I am a bejeweled addict, too. I belong to an all gal gay pride group in Pa, and we all love this one.
Dirty little app secrets
They say that the music on your iPod is indicative of your personality profile. I wonder if the same goes for phone apps? In any case, here’s a list of the apps (minus the dull but incredibly useful banking ones) that appear on my iPhone and my justifications for having them.
Where possible, I have included links for all mobile platforms. I should also add that these applications are personal choices only and not related to anything other than my own technical whim.
I’m keen to hear about your favourite apps — and any dirty little app secrets you may not normally own up to. (Go on - it’s cathartic!)
What kind of indictment is it that this is my first listed app? And it’s not even the original game; it’s the oh-so-commercial franchise version developed in partnership with 20th Century Fox. You see, having well and truly missed the Angry Birds boat the first time around (I was busy playing Bejeweled, but more on that in a moment), I didn’t want to feel like I was missing out. And there’s a lot to learn from this deceptively simple game – just ask IT strategist and author, Daniel Rasmus, who penned the brilliant 10 lessons from Angry Birds that can make you a better CIO. So I justify its existence on this list as research.
I don’t use this app terribly often, but I’m glad it’s there. It’s a quick and easy way to find postcodes or placenames. Australia Post has the same functionality on its website, but I prefer the immediacy of the app.
My name is Georgina Swan, and I am a Bejeweled addict. Specifically, Bejeweled Blitz, the one minute version of the game where you must match shiny gems and blow them apart in showers of colour for maximum points. This game is like cigarettes: Easy to start and nigh impossible to give up. I speak from experience. Like Angry Birds, it masquerades as a simple, casual game but it will suck you in fast. As I sit here writing this, my iPhone is winking at me, inviting me to play just ‘one more game’. Apparently, the app (like many) collects all sorts of information about its users. But I don’t care — I just want my fix.
Quite a groovy little app, this one, with the added sexiness of Cloud computing thrown in. There’s two parts to the Bump story. The first is the app that runs on my device. At the other end, a smart matching algorithm runs on servers in the Cloud. When I tap — or ‘bump’ — my phone against another person using the app, Bump uses the phone's sensors to send info up to the Cloud. The matching algorithm listens to the ‘bumps’ from phones around the world, paring phones that felt the same ‘bump’. The result: I can instantly send contact info, photos and all sorts of info with other Bump users simply by ‘bumping’ phones. (Oi, you there with the dirty mind…get it out of the gutter!)
Decaf Sucks (Coffee Finder)
Don’t speak to me in the morning until I’ve had my coffee. And instant? Don’t even go there. The people at Icelab feel the same way, so they developed Decaf Sucks, a website that uses crowdsourcing to find the best brew. As the site says: “Life’s too short to drink bad coffee.” Decaf Sucks was originally built over a single weekend for the 2009 Rails Rumble, the Ruby on Rails programming competition where teams of up to four people have 48 hours to build original Web apps. I simply added the site to my home screen so you could argue that it’s not technically an ‘app’. My response: It’s better than an app, because it looks great, usability is awesome and it’s device agnostic. You can use it with or without location services enabled and you can sign in with either Twitter or Facebook accounts. Very tasty.
Lots of people swear by this training program and I downloaded the app as part of an ongoing project for 2011 to get fit. It’s a work in progress (the fitness, I mean), but the app really started me off in the right direction. Couch to 5K, or C25K, is designed to get just anybody of just about any fitness level from the couch to running five kilometres or 30 minutes in nine weeks. I also have the Get Running app, which is based on the same program. Both have to option to include music. At the end of each workout, you can send messages to all your Twitter followers and Facebook friends, proclaiming the glories of your progress.
Do you know how much fabulous fly fishing gear you can buy on eBay? Ok, so my vice (if you want to call it that) is fishing, but with eBay it can be just about anything, and the site has apps available for most mobile platforms, be they iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone 7 or Blackberry.
Echofon is a family of Twitter apps from Mountain View-based software company, naan studio. There are heaps of Twitter clients out there and they each have their pros and cons, but I like Echofon’s simplicity; it’s clean, easy to use and keeps my tweets in sync between my phone and computer. I use it to manage my personal Twitter account, @swandives, and I use TweetDeck for CIO’s account, @CIO_Australia. TweetDeck supports multiple accounts (more on that later) but I tend to suffer from ‘information overload’ if I’m looking at more than one account. It also mitigates the problem of accidentally tweeting from the wrong account; I’ve done that a few times...no major embarrassments or anything, but I have learned to be wary.
One of the first apps I downloaded - it was featured on the App store. It is essentially recipe and shopping list app. Time rated it one of 2011’s 50 best iPhone apps. It is very northern hemisphere centric, but the recipes are lovely, it makes great use of reviews and it is beautiful to look at. A winning formula, in my book.
I use this app a lot to keep up with friends and family. I haven’t set it to push notifications at me because I find the constant ‘reminders’ annoying, but it’s a great way to share links and photos with your network.
I must admit, I don’t use this one very often. But it does allow let users to quickly upload photos from their phone to Flickr, and also includes some functions such as geotagging. I also like the slideshow of pics from Flickr contacts.
Why not the 2011 edition, you ask? It comes back to the fitness regime; scrumptious cuisine doesn’t fit too well with that, unfortunately. Can’t fault the content, however, and I am a sucker for a good restaurant, as many of you who have attended a CIO Roundtable event can attest.
I don’t have an IceTV subscription, more's the pity, but this app is worth it for the TV program alone. IceTV is the organisation that was taken to court by Channel 9 for alleged copyright infringements of the network’s programming guide, but a panel of High Court judges found the organisation not guilty. That’s good news for me, because I can use my phone to quickly see what’s on. If you have an IceTV subscription and an enabled personal video recorder, the world is your oyster; you can record and manage programs from anywhere.
I have been known to sit in front of the television at night with this app and practise tying knots. That makes me truly tragic, doesn’t it? I prefer ‘dedicated to the cause’; that cause being fishing. This is app is clear and concise and I have used it many times to remind me of the intricacies of a slim beauty or nail knot. The app organises knots by category so they are easy to find. It also includes a list of ‘knot lingo’ to help you separate your standing end from your bight.
Google’s answer to FourSquare and Facebook Places. Google has learned from past experiences (such as Buzz) and provides very clear instructions regarding privacy; you can set the location tracking so that it’s automatic, you can ‘Check-in’ or you can choose to hide your location. You can also choose whether you want the world to see your updates or just select ‘Friends’. I think Latitude is a service that really shows the conundrum of doing the right thing by users - by specifically stating the privacy implications (and hats off to Google for doing this), it automatically limits the usefulness of the app. I don’t update my location often enough to get the most from it, for example, and nor do my friends.
The social network for professionals is also available on various mobile platforms. Obviously, you don’t have all the functions of the website, but the fundamentals are all there, including updates, news, connections, your inbox and invitations. The latest update to the iPhone app introduces new gesture features that LinkedIn says are "more fluid and natural". I haven't made use of them yet, but I can still use the standard navigation controls to browse the news on the app in any case.
NRMA Motoring and Services has thrown its hat into the iPhone ring with its NRMA Assist app, which lets users request roadside assistance directly from their phone. It’s a great idea, but the only time I have needed to use it, I had to input all my membership details, and I ended up calling the assistance phone number instead. Hardly an auspicious start. The app also includes details such as More4Members services and offers and ‘random’ driving tips, but really, it’s a ‘just in case app’ that I don’t use.
Great app by ozPDA that uses weather data from the Bureau of Meterology. Unlike the weather app that comes with the iPhone, the data is relatively accurate and updates frequently. The Lite version is free, and the pro version includes extra information such as radar loops.
One of my very favourite apps, ParkPatrol is an example of everything that is exciting in mobile applications. It uses crowdsourcing to provide warning when parking officers are in your area. If you spot an officer, you open the app and click ‘Send Alert’. ParkPatrol will then alert other users in the vicinity - it maps reports via its own system of servers and databases to create a powerful user-generated reporting tool. The system was developed by Sydney-based company, Crwdpower.com. You can also set an alarm for your car and the app will send alerts when an officer is nearby. Power to the people!
This app comes highly recommended from ‘running’ friends and I love the idea of creating a social network around fitness. But I’m just not convinced. I have found it terribly inaccurate, particularly over the first kilometre or so. The developers recommend turning off Wi-Fi to improve the accuracy, which I have done to no avail. Sigh. Plus, I hate lugging my phone around with me when I go jogging. I hasten to add that I seem to be a minority - lots of people just love this app, and I really like the idea of having a network of like-minded friends to help me in my fitness quest.
Yes, it’s Skype on my mobile. It works, I use it on occassion. That’s all there is to it, really.
Bookworms rejoice! Stanza turns your phone into an electronic book reader. It includes an online catalogue with links to more than 100,000 books and you can also integrate with an existing e-book collection, provided it doesn’t use digital rights management (so no Kindle downloads, among others). You can also use Stanza to read PDF files - I find this particularly useful. You can control the font size, colours, orientation, justification and even line spacing and hypenation. I’m currently reading Jack London’s Tales of the Fish Patrol. Did I mention I was a fishing tragic?
Backup meets Cloud computing with this app. Like DropBox, SugarSync provides storage, syncing and backup for your mobile. You use the app in conjunction with your desktop to access files for any of your computers, even if they’re turned off. You can also sync files between your mobile and your computer. In order to do all of this, you have to provide SugarSync with your passwords. I’m not comfortable doing that so this app just sits on my phone doing nothing until I get up the courage to take the plunge. But I love the idea and the San Mateo county economic development association (SAMCEDA) gave the product the 2011 award for excellence for technology innovation.
BigEye lets you view public Web cameras in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane from your iPhone. It’s great for checking out traffic conditions on the roads, the swell on our beaches or the snow conditions in the Alpine areas during winter. The Melbourne app includes access to the scoreboard webcam at the MCG. You need Internet access because the app just provides access to the locations, it doesn’t store content. I use the Sydney app, which is a little ‘buggy’ and often closes down at random intervals. But it’s a small price to pay for a cool little app.
If you want to quickly book a Taxi in Sydney, Taxi Pro can help. Enter your name, phone number, location, destination and when you want the cab and you’re done. Bookings go through Taxis Combined. The idea here is simplicity so you don’t get things like call on approach. But half the battle of getting a cab is having it turn up and so far, it’s all worked well.
A media player that pulls lyrics from the Internet and scrolls them along with the song. It has other features, but that’s mainly what I use it for. Pop tunes and classic rock are not a problem but I find it struggles with Aussie tunes. I like it because it clears up any ‘misheard lyrics’ from my playlist.
Woah! Just found out that Twitter has bought this app for $US40 million! TweetDeck is the tool of choice for many Twitter power users; it can cram multiple timelines on the screen at once, including your basic feed, @replies, other accounts and news feeds from Facebook. It a great way to get a lot of information in single glance - but beware, information overload is inevitable. I use the Tweetdeck mobile app to manage the @CIO_Australia account, but I also use TweetDeck's Chrome Web app for multiple account management.
Wordpress, the content management system synonymous with blogging, is also available as a mobile app so users can write posts, upload photos, edit pages and manage comments from their phone. The software’s trademark ease-of-use is not lost in the port to mobile.
A great game which, as the name suggests, combines solitaire with word games. You drag letters onto each other to make words and flip cards over to expose more letters, in the same way as number solitaire. Once you have used all the ‘cards’ and created words for each column, you move onto the next level.
This app is a bit too gaudy for my liking and the advertising is a tad OTT but I’ll forgive it for its functionality and price (free). Lets you convert world currency quickly and see the results straight away. Great for travellers.
So there you have it - way too much information about my mobile app choices. You have probably discovered your own gem of an app - please share it in the comments. I’d love to add to the list.
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