Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My iPhone Essentials

Yes, I love my iPhone.

I sometimes wonder how I got by without a smartphone for so long. It's hard to believe that I've only had a smartphone since mid-June of last year. It feels as though I've had it for ages. Perhaps that's because before my iPhone, I had an iPod, got used to the feel of it, to the various apps.

With the iPhone, I have all of those apps and more. I have the Internet at my fingertips, wherever I am, whenever I need it.

Of all the apps I have, there are those that I use more than others. And so I put them on my home page. And today, I thought I'd share them with you. See if you use the same. Maybe show you some that you haven't seen but might like to use.

Here they are:

You'll notice that there are no photo apps on this page, just my photo albums. I have 16 photography apps on my second page, and some day I'll share them with you. Maybe on a Photo Friday. But for now, let me explain these apps that I use all the time.

Some of my main-page apps need no explanation: they come with the phone. Everyone has them and you can't delete them. Like the AppStore, Calendar, Music, Photos, Phone, Messages, Mail, and Settings. Also, I don't need to talk about Facebook. And for the longest time, Facebook was buried in a social networking folder, was barely used. It is still the least-used app on my main page. But I do use the app when I get notifications. I don't post often on Facebook and when I do, I use my laptop. I use it every few days to check on my friends and family who use it more often than I do. So I won't talk about Facebook again in this post.

Here's what I will talk about:

SoundHound—this music scanner and database app is something that I wanted long before there were smartphones. How many of you were in a store, a restaurant, or near a radio that was playing a song, and you thought to yourself, "What's that song? I love it!" But you were unable to instantly find the information. Not only does this app listen to the song, but when it identifies the song it will scroll the lyrics and let you either bookmark it for later reference or buy the song from iTunes. This app is similar to Shazam, but I like the big orange button on this app. It matches my Music button.

foursquare—more and more people are using this app to keep tabs on their location and their friends' location. So that it's easier to stalk one another. What I like about this app is that when you check in to a location, you can learn about deals, specials, food recommendations, and other tips at that location and neighbouring spots. The mayorships and badges are kind of fun, but I don't need no stinking badges. And yes, I know that because I check in to foursquare often that I'm easy to find. That's okay. I already have a pretty big thumbprint on the Internet. I'm not afraid of being stalked (you wouldn't stalk me, would you?).

Hootsuite—as most of you know, I'm on Twitter a lot. This is my favourite app for delivering my messages. One of the things I like the best about Hootsuite is that I can schedule my tweets. When I write a blog post, I often schedule it to publish at midnight, when I'm tucked in bed or am already asleep. In the morning, I check that the post looks okay, and then I shrink the URL, using Bitly, and then set up tweets to post at 9 AM, noon, and 8 PM. All before I've had my breakfast. And then I don't think about my post again.

Errands To Do List—I need a to-do list for just about everything. Mostly, I remind myself to take my meds, to pay bills, to water plants, and to change the furnace filter. This app is pretty simple and has never let me down. Now, if only there was a way that the app could keep pestering me after a task alarm sounds until I complete that task and check it off the list.

WeatherEye—I use this app every morning, when I'm deciding how to dress for the day. Do I need a sweater? A raincoat? Snow boots? I have a version of this app on my laptop, so it only made sense to take it with me wherever I went. And best of all, it's The Weather Network, so it's pretty reliable.

Alarm Clock—everybody needs an alarm clock, don't they? The nice thing about this app is that you can program many different alarms with different sounds. I use the Boomtown Rats for Mondays, Wake Up And Smell The Coffee on days where I get up early and don't want blaring music to wake Lori, and The Cure on Fridays (when I'm in love). This app also provides a quick visual display of the weather, so I can look at it while it's docked. It's a valuable app that I set up before I go to bed.

urbanspoon—this is the best app for finding restaurants. I used it last summer, when I was in Boston, and it hit the mark every time. I was pleased with every choice it recommended. And the same goes for when I'm at home but I'm looking for a new place to eat. I also write reviews and have shared my dining experiences. This is an indispensable app.

Starbucks—not only does this app help me find the closest coffee shop and its hours, it's also my rewards card. I can charge up the app and hold my phone at the scanner at Starbucks to pay for my purchase. That's coffee power! Need I say more? And next month, I will test the app to see if it works in the U.S., when I head to Buffalo.

MyTransit-OC Transpo—this is my newest app, and it's still undergoing a shakedown. This app is for my public transit: I can find the closest bus stop, find out then my next bus is coming, and plan routes. So far, it's fairly similar to another app I have, My Bus. Only with that app, I couldn't plan routes. The OC Transpo app, so far, hasn't been that accurate. I need to spend more time with it to figure it out. I've only used it to learn when my next bus is coming, when I've been in a rush, and so far the buses have been earlier than the app says. But so far, I haven't missed a bus.

LCBO On The Go—looking for a specific beer or bottle of wine? Want to know if your local store has it in stock? Have a bottle of whisky and want to know more about it? This app helps me find the nearest liquor store, its hours, and whether it's stocking my drink of choice. And I can scan the UPC symbol on a label and see if the LCBO has it in its database. I can store that information and shop for it when I want. With my beer reviews, this app has come in handy more than a few times. Is almost as valuable as my Starbucks app. Almost. It's only usable in Ontario. The Starbucks app works across Canada.

So those are my iPhone essentials. What are yours?


  1. I'm surprised a beer drinker like you doesn't use Untappd!

  2. I do have that app... now!

    Thanks for the recommendation, Libby!