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Top iPhone Apps I Couldn’t Live Without

iPhone-4s-appsConfession: I am one of those compulsive people who will routinely closes out apps on my iPhone so that only the most used apps are there. Yes, it can take time to double-tap the home button, long press one of the most recent apps, and then hit that little red circle with the line. But I do so that the apps I use the most are easily accessible and not cluttered among other ones.


So below are some of the most used apps on my phone with a brief snippet as to why. Please note that they are not listed in particular order. Also, basic apps like Phone, Music, and Messages have been excluded from consideration.


Facebook: self-explanatory.


Twitter: Also self-explanatory, but I use the default app because it provides the ability to add more than one account so everything can still be done in one place.


Mailbox: Been using this in place of the default Mail app. Mailbox takes an innovative approach to email and turns your inbox into a to-do list with the goal of reaching “Zero Inbox” or no current messages. You can easily push things back to later and mark items complete so you can focus on what’s important right now.


Tempo Smart Calendar: I’ve also been using this in place of the default Calendar app. I don’t have any qualms with the latter but Tempo provides more info and context for each event along with the current weather. Tempo allows me to easily see a map of the location and message/email the other participants if I’m late. Very useful.


iTunes U: I have a commute to work each day and I take public transit. I enjoy listening to podcasts from colleges and universities on very diverse topics that are of interest to me. Currently listening to a course on evaluating information from the University of Michigan.


Data Usage Pro: I have a limited data plan at 300mb in order to save money. This handy little app helps keep me from going over that limit and provides alerts and projections on use along the way. This is the only paid app on the list and it was worth it all the way.


Wunderlist: My to-do app that syncs to the online site and app on my computer. I can easily share lists with others and set reminders and due dates. Very smooth and intuitive.wunderlist-2-iphone-ios-570x580


IMDb: Often my wife and I are watching a show and recognize one of the characters but don’t know where we’ve seen them before. IMDb always comes to the rescue.


Into the Dead: I don’t play a lot of games on my phone but this is my current favorite. Very simple premise in that you run as long as you can without being eaten by zombies. There are weapons along the way to help you along.


LDS Gospel Library: This is the official app from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). I’m able to use this app to study my scriptures on the go along with other church materials. It lets me plan lessons and syncs the data to my online account at so all my notes and highlights are up-to-date.


Dropbox: I love Dropbox and its service is invaluable. This is my go-to source for cloud storage.


Circa: I love their approach to news and breaking the story down into quick, easy snippets.


Zite: I like Zite and how it “learns” what kind of news I like and put into my feed. Convenient sharing options are a plus.


Honorable Mentions: WordPress, Hootsuite, Soundcloud, Lemon Wallet, Yahoo Weather



The Joy of Learning Something New

Disclaimer: I’m a huge Apple fanboy but use Google services just as much. I prefer the hardware (and software) of the former but most of the services of the latter can’t be beat.

I’ve been using gmail for about five years now. I switched over to it from Yahoo because I always heard good things about it and how it gave you more options on how to use it. I was also fed up with Yahoo and my account always getting hacked. So I switched over. It took a little adjusting to get used to the conversation view at first but now that I’ve used it that way, there’s no going back.

Nowadays I use gmail religiously and have a total of 6 different accounts for various purposes. For example, I set up a filter with my primary account so that any incoming email that includes an extra period in an exact spot will automatically be forwarded to my “spam” Google account. So if you’re a store clerk asking for my email, I’m giving you my email with an extra period so I don’t get all those notices clogging my primary account.

I also have it set up so that there are multiple inboxes. So when I log in to gmail online, I see my regular inbox along with my two most used “folders” right below it so I can see everything on one page instead of clicking from page to page. Pretty nifty. There’s also another filter that takes any email to me from me and puts it in a special to-do list folder. That way my notes to self are kept separate (yet close and accessible) from all the other stuff.

In the end, I take advantage of a lot of Google’s services and feel pretty familiar with how they work, especially gmail. I don’t really like some of the cosmetic changes that Google keeps making, but gmail is an essential tool I couldn’t live without. So after using this tool for five years you can imagine my surprise when I learned something new about it!

It happened one day as I was sending an email and accidentally clicked on the “CC:” label next to the field where you put in the recipients’ names. All of a sudden a new window popped up with all my contacts so I could easily add them to that field. So intuitive and simple. Very convenient and easy to use. And I had no idea it even existed! All these years I’ve been going to my contact list and selecting people there first to send an email to them. The new way is so much better.

But it also leaves me wondering, what other things have I not figured out yet? It makes me want to explore and see what other little things like that are out there, and not just with Google either, but with Apple with OSX and iOS too. This is what happens when you find joy in learning something new.