2015 Update: Check out our latest discussion of our favorite apps for working women!
I’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?
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!)
- 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?