Monday, May 11, 2009

iPhone Apps

I keep thinking I should write about some of my favorite iPhone apps. I know that not everyone has an iPhone, but there are several people I know who do, and they might find it useful. (That's my current iPhone wallpaper to the right, made from a Second Life screenshot.)

Pocket God - I mentioned this one the other day. It's my current favorite game. There's a picture of a little island with a palm tree and a tiki god head, and you push a little plus sign to add villagers to the island. You can have up to five at a time, and you can name them whatever you want. Then you can torture them in various ways, like knock them into the ocean, make lightning strike them, or call a vampire bat to bite them. You can get all your little guys back just by pushing the plus sign again.

If you're a benevolent god, you can gift them with coconuts (the coconut seems to always hit someone on the head, though) and a fishing pole so they can fish (although about half the time they catch the shark instead, which doesn't end well).

They do an update about every two weeks, and the one before last dropped a tyrannosaurus egg on the island. The current update introduced the egg's mother, and, of course, a new way to torture the islanders -- crack open the egg and mom shows up! (Ooh, didn't see the association with Mother's Day until just now!)

A total time waster, but fun.

Momo -- Momo (Memo to Self) has both an iPhone and a web component. You can type memos on the computer, then sync to the iPhone, so you don't always have to type on the itty bitty iPhone keypad. I keep recipes there, my dream record, knitting patterns -- just basically just all kinds of things that I want to keep track of. You can tag your memos so they can be easily retrieved.

Kindle -- Amazon recently released the Kindle for iPhone application. I already had eReader, which I've been using to read ebooks for years, and the Kindle app is very similar. The cool part, though, is being able to request short samples of books before you buy them. I went through my Amazon wish list and requested samples of almost everything -- that's the one thing that I struggle with when I'm trying to decide whether or not to buy something if it isn't from an author I'm familiar with. This way I can get a taste of it and decide whether it's something I want to read or not.

A friend of mine who has a Kindle has decided to sell it, because he says he prefers reading on his iPhone. For one thing, it's easier to hold and read in one hand, and for another, the Kindle requires light to read, and the iPhone is backlit. Neither of them are perfect, I guess, but having compared the two, he says the iPhone reading experience is better.

QuickVoice -- There are LOTS of recording applications out there, and I think I've tried them all. I was originally looking for an application that was simple enough to pick up the phone in the car and record something, just so I wouldn't forget it. I chose Voxie, but didn't end up using it all that much. I had tried the free version of QuickVoice, but liked Voxie better. Then last week QuickVoice Pro went on sale, and I heard great things about it, so I bought it and tried it.

The cool think about QuickVoice is that you can record something, then email it to yourself (or someone else) in text. It transcribes your message! I tried it twice; it didn't do too well when I was in the car, apparently the road noise was intrusive. But when I recorded something and there wasn't a lot of outside interference, it transcribed it perfectly. I'm thinking I might use this one quite a bit.

QuickWord -- This one is new, and pretty expensive for an iPhone app--$12.99. But it's the first application (I think) that lets you actually create and edit Word documents. There are a lot of apps that let you view them, but not edit. You can also, by mounting the iPhone as a drive over wifi, drag and drop so that you can share and edit documents between the iPhone and desktop.

iBird -- On Sunday I looked out my window and saw a beautiful bird on the bird feeder, one I couldn't identify. I looked for a bird book, and couldn't find one, although I knew I had one somewhere. I got online, and wasn't successful in searching there, either, since I wasn't really sure what I was looking for. But while I was searching, I saw an ad for an iPhone app called iBird (of course!), so I checked into it.

There are several different versions, but I bought the cheapest one, "iBird Yard." It has about 150 birds in it. I'm not sure whether I found my bird or not, but it was fun to play around with. I went out to my parents' house in the afternoon--my mom is a bird lover--and she had me play the audio of all the birds she could think of. We decided the bird I saw was probably a grosbeak. They have one of those, too -- he was absolutely beautiful! He sits on their bird feeder most of the day, they said. Greedy little guy.

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