) synced to my Google Calendar, the native Calendar app is quite elegant. I find myself updating appointments on the iTouch by choice.
Notes: quick a dirty. Grocery lists.
The Weather Channel weather app. Best I have found. Hourly icons for 12 hours. Detail for 36. Icons for 10 days. Easy to set and keep multiple locations. Alerts from the NWS. Makes the native weather app look silly.
Spell Check: never could spell. I sometimes have to check a word while working of-line. This 99 cent app does the job, and gives definitions too!
Units: I work for an international company and am often called on translate specification sheets. There are some free units calculators out there and I have not tried them all, but I have not regretted the 99 cents I spent on this one. Elegant. Easy. Fast.
USA Today: excellent news reader. Good selection of news. Who needs a newspaper?
The Holy Bible: I love alternative translations. This reader has a huge variety of translations available while on-line, and several interesting ones for download. Daily Reading. Access to commentaries and studies. And of course, instant search by keyword or verse. I even use this in Church now instead of carrying my bound version.
Evernote: my mind in the cloud. Air itineraries. Receipts. Shipping info. etc. An elegant iClient too!
Maps: what can you say? Everyone needs a map on occasion. Works really well! I only wish you could save a map for off-line viewing (without resorting to a 3rd party app.) Are you listening Google?
Google Apps: set to open in Google Search. Why open Safari, when you can open this and find whatever you want. Plus, it searches contacts, bookmarks, etc. Kind of like Google Desktop for your iDevice.
fring: I have only had this app for a few days. I was looking for a Skype client and found this through a blog entry. Looking good. I have ordered a mic so I can, maybe, make Skype calls from my iTouch. Wouldn’t that be neet! In the meantime, it will do Google Talk and Skype Chats just fine. I think I will be using it a lot, at least until Skype is available for real on the iDevices.
And finally! The Torch. There are a lot of these, both paid and free, on the App store. This one is free and works. Keeps a nice white blank screen on for as long as you need it. Flashes if you want (not sure why you would want, unless you need to signal the mothership). I use it in dark hotel rooms, etc. (mostly to find the bathroom or my phone).
I could dig into the back pages where I do have quite a few apps that I use, but, honestly, these few that have earned a place on my front page are the ones I use 90% of the time.
And, of course, I can not finish without pointing out the apps fixed to the bottom of the page.
Music. Of course! My mobile sanity, especially with a good pair of noise canceling headphones (Audio Technica! Good as the Bose and available at Amazon for under $100!).
Photos: Once I figured out how to have multiple folders, I keep a good set of my most-likely-to-want-to-share images on the iTouch. Excellent slideshow and quite viewable! (Multiple folders are not hard: set up an iPics folder on your hard drive. Put the folders inside you want on your iDevice, and set iTunes to sync photos from your iPics folder.)
And iTunes. The Genius feature is costing me money. It finds music I like. Not good (or Good, depending). And occasionally I want to download it directly to the iTouch. Isn’t it nice that I can. How thoughtful of Apple!
So, there you have it. The fully (as far as I am concerned) tricked out iTouch. What could be more fun?