The iOS platform, consisting of the iPhone and the iPad, has seen most of it’s success thanks to the plethora of applications (apps) available for download. It is without a doubt the platform’s strongest asset and one that, thanks to the continued success of apps like Angry Birds, seems likely to continue for some time. While a lot of time on these devices is spent listening to music, browsing the web, reading e-mails and, let’s face it, playing games I wanted to write up a quick post about some of the other apps that I use on a regular basis. These small, often single purpose, programs make my life easier in their unique way and keep me connected no matter where I am. The following is a list of apps, ordered by how often I use them, that I am currently making heavy use of on my iPhone.
The iOS media player can play a large number of audio and video formats. Unfortunately there are still a few obscure formats, and some that Apple just doesn’t like, that won’t work. This is where VLC comes in. Like the desktop counterpart, VLC lets the device play almost every file type imaginable, from MKV to OGG. It even integrates into the e-mail client letting me view attachments that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to. The only drawback is the ridiculous way you have to add media to the VLC library. Sadly this is on Apple’s side of the equation and I doubt we’ll see this changed anytime soon.
The Internet Movie Database is an awesome website that tracks almost ever detail of a movie’s production (from actors to directors and more). This app is the iOS version of their website (they actually block you from using the proper website on your device). Thankfully this is also one of the most well designed and easy to use apps I have ever seen. Need to find the name of that actress? No problem. Want to know what else she’s been in? Super simple. This app is a staple that everyone should have installed.
8. Corus Radio
There are a number of streaming radio apps available for download from Shoutcast! to those specific to a certain radio station. Corus Radio is one such application. It makes it easy to listen to any of the Corus owned radio stations all from within a single app. From a design perspective this is not a very good app, but its no frills approach makes it sufficient for me when I want to catch the early morning Dean Blundell Show.
Have you ever been reading a recipe or following directions and had to convert between oz and mL or lbs and kg? Enter Convert Units. This super handy application lets you easily convert between all sorts of different units for all kinds of situations
With the recent release of Netflix in Canada I am suddenly able to try out this service from the comfort of my… phone. OK so maybe it’s not the best way to watch movies but it’s still really cool. There isn’t much to really say about this beyond the fact that this is yet another excellent Netflix experience.
Ah Facebook. Whatever your feelings are about this privacy eroding service that enables complete publication of your life you to keep in touch with friends and family, Facebook (the app) is a prime example of how an iOS program should work. It is so simple and feature rich (a rare combination) that I actually prefer it to the full website.
Newsy is an interesting app, actually more of a front end to their website, that combines various perspectives of a newsworthy event from different TV news shows, blogs and radio commentators. Their tag-line is “Multiple sources. The real story.” and one that I believe they live up to. If you are looking for a more or less non-bias summary of something in the news I would highly recommend checking out Newsy.
There are literally dozens, maybe even hundreds, of Twitter clients for iOS but none are as fully featured (in my opinion at least) as TweetDeck. Taking a cue from their desktop version, this client displays all of the information in a series of columns that you can swipe back and forth to cycle through.
If you do use the desktop version as well it will automatically sync things between them so you don’t have to constantly update both independently. My only complaints have to do with the lack of real multitasking and the crash happy nature of the in-application browser. Honestly I don’t know how they did it… but they took the perfectly stable browser component and broke it.
PingChat! has the dubious honour of being one of the only remaining cross-platform instant messengers in the vein of BlackBerry Messenger. This means that from your iOS device can talk to your friend on an Android device or even on a BlackBerry.
Like BBM, PingChat! shows you when the other party has received a message and runs over the data network, thus saving you from text messaging fees. Another nice feature is the ability to send pictures, video, audio, contact information and more.
I highly recommend this application, and not just because the guys behind it are local
iOS has a slew of instant messenger applications but I prefer IM+ to all of the other ones that I’ve tried. A slick interface, tons of features, and a quick update cycle means that this app is constantly improving.
You can send pictures, audio, and videos to your contacts, talk on all different types of services (MSN, AOL, etc.) and even configure it to stay logged in on their servers so that (even with the application closed) you get Push notifications when someone messages you. Overall it offers a solid experience that is only getting better and better.
Epic has recently released a tech demo called Citadel showcasing the Unreal Engine running on iOS. This is by far the best example of what the iPhone/iPad hardware is capable of in terms of delivering absolutely stunning graphics. Sadly that’s all it is, a tech demo. Hopefully we will see this technology used more often going forward.