Friday, 28 January 2011

'What Apps Do I Download?' #1

All too often when people I know get iPods or iPhones, they ask 'What apps do I download?' and I usually show them everything I use - most of which gets lost as I quite often list several dozen. So I'm going to write a blog post every now and then with my recommendations.

I originally intended this to be one post, but the list got far too long, so I'll be doing a few at a time on a semi-regular basis. No commitments as to how often. I suck at that ;)

Anywho, let's get started.

Meebo - Free
The king of all IM apps. It supports every protocol you can think of. All your account data is stored in the cloud. It has push, image support, a ridiculously well thought out interface, and best of all: It's free.

You may have heard of Meebo before, they are the same people who created the extremely handy Meebo webapp (which, by the way, shares the same login with the iPhone app for easy IM access wherever you are (unless it's blocked wherever you are (Fuck you, Varndean College))).

There isn't really much else to say. The only downsides are the unobtrusive banner ads (but it's free) and lack of an iPad app (although the iPhone version works pretty well with Full Force, so that's something at least).

Handoff - £1.19/$1.99
I only got this yesterday after Apple's new App Store account tweeted about it. There have been a few apps that have tried this in the past, but nothing has come close to how well Handoff has solved the problem.

It basically gives you a button in your browser toolbar that sends anything you want to your iPhone. Be it just a page, or any amount of text that you highlight on a page (like a phone number!). On the iPhone end, it's also smart - It intelligently interprets Google Maps links and phone numbers. The app is also universal, with the iPad interface being one of the best I've seen in a long time.

To top it all off? The developer is also extremely communicative. Shortly after downloading the app, I emailed the him with some small feature requests (an easy way to add the bookmarklets to Mobile Safari to make sending content between devices easier, and the ability to send links from an iOS device to my desktop browser). He responded within a few hours in an extremely positive and - best of all - human way. I half expected a robotic 'Thanks for the suggestion, please follow us on Twitter.' response but I got quite the opposite (by the way, you totally should follow them on Twitter).

Sleep Cycle - £0.59/$0.99
I have trouble getting up in the morning. This app is probably the best alarm clock ever.

I'll explain it in simple terms: This app reads your mind (or if you want to get scientific, it measures the slightest movements on your bed using the accelerometer) and knows when you are sleeping lightly and by extension, when you aren't. You tell it when you want to be woken up (say, between 7:15 and 7:45), and it will play an alarm the first time it detects you are in light sleep during that window.

Now, why is this good? Waking from light sleep is infinitely easier than waking from heavy sleep. It turns those horrible 'Oh god, please kill me.' mornings into 'Yeah, I love getting up at 7am to catch the train because Southern Rail changed their timetable! I can't wait to get to college and get on with some monotonous tasks!' mornings (Ok, perhaps it's not quite that good, but you get the idea).

Reeder - £1.79/$2.99 (iPhone) / £2.99/$4.99 (iPad)
I'm addicted to Google Reader, and this little app makes accessing my feeds on the go so, so easy. I would probably go as far as saying that this is the most used app on my phone. Everything about it just feels right.

It's really quite hard to explain how well the interface works, so I'm just going to embed a video instead: