my iphone-crazed list of favorite apps

I wish I remembered what life was like before I got my iPhone this past February. Sadly, I can’t imagine the 22 years that I lived without it. I know, I know…ridiculous. But as soon as I try to distance myself from the little gadget becoming an integral part of my life, Apple adds another app that blows my mind.

I haven’t extensively searched the App Store — not even kind of. Maybe if I’m in an awkward elevator ride or stuck at the train crossing, I might peruse to see what’s new. I rarely pay for apps, so that really limits what I have. The apps that I have found, however, are gems.

It goes without saying that some apps don’t need to make this list under the popular acceptance of them being awesome. Among these apps: Pandora (long live Internet radio), YouTube, Twitter, Shazam (identifies songs through recording a short clip) and the classic Maps, which has gotten me out of numerous sticky situations (even in the booming metropolis of Fargo/Moorhead.)

My favorite apps for iPhone (many of these are available for iPad as well!) in no particular order:

Pulse News
I love me a streamlined newsfeed. Pulse allows you to choose your sources (anything from NY Times to Perez Hilton to design*sponge) and organizes them in a visual of chronological stories. You can even organize your sources into different pages (local news, design related, sports, etc.). With SO many sources to pick from, I find it impossible not to get what you need out of this app. 

Starbucks Mobile
Well, big surprise here. Of all the apps on my phone, this one gets utilized daily at minimal. By loading up my Starbucks mobile card instead of paying with my debit card or cash, I get REWARDED! With the app, my soy milk is free (a $0.60 value, folks) and after every 15 drinks, I get a free handcrafted beverage of my choice! They even mail me a postcard that says HERE’S A FREE DRINK FOR YOU!

So maybe you don’t drink as much Starbucks as I do, but this app is way cool anyway. You can experiment with drinks (kind of makes me feel like the barista I never was), craft your own and add them to your favorites. It’s a total time waster, but if you’re looking to kill 20 minutes, this is for you!

Not to mention one of the most pertinent features of the app: The store locator. How many times have you been somewhere and wanted to know where the nearest Starbucks is? Never? Well, I have this problem frequently (it’s a First World problem, I know). I once got lost searching for a Starbucks in San Francisco and wandered in circles for three miles until I found one. Could have used this app!

I don’t think I need to promote this any more, because any faithful coffee drinker will appreciate it!

I’ve had a lifelong dream (well, it’s kind of always been Plan B) of becoming a rap artist, and nothing makes this easier than Songify. Simply tap, record, and Songify will put your words to a beat (albeit a good one). You have to sacrifice your singing voice for a robotic overlay (which is okay with me, mine is crap anyway), but the results are potentially amazing.

I really got into this app when it came out, partially because I’ve been a longtime follower of the Sunday Secrets posted weekly on I also find the PostSecret mission completely incredible in it’s ability to bring people together all over the world through something as simple as a secret. I really believe it changes lives, and I know there’s been times I’ve read certain secrets and felt a deep connection. I quickly downloaded this app and posted my own secrets, and was totally thrilled to get all sorts of responses and ‘hearts’ from viewers. 
The one downside to the app is the filtering. There is hardly any censorship, and sometimes people abuse the instantaneous live upload of the secrets. There is a lot of sadness in the secrets, and little spots of optimism. One thing I have realized through this app is how many people are hurting. All kinds of people going through tough times with lovers, friends, family, children, or even their pets. It is a humbling and awakening experience if you truly open yourself up to the words and put yourself in another’s place. 

This app can do no harm. I often read it for several minutes at night before I go to bed, to see how other people are feeling at that moment, and the problems they are carrying. It gives life meaning.

If there’s one app you want to get some mileage out of — literally — this is it. I swear by this app because it’s so tech-y and fun that it actually made me want to work out. I was running nearly every day this past summer and this baby tracked my every step! 
So, what’s cool about this app? You can choose your activity (biking, hiking, running, walking, etc.) and RunKeeper will count your calories, distance, and pace (including your split times). The best feature, though, is it’s GPS that tracks your route! And even allows you to take snapshots of certain places. You can save all of your activities in a file, look back at them and admire all your hard work!
RunKeeper can function without being open, so even if you’re in the office all day and are curious how much you’re burning off that bum, you can start the app in the morning and have it counting in your pocket all day! Like, wow! 

Offender Locator (Free)

Just when you thought we’d run the entire gamut of app categories, we come to this: a sex offender app! Now, before you laugh let me give you a little back story: I grew up next door to a sex offender and never realized it until recent years! It’s good to know what’s going on around you. This app shows exactly where each offender lives and their offenses. It also pinpoints where police stations and fire stations are located in the even that you should need them.
I don’t live in fear, but I am a small lady and anything can happen. Even if it’s a little peace of mind, or more informative than anything, this app is helpful.

This is hands down one of my favorite apps. Choosing from a variety of templates, you can make beautiful posters in seconds — that’s right, seconds. Once saved, you can message, e-mail, even make high-quality prints of your creation! 
The reason why I enjoy this app so much is it isn’t complicated. It has two things in mind and accomplishes them well:
1. Help people make posters
2. Keep it simple.
There is nothing overly-elaborate about the process. Check out this app and you’ll be making posters like a pro in NO TIME!

It’s no secret that the postal service is going downhill because of technology. But how about an app that brings you the best of both worlds — snailmail and technology? Quiption is the postcard version of Phoster, allowing users to simply and easily create fun postcards and send them at a small cost!

How simple is this? 1. Plug in your own photograph and 2. Stamp it with a caption. The phrases are universal: “Carpe Diem,” “Wish You Were Here,” “Greetings from Here,” even “Oh Baby You, You Got What I Need.” Safe enough to send to your sister, your mom, even your grandma.

If you can’t tell, I really enjoy apps that are simple and easy. Thanks, Quiption.

(PS, Another nice postcard app is Postagram! Check that one out, too!)

This is a portable party if I ever saw one. Pocketbooth is exactly what it sounds like: A pocket-sized photobooth! Choose from a variety of strip styles, then snap, snap, snap, snap away! You’ve got an authentic-looking photo strip that can be easily shared…or printed! (I like things that can be printed!)

This app is so rad, so groovy, so instatastically incredible, it deserves a cake, or a plaque, or a trophy of somesuch. Or just a card that says: “YOU. BEST. APP. EVER.” This goes without mentioning that it was just named APP OF THE YEAR. Yes, it’s that good.
Why do you think this app is so successful? Because it’s simple and universal? Ding ding ding! Instagram lets you take an ordinary photograph, apply any number of gorgeous filters, borders, and perspectival effects (but not too many…which is a good thing!) and instantly share it with followers. It’s a thing of beauty. 
Now’s my time for shameless advertising: You can see all of my Instagram pictures right here!

All Recipes
If there’s one app I could teach my mom to use, it would be All Recipes. I haven’t had extensive time to actually cook many things I’ve found through this app, but I can’t imagine a more helpful resource in the kitchen. I’ve used it to make appetizers on several occasions and it’s never failed me. The best part (besides the Dinner Spinner itself, which gives you meal suggestions) is the rating system and reviews that tell you if the recipe is a hit or miss. 
• • • • •
There are tons more I could add to this list, but I’ll keep it at these – what are your favorite apps?

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