Thursday, September 8, 2011

bestest: (FREE!) i-phone apps

having had the i-phone for a couple of months, you'll no doubt be as impressed/relieved as lovely husband jeff to hear that i am now occasionally capable of putting it down for anything up to (a few) MINUTES at a time!!! which doesn't mean i don't still adore it and regard its many capabilities with the excited prideusually associated with a particularly clever first born child! :)

apart from being the best and clearest cellphone i've ever had* my favorite part is, of course, the app store! here are some apps with which i am particular impressed, addicted, or in love; i decided to start with the ones i find especially useful, without getting into games**; most of these i use on a daily basis. and yes-- all of them are completely FREE!!!

elsie flannigan has called this the best of the free camera apps, and who am i to argue? it's easy to use, has a slew of fab filters, and can give the most mundane of phone photos a cool hipster edge in one step... what's NOT to love??!***

wikipedia mobile:
maybe the best example of a fabulous, useful website paring down to absolute essentials to make an equally fabulous phone app. streamlined without being dull, it loads fast, it's easily searchable, the text is 100% readable (this can be an issue for us presbyopic 45+ types!) and "extras" like a daily featured article, plus links to current news stories are welcome without being intrusive.

does one *NEED* access to hundreds of hello kitty photos easily adaptable to the home and lock-screens of one's mobile phone? some people--such as LHJ!--would argue, "NO!" ...but they'd be really realllllllllly totally WRONG! :) :) :)

the weather channel
i-phone comes loaded with a basic weather app powered by yahoo, which is very nice, but there's a reason that the weather channel is the standard, imo. open the app and instantly you get a summary screen with the basics in your location (temp, humidity, heat index, etc); switch screens to get 36-hour expanded forecast, hourly, or 10-day. you can also save as many additional locations as you'd like... which is terrific for traveling.

so far this is the best of the free apps i've found that's art/papercrafting related. (i'm sure there are more--shout if you know a great one!) again, it's based on a popular website, and it is devoted to scrapbooking, specifically, and particularly creating digital layouts... but... there's plenty of just good basic design ideas and inspiration here, that you can use for any type of project, using either cyber- or "real" supplies. as the name suggests, they post every day, and while there are quite a few features on specific digital designers, shoppes, or products, they're never just "a commercial"; they always contain luscious illustrative layouts, a bit about technique, software, problem solving... SOMETHING you can take away thinking, "i have to try that". this is the ultimate app to have when you've only got five minutes on the run and know it'll be hours before you get home to your supplies; it's like a papercrafting "booster shot"!

there are quite a few good movie apps, but this is my fave because you can do so many things: see what's coming out in theaters & on dvd; read film reviews (& get a consensus via rotten tomatoes); watch trailers; find a venue based on what film you want to see & choose a restaurant nearby... OR... look up what's playing at your favorite theater, and get showtimes. you can even keep track of the movies you want to remember to see, and there are interfaces with netflix and facebook for posting and queueing! just so very USEFUL.

on the other hand, sometimes you need to know immediately , "who's the voice of GRU in despicable me?" (steve carrell) or "where else have we seen the actor playing aurelio zen?" (rufus sewell from knight's tale, cold comfort farm, middlemarch); often this occurs while we're watching a video or tv show and we're too lazy to go look stuff up. internet movie database is a great online resource, and the app has been pared down brilliantly to get you such info quickly and easily!

i am always on a semi-diet, or at least, i'm always trying to eat fairly sensibly. and while LHJ and i are quite big fans of fresh food, home cooking, and non-chain restaurants, let's face it, sometimes we all have to choose between hitting the drive-up or going hungry! it's easy to think once you're in "fast food land" it doesn't matter what choices you make; for example at breakfast, an egg mcmuffin and a sausage mcmuffin are nutritionally, about the same right? (wellllllllllll, no, the sausage is only 70 more calories, but has an additional 10g of fat!) when ordering a sandwich or salad, chicken's ALWAYS the healthiest choice, obviously! (ummmm... not if the chicken is fried! which "crispy" & "buffalo" are code for!) if you splurge on a DQ blizzard, will it really make much difference to get a medium instead of a small? (YES! 300+ more calories!) i love that i can hop into this app while i'm in line and get a "reality check" BEFORE i order. from applebee's to white castle, they've got me covered!

my (non-blogging) friend kim got me hooked on this one. she uses it on her laptop, but generally, if i'm at a "real" computer i've probably got "real" work to do! in an "out and about" context, however, this is BRILLIANT! basically, you sign up for a free account and choose things you like from their extensive list of categories (arts, literature, philosophy, history, puzzles, etc); then you press the "stumble" button and you're sent to a random website, article, photo, (or whatever) that's based on something you like! refine future choices by pressing the thumb's up or thumb's down button from any page; instantly send stuff you love as a link via email or post it on facebook. just enough internet to while away the time in line at the bank, or waiting for your prescription to be filled.

i am completely addicted to this and no longer sure i could fall asleep without it! you'll have guessed that it's "audiobooks" from the name and these are all FREE! what's the catch? well, the titles are public domain (thus older works to which copyright no longer applies); and the readers are volunteers from the librivox project so the quality of the performances can vary. while an impressive number of the readers are at or near professional levels (some even do different voices and accents for the various characters!) there are a few whose generosity exceeds their ability. luckily, you can start listening as the book downloads, and the voice or the content does not appeal, it's easy to delete the title! you can search by title, author, narrator, genre... or... hit the "surprise me" button! so far my favorites have been 20,000 leagues under the sea by jules verne, whose body by dorothy l. sayers (version 2!), and cleek of the yard by thomas hanshew; but i've hardly scratched the surface!

so what are YOUR favorite apps? what do i need to get next? what should i avoid at all costs? i still love researching different categories, and i'm fully prepared to PAY for things, too, at some point!!! :) share! share!!! ♥

*i've never actually PURCHASED a cell-phone before; my procedure up until now was to go into verizon every couple of years and ask, "what's the nicest phone you will give me for free??!" (no, i'm not kidding; what can i tell you, i am CHEAP!) having said that, i've found this object to be worth EVERY PENNY and even three months later i'm still excited about it on a daily basis; if anything it is BETTER than i hoped/imagined!

**i figure we already know which games we like... for the record i'm a fan of good old solitaire, mahjong, and, occasionally crostix! :)

***except for the lol at the top, all the photos in this post... and also my new profile pic... were taken on the iphone and instagrammed! hello kitty is one of the wallpaper pics from that app, with an instagram filter applied, as well! just b/c I COULD! :)


  1. Okay first off what is your name on Instagram cause I'm on there too! I also love Hipstamic, brushes, 100 cameras, jotnot pro, pandora, bejeweled, flickr, plants vs zombies.

    I only have a itouch, but I love it.

  2. You fancy girl! I still use the "free" phone. My new one has text capabilities, but I have not taken that on yet ;)

    I'm a Mahjong gal too, solitaire, and I also like the free "Daily Sudoku" app…you might try it? It took a little while to get used to which buttons to touch, but once I got used to it, I loved it :)

    For your future reference there is also a cool Cricut app I have on my iPad (also for iPhones) that tells you what pressure, speed, and blade # to use on any paper…the list of paper manufacturers is extensive! Great cuts every time :)

    Don't forget to put that phone down and pay attention to LHJ :)

  3. haha!! LOVE that!! I'm still in the dark ages and don't have a cool i-phone yet...maybe one day.

  4. "Flashlight" is great too (can't remember if it's free) for finding keys, reading things in the dark etc.


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