iPhone apps – new year round-up

I’ve had my iPhone for over a year now and over that time I’ve fairly packed it full of apps. The start of a New Year is as good a time as any to take stock what I’ve got and – with a bit of effort – thin out the chaff from the wheat. Here than is a look at some of the apps I’ve been using recently, and in some cases apps which seemed like a good idea at the time but which have forever languished, unused and forgotten.

Twitter & social media

Tweetie 2 – although I’ve a number of Twitter apps installed, I always automatically use Tweetie 2. It’s slick, quick and intuitive. The only negatives are its use of the new retweet system and that it can lose tweets when closed down which have to be reloaded. However the sheer pleasure of use and its support of lists for follower management makes this a winner.

Twitterlator Pro – I do keep trying to use this app for Twitter as it does offer good functionality, however I simply find it slower and clunkier than Tweetie 2. TP seldom loses tweets in the timeline and offers nice characters to use in Tweets, however the usability just doesn’t make me want to instinctively use it.

Tweetdeck – Undoubtedly the king of desktop Twitter clients, however as an iPhone app it’s never really worked for me. I found it slow, crashed too often and when it lost messages in the timeline(s) it seemed incapable of detecting those missing and reloading them. Overall this unfortunately made it a pain to use. No other app makes it as easy to view tweets from multiple accounts and groups, however the speed of Tweetie 2 makes it a closely run thing.

Facebook – Although I’m not sure a heavy Facebook users these days, the app offers a decent interface for keeping in touch with friends, viewing their latest photos and managing chat & messages.

Foursquare – The new social media site that allows users to tag the cafe/pub/restaurant where they are. This is one of a number of promising geo-location social media services, although it’s too early to tell if this will reach critical user mass to reach the big time or whether it will keep a more niche following.

Travel

Tube Deluxe – the must have app for any London commuter. It pulls in the various streams of live travel info from TfL and uses a UI that simply works. There have been countless occasions when Tube Deluxe has ensured I’ve caught a train or not been stuck in the cold. I can check the scheduled departure times of relatively infrequent Amersham trains and then turn to the live departures for current running and platform info.

National Rail – complementing Tube Deluxe from from a mainline rail point of view is National Rail’s official app. Timetables and live running are the main features I call upon – which sometimes announces the platform in advance at main station – and there’s journey planning options to boot.

Train search from Crosscountry – A free alternative to the pricey National Rail app, this app presents the info in a different format which some may like. Train search shows planned platforms used which can be great for getting ahead of the game but can be misleading if the platform changes. It’s German designed so includes more journey specific details than the NR counterpart, including the train operating company.

Thetrainline – from the website of the same name, I used this once to plan a journey which it said there were no trains for, despite the fact thetrainline website saying there were plenty of trains for my trip. Haven’t used it much since.

London Bus – This offers the functionality of TfL’s journey planner in a handy app and is great for those occasions when a more complicated or unfamiliar journey needs to be planned in the capital.

UK Traffic – the first of a series of driving apps I’ve started using. Haven’t had much opportunity to use these yet, but UK Traffic offers a handy way of keeping tabs on problems on the roads before setting out.

PetrolPrices – worth it’s weight in petroleum, this lists the pricing of local petrol stations. Although I’ve had little opportunity to check its accuracy, our local filling station is reported correctly.

Rescue Me – the app for Green Flag recovery, offers the option to ask to be rescued, some handy driving tips, and travel news for a stated distance from your location. You do have to locate what you want as a central point for the location, whereas geolocated or route-based might be more useful.

LondonCam – traffic camera stills for London.

JamCam – traffic cameras for motorways across the country and a few A roads.

News

Guardian – the new news app on the block. Unusual in that it costs a couple of quid but it works a good deal better than most and is my current favourite for reading the day’s news stories.

Telegraph – A categorised presentation of news content which looks a bit basic but it works well enough and has some good features such as photos, videos, twitter and local weather. I’ve seldom used this app but looking at it now makes me think it’s worth exploring.

Independent – This downloads the news stories for each news area one-by-one which even on wifi is very slow, not encouraging use. The content is good enough but a new version of the app is needed to keep up with the competition. It also includes advertising; I’d rather pay for an ad-free app that works given the change.

Sky News – A good place to look if you want to hear more about a story that’s recently broken, and there’s plenty of video content, however generally it’s not my favourite source of news. Also with ads.

ITN – Content is limited to ‘Headlines’, ‘Sport’, ‘Business’ and ‘Fun’, however it’s a decent source of news reporting. It also offers a share on Twitter function, although this required logging into your account through the app.

Thomson Reuters – A well known news source, although I’ve seldom touched the app as the reporting is descriptive but not necessarily so engaging for the reader. One to be uninstalled.

France 24 / AJE Live – both apps for viewing the news channels France 24 and Al Jazeera English respectively. I use them rarely, especially now that the TVCatchup website offers live streaming video for rather more mainstream channels.

Deutsche Welle – I do like to keep in touch with what’s happening in Germany. There’s text news and radio that’s viewable over a mobile connection, whereas the video needs wi-fi, which is a shame.

Games

Bejeweled 2 – undoubtedly and most played game on my iPhone. Fiendishly addictive and a classic.

Lux DLX – Risk. Not played it much recently and some of the larger maps run rather slowly, however it’s a decent and fairly addictive game.

Star Wars Trench Run – There’s only limited playing time in this game and it uses the battery up something awful, however you get to shoot Tie Fighters!

SimCity – rather slow and don’t generally have the time to spend on it so have seldom played it.

Settlers – again I really like Settlers, however it demands an amount of time to be put in to playing it and I generally don’t use my iPhone for such long durations nor with the level of attention it requires.

Trivial Pursuit – one of iTunes’s Xmas freebies; it’s rather easy to complete on standard mode, however we’ve got more mileage out of the multiplayer option.

C64 – some classic Commodore 64 games, however I’ve found the game volume is much louder than the iPod volume, making it near impossible to listen to podcasts while playing. A shame.

MissileCmnd – Missile Command from Atari with both classic and modern, jazzed up versions. Very addictive and remains a classic.

Car Jack – GTA clone which I’ve only ever played once. I either need to give it another go or uninstall.

iShoot Lite – choose you weapon, angle and power and you’ve got a fun classic.

Frogger – another classic although not as much enduring fun as I remembered it being.

Shopping and high-street services

Amazon UK – handy to check items and prices, although I’ve yet to use it to purchase.

Ocado – I may use this at some point, but have yet to so far.

Natwest – check your balance and mini-statement. That’s mostly it but I find that handy enough.

RedLaser – scan the barcode of a product and see what it costs online. Genius and it works very nicely.

AppSniper – use now and again to check if there’s any decent apps current on offer in the app store.

Twenga – compare prices of hi-tech products. I always forget about this app as the name means nothing. Note to app developers – give your app a name that people can link to its purpose and function. Yet to really test but useful when I’ll next be shopping for electricals.

LocalOffers – lists a decent number of offers for a wide number of businesses and services, including eating out. There’s nothing very local for us, so I’ve not tried out an offer, but I’ll look out for an opportunity to do so.

Offers – another local offers app. Little in the immediate area, so need to check what it has for central London or otherwise uninstall.

Ebay – have heard good things about the app but have yet to use it in anger to bid for anything.

Geolocation

Geocaching – it’s all you need to go Geocaching, although I’ve only once got around to doing so to date. There’s apparently loads of caches around here so I’ll aim to do some more soon.

Trails – used this to track a bike ride last weekend to great effect. Nice maps too that include cycle routes and footpaths. Nice.

Google Earth – now has handy reviews of hostelries, restaurants and the like, which makes it more useful than just map-tastic eye candy.

Urbanspoon – handy in central London for finding restaurants by area / cuisine / price, but doesn’t have a single restaurant in Rickmansworth, despite the fact we’re not exactly short on them.

Work & productivity

Calendar – I’ve recently set this up to sync with Google Calendar meaning I can view or update it anywhere. Could become very useful

Things – a decent task manager app although I’ve yet to use it to its potential

YouNote Lite – handy for noting down odds and sods in many different formats – written, audio etc.

A selection of the rest

Genius – my current camera app of choice – includes anti-shake, zoom and other handy features

Radiobox – my new favourite radio streaming app. Includes shoutcast in addition to ‘proper’ radio stations.

AudioBoo – often talked about. Never used it to record anything but I like to hear what others have been recording. It’s a shame that the app only allows the latest recordings to be listened to; there’s no search option to listen to others.

RadioTimes – great TV listings app that even includes channel numbers which is handy when using cable.

Nimbuzz – MSN and Facebook chat. Use it occasionally.

My O2 – check your minutes / text and account usage with O2.

ACTPrinter – put documents on your iPhone for handy reference. Handy for e-mail ticket confirmations and the like.

PS Mobile – Photoshop mobile looks good but have yet to use it.

I’d be interested to hear if you agree or disagree with my comments, if any of these or new to you or if there are any apps you think I should be using.

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2 thoughts on “iPhone apps – new year round-up

  1. Good stuff. My favourite app by miles is the Spotify app – though it costs £10 a month (I think). Not sure it would be worth it for everyone but I certainly get a lot of use out of it. I also like the Sky Mobile TV app which allows you to watch the Sky Sports channels via Wifi on your phone. At the moment it’s free on a trial basis but I reckon I’m going to pay (£7 a month I think) because I like it so much.

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