As of April 6, 2012, this article on ZDNet.com reports there are over 600,000 apps available for your iPhone! Looking at mine, I only have 63 currently loaded, but I would estimate I've downloaded hundreds over the past two years, both paid and free. Overall, there are only a few apps that I use on a regular basis. Today I'll review which apps I typically use in a few different categories.
PHOTOS & VIDEOS
The top five paid photo/video apps listed in the App Store currently are: Camera+, Instaframe Pro, PicFrame, Color Splash Studio, and Diptic. While they all probably are great apps, the main apps for me are simply the ones that come with the iPhone: Photos, Camera, Videos, and YouTube. I have them all lined up next to each other for quick and easy access, and for the most part I simply use Camera. I'm always taking pictures – of a nice scene outside, of a menu in a restaurant, of a book cover. More often than not, I use Camera for visual reminders, rather than writing something down. Also, with the ability to take screenshots by pressing the Home button and Power button at the same time, I will capture a piece of a webpage or Facebook conversation in case I want to come back to it. So, in this category, Camera wins. Of course, there are many other photo and video apps out there, I just haven't found a need for them yet. You can also easily use Google to find lists like the 30 Best Free iPhone Photo and Video Apps.
WRITING & COMMUNICATION
The top five free apps in the Productivity category are currently: MyCalendar Free, Any.DO, Gmail, Textgram, and Dropbox. The main apps I use in this category are Messages, Notes, Mail, and Gmail. I've seen many replacements for Messages and Notes over the years, and even tried out a few of the cloud-based note applications like Evernote, but in the end I always come back to good old Notes. Overall, I tend to email myself notes more often than write things down in my iPhone. In that case, I tend to use the built-in Mail app more than the Gmail app, but every once in a while there is something a bit more advanced that I need to do in Gmail such as starring a conversation or marking it as unread. In this category, Mail wins. However, I will give an honorable mention to Agenda, a calendar app that sits on top of the built-in Calendar and utilizes all of the info you've already entered into the calendar. Give it a try! You'll be surprised how much more useful it is than the regular Calendar.
SOCIAL NETWORKING & MEDIA
I go through ups and downs on my use of social media. I have the apps for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ lined up next to each other. Lately I've found myself primarily using Facebook. I think that's because it's the only social network that I'm actually connected to people I know. Twitter is great for professional networking, especially at conferences, but not for me for everyday use. Google+ is also great to connect with well-respected, passionate people in a given field of interest, but I already have enough to read. So, for the time being, Facebook wins in this category.
The top five free apps in the Books category are currently: Kindle, iBooks, Audible, NOOK, and Goodreads. I'm not a huge reader, so I have just a few apps: Newsstand w/New York Times, Kindle, Discovery News, and WitStream. If there are any news-based sites that you visit on a daily basis, chances are they have an iPhone app or at least a mobile-friendly site that you can create an icon for. I tend to page through all of my reading apps first thing in the morning, when I'm bored, and at the end of the night. Although I do have Kindle for iPhone, I don't end up reading that many books on my phone. I also don't read that many books in general, so it's probably an even mix between paper, reading on my laptop, and reading on my phone. But there is one place I go pretty much every day: New York Times. Prior to the latest iPhone and iOS, it was a standalone app, but it has now been integrated into the Newsstand application. It remains to be seen whether the Newsstand can build its offerings. Right now, there are a few dozen publications, but not many of the big ones you'd probably want to read or purchase.
Music is one of the primary features of the iPhone. The top five free apps in the Music category are Songza, Amazon Cloud Player, Pandora Radio, iHeartRadio, and Magic Piano. As you might guess by now, I have none of them.The latest version of Apple's mobile operating system comes with Music (where you listen) and iTunes (where you buy). I also have two steaming apps, Spotify and SomaFM, and a music discovery app, Shazam, which can record audio through the microphone and then tell you what song you are listening to. SomaFM is an independent, listener-supported radio station run out of San Francisco which offers many channels of unique music. I can listen to my favorite station, Groovesalad, all day at work. But they also have a regular website so I'll often go there to listen from my laptop or desktop, rather than using my iPhone. Spotify is a subscription-based service, so it's great for looking up a particular album or discovering new artists similar to ones you already know. I don't maintain a huge MP3 library, and I never sync my iPhone to a desktop or laptop, so I don't get much use out of Music and iTunes, but occasionally I'll go and purchase a song. At the moment, Spotify wins for most use on my phone.
What are your favorite apps? Which apps do you recommend to your friends and family? Let us know!
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