Apps of My Eye

I wrote in an earlier post about how I’d won a T-shirt for writing a short essay about how much i love my Audiobook builder application from Splasm.
Nobody’s asked this time, or offered prizes, but I wanted to recommend some other apps which I could not do without. (in case you’re wondering, I’m saving my book and comic oriented apps for a future post.)

1. Shape Writer. Speediest keyboard I’ve found for my ‘phone, and the handiest for writing at the street corner while waiting for the school bus. It’s one of those set-ups where you glide your fingers over the letters and it decides which word you probably have in mind. Yes, you have to proofread the results pretty carefully, but I’ve always thought the incentive to doublecheck one’s writing was a good thing. I have the ShapewriterPRO version rather than the free “lite” one, mostly as a thank-you to the company. Just looked it up at the Apple app store and realized that nothing called ShapeWriter is currently being offered. (I got mine in 2010, and there’ve been occasional updates). There is, however, an active website at promising future developments. Shapes of things to come, as it were.
2. News Feed. One whole 16-app screen page of my iPhone is devoted to news. Five are Connecticut-related, a couple are British, several are onliners like Politico, Daily Beast and HuffPost. Plus I like Associated Press and USA Today for mainstream news updates. Then there’s News Feed, a single app which encompasses dozens of different news and information apps, for when I need to hone in on a certain region of area of expertise and don’t want to get caught up in downloading whole other apps or fiddling with Google. They’re arranged like a long sheet of single apps, separated into clear categories: World & US News, Technology News, Entertainment News, Regional News, Others (such as TV Guide, Weather Channel, Men’s Health magazine, Yahoo!, Twitter, Facebook…), Sports News, Financial News, British News and Canadian News. I write a weekly news digest column for the New Haven Advocate, and one of the sections is entitled “Everybody’s Talkin’ About…” Which implies a consensus on what news organization think is important. That’s what I use News Feed for.
3. Betty Crocker Cookbook. Barely use it for meals, but the cookie and cake recipes are classic. You do have to get over your fear of dropping your ‘phone in some batter.
4. My Fitness Pal. This is a fraught friendship indeed, as this is the type of chum who’s always badgering you to lose weight. But when I use it—keeping a diary of what I eat and letting the machine add up the calories—darned if I don’t lose weight.
5. iPet. My daughters set this up, and regularly change what kind of pet it is (which you can do easily without starting a whole new account). Like so many children and pets, I’m one who has to remember to feed it. The current pet is a corgi named Georgy Girl, who morphed from a cat named Stripey. We’ve dutifully fed the pet for 595 days now, accruing more units of food than Georgy Girl could ever eat, not to mention 1576 karma points (for feeding, petting and otherwise interacting with other pets.) If you do not feed your pet for half a day, a rain cloud appears over its head. If you do not feed your pet for a day or so, a warning icon appears, demanding immediate sustenance. If you don’t feed your pet for a few days, the pet dies and a tombstone appears in its place. This doesn’t feel like a game. It certainly doesn’t feel like taking care of a pet. But it’s a few seconds of button pushing a day that make me feel better.
6. MLB. This year, the Major League Baseball app is offering a free month of MLB.TV service for “out of market” games. A lot of users consider the app rather limited compared to the mass of info they can get on cable networks, online and elsewhere. But for a simple, old-fashioned, ultra-casual sports fan like myself, who actually PREFERS listening to games over the radio and hardly ever watches them on television, this is a fantastic, convenient bargain of an app. For $15 I can not only listen to live broadcasts of Red Sox games (which I can’t always tune in clearly from the local radio station), for no additional effort I can catch games from the team I followed in my youth, the Detroit Tigers, as well. When the Tigers play the Red Sox, I can flip blithely between the team’s hometown broadcasters depending on how much of an underdog I feel like being that day. Best application of an old medium (radio) for a new one.