I’ve been waiting for over a year for the iPhone to come to Verizon. Finally, the wait is over.
(This is a semi-lengthy post. If you’d rather skip my story, head on down to the portion of the page that’s called “The TFS list of ‘must-have’ iPhone apps”) 🙂
A brief look into history
Last year, I did what every PC owner swears they’ll never do. I converted over to the “dark side” and bought a 13″ MacBook Pro. Wow, I was blinded by my own ignorance!
Not only has my MacBook given me ZERO problems (it’s pretty much the Lamborghini of computers), but it’s allowed me to do some pretty sweet things as far as in-house technology goes. We have an HD projector at home, an iPod touch 64g, and a 1TB Apple Time Capsule wireless hard drive. For you non-techies, this means a potentially gigantic “tv screen”, a fun toy, and a HUGE library of movies, pictures, music, and files.
After learning how a few iPod apps and some careful tweaking of the relationship between hard drive/laptop/iPod/projector, I’d created a pretty sweet setup for our home. I was amazed at how well the iPod touch worked with my laptop, and it seemed like there was an app for just about anything I wanted to do.
If only I could take this show on the road…
When I picked up my Blackberry Curve, I couldn’t have been more happy. It was my first smart phone, and it was pure magic. I mean, I could get the INTERNET on my PHONE! I was George Jetson, and I was living in the future.
However, after I picked up my MacBook Pro, I wanted to be able to have something that worked between my phone and the daily apps/sites I used on my computer. The iPod touch had all that I wanted, but it didn’t have a 3G connection. This is when the iPhone/Verizon rumors started.
I was told by “reliable” sources that it would arrive in January of 2010. I began setting aside a little dough for this magical device, and I couldn’t wait!
January came, no iPhone.
Then the rumors shifted to June/July 2010.
Guess what? Still no iPhone.
The rumors went away for a few months, but then started to resurface in late fall/early winter 2010. This time, they were for real.
My frustrations would soon be over.
I was one of the crazies that woke up at 3 AM ET to pre-order an iPhone for me and my wife. And although I had a temporary setback with some food poisoning on the day that the blessed Brown Messenger (aka the UPS man) brought it to my home, I couldn’t hold back my happiness.
So far, so good
Now, before I continue, I have to say this. I know that it’s just a silly piece of equipment, and it doesn’t bring me TRUE happiness. However, it is still pretty cool, and will be making things a lot easier for me.
Many of you have probably already read reviews about this phone, or have heard your friends (like me) ranting and raving about it. I’m not going to offer a review, because the device can speak for itself. What I am going to offer however, is a few of the apps that help me out in my day to day that I think can help you out as well.
The TFS list of “must have” iPhone apps
These little babies make life very easy and help with some serious productivity (except for the obvious one, which is a game). I’m not some kind of affiliate for the App store, and won’t make any money off of this, in fact most of them are free. I’m just a fan (maybe borderline obsessed at this point) who wants to share the love. Also, these apps will also work on your iPod Touch if wifi is available. Enjoy my friends!
Cost – Free
My love for the website DailyBurn is no secret. From being able to track workouts, nutrition, bodyweight and bodyfat % goals, to even sleep tracking, DailyBurn is the place to go for measuring and achieving fitness goals. For those who have just picked up a copy of the Four Hour Body, this app is a great tool to help quantify results and progress.
I have used (and still do) the iGoogle DailyBurn app for tracking nutrition and workouts. Now I can load my favorite meals into it, and have everything tracked in a matter of seconds. For those who have ever tried keeping a food journal (but inevitably failed), this is a crucial app to have to stick with it and hit your goals! If you’re willing to spend a few bucks, they also have a built-in FoodScanner add on that uses your iPhone’s camera to scan the barcode of the food you’re eating to making tracking easier. Cool!
Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock
Cost – $0.99
Keeping in our theme of quantifying results, the Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock uses a cool piece of iPhone/iPod Touch technology. Utilizing your device’s accelerometer (the small piece inside that senses motion), Sleep Cycle analyzes your sleep patterns throughout the night. It bases how “deep” you’re sleeping on how much you toss and turn. No tossing and turning = deep sleep.
By scanning your movement patterns throughout the night, Sleep Cycle can determine what the best “window” of time to wake you up (based upon what time you’ve already told it you want to wake up) will be, and it will start 30 minutes (default settings, which can be changed) prior to your preferred wakeup time to wake you up. When it senses that you’re in a light/almost awake moment of sleep, it will softly start playing music to wake you up. The advantage to this, is that it eliminates the groggy feeling you get when you’re jarred awake by a traditional alarm clock. Nice!
However, the only downside to this is, if you’ve got somebody else in your bed (as in my case), their movements affect the Sleep Cycle’s measurements throughout the night. I’ve only had one occasion when it woke me up at the wrong time based upon this, but the rest of the time it’s been smooth sailing. If I had this baby in college, I would’ve slept a lot better and probably would’ve performed better on tests (Hint* Hint* College students).
Cost – Free
Note-taking has never been easier! Evernote (pretty much available for every operating system imaginable) is simply the very best “snapshot” note taking program I’ve encountered. I’ve been an Evernote user on my HP laptop, Blackberry, MacBook, and now iPod Touch, and now iPhone for over a year and a half.
Borrowing a book from the library and want to copy down a good section to quote later? No problem, snap a pic and upload it to Evernote. Out at a favorite mom & pop restaurant and want to have a digital copy of the menu? Ditto. Want to recall something you entered into Evernote over a year ago? Easy, just start typing in some text (like you would for Google’s Instant Search) and Evernote will find it. Their text-recognition software is simply incredible. It can even recognize my chicken scratch, which not even most of my relatives can do anymore (which is why I type them emails instead of send them letters).
There’s a certain amount of data usage that’s free per month, and if you want more, Evernote has tiered payment plans that go up from there. For those who encounter a lot of data (which who doesn’t count themselves in that crowd anymore?), Evernote is the perfect pal to help you recall it back to the front of your mind.
Kindle for iPhone/iPod Touch
Cost – Free
Even before I owned the real Amazon Kindle, I downloaded this app. Why? Because I knew that I’d eventually want to own a Kindle, and even if I never did own one, I could still read the books comfortably (yes, comfortably, even on a small screen) on my iPod Touch.
The books still cost the same, and the process for purchasing is still the same. But where the iPhone version of the Kindle may lack in size of words on the screen, it more than makes up for some convenient features: such as a smoother ability to highlight and take notes on book sections, and the ability to change font/background colors (I prefer a black background with white text).
For those who do own a Kindle, the Whispersync technology is in play here, and it helps also. Even if I don’t have my Kindle on me, I can still pick up where I left off in my current book if I have a few minutes to read. When I get back to where my Kindle is, it’s automatically synced back up to where I left off on my iPhone. It’s the perfect marriage of 2 technologies.
Cost – Free
There’s a lot of superlatives going on around this post. Here’s another one: Mint.com is the best (free) financial app/site there is. I used to manually enter transactions into our Microsoft Money program, which would take me about 6 hours/month. I now spend about 10 minutes TOPS per month checking into our personal finances using Mint’s free tools.
The reason I recommend this app is simply so you can have your financial dashboard with you on the go. Even if you have the wifi only iPod Touch, I still recommend this app.
Remember, what gets measured gets managed. 🙂
Cost – Lite version: Free – Full version: $0.99
Ok, some may say that games aren’t essential, and I’d probably agree with them in most cases. This isn’t one of them.
It’s no surprise why Angry Birds is the highest grossing app in the App Store, it’s a ton of fun and incredibly addicting! Even people who don’t own any Apple or Android products are talking about Angry Birds. My daughter knows the song and starts dancing every time she hears it (side note: I have Angry Birds dance parties with her. One of the many joys of being a tech-nerd dad).
The lite version is fun, the full version is more fun. And if you’ve conquered the full version, there’s also a holiday edition (which covers Halloween, Christmas, and now Valentine’s Day). Down with the evil pigs!
That’s all for now folks!
I’m sure I’ll come up with more apps in the future, and I crossed a lot off the list that I didn’t think were “essential”. Enjoy this list my friends, and if you think I’ve missed some that are note-worthy, add ’em to the comments.