With a few months of Apple product usage under my belt, I’ve started to get a newbie (bordering on genius) perspective on what apps I use the most. Now, granted, I’ve downloaded a TON of apps, based on good recommendations from many people. I just don’t use all of them. Yet. Call it laziness. Call it app overload. Call it ‘I have other things to do’. Call it whatever you want, but let’s stop this rambling and look at the top ten apps that I actually use on a regular basis.
foursquare – This allows you to ‘check-in’ at businesses, restaurants and other places to earn badges and allow friends to see where you’re at. If you check-in enough times you can become ‘mayor’ of a place. It’s set-up as a bit of a competition – for points, mayorships and number of badges you earn. I like the competition aspect, but the primary reasons I like to use this are; a) it will keep an electronic record of places I’ve been (so I don’t have to write them down as I’m wont to do if I ever decide to write about it), b) sometimes you get free stuff for checking in or being mayor, and c) it has a ‘recommendation’ and ‘trending’ feature that shows you the places that are hopping nearby. This is especially useful if you’re visiting a new city or in a neighborhood you’re not familiar with. We’ve found a couple good places in New York using the ‘trending’ feature.
Spotcycle – This shows the number of bicycles and empty docks at each Capital Bikeshare station in the system (for DC and Arlington). It also works for other cities that have bikeshare programs (like London, Melbourne, Toronto and Boston). Since there are so many users in DC now, it is nice to know which stations are full or empty, so you can plan out your riding trip in advance.
Evernote – On the go or in meetings or conferences, this allows you take notes (and add photos, etc.) quickly and easily. What makes this better than the default note taking app? It allows you to sync all your notes and photos for access from all your devices, including your laptop or computer. Take notes for a work meeting on your iPad and pick them up again on your laptop. Edit them, then read them on your iPhone as you’re out and about. With zero effort.
OverDrive – Got library? Now you can check out ebooks from the public library, right on your iPhone/iPad! For free! The selection is not vast as of yet (at least for the DC Public Library system) but how can you beat checking out free virtual books? (Especially those of you too lazy to go to the actual brick and mortar library). It seems you can choose just about any public library system in the USA (it has London, UK; Pierce Country, WA; and DC – good enough for me to make this claim). You do need to have a library card in good standing to check out the ebooks.
RunKeeper – Using GPS, it helps track how fast and far you run, bike, walk and a few other activities. (Someone please explain how you’re supposed to use the swimming option using your iPhone…) It saves your previous activities so you can compare your results. It even sends you congratulatory emails when you break distance and speed records.
Yammer – If you can’t wait to read and respond to all the discussions and knowledge sharing your work colleagues are engaged in, every minute of day, than the Yammer app is a must. No comment will escape your prying eyes with the notifications turned on. You could also grab the Facebook, Twitter and other social networking apps if you so desire.
Flipboard – Read and page through news, your blog feeds and other interesting things (check out the ‘Flickr Interesting’ for some cool daily photos) in a nifty format. Instead of going to multiple sites, read it all from one place.
AppAdvice – Can’t get enough apps? Then you need this app that helps you navigate the sheer volume of options by doing the testing and reviews for you. Need apps for Surviving Tough Economic Times? Read up on their13 lucky recommendations. Want to use your iPad as a TV? See what they have to say. Need apps for a Day at the Beach? There are tons of apps for that. Want to take a nap in your hammock? Well, then put down your device and go outside.
LivingSocial – The daily deals and instant deals are taking over. With Groupon and a truckload of copycats, if you sign-up via email your Inbox is immediately inundated. But rest assured, if you get this app you can access only when the mood strikes. The instant deals allow you to buy a deal for a restaurant or elsewhere, which expires within a limited time. From the daily deals, I bought myself a half-off skydiving adventure – still need to use it!
ESPN ScoreCenter – Need your sports score fix while taking care of business? ESPN’s app gives you an easy way to track the progress of all your favorite teams. Sadly, my teams aren’t making me want to check this very often.
Bonus: Dilbert Mobile – Daily Dilbert comic! Oh yeah!