Wednesday, September 16, 2009

10 must-have iPhone apps according to Ken

These are my favorites as of right now.  At this moment.  Subject to change at any time without notice.

I left off the social media apps everyone has, like Facebook, LinkedIn, and TweetDeck.  I also excluded the apps I’ve written to eliminate the obvious bias :) 

Here are 10 apps I use on a regular basis:

 #1 Simplify Media 2 ($5.99)

Simplify Media lets you stream music from your computer to your iPhone.  The downside is you need to leave your computer on.  But if you do that anyway then you can have your entire music collection with you anywhere you go.  For me, that’s enough music to fill 10 iPhones.  Plus I don’t have to sync music to my phone.  Once it is on my computer I can play it on my phone.  And the sound quality is great.

 #2  i.TV 2.0 (Free)

i.TV is the perfect TV guide app, especially if you have a TiVo.  You can see TV listings in a stylish format and flip through stations and show times quickly.  Once you find a show, you can read the synopsis, tell your TiVo to record it, and even change to the station using a built in TiVo remote (yes, control your TiVo from your iPhone.  Is there anything the iPhone can’t do?)  There’s tons more to this app that I haven’t yet explored.


 #3 Evernote (Free)

Evernote keeps Text, Pictures, and Voice notes, and does so with a nice easy-to-use inteface.  The real exciting feature, though, is all of your notes are synced and available via the Evernote Web site too.  I jump between using the Evernote Web site at my desk, and the iPhone app on the go.


 #4 Lose It! (Free)

Lose it! is designed to help you control your weight, the only way that works – by counting calories.  It has a huge, though not complete, list of foods including store brands and popular restaurant chains.  For the foods it is missing, you can add custom foods or recipes.  It tracks all sorts of exercises too.  You start by setting a goal, then as you track intake and exercise, you can see exactly how well you are doing.  I’ve only just started using it, but it does help you think twice before grabbing that brownie in the cafe (not that it stops me, mind you!)

 #5 Zenbe Lists ($2.99)

Zenbe is a simple app for keeping to-do lists, shopping lists, etc.  It syncs with a free Web site so you can update lists in both places.  I use it a lot for grocery shopping and keeping a list of projects I need to do at home.  There are many to-do lists in the App Store, including ones that are made specifically for grocery shopping, but I find this simple app works best for me. 


 #6 Sportacular (Free)

Sportacular has all the details you need for a sports fan who needs to know the current score of a game, or a team’s upcoming schedule, etc.  It’s a well-designed app and covers all the bases, if you will :)  Gives you play-by-plays, stats, and even has an alert feature to notify you when a score has changed.


 #7 Let’s Golf ($1.99)

I haven’t purchased many games for the iPhone, but this one caught my attention and is pretty amazing for the price.  I got it on sale for a buck, and it was worth every penny.  Very addictive once you get the hang of it.


 #8 Pandora Radio (Free)

Pandora is a free music streaming application that generates playlists based on a band name you enter.  The app uses a highly analytical process to guess what other music you’d like based on the band you select.  It is usually spot on.  This app was one of the reasons I dumped my Sirius radio subscription.  Who needs a monthly fee when I can get this for free?


 #9 Shazam (Free)

Have you ever heard a song and wished you could push a button to find out who the artist is, and what the name of the song is?  Shazam does that for you in 12 seconds.  Just hit “Tag Now”, hold your iPhone near the speaker, and it finds the artist, song, lyrics, bio, and much more.  It is worth checking out just for the pure novelty of it. 


 #10 iMapMyRun (Free)

Here’s another app that has replaced a separate device I used to use.  iMapMyRun will track your running routes using the GPS on the iPhone.  It records time, distance, pace, etc, and syncs that information to, where you can enter way more information about your run than you’d ever care to.  They also have an app for bikers and other activities.  It’s the best run-tracking app out there at the moment.  And I don’t need my giant Garmin wrist watch anymore to track my distances.


So there’s my list.  What are your favorites?  Feel free to comment!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Email enabling your Outlook 2007 To Do List

I use the Outlook 2007 Tasks, aka To Do List, regularly at work.  Occasionally when I’m out and about and I think of something I need to do, I send myself an email from my iPhone (before my memory is garbage-collected) because I know if I fail to write it down immediately it will be lost from my memory forever.  Then the next day, I can take that email and copy it into my to-do list, set a follow-up date, a project category, etc.

Wouldn’t it be nice if I could just have that all triggered from the email itself?  I thought so, and I started imagining how I could program a script or Outlook Add-on to handle it.  But thankfully, anyone can do this very easily using just built-in Rules for Outlook 2007.

First, create a new rule in Outlook by clicking Tools > Rules & Alerts.  I chose to Start with a Blank Rule then clicked the Check messages when they arrive option.

On the first step of the wizard, I selected a few conditions.  I wanted this to only run if the message was sent only to me, was sent only from one of my few email addresses, and only if there were specific words in the subject.  I entered TODO: as the specific word that triggers the action.


For step 2 of the wizard, I chose to mark the email message as read, flag it for follow up, assign a specific category and move it into another folder (i.e. out of my Inbox)


And that’s it!  Click past step 3, and then click Finish.  The system works great, with the only downside that Outlook must be running for this rule to work.  I leave it running usually while I’m away, so that is not an issue.