AppHole

I’ve been meaning to do a post about iPhone apps ever since I got it (… which was back in September 2008 or so…). But recently my friend Jolie and my sister both got iPhones so that’s a bit of a recent incentive.

I sort of plan on updating this as I find new apps and get recommendations. So please recommend other apps for me to add to this list!

The secret about the iPhone that you don’t really realize until you have one is that it’s almost more of a mini-computer and less of a phone. I honestly don’t talk on the phone much (though I do text message all the time), but I’m constantly using my iPhone for non-phone functions — and I’d say 90% of those non-phone functions are due to apps.

Must-Have Apps

  • Facebook — This one is pretty obvious. You can update your status from anywhere, see what your friends are up to, etc.
  • Remote — Control your iTunes library from your phone! I’ve used this during parties and when I have people over and stashed my laptop somewhere but still want to control the music.
  • Wikiamo — The best Wikipedia interface. I probably use this app more than anything else on my phone. If I’m sitting on the couch watching the TV and want to look up something about an actor or show to whatever, I use Wikiamo to do a quick lookup.
  • Shazam — Recognizes songs you hear at a restaurant, on TV, on the radio, etc. Since I’m always on the lookout for new music anywhere, this app is essential and it’s a great way to impress people. Personal highlights for me: Identifying “White Horse” by Sarah McLeod (a song that my ex-bf and I always used to hear on c89.5 [not that we really liked it, but we frequently heard it], “Feel Alive” by the Benassi Bros [another c89.5 song that samples "Layla" by Eric Clapton], “Major Tom” by Shiny Toy Guns from that Lincoln MKZ ad, “Wizball” by Beatphreak from an episode of Entourage)
  • Yelp — I mainly use this app as a phonebook that stores my bookmarked places so I don’t have to store tons of delivery places in my normal phonebook. It’s also good to get a quick review, of course.
  • Tweetie — I’ve tried both Twitterific and Tweetie (Tweetie is 99 cents) and much prefer Tweetie. While I don’t update my Twitter as much as I want to, Tweetie makes it easier for when I am feeling inspired.
  • Flixster — The best movie times app. It lets me bookmark my favorite theatres and then quickly see what is playing where. And like any good movie times internet app, it makes sure to put the matinee showings in ( ) so I can save some money.
  • Skype — Free calls if you are on a WiFi network. You need a Skype account (which is like $30/year). Unfortunately this app has been working like shit for me for the past couple months, but when it first came out it was great. I work at home a lot and this app could ideally save me tons of minutes for when I do conference calls and whatnot.
  • Amazon.com — Because I’m obsessed with Amazon. I don’t do the one-click checkout shopping too often. Mostly I use the app to look things up and then add them to my wishlist for later.
  • Zenbe — This is my favorite “list” app/web site. You can enter things on the site http://lists.zenbe.com/ and it synchs to your phone. This was really useful when my friend Katrina came to visit and we had a list of stuff we wanted to do and before she came up she could add things via the web site then when she got here they’d already be on my phone.
  • NPR Mobile — If you want to listen to tons of NPR stuff. I haven’t used this app much, but the design and concept is really cool.
  • myWireless — tracks your AT&T Wireless account. It shows your used/remaining minutes, which is very helpful.
  • i.TV — The only program I’ve found that synchs up with my TiVo so I can tell it to record shows when I’m not home. It’s got tons of other features so it’s kind of bloated.
  • Chase — Since Washington Mutual turned into Chase I now have an app to check in with my bank. And it does find nearby ATMs, which is cool.
  • Shopper — It costs 99 cents and is supposedly a great shopping list app. I still can’t tear myself away from post-it notes for shopping lists, though. Someday I hope to finally use this app.

Seattle Apps

  • SeattleBus — Yea, this app costs like $5 or $10 but for me it’s been totally worth it! While this isn’t the be-all-end-all bus app (you can’t, for example, say “get me from A to B”), it does show when buses are going to arrive at a particular bus stop. I use this at work so I don’t have to wait too long at the bus stop. It also shows when buses are running late, which is nice.
  • Seattle Metro — Another bus app. I don’t like this one as much, though. But I want to support both and sometimes use this one as a backup when SeattleBus isn’t working.
  • Seattle Cocktail Compass — Shows happy hours near you and how much time you have to get to them before happy hour ends. Unfortunately I don’t do happy hours too often, but the concept is cool and if nothing else you can use it to find bars.

Games

  • Sol Free — The solitaire app I like. For some reason I still love playing soliatire. I’d be open to a new/better version, but haven’t found one yet. This app also includes some other versions of soliatire (Demon, Baker’s Game, etc. — I always play Klondike Deal 3)
  • Scramble — Boggle — my ex’s favorite game so I sort of got into it, too.
  • Tangram Pro — I used to love these when i was younger so imagine my excitement when I found an app for it. A great “brain exercise”-type game. I think there is a free version, too, with less puzzles.

Cool Stuff To Show Off With

  • Seadragon — One of the only Microsoft-written apps. Seadragon is meant for touchscreen and this app shows how cool it is/what potential there is for when more PCs are touch-screen.
  • Lightsaber — How cool is it to have a lightsaber?!?! It totally sounds like the Star Wars lightsabers when you move your phone around.
  • Urbanspoon — This is that famous app from the commercials where you shake your phone and it shows you a random restaurant. I’ve never found it useful (it always seems to show restaurants that I for sure don’t want to go to), but still neat to play around with. If you use it for real, be prepared to veto its choices often.
  • TonePad — A Tenori-On for your iPhone!!! Recently popularized (to me, at least) by the amazing video of Little Boots playing with her “new toy.”
  • Zillow — Connects in with the Zillow site to see how much nearby houses/condos/etc. cost.
  • Kitsuné — Hooks you into my favorite French record label: Kitsuné Music. I haven’t found much use for this since I don’t use iTunes to buy music… but still cool.

Some other iPhone tips and tricks:

  1. I text message way more than use the phone, so I put the Messages app in the “bottom four” so I can easily access it. I never use Safari, either, so I might move Wikiamo down there, too.
  2. To make my own ring tones I use the export as an AAC then rename to m4r method.
  3. If you use the iPhone headphones, you can click once on the speaker to pause a song, double-click to skip to the next song, and triple-click to go back to the beginning of a track.
  4. When synching my iPhone with my computer, I have it set up so that I select which playlists I want to copy over to the iPhone. I have one playlist called “iPhone” that has my favorite albums so I’ll always have them if I need them.

A Very Convienent iPhone Glitch

I dunno if it’s a troll or what, but this post on the Apple forums about the iPhone saving raunchy pictures being a glitch is hilarious.

“It wasn’t me, honey. My iPhone has a glitch that somehow calls my ex in the middle of the night when you are sleeping and makes up texts messages that say weird stuff like, ‘I miss you’ and ‘I wish we were still together’! I’m waiting for the 2.69 software release to fix this!!”

Podcasts Are (Maybe?) Dead To Me

Although I still have yet to see why podcasts are “the next big thing,” within the past few months I have regularly listened to four podcasts:

  1. The Majority Report (on Air America Radio)
  2. Pop Is Now King (PINK)
  3. The Official Lost Podcast
  4. The Transmission Enhanced Podcast (an unofficial Lost podcast)

This morning, I learned that two of the four podcasts I listen to are either ceasing to exist or charging for content.

The Majority Report (and other Air America podcasts, I assume) are now requiring a premium subscription in order to listen to the show. This one really discourages me. I’ve started listening to The Majority Report on my iPod before the whole podcasting craze happened. A day or so after an episode aired, I downloaded the entire mp3 (for free) from a website, the imported it into my iTunes library. The Majority Report was great to listen to at the gym — it was entertaining, kept me up on politics, and kept my mind from wandering too much while doing my workout. Alas — no more. I typically only listen to the first 45 minutes of the show, and I can hardly justify paying for just that.

On a sadder note, Jen and Ryan over at The Transmission, which I fell in love with after I started watching Lost, decided that they were going to give up the whole podcasting thing due to personal reasons. I totally understand where they are coming from, but it’s still too bad.

Although that does leave two podcasts left (if PINK were to go away [which I do sometimes worry about since I don’t think the guy pays to license the music], I would be totally devastated, since it’s inspired me to start doing my own DJ mixes), I wonder if this is a sign of things to come? Podcasts take a lot of time and resources, and would predict that the smaller, DIY podcasters are going to fade away while the larger podcasts start requiring a subscription. As iTunes and various other websites have proven, users are starting to warm up to the idea of paying for content on the Internet, and I bet podcasts will go the same way.

Where I Get Free MP3s

I know I may be slow to the trend, but I’ve recently discovered the joy of mp3 blogs. Now, every day, I check two sites and load up on promotional songs and rare remixes. It’s been great.

My current favorite is The Prettiest Pony. From this blog, I’ve managed to get a whole bunch of really awesome remixes (from the likes of MSTRKRFT [the guys in Death From Above 1979], Thin White Duke/Jacques Lu Cont/Stuart Price, Linus Loves, and many others). I have no idea where this person gets the tracks, but they are great. I’ve discovered bands such as The Knife, Shit Robot, and Services. Some of my recent favorites from The Prettiest Pony are:

In addition to The Prettiest Pony, the other site I check daily is bigstereo. This site doesn’t have as many remixes, but it does have promo tracks by up-and-coming artists. I’ve learned about bands like The Tough Alliance and Infadels from bigstereo. Also, and this is what endeared the site to my heart, it posted the Simian Mobile Disco remix of The Go! Team’s “Ladyflash.” Though it didn’t give us the Kevin Shields remix (I’ll buy the single just for that), it’s cool to get an interesting sneak peak.

For Salon.com premium subscribers, there is also Audiofile, which provides a download-a-day as well. There is lots of great music here (and well worth the cost of a Salon subscription!) such as Cat Power, Death From Above 1979, the Eels, Belle & Sebestian, Animal Collective, etc. A lot of the stuff is from bands I haven’t heard of, so this is potentially a great place to discover new music. Also, not all of these mp3s are Audiofile exclusives, but it saves the time of searching the web. My “best find” here has been “Grass” by Animal Collective (since I still haven’t bought that album…). Salon’s favorites are at The Best Downloads of 2005.

Another place to find free MP3s, though not daily, is the Vice Records (Bloc Party, Annie, Death from Above 1979, The Streets) blog Up Your Jaxxy. According to the site, new songs will be posted every two months. I highly recommend checking out the first submission, Bloc Party’s “Two More Years” (MSTRKRFT remix). The song is already somewhat of a rarity (only available on a two-song single), so it’s cool to hear the remix.

And finally, if you are still hunting for MP3 by bands that haven’t released albums yet, My Space can be your friend. After hearing The Young Sportsmen on kexp a while ago, I’ve been trying to find their song “Under the Rocks and the Stars.” Lime Wire wasn’t helpful, nor was Amazon since they didn’t have an album out yet, but when I checked out the The Young Horsemen My Space profile, I was able to download songs from the My Space music player.

Hopefully these sites, and others I’m sure (comment with your recommendations!) will keep your iPods full and cravings for new music satisfied. I know they have helped me.

Stock Market and Spam

Has anyone else noticed that ever since the stock market hit 11,000 the other week the amount of spam has gone way up (esp. for things like “Rising Star Stocks” and “MicroCaps” and “Wall Street Insider” and “Penny Stocks”)? Either that, or Gmail‘s spam filtering algorithm has changed. Either way, it’s rather annoying.

“Dell Hell”

Even though I’ve gotten over my problems with Dell computers (by purchasing a new computer by Toshiba), I thought it was worth pointing out that Jeff Jarvis over at Buzz Machine has been documenting his “Dell Hell” and is getting some press and response from Dell. Yay for him.

It turns out that his son’s laptop always overheats (sound familiar???) and Dell is extremely unresponsive.

The whole thing makes me want to take up my battle again — and why shouldn’t I? Just because I got a new computer doesn’t mean I’m done with Dell. I’m still paying the damn thing off!! (Which is stupid — I should just pay it all off in one lump sum one of these days…)

CDs Again!

Quite a long time ago my 20GB iPod ran out of space. Every time I added new songs, I had to delete old ones to make room. This caused my iPod to become sorta messy (incomplete albums, exclusion of songs I wanted at a later date, etc.). Thankfully, today I went to get a 60GB color iPod, so now I can try to get my library fixed up (which is going to be quite a task, let me say).

In honor of finally being able to put new music on my iPod, I headed over to Everyday Music and bought $70 worth of CDs.

I would like to share the list of albums I purchased. I am quite excited:

  • The Cure – Mixed Up — I mainly wanted this CD because I already have the “Tree mix” of “A Forest” and absolutely love it. Plus I really do love the Cure, so it seemed like remixes would make a good addition to my collection.
  • The Chemical Brothers – “Life Is Sweet” single — The Daft Punk remix of “Life Is Sweet” is basically a new creation, which is good and bad. I first heard the remix on the Gregg Araki movie Nowhere. Since I am trying to obtain nearly every Chemical Brothers single, the purchase was necessary.
  • Grandaddy – Under the Western Freeway — Grandaddy is quickly becoming one of my favorite bands. The Sophtware Slump and Sumday are mind-blowingly good, and I’ve been wanting to get more albums. Today was my chance! The song “A.M. 180″ is used in the movie 28 Days Later (the only “happy” part of the movie when they are shopping at the grocery store) and I loved it.
  • Grandaddy – Concrete Dunes — Apparently this is a “rarities, imports, previously unreleased, and out of print tracks” album. It sounds like something for more of a hardcore fan, so I guess you can call this “preparation” or “anticipation.”
  • Boards of Canada – In A Beautiful Place In the Country EP — Since Boards of Canada have released so few albums (which are so amazing), I feel the need to get everything I can by them. I need more!!
  • The Streets – Original Pirate Material — The song “Weak Become Heroes” was 43 in Pitchfork’s The Top 100 Singles: 2000-04, so I figured the album was worth checking out.
  • Dntel – Life Is Full of Possibilities — I already have the “(This is) The Dream of Evan and Chan” single (it was basically the “first” Postal Service song — it was where Brian Tamborello and Benjamin Gibbard first collaborated. Now it’s time to see what the rest of the album is about.
  • Elliott Smith – XO — Most of my best friends love Elliott Smith, so it’s about damn time I actually get one of his albums. I couldn’t remember what album people had recommended when I was at the store, but XO sounded intriguing.
  • Liz Phair – Liz Phair — Don’t hate me!!! I used to be a huge Liz Phair fan (I saw her live once, had the Girlysounds Demos, etc. etc.), but then with whitechocolatespaceegg I started worrying. When Liz Phair came out, I heard it was horrible (0/5, no stars, etc.) so I didn’t even bother getting it. Well, I found a skuf copy for only $4.25, so I figure for that price I might as well see if it’s really so bad…

So overall, that makes 9 CDs for $70.18. That averages out to about $7.80 a disc. Not bad, if I say so myself.