3 apps to make that iPhone more productive, 1 to make it more fun
What do I mean? There are so many great applications available that finding the ones best suited to an individual’s needs is a chore.
To that end, we at First Arkansas News present a few that are both ridiculously useful and absolutely free. By the way, we wrote about one great application a few months ago — Whistle, which allows one to use that iPhone or even get a headset and use that iPad or (I believe) iPod Touch as a voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) device that allows for free phone calls over Wi-Fi or 3G.
That app has been updated a bit in that it now allows users the option of picking an area code that’s closer to home. When I installed Whistle, I was given an area code that’s native to somewhere in Vermont — odd, seeing how I’m in Arkansas and all.
That said, cruise on over to the Apple App Store and try on the following applications on for size.
Remember in the 1970s when CB radios were all the rage? HeyTell reminds me a lot of those days. Some people claim the app works like a walkie=talkie, and that does make a lot of sense.
Regardless of whether the app reminds you of a CB or a walkie-talkie, HeyTell is just very cool and useful. The concept is pretty simple — it’s a lot like text messaging, only with audio. Considering the only thing I dislike about my iPhone is that miserable touchscreen keyboard (yes, I’m jealous of Android and Blackberry users with their real keyboards), HeyTell is great. It sends messages quickly, stores conversations and even offers a few inexpensive add-ons that appear worthwhile.
Don’t worry — the core of the application is free and there’ s never any pressure to buy add-ons. In other words, the publishers would love you to buy some stuff, but the free HeyTell app isn’t crippled a bit.
Install it. Use it. Love it. Don’t be surprised if you start calling yourself “The Bandit” or using some other CB-appropriate handle to identify yourself when your sending voice messages to friends. Grab HeyTell here.
Simply put, this is one of the greatest free applications on the planet. It’s not just limited to iPhones, so you Android, Blackberry, etc. users should take advantage of Evernote, too.
What is it? Think of it as a digital notebook that can by synced with your mobile device and computers. This is one that I use constantly. Let’s say I jot down a few notes at home and need to pull them up later on either my computer at work or my iPhone. With Evernote installed on my computers and iPhone, I can access those at any time.
And we’re not talking about just text notes, either. It can be used to “clip” content from the Internet, store photos and share them between devices and, well, just about anything digital you can grab.
Evernote is well-suited to the iPhone as it allows for voice notes to be easily shared. Let’s say, for example, you’re at a meeting and one of your colleagues asks you to forward on a document to him when you get back to your office. What are the chances of your actually doing that? Take a voice note on your phone with Evernote, however, and you’ll not forget.
Here’s another one available for most mobile devices and something you should really have synced with your computer. I’ve got it on my iPhone, my laptop, my desktop and my work computer.
What is Dropbox? A program that makes those important files very portable. The free version gives you a two-gigabyte “Internet drive,” meaning a document saved on one device will hit your other ones, too. Yes, you can access it through the Internet, but the beauty of the program is that it saves files to your devices locally.
Better yet, any revisions you make to any files stored in Dropbox will be automatically saved locally to all your devices on which Dropbox is running.
Back in the 1980s, a lot of people wrote a lot of articles talking about how great life would be if it was easy to take documents home and work on them. Dropbox makes that process very simple.
Why is Dropbox a great iPhone app? I work with a good number of Word and Excel documents, put together some graphics here and there and that type of thing. Pulling information from those — and showing people what, say, a logo looks like when I’m outside of the office — is very handy.
Deer Hunter Challenge
Of course, one of the best things about the iPhone is the abundance of time-killing applications out there. Now, I’ve never been a hunter, but Deer Hunter Challenge is one of those games that I come back to time and time again.
Before getting into the ins and outs of the game, I should share a story about a hunter education class I took years ago. While I’ve never had a burning desire to go hunting, this is Arkansas — there’s always the chance that you’ll get the urge to pick up a rifle and hit the deer woods at some point.
To be prepared in case that day comes, I took a hunters education class about 15 years ago — passing one of those is required of any Arkansans wanting a hunting license. The instructor spent an inordinate amount of time preaching against the evils of deer stands.
It turns out that his brother crawled up in a deer stand, got drunk, fell out of his tree and broke his neck. I’m not sure, exactly, how the deer stand was to blame for all of that.
At any rate, Deer Hunter Challenge is an incredibly addictive game that can suck up hours of your time. Something about tracking animals, making the decision to blast them with either a shotgun or a bolt action rifle and trying to avoid the occasional bear that charges your character when its injured is addictive.
While you can spend some money for add-ons, I’ve been happy with the free app so far. I’ve got a slew of games for the iPhone, but this one has captured my attention a lot lately. Grab Deer Hunter Challenge here.
For some reason, a lot of people have asked me lately about whether they should get an iPhone or something powered by Google’s Android. Here’s what I’ve learned after looking at both platforms — it’s really hard to go wrong with either one. Both have a lot of fantastic apps available and do a lot of things very well.
If you do opt for the Android platform, however, avoid the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 like the plague. I had one of those for about a week as my local AT&T store was out of iPhones and gave me the hard sell. I was offered the chance to try the Xperia for a month and return it if I didn’t like it. It is, frankly, the only cell phone I’ve owned that actually made me feel cheated and angry.
I took that thing back after I had it a week. The version of Android on it was outdated, the proprietary apps that couldn’t be erased were garbage and the thing only had 1 gigabyte of internal storage (you can expand that with a mini SD card, but the expanded memory is reserved for content rather than applications). The worst thing about that phone is that the voice quality was simply unacceptable.
In other words, the Xperia X10 is fair-to-middling so long as you don’t want to actually call people with it. I only mention this because the Xperia could cause a lot of people to hate Google’s Android operating system and that’s a shame. AT&T appears to be engaged in some arm-twisting in order to dump its stock of the Xperia X10. Do yourself a favor and let some other sucker buy the one you leave behind.
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.