Open Thread: What Are Your Favorite Apps?

iPad2 and AndroidI’ve complained before that I had a dinosaur of a phone — a Treo 755 — due to my loyalty to both Sprint and to my 10+ years of history with a Palm Pilot. I finally bit the bullet and bought a new phone — the Samsung Epic 4G, an Android phone available from Sprint. So far: I really, really, really love it. (Like, really.) The transition from the Palm Pilot to the Android is mostly done, and I have a few favorite Apps to report on.

In other news, I also just purchased an iPad2 from Apple (Apple iPad 2 with Wi-Fi – 32GB – Black) — so now there are even MORE apps for me to learn about. (And yes, I am looking into the viability of a Corporette app — let me know if you guys have any ideas you’d care to share! Just better reading or something more specific? Which other blogs have great apps?)  (Pictured: my new iPad2, my Samsung Epic, and a G2 pen.)

I thought I’d round up some of my favorite apps, and then pose the question to you guys — what are YOUR favorites, either for productivity or play?

(Full disclosure: I’m pretty new to both, as I’ve only had the phone for about six weeks now, and my iPad for about 4 days.) (Oh, and in other terms of disclosure: while I personally paid for all of the products and Apps I’m talking about today, I do own stock in both Google and Apple, for what that’s worth.)

For the Palm to Android transition:
(and I should note that unlike some people who’ve made the transition, my goal was to completely abandon the Palm Pilot)

  • Tasks: Remember the Milk (free). I’ve pretty much been using Remember The Milk for tasks for a few years instead of the Palm task list, so this one didn’t need much in the way of transition. While there is a Pro version of RTM (which turns it into an app for your phone), I haven’t found the need for it yet. But keep in mind, my “tasks” are more things like “use X coupon by Y date,” “return clothes from ___ by Y date,” “make sure enough money in checking account to pay mortgage,” and “expect arrival of ___ shipment from X (ordered ___).”
  • Memos: B-Folders ($29.95). I had a TON of memos on my Palm Pilot that I needed to transfer over. Some of these are proper memos — lists of ideas (for gifts, for future posts, for future businesses) — some are things to buy (for the grocery store, if I’m in a Sephora, etc) — and random notes that I find helpful to have with me 24-7 (when to call the doctor if you’re pregnant, what the signs of a heart attack are, etc). Some are just random notes that the most convenient place to stick them was my Palm Pilot (for example, I used to save advice articles from legal publications that I thought were helpful into my Palm Pilot; I keep a list of who I’ve sent holiday cards to and from whom I’ve received them, etc.). Some are probably weird uses of memos, such as my Recipes folder — I kept all of my recipes in my “Memo” file, divided by the meal course (main dishes separated from appetizers) as well as a section for untried recipes. I also keep a Poems folder, which I actually have pulled out when I’ve been stuck on the train or waiting at a bar or restaurant for a friend to arrive — a little Prufrock in your day never hurts. ANYWAY: I had a ton of memos, and so far I’ve been loving the program B-Folders as an easy way to get my Palm Memos onto my Android. The sync was very easy, and I love that the memos exist on my desktop, netbook and my phone, but NOT in the cloud. There is a free 30-day trial version of the program.  It’s a slight bummer that I can’t find a way to put the program on my iPad, but it’s not a huge deal at this point.
  • Calendar: Pimlical ($24.95). Keep in mind, I have appointments and dates on the calendar dating back to 1999 — and I actually do go back and check on things! When I go to seminars or whatnot, I’ve always taken notes in the appointment’s “Notes” field instead of in a new Memo; similarly whenever I go to the doctor I usually record things (blood pressure, weight, as well as any Qs I have for the doc and her answers) in the calendar. I was uncomfortable putting all of this information in the cloud — plus I wanted to make sure that it was archived somewhere local.  I had always loved the Datebk program on the Palm (amusingly, I really liked that I could put little pictures next to appointments, such as a martini next to “girls night out” dates and the picture of a shopping bag next to sample sales) — and Pimlical is made by the same company. Pimlical was a very easy way to import all of my old Palm data into a new desktop program, and I like that I can sync some things with my Google Calendar, and archive other things just on my desktop.  I’ve only paid for the desktop version, NOT the Android App (which is another $5 I believe) — so far the Google Calendar sync is fine for when I’m out and about and need to check my schedule.
  • Contacts:  TBD. I’m still searching for a good contact management program — I have a feeling this is going to be an uphill battle for me. Because my Palm Pilot contacts data was integrated in the Treo’s phone system, all of that data made it over to my phone, and thus far the only way I seem to edit any of it is on the phone itself (and that doesn’t back up anywhere — not my desktop or the cloud).  Google Contacts seems to be what most people use, but I’m not sure I’m comfortable with all of my contacts data being in the cloud.  Both Pimlical and B-Folders have a contacts function, but neither is perfect.  B-Folders was a cinch to upload my Palm data, but it doesn’t integrate with my phone at all — so if, say, I add a new contact for something like a pediatrician I have to add it in two separate places: first to B-Folders and then to my phone.  Pimlical might be promising, but I haven’t found an easy way to do a mass import yet, nor have I found a way to get it synced to my phone or to Google Contacts.  All I want is a program that will let me add a contact in ONE place, sync it in multiple places (such as my desktop, netbook, and phone) and then let me use that same “contact” file to make a call by just clicking a button, not  copying and pasting someone’s number to my phone.  Any suggestions?

Other Apps:

The main one that I love is Read It Later.  You download a program to both your phone and your desktop browser (it’s a plugin for Firefox) and suddenly whenever you see a longish article that you want to read all you have to do is click a button to put the article in your “Read It Later” queue.  Super handy for the subway ride, and I love reading long articles on my iPad.  I also like that it integrates with Gmail, Twitter, etc. so I can send articles on to friends and family. I use the free version on my phone (which limits your download queue to 10 articles; after that you have to have a signal or WiFi to download more), but I did upgrade to the full version on my iPad.  (I should note that I have not tried some of the other readers, such as Instapaper or Flipboard.)

I’ve also downloaded the Kindle app for my iPad, as well as the OverDrive app (which lets you check out ebooks from your library — so far the selections are limited, at least with the NYPL and the BPL,  but the checkout/returns process has been super easy).  (Incidentally, for those of you with a proper Kindle — Corporette is available for subscription on the Kindle!)

Games:

  • Ah, Angry Birds — just as addictive as everyone said it was.
  • Fashion Story — I’m not proud of it, but over the weekend I was addicted to this game on my iPad.   Hey, I’m building my business skills!
  • I also have “Words With Friends” on my phone, but only play it rarely.
  • I also have “Jewels” on my phone (I was a longtime fan of the game “Bejeweled” on my Palm Pilot.)  This is an OK replacement for it, but nothing fancy.

Apps I Haven’t Played With Enough:

On my phone, I also have uploaded Google Goggles, Google Sky, Layar, Shopper, Shazam, and Droid Light on my phone, but haven’t used anything too much.

I’ve also added Netflix to my iPad and phone, as well as IMDb; so far they seem fine.  (Am I the only one completely addicted to IMDb when watching movies at home?  I love the trivia.  For example:  did you know that Justine Bateman was considered for the lead for Heathers?  Or (not quite “trivia”, but news to me) that Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs was played by the same actor who played the police captain on Monk, Captain Leland Stottlemeyer?  Clearly, Ted Levine deserves an Oscar… I had no idea.)

Android Apps I’m not Super Impressed With:

  • WordPress. I like that I can approve comments on the go (believe me, this is a HUGE improvement over my inability to do it on my old phone) but I wish I could sort by comments that were still in the queue — instead I just see them all in a stream for when they came in, both approved and unapproved.  Sigh.  I’ve also put this one on my iPad and am having some problems, but I think some Googling will help me there.
  • Weight Watchers Mobile. I’ve been a longtime fan of WeightWatchers (and a member since 2006?  2005?), and have continued to track my food intake even during my pregnancy (but I haven’t restricted myself at all — when I go over, I go over).  The Mobile app, at least on the Android, is super annoying.  (For the record: pregnant women should not diet, and WW will not even accept you if you tell them you’re pregnant.  I’ve just tracked points so long it felt weird to stop, and my doctor didn’t see a problem with it so long as I wasn’t restricting my intake.)  I think this app was free — I find it cumbersome to look up points, and am annoyed that the program requires WiFi or a signal in order to work (so if I’m underground in the subway I can’t put my points in and then have them all uploaded later on).  I just added it to my iPad, maybe it’ll be better there since I’m likely to have a WiFi signal when I’m using my iPad.
  • Yelp. I’m sure this is because I refuse to turn on the GPS function on my phone (yes, I have weird privacy concerns, sue me) but unless I know exactly what I’m looking for I’ve found it hard to narrow the results to a small enough area.  A friend with an iPhone (where you don’t get the option for the app to use GPS or not) swears it’s an amazing app.  Personally, I long for a program similar to Vindigo — it was a Palm Pilot program (which I used with love from 2000-2008 or so, when the company folded) that would let you say “I’m at THIS intersection in Manhattan.  What’s close?” And you could then sort restaurants by cuisine, rating, dollars — they even had some reviews on there (although if memory serves they were newspaper reviews, not Zagat’s or whatnot).  It would give you walking directions AND subway directions, and was generally great.  You could do the same for shops, museums — it would even download the movie schedules and club schedules so you knew which bands were playing, where.  The other cool thing about it was that when you traveled you could download the info for that city — I tried using it a few times on trips abroad (London, Paris, Berlin, Munich) as well as in the States (San Francisco, Miami, Cleveland, Washington, D.C.) and nothing quite worked as well as the NYC version — but it was still an amazing, amazing program.  (R.I.P.)
  • Mint. I nearly forgot about this one because I deleted it off my phone so quickly after I installed it.  Love the program, am OK with my info in the cloud, but MAN what a useless App — it seemed like the only thing it would tell me was how much cash I had and how much credit card debt I had — in a huge window that came up on my phone.  Talk about huge  privacy issues (whether it’s my brother or a random guy next to me on the subway) and for less-than-key information than I’d want on the fly.  I was so disappointed with the Android app that I haven’t tried the iPad app yet.
  • Tweetdeck/Seismic. I’m still searching for the best Twitter app for my Android phone — it seemed like Tweetdeck ran a lot smoother on the Windows Phone I got to play with earlier this year.

General Notes on the Products:
– Samsung Epic. Like I said, I love my phone. I bought it after also considering an HTC Evo, but I liked that the Samsung Epic had a pull-out keyboard (I’ve found touchscreen keyboards hard to use in the past). (I was also kind of considering a Blackberry Torch, but I have such negative memories from my days of the law firm-issued Blackberry that it’s hard for me to willingly buy one.)  I didn’t realize it when I bought it, but the Samsung also has a cool program called Swype that makes it very easy to type on the touchscreen — six weeks in I’m still getting used to it and teaching it words (why it guesses that I’m saying “dimet” instead of “dinner” every.single.time is beyond me, but go figure), but it’s a much easier than the touchscreens I’ve used before. The guy at the Sprint store counseled us to buy a second battery, and he was right — the battery power on this one stinks (at least compared to my old Treo).  To save battery power I usually keep the WiFi and the 4G networks turned off, but the few times I’ve used the 4G network it was dramatically, dramatically faster than the 3G one.   I haven’t looked into it too much, but I believe the Sprint 4G network can make my phone be a “hotspot” to provide WiFi to other devices, such as, say, my iPad.  (I can’t compare my Android phone to an iPhone because I’ve never had one, but I will say that I have very few problems with Sprint service and have yet to experience a dropped call — part of the reason I’ve been loyal all these years.)
- iPad2 – I’ve only had it for 4 days, but it really seems great. The battery power seems to last a long time (I used it a lot on Friday and Saturday before having to recharge it on Sunday), but the screen does get very smudgy. I definitely need an iPad case for this one before I take this baby out of the house. I can’t compare it to the original iPad (only played with them in passing) or to the whispered-about iPad3. If you may recall, I also considered getting an iPad back when I bought my netbook — definitely, definitely glad I have my netbook as well because while the keyboard on the iPad2 is fine for one-line emails and the like, nothing compares to my netbook for travel.
- Netbook versus iPad versus Android. I always have my phone with me, so if I only need to do basic things — check my email or calendar, or entertain myself for 30-45 minutes, I’ll probably only be bringing my phone. If I need to do heavy duty writing and I’m out and about, I’ll likely bring my netbook — it’s super lightweight and easy to type. My iPad I primarily got for reading, and while it’s nice that my email/calendar is easy to check, it’s not so much easier than my phone that I’d prefer it for that purpose.  If we were going on a beach vacation I’d probably bring all 3; I’m also considering bringing all 3 to the hospital with me when it’s time to deliver — otherwise I’d probably just grab my netbook and phone and go.

OK, readers — favorite apps?  Anyone else care to weigh in on the Android/Apple debate?

Comments

  1. A Monster Ate My Homework.
    (If you haven’t guessed, this is a game.)
    LOVE IT.

  2. Google docs is like an amateur scanner on top of its mobile productivity capabilities. You can take a picture of text, and it will convert it to a word compatible or pdf file. It isn’t perfect, like if you take a picture of a menu prices can end up in wonky places, or some letters like l and i get switched, but it comes in handy.

    • Wow, this one sounds great. I haven’t tried this one yet, as I didn’t realize it had the capability for it. Will have to get on this…

  3. The WeWa (weight watchers) app is terrible. Basically pointless in my book.

    This is lame, but I really like the freshdirect app. I almost prefer it to ordering on the website. It’s a little hard to browse for random things, but so fast for doing an order of your regular groceries.

    Stargazer is fun if you are in a place where you can see the night sky.

    • I know that android has a WW Scancalc app which is awesome, it scans the barcode of an item and tells you the pointsplus value of a serving of that item. But no tracking.

    • anon in nyc :

      The FreshDirect app is great. I find it faster and easier than the website, even.

  4. I am a big fan of the Getting Things Done System, and the Things App is a good way to keep the different lists in one spot, and with you at all times.

    I also really like the CardStar App, which lets you enter all of your loyalty card numbers (grocery stores, pharmacies, etc.) and then creates a bar code that can be scanned at checkout so that you don’t have to keep all of the tags on your key chain. It also works with my library card, which is handy.

    Grocery IQ is a good shopping list app, but it might be redundant with RTM.

  5. I can’t live without Evernote and Dropbox on my iPad. I keep lists, memos, blog drafts, and work documents on Evernote, and I sync all my work and blog files with Dropbox. Spotify is great to have on all your devices -$9.99 to listen to any song, any time is great in my book. I really like Flipboard – it aggregates my Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader, and other publications I enjoy reading. Onto is the best deal for comprehensive news from a variety of publications. GoodReader is fantastic if you have a lot of PDFs to read and are a comprehensive note taker. The Cooking Light app is FABULOUS for easy, quick recipes, and I spend a lot of time on TED app watching inspiring talks. Hope these help!

    • Ballerina Girl :

      Do you like Evernote better than Google Docs? (Just in general, not as apps).

      • I’ve never used Google Docs, so i have nothing to compare it to. However, I find Evernote to be very easy to use, and I like the desktop integration on my laptop. I use it to take a picture of my parking spots, make grocery lists, write down or photograph recipes, update my Gratitude List, enter expenses/photograph receipts/taxi fares when I pay cash.

        • Ballerina Girl :

          Ooh fun! I’m going to explore it! Thanks!

        • “update my Gratitude List” – good for you. Great idea. I was wondering if, as a subtopic, there were good suggestions out there for Evernote folder topics. My folders include: list of things to buy at the grocery store and Target (I think of them at the wrong times), the clothing sizes of my husband and kids, all of our hotel and airline membership numbers, the specific cosmetics I use (for example, can never remember whether I’m NC-20 or NC-30 with MAC), prescription #s for phone refills, and Books recommended to me (for future purchases)…I guess Evernote is my substitute for a better memory.

          • Ballerina Girl :

            I have been using Google Docs but it seems like they’re similar: doctors’ addresses and phone numbers, to do lists, grocery lists, restaurants I want to try, blogs I want to go back to.

          • I also do restaurants I want to try, under “restaurants;”
            Others I do: Shops/Services — for recommendations for things I may need later, like cobbler or tailor (lots of times, I will include places recommended here on this site, other times I just write down places I read about in Best Of lists, etc.); Books — for books I want to read (this is esp. great when I find myself in a used book store!); Gift Ideas (e.g., if a friend mentions they really like X type of wine or wears a size Y shirt . . . basically by friend, so I have ideas/sizes handy); I have a list in another program for recipe ideas, a random “notes” list for things to do, basically anything I read that sounds fun (e.g., “ice skating at Bryant Park”) . . . I basically use lists as an alternative for keeping any newspaper scraps when I read something interesting in the local papers and as a memory shortcut for lightbulb moments.

    • scientist :

      Dropbox dropbox dropbox! Can’t recommend it enough, it makes phone/ipad/desktop syncing so easy.

    • I love Dropbox so much. It makes things so much easier switching between my phone, netbook, and laptop. I don’t know what I did without it.

      • you want to be careful with Dropbox and your documents. Its terms of use says that you grant them ownership and use of anything you upload.

        • Where does it say this? The TOS on their site right now explicitly says they don’t claim ownership of anything you upload and you only grant them such rights to it as they need to operate the service. Seems pretty standard, at least as far as I can tell. Am I missing something sneaky in there?

    • Ditto on Evernote and Dropbox. Evernote is an oranizer’s dream. Sometimes I like a certain look of an outfit, or I see something online that I might want to use in the future. Just one click saves it in Evernote. I can organize by folders all my thoughts, plans, dreams. I use it for travel, can record voice memos to it, snap photos of things I want to remember and file away (like receipts for taxes). Best app ever.

  6. Maddie Ross :

    I have an Android too (Samsung Fascinate) and would agree that the WW app is basically worthless. I have the iPhone version downloaded on my iPod touch and it is better, but only nominally so. I still rely on the internet version on my computer to truly track (when I am truly tracking, which happens irregularly). I really like the airline apps from delta and southwest. They do make checking in easier while away from home (I have not used them to provide the tickets yet though. I still print at the airport kiosk. Im not brave enough to try it yet). I also like the Groupon and Living Social apps, though they make purchasing just a smidge too easy. If you have siruis or xm radio, that app is great and is only an extra $2 a month or so. And finally, I have the state and federal rules app. Nice to know it’s there if I ever need it in court.

    • I have used the electronic boarding passes for Delta, and I highly recommend. It’s so easy to go through security (you scan it under a barcode by the guard checking your ID).

  7. I’m trying to get back into the habit of daily meditation, which is a little hard in an apartment building with a dog and a cat. Just downloaded Meditation, and I love it — it’s a really simple app, but there are timers and a variety of music and sounds to help me focus, which is perfect!

    Also, Evernote, Angry Birds, the B of A app, Dictionary.com, and Wikipedia…

    • The only way I can stay on track w/ my meditation is to go to drop in sessions. I have a local place that does 6 pm classes once/week for an hour for $8 a class. You can buy them in blocks too. For me it is like signing up with a trainer to work out. I know how to work out but having the trainer forces me to go. Same deal for going ot meditation “class.”

  8. I have an iphone and I absolutely love the mint app!

  9. Ms. Basil E. Frankweiler :

    Can’t forget about the Google Reader app.

  10. Ms. Basil E. Frankweiler :

    And the Advanced Task Killer because some of the programs will not stop on their own. I have the LG Optimus S and even though I would stop the music from playing, the program would still be running and would restart the music (when the phone was sleep) at the most random times.

  11. My favorite Android apps are Springpad (sounds like Bfolders), The Find, Google Reader.

  12. Games totally worth the $$$ – Plants vs. Zombies (very addictive), Angry Birds (the Seasons version is best, IMO), Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunter (I hate first-person shooter games but this one is amazing and the pleasure it brings me knows no end), Cut the Rope (adorable and challenging).

    I am overwhelmed by all the productivity, business, and communication apps out there. And so, my iPad remains “the expensive thing I play Angry Birds on.”

  13. Perfect timing! My iPad2 came in the mail today, and I’m revving to get my apps in a row.

  14. I’m not big on apps beyond the basics that have been mentioned but I have to say that I absolutely love my Motorola Droid Pro on Verizon (even though I’ve been coveting the iPhone for years). I like the combination of the touchscreen and blackberry-style keyboard and am now a complete Android convert.

  15. For trip planning, tripdeck is great. You can keep track of all of your flights, hotels, reservations, etc., in one easy place.

    • I like the Kayak app for this. I haven’t used tripdeck, so I don’t know if it does the same thing, but with kayak you forward them your confirmation emails and they compile them into an itinerary, so you don’t have to sort through a bunch of different stuff. You can also add events (dinner reservation, meeting) by hand that don’t have confirmation emails.

      I am also completely addicted to the NY Times app, but that may be because I am addicted to the NY Times to start with.

  16. Is this thread Greek to anyone else, or am I alone in refusing to get a smartphone?

    • Nope. Fellow Luddite here. I threw my bberry back in my ex-employer’s face when I left, and am in Year 3 of not having an electronic leash. I love not having the temptation of a screen at. all. times (because I would cave), and not having the monthly data plan bill. Full disclosure: I can check my personal email and Google Maps on DH’s work smartphone. I might feel differently if I couldn’t do that.

      • Whoa, seriously? That’s kind of awesome. And scary.

      • I think about getting one from time to time, but I can’t figure out any reason why I need one. My work does not require me to have one, and having one would raise the expectation that I reply to emails constantly. It might be nice to check the train schedule when I’m waiting on the platform, but that’s rare – once or twice a month. I have internet access at home and at work, and spend 80% of my waking hours in one of those two places.

        I do periodically call my dad when I need something looked up, like when I’m standing at Target wondering if something would be cheaper on Amazon, but that’s rare and he doesn’t seem to mind googling it for me from his home computer (he’s retired and doesn’t even have a cell phone, let alone a smartphone).

      • Legally Brunette :

        Don’t have one either, and I have to specifically tell friends NOT to email me if they’re running late for a dinner or some get together bc everyone assumes that everyone else has a smart phone! Just text me please. I agree that having my husband’s iphone around is nice though. I like having at least some time in the day when I’m not connected to the internet. It is just too addicting otherwise, and I’ve seen what it does to other people (as in others who are constantly looking at their phones). Annoying.

    • manoavalleygirl :

      All I need or want is my Kindle, and anykine cellphone. Whilst all you tech savvy ladies are playing angry birds. . . I just read my books. A Dance with Dragons is enough to occupy all my free time and more.

      Carry on, Tech Women.

    • I’ve considered it many times, but really haven’t been that drawn to it. I don’t need it for work, and I really hate it when people I’m sitting next to in various settings are glued to their iPhones playing games.

    • I just got one and honestly it’s not all that. I miss my flip phone.

  17. I cycle through apps a lot, but these are the ones I always keep on:

    Pageonce Pro (to keep track of bank accounts, travel rewards, and even student loans)
    Wunderlist (task management, way better than RTM especially since you can sync for an unlimited amount of times per day and there’s a native program for Macs or PCs, all free)
    Dropbox
    Nike Training Club (great workout app, especially for traveling)
    LoseIt (calorie tracker)
    Pandora (music)
    I also like the native iphone/ipad calendar app since I can sync it with my Google Calendar.

  18. Favorites for my ipad and ipod touch:

    Evernote
    Dropbox
    Instapaper (sounds like it is equivalent to readitlater)
    Flipboard
    Angry Birds

  19. Key Ring scans all your rewards cards.

    HopStop is great for urban travel- you just tell it where you are and where you want to go, and it will give you public transit directions.

    WhiteNoise Lite is good for drowning out distractions.

    2cute is a little silly, but it’s cute pictures of animals.

    iBooks is buggy where it crashes from time to time, but I like it for reading public domain books. It’s nice for reading at night because I don’t have to keep the light on (thus keeping sig. other up).

    I really like the Yelp app, but I allow it to use my location.

    I second Pandora and Dropbox.

    • I should mention these are for the iPhone.

      Also, I played Auditorium on the computer, but I hear they have an iPhone version now. It’s a beautiful puzzle game that’s very easy to pick up. It’s made by Cipher Prime, a small indie company in Philly.

  20. Evernote. Best app ever. Use it on my MacBook Pro, my iPad and my iPhone. Seamless integration of all my notes, everywhere. Totally useful!

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