If you've recently updated to a smart phone, you may be overwhelmed by the large number of software applications, or “apps,” available for your new device. Whether you're using the latest iPhone or one of the many Android phones available, there are some things you'll always want to be able to do with your phone. The following apps take care of some essential functions you'll find useful, plus they're a great way to get started with your new smart phone.
- Waking up: For my Android, I use Alarm Clock Xtreme, which allows me to set multiple alarms to get up at a different time on the weekends, or just set a reminder for the odd conference call. You can even use music tracks or different ringtones for the alarm(s). Also, you can set these alarms to slowly increase in volume for a gentle wake-up or reminder. For iPhone users, Awaken is a close alternative to Alarm Clock Xtreme.
- Going out: Where are you headed and will you need an umbrella? Google Maps is the king of how to get there, and The Weather Channel lets you know what to expect while you're on the move. Both of these handy apps are available for iPhones and Android phones.
- Keeping in touch: Smart phones and social media go hand-in-hand, so don't miss downloading both Twitter and Facebook on your new device. And if you've not had an account on either before, now is a great time to jump in.
- What's new? To stay updated, I use Feedly as my newsfeed reader, importing all of my old Google Reader feeds and categories into an easy and slick interface for quick info on the go. Feedly allows me to long-press an item to send it to Pocket, where I can read longer articles when I have a bit more time to focus. Both Feedly and Pocket are available for Android phones and iPhones.
- Taking notes: Evernote is the backup for my brain. In Evernote, I store notes, pictures, documents, to-do lists, reminders and just about anything I'll need to know (and be able to easily find later). Evernote can be installed on pretty much all your devices (laptops, smart phones, tablets) and syncs all your information automatically. It's free, but there is a premium version that adds some interesting functionality, including collaboration and searching inside PDFs.
- Listening up: For music lovers, Spotify covers all the bases (pop, jazz, country, rock, classical, bluegrass and more), with an extensive music library plus recommendations for new sounds to tickle your ear. It's subscription-based and one of my most-used apps, and it's available for iPhones and Android phones. For podcasts, iTunes rules on iPhones, while the Google Play store has many options for Android users. I've gone through more than a few "podcast catchers," and my favorite is Doggcatcher. Though it's not free, it has lots of great features for managing and listening to your podcasts, especially if you listen to quite a few.
That should get you started. Do you have other essential apps for your smart phone? Tell us in the comments below, or tweet your responses using the hashtag #mcgblog.