Sunday, February 28, 2010

Six Months with the iPhone: Some Apps Reviewed (Part I)

I've had my iPhone for six months, and while it hasn't been nearly as revolutionary as the commercials promise, it has changed my life in some very minor ways. Rather than writing the typical iPhone review and listing the usual pros (it's like having the internet with you all the time!) and cons (the battery life is iffy, why does AT&T's coverage go in and out so much?), I've decided to do a review of some of the most helpful apps I've found so far. This review will focus on general apps, while a following review will be about specific apps for people who love to read.

However, before we continue, I must offer this disclaimer: since the iPhone and its plan are very expensive, I don't like paying for apps. As a rule, if an app is over $2.00, I won't get it, and even then I usually waffle about purchasing an app that costs anything. Consequently, most of the apps I'm reviewing are free.

Evernote: Before getting the iPhone, I did several reviews on Evernote, and while both of them acknowledged the program's usefulness, I couldn't fully appreciate the program because I didn't have a way to use it when I was away from my computer. However, the iPhone has opened my eyes to the wonder that is Evernote. Besides being able to consult the various notes I need while on-the-go (such as copies codes), I have found the Evernote app to be invaluable in terms of shopping and cooking. Whenever I find an intriguing recipe online, I can easily clip it into Evernote, and I can consult the note when I am shopping for ingredients. The cooking part is considerably trickier; a recent article on discusses the joys and trials of cooking with the iPhone. However, when I am trying to save ink and paper, I consult my Evernote iPhone app when preparing a fairly straightforward recipe.

ReadItLater: I am constantly finding things online that I want to remember to read. However, I hate adding things to my bookmarks, so ReadItLater is the perfect compromise. It is very easy to add and delete pages using this, and my account syncs across my iPhone, my home laptop, and my work computer.

CauseWorld: This is probably my favorite app of all. The premise of the app is simple: you check into stores, donate karmas (you get 5 karmas per check-in, 10 check-ins per day), and Kraft Foods and Citi will give money to the charities you select. While this app doesn't replace volunteer work or other forms of civic duty, it does alleviate a little of my guilt for being another jerk with an iPhone.

Pandora: To paraphrase the hilarious video "Web Side Story," "Pandora, I've just met an app named Pandora." Although I do like my iPod and iPhone, one causality of getting an iPod (and not driving) is that I don't really listen to the radio. As a result, a lot of my new music came from television shows. However, Pandora allows me to create radio stations and find new music without having to resort to watching another questionable episode of Grey's Anatomy or One Tree Hill.

Yelp: I'm very bad at remembering restaurants, stores, and other places I want to check out. I'm even worse at trying to figure out where these places are. Almost four years into my Boston experience, I still get really lost here. However, the Yelp app makes things a little easier. Besides being able to bookmark places of interest and refer to them on my phone, the app also has the option that connects to my iPhone maps, which can make finding these places much easier.