Even More iPhone Apps

So a combination of having had the iPhone for a while longer, and at least one friend who now has an iPod touch (and therefore asked me about which apps I have on my phone) has prompted me to revisit the list of apps I posted here before. As a side note, I started typing this up using the WordPress app on the phone, keeping it as a local draft until I was ready to add HTML elements and such – once I flip to landscape mode, my twin thumbs of fury can whip out text pretty quick :> As for the apps on my phone, I’ve finally bought some, even more than I’d anticipated I would. But most of the apps I install are still free.  Initially I planned to do this as a plain list of the new apps, but I think I’ll retouch on the ones mentioned before as well since my opinion has changed on a couple (and so I don’t have to keep looking back to see if I mentioned it before :> )

I guess I’ll start off with the “social” apps – ones that connect me to social sites, or other people.

  • Bump – A neat app which was the 1 billionth download, and pulled out ahead of other apps due to its publicity too.  You and a friend have it running, you’ve already selected your personal contact information, and you each hold the phone in your hand and fist bump.  The program uses your GPS data and precise timing to talk to the bump servers, confirm on each phone that you bumped with the other person, then swap data.  It’s neat, it’s fun, and might still be one of the best ways to swap contact information with someone for the time being.  With the new features available in iPhone OS 3.x, I wonder how long until a bluetooth or wifi “beaming” app becomes more popular, but I haven’t seen one yet.
  • Delicious Bookmarks – Access your delicious account (formerly del.icio.us).  There’s also a Pro version that lets you open in a built-in browser and better search.  This works for me.
  • Echofon for Twitter – Formerly “Twitterfon”, this is the client I use.  There are many like it, but this one is mine.
  • Facebook – Facebook Mobile for iPhones.  The latest version rocks.  I use this probably daily, but part of that is my Facebook addiction talking.
  • Pandora Radio – Listen to your Pandora station(s) on your phone.  I used this one day recently while doing some light work in the yard, just put it on and cranked up the volume, left the phone in a front pocket.  Worked great for a while, then suffered a brain fart – that could be because my wireless in the back yard was marginal though, and the phone got tired of hopping on and off of it.  Works over 3G too though!
  • Ping! – This app I use on occasion, in part because friends with iPod Touches can join in the fun.  Uses push notifications to send messages, but doesn’t have a tie to an IM system (like AIM or Jabber).  It won’t replace SMS for me, but allows for longer messages and lower bills if my wife and I are just going back and forth with silly stuff.
  • Skype – I had created a couple Skype accounts a long time ago, but still don’t really use them – I rarely have a need.  But I thought this might be a nice thing to get as well on the phone – now they just need a push notification system so you can “receive” a call when the app isn’t running.

My list of utilities is pretty large.  Many of these I use daily, some I use rarely, but all I’ve found useful enough to keep on the phone even if it’s for a just-in-case moment.

  • Air Sharing – Turns your phone into a WebDAV server, and you can connect to it from other machines to use it as a portable drive.  I find myself using this less often now that I have Dropbox, but I keep it around “just in case”.  Of course I also keep very little free space on the phone, so the size of what I can copy is somewhat limited.
  • AT&T myWireless Mobile – Access your AT&T Wireless account directly (instead of using the web interface in Safari).  Quite slick.
  • Battery Magic – Basically grabs your battery remaining percentage and gives you a chart showing how long you can perform various tasks.  My use of this app is directly proportional to my distance from a means of charging the phone.
  • CardStar – You know all those grocery, discount and shoppers club cards or keyfobs you’ve got?  Enter their numbers into this, and you don’t need to carry them.  Well, you might, because not everything can read the bar code off the screen – but 9 times out of 10 I’ve been able to use it, and I no longer keep a key ring in my truck loaded with these silly tags just in case I stop by the drugstore on my way  home from work.
  • Chronolite – Lets you keep up to four timers running (count up or count down).  I use this for grilling a lot, since otherwise I’d forget to flip the steaks when I get too busy chatting with whomever else is in the yard with me.
  • DIRECTV – Just heard about something that will be on TV, but nowhere near your remote control to tell the DVR to record it?  Fire up this app, and tell it over the satellite signal itself.  Works very fast too – I’ve told it to record something that already started, and by the time I look up to watch for the record light on the DVR, it’s already lit.  Also good for looking up show information, channels, etc.  A must have for any DirecTV subscriber, if you ask me.
  • Dropbox – How have I not heard about Dropbox’s service before recently?  Sign up for an account with them, you get a free 2GB disk “in the cloud” where you can store stuff.  Sign up other computers, and when you drop something in the dropbox from one, it gets copied to all the rest.  Share with friends or coworkers who also signed up, or share with anyone by getting a public link for a file that you can send to grandma for photos of the kids.  And hey, sign up using the link above and you get an extra bit of space (as do I) for being referred to it.  Win-win :>
  • Flashlight – Yep, one of those.  Now and then, even my eyes can’t see where the toys are on the floor in the dark.  Silly, simple, and effective.
  • Gas Cubby – I used to use the next app for keeping track of my MPG ratings, but I’m starting to use this one; also because Stephanie and I can sync records between our phones.  Why is that nice?  Because this also keeps track of service, so I don’t have to refer back to a hand-scrawled note or a spreadsheet to remember when the last time was I checked the brakes.  Adding an odometer reading every time you fill up the tank not only calculates your MPG, but tickles the timers for when the next service event is due – and syncing between our phones means I can look up when Stephanie’s truck’s tires need rotating too.
  • GasBag – While I don’t use this for tracking my fill ups anymore, I do still use it for finding gas stations.  I may not travel out of the area much, but when I do it’s nice to be able to look these up – and nicer when people in the area have filled in the prices for gas recently.  Instantly see where the cheapest place is to top off the tank!
  • Google Earth – It’s Google Earth, for your phone.  I rarely use this, but I still keep it here.  I figure it makes up for not owning a globe in a couple decades.
  • Lose It! – Keep track of your caloric intake and help you to lose weight.  I used this for a while, and eventually stopped (right around when my daughter was born, since I knew I was eating like crap and didn’t want to be reminded of it).  I keep it here as a reminder I need to start again.  Of course then I remember the cake in the kitchen…
  • Midomi Music Identifier and Search – We’ve all had those moments where we hear a song and think, “Who sings that?  What’s the title?”  Well fire up Midomi and point the microphone towards the nearest speaker, and it’ll do its best to tell you.  I originally had a different one, but I liked how this one worked better.  Strangely I just noticed it’s selling for $4.99, but I don’t remember paying for it – either it used to be free, or I got it under a promo at some point.
  • mobiQpons
    Yowza!! Mobile Coupons – Both of these apps tell you about deals in your local area and present coupons for savings.  I don’t use these too often, but then I don’t do a lot of shopping either.  I do tend to look through both of them when I’m in a store though.
  • Mocha VNC Lite – VNC for your phone.  Another of those not-often-used apps, but when you need that functionality there’s nothing else that will work.  This VNC app is pretty good.
  • MotionX GPS Sport – Formerly “MotionX GPS”, they renamed it when they released a turn-by-turn directions app.  This one can store tracks, waypoints, and has various maps available.  Of the apps available, I thought this one was most worthwhile.
  • Network Speed Test – From the folks at DSLreports, you can use this to test your wifi or cellular network speeds.  Can attach to your dslreports account to keep records there too.
  • Network Utility – A handful of utilities in one app.  Ping, portscan, whois… I use and like it, but continue to learn Objective-C so I can write my own :>
  • Prowl: Growl Client – Imagine if any of your Growl notifications on your home computer could be sent to your phone (like an Adium popup, or “download finished” message) as a push notification.  Now imagine if there was a shell script and/or API available.  Imagine no further, and you’ll know why I have this app.
  • Remote – Control your iTunes playback from anywhere on the same network.  Or submit requests to someone’s library, if they have it turned on.  Combine with an Airport Express in my house, this is great for queuing up a ton of music and yet letting others decide if they want to hear something else.
  • RemoteBoot Lite – Wake-On-Lan program.  Lets you store 5 systems and wake them with a button press.  Now that I’m hibernating my desktop instead of just sleeping it, it’s slightly less useful, but still good for the times when I sleep it and want to wake it up (especially in conjunction with the previous app – wake up the desktop, connect to its iTunes, tell the sound to play to the living room, hit shuffle).
  • Toodledo – The to-do list app that I use almost daily.  Push notifications for upcoming due times and many other nice features.  This one can work standalone as well, but I have it linked to an account at Toodledo so I can access my data from the web if needed.
  • TouchTerm SSH – SSH client for the phone.  Works better than most I’ve tried, so I actually bought this one.  I don’t use it often, but like VNC above it’s the kind of app that can’t be replaced when you need that functionality.
  • VIP Access – A portable security token from Verisign.  I use their PIP system for OpenID, so all the sites where I can use OpenID I have tied to that account, which in turn is tied to this program.  Open it up and get a different code every 30 seconds.  Only problem I’ve seen is that sometimes things get out of sync; the code on the screen has actually expired by the time I type it in, but the timer is still counting down to the next one in the algorithm.  Usually exiting and restarting the app will get you closer to in sync.  Now I just want/need various banks to buy into the system so I can use this for true two-factor authentication (something I know, and something I have).
  • White Noise Lite – We made a discovery one day: Emily would fall asleep faster, and/or calm down more quickly, with white noise in the background.  Instead of tossing the dust buster under her chair and running down its batteries, I grabbed a copy of this and found it worked just as well.  I keep it around for just such an emergency :>
  • Who Called? – When you get a call from a number you don’t recognize, you can look it up here and see if others have found who it is and what they have to say about the caller.  My nosy curiosity is usually satisfied by punching in ten digits to this app.
  • WordPress – Access a WordPress site’s backend and write stories without using Safari and the web interface.  Also lets you store local drafts, so you can work on a post while far from network access.  I don’t use this often, but I’ve used it to jot down ideas to hash out later, then save them as a draft on the site to come back to (such as this article).
  • 1 for all Remote Presenter – I have yet to use this, so I don’t know how well it actually works.  You install a companion program on the computer, and then can use the phone to control it for presentations or whatnot.  Some day I’ll have a need for this, I’m sure.  Grabbed it while it was free, now it’s a buck.
  • 1Password Pro – I recently decided it was time to change all my passwords.  Even though security is part of my job, I too had fallen into the rut of using a small handful of passwords total, tiered based on how secure the site is, and reusing some of them in entirely too many places.  Enter 1Password, an app for the phone and for the Mac that lets you generate very secure passwords and save them in a safe manner.  Now all of the sites I visit get a unique password, and I have those passwords saved on my desktop (and thanks to Dropbox, on my laptop and work computer as well).  They’re talking about better ways to access the password database on Windows and Linux, but in the mean time the next version will have a feature called “1PasswordAnywhere” that lets you read the database with a browser, using Javascript to perform the decryption.  So even if the app and Firefox plugin won’t work on my work machine, I can still get to the passwords – just not with the full integration.  I abso-freaking-lutely love this app and the whole system.  The app can work standalone, but I bought the desktop program as well (there’s a 30-day trial if you want to test it out first).

Finally, the apps that I have in iTunes, but don’t have on the phone anymore.  Some of these apps are paid apps, but I don’t think I actually paid for any of them – instead, I got many by watching freeappalert.com‘s RSS feed and grabbing stuff that looks interesting while it’s on sale.  I’m not bothering with links for these, since I’m not really recommending them for anything; they’re not necessarily bad, I just didn’t care for them.

  • AppBox – This was a free app that has a bunch of tools in it.  I found I was using none of them, so it went away.
  • Barcode – Supposed to be able to read those fancy 2D barcodes.  I only find them on UPS labels, and don’t care that much.
  • The Battle of Pirate Bay – Seems like a neat-ish game, I just found myself not playing it.
  • Bluetooth Walkie Talkie – This app was free for a short while, and I told a few others about it to get them to grab it too.  Only problem is, it’s only good for Bluetooth range, which is short enough that I could lean past the phone and say it right to the person instead.  Meh.
  • BubbleWrap – Pop as many bubbles as you can in the allotted time.  Did it a few times.  Unlike the real thing, I can’t wrap my hands around it and wring it out to get the last ones, so it went to the bit bucket.
  • Civilization Revolution Lite – I absolutely love this game on the PS3.  However it doesn’t seem to translate well to the iPhone, so after playing only a couple times I fired up the PS3 instead.
  • d20Touch – Why are we here?  Because we’re here – roll the bones.
  • Free Wi-Fi Finder – I’ve yet to be somewhere that this app would be useful, because I generally don’t travel with the laptop to places where I need to get online and otherwise can’t.  If I’ve just got the phone, it’s got 3G, so still don’t need this.
  • FStream – I don’t even remember what this app was for, I think streaming audio feeds.  Never got it working to my liking with the couple streams I was interested in.
  • Google Mobile App – I can just as easily open Safari and go to what I want.  Never used the audio search thing, so this was taking up space on a home screen near the end of the list.
  • Have2Drink
    Have2Snack – Four neat apps that tell you places to get food, a beverage, a bathroom or a snack.  I know the areas well enough where I travel that I found myself not using these but using my memory instead.  I still like these, if you’re traveling somewhere new, but I don’t do that much travel.
  • i Love Katamari Lite – I like this game, but not enough to pay for it I think.  Since the lite version just gives you something like one level to complete, doing it a few times is enough.
  • JellyCar – This is such a neat looking game, I wanted to love it.  But I could never get far past the interface – trying to make the car do things felt like an exercise in futility.  There was an update a little while ago, I tried again, but it still wasn’t for me.
  • Radio Flare – I think I played this for an hour or so, and while it’s a neat game I decided to remove it.  Probably because I don’t play too many games where I sit down and play, it’s more like, “I’ve got five minutes to kill, let me do something fun that I can put down and not feel like I’ve wasted my time since my progress won’t continue.”
  • Remember The Milk – I actually bought a year of their service to make the iPhone app work (you have to have a paid account to sync with the app) but then discovered Toodledo instead.  Their app is a paid app while RTM’s is free, but Toodledo doesn’t require the yearly payment – and their service seems to fit my needs better.  So this app ended up getting canned.
  • Sheep Abduction – Another game I played for a little while, thought, “That’s cute” and then promptly forgot.  Nothing against the app, just not something I’d sit down and play for a long time.
  • Speedtest.net Speed Test – Once I found the test app for dslreports, this one went away.
  • StickWars Lite – I’m seeing a trend in my iPhone gaming… games which I can walk away from and either come back to or restart without having lost progress I keep, but ones that require a time commitment get relegated to automatic updates and yet not being installed on the phone…
  • Tuber – I tried playing this, and after about two minutes thought, “This is nothing like the pipe dream clones I’m used to.”  Note: That was a bad thing.
  • Vehicle Logbook Lite – This looks like a nice app, but since my wife and I both have iPhones and I wanted to keep multiple vehicle data sync’d between both of them, I found a better choice.
  • Wave Writer – A persistence-of-vision app.  I played with it for a few minutes, and never got it to do anything except make me look foolish waving my phone in the air.  Unfortunately, I did care, so I stopped waving.

I do have a bunch of games on my iPhone as well, however this article is quite long enough, and games can be a subjective thing.  Most of the games I’ve got (Blue Block, Flood-It, Pocket Tanks) are ones you can play a level or two and put it down, either having your progress saved or not having a progression.  If you only have a minute, or get interrupted, you don’t feel like you have to find a way to save or else your time was wasted.  Also, most of the games I have are free, or were downloaded during giveaway sales, but there’s a handful (Scrabble, Pocket God) that I actually bought and am happy with my purchase.  Maybe I’ll do another post on games at some point, but I find myself going through so many of them for a day or so and then throwing them away – that one category would probably take up more space than this whole article did :>

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