Lets Talk Smartphones: 18 iPhone Apps I Can’t Live Without
I think we bloggers are worse than most when it comes to being totally glued to our iPhones and other smartphones. I’d wanted an iPhone for years, but it was not until I moved out to Los Angeles and could take advantage of how much cheaper it is out here to buy the handset outright did I finally trade in my battered old Blackberry for a shiny new iPhone 4S. Later this month I’m going to go all Appled out with a new iPad so I’m sure which apps I spread across my MacBook, iPhone and iPad for reading, recipes, blogging and everything else is going to change, so before I start getting settled into yet another shiny white tribute to Steve Jobs I would share with you all which iPhone apps I use the most. Look out for a post next month on the best apps, tips and tricks for blogging off of an iPad, as that is one of my main reasons for getting one aside from using it for work; do you know how much bother it is to lug around a 15″ MacBook Pro and a DSLR camera?
Okay, so while I admit the first three of my favourite apps for iPhone that Im listing here come ready installed on every iPhone; but as I see it they are still worthy of being listed. For example, who ever uses the Stocks & Shares app no one ever uses and you can’t really get rid of? The weather app is one I check every day because I have found it is pretty useful, and while most people think here in Los Angeles we have perfect weather every day, the constant changing temperature and climate is quite a challenge to dress for so this app is a lifesaver. I also have Canterbury, London and the town near my home in France listed in there so I can see what sort of weather my friends and family have been having when I talk to them.
I’m going to mention this a bit more later when I go on to talk about my Instagram love affair, but my favourite thing about my iPhone has to be the camera. Having a camera that is small enough to fit in my pocket but still creates high enough quality images that if worst comes to worse and I want to snap something when I don’t have my DSLR is good enough quality to put into a blog post is a lifesaver, and I have no idea what I did without it.
Even though this is the digital age, I don’t just wear my watch for aesthetic purposes. However, while I may not need my phone to be able to tell the time, the idea of being able to work out different time zones in my head is laughable. I know 4pm in Los Angeles is 12am in London and that is about it; the ability of being able to have world clocks side by side on one screen (I also have Paris in the mix for when my parents are in France) is simply amazing.
Pinterest for iPhone is addictive. While on the computer it is great for inspiration and putting blog posts together, general social media goodness etc. on the iPhone it is the perfect pretty picture way to fill time. The app works really well and allows you to repin until your heart is content; it is my favourite go to during the ad breaks between my favourite TV shows.
5. The Times
While I will read the weekend editions of The Times on my iPad, I’m pretty sure I’m going to continue to read the paper every single day on my phone; it is just so useful to have all the days news and my favourite columnists in a small and compact space to digest every day, either if I’m on the go, waiting at the traffic lights or for a class to start. I’ve always read The Times everyday (even with my issue on Sundays where the broadsheet edition is bigger than I am) but I’ve found that since I’ve had a digital edition to hand I’ve not had to take time out of my day to keep up on the days news. Yes, Times Online is a paid subscription service but I really, really recommend it. Full disclosure; my parents pay for my subscription, not me (if you have The Times delivered to your home everyday a Times Online subscription comes as part of the bundle), but when this ceases to be the case I will happily continue to pay for it myself. It is like my Flickr Pro account: an online digital service that I am perfectly happy to part with my hard earned cash for.
If there was an award at being totally hopeless at mental arithmetic I would be first in line to receive it. This is why the most used and loved app on my iPhone as a Brit living in America is my currency converter which I use to translate Dollars to Pounds and back again. The only way it could be better is if it also calculated California sales tax for me.
I use the Notes app on my iPhone for everything. From my constantly rotating grocery list to restaurants I walk past and I must go back and check out to work and post ideas that just come to me while I’m on the go. I do still love using my Moleskine to jot things down when I’m mapping out something big; but I’ve always got my phone on me.
While one of the first things I’m going to do with my iPad is to install the Kindle App and send all the unread books in my cloud to it, I don’t know how I would have survived the last 6 months without having it on my phone. Now, I believe in books: good, paper and ink books that you hold in your hand and you’ll catch me buying an actual Kindle when hell freezes over. However, I accept that with the amount I like to read it is simply not practical for me to buy books I’ll have to leave behind in Los Angeles when I move back to England, so I have been buying Kindle books instead. I know this will also be very useful for traveling, as will being able to put my magazines all on one devise with the newstand app which I have actually read a couple of issues of Tatler on since moving here. Also, in my role as a book reviewer for Judging Covers, lots of review copies of new books from publishers now get sent direct to your Kindle device too.
While I usually like to catch up on blogs from my laptop or my mothers iPad (which will mean my iPad soon enough) do you know how long the average person living in the City of Los Angeles spends sitting almost at a stand still in traffic every month? Being able to catch up on my favourite blogs while inching up Santa Monica Boulevard is a total godsend.
10. BBC Good Food
People who read my recipes closely will know that when I have not put something together from scratch, the most likely source I had adapted it from is either the BBC Good Food magazine or website. I really love their app of recipe collections which, fine, you can get all of for free on their website (the app is free but unless they’re running a promotion (I got all my recipe bundles for free) you have to pay for bundles; think healthy suppers, freeze ahead meals, holiday cooking etc.) but it is so useful to just have it there on my phone. For example, if I’m on the go and I want to grab stuff on the way back to my apartment to try a new, yet simple recipe I can just make a grocery list within the app.
While usually I’m in the middle of doing something and I like to just chuck a usual Instagram filter onto my images, sometimes when I have more than just a moment or to I like to play around with different filters; getting the colours and light just right, or adding in little details like light spots to make things sparkly glimmer just a little more. For this I use the paid app PicFix (I think most bloggers do, to be honest) when I feel my Instagram shots just need a little something more.
You’ve probably picked up on the fact by now I like my information in bite sized pieces for me to digest while I’m on the go, so it will come as no surprise to me rather than spending time running through websites and Twitter during fashion week to keep up with the coverage (however, Fashionista does have brilliant coverage each season) I like to skim through my favourite collections with crystal clear photos from the Style.com app so I can see if there is anything from the shows I’m going to need to come back to later for a closer look.
Skype used to be the way for me to save of the phone bill to chat to my parents and my Aunt while I was living in my London flat, but now with international call rates it is the only way I can talk to my family while I’m on the go; I’d be lost without it!
14. Urban Spoon
Everyone always asks me how I find so many great restaurants to eat in and review in both London and Los Angeles, and as well as from word of mouth and from food magazines and blogs, the one website I head to for restaurant recommendations is Urban Spoon. What is great about the Urban Spoon app is as well as looking through reviews and photos from any given restaurant you can get it to let you know what is good and close by based on your location if you don’t have anything specific in mind. This is how Soot Bull Jeep in Koreatown was found; one of the most memorable and delicious meals I have had in Los Angeles so far.
Please don’t laugh. As well as being able to play little memory games, I feel having the Sprinkles Cupcake app on my iPhone which syncs up with Google Maps to direct me towards the nearest branch of Sprinkles Cupcakes in Los Angeles is of the utmost importance. While I actually prefer Georgetown Cupcake for actual cupcakes, directions to their Beverly Hills branch also takes me to Sprinkles Ice Cream where on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays you can get their Wine Soaked Morello Cherry and Vanilla ice cream which in my opinion is the best ice cream in Los Angeles, and the West Hollywood branch also doubles as directions to The Grove mall. The Grove’s own (albit still useful) app does not even to that.
Yes, Wikipedia. The academic professor and the school teachers worst nightmare. I know anyone can edit it, and all that other stuff people keep on telling us about it but really? If you want to find out about something quickly Wikipedia (and therefore its app) is the quickest route to take. And to be honest, these days most pages that can’t be considered ‘niche’ are accurate.
Twitter is actually the only app I had and loved on my Blackberry that I still use today. Twitter is a great too for a blogger; both to share things, which makes being able to have it as an app on the go perfect, but also to keep up with the world around you. I follow so many different news outlets it is like a mini digest of things and people I care about on the go.
Finally, my biggest app addiction: Instagram. I think this has to be the app I was most excited about being able to get once I got my iPhone, and it really has not disappointed. I love documenting my world around me and sharing it with the world (in case you had not noticed that by now!), and as well as having all the cool filters the phone is so much easier to lug around than my big camera. It has also been pretty awesome being able to keep up with my friends back home on Instagram; I feel like, along with Facebook, Skype, our blogs, Twitter and stupidly hilarious emails, seeing each others worlds through Instagram is just yet another way for us to feel like we’re missing out on less of each others year.
What are your favourite iPhone (or Windows App Store or Android) phone apps?