5 favorite iphone applications
My Sprint contract is up in a little over a month so I had been strongly toying with the idea of getting a new smartphone. I was keenly interested in the iPhone, but ultimately fiscal sense got the better of me. Right now, I'm on Sprint's best pricing plan, the SERO Friends & Family plan, which is no longer available. It costs $30 per month for 500 minutes and unlimited data & messaging.
If I were to switch to AT&T for the iPhone, my monthly rate would go up more than double. In fact, by the time you add all the options I'd need, it would be just about triple what I pay now. If I stayed with Sprint and simply upgraded my phone, I'd still be looking at paying an additional $20 to $30 a month because if you want a shiny new smartphone they make you leave SERO.
I'll leave SERO when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers.
So, I've elected to keep my phone and stay with Sprint. But, to appease my gadget lust, I went out and bought a shiny new 3rd gen iPod Touch. It's sleek and pretty and I love it very, very much. And since it can use virtually all the apps that the iPhone can, I'm sure I won't miss the phone part a bit. Especially since I can set up an ad hoc network and share my laptop's wireless connection with the iPod.
Ever since buying the iPod Touch, I've been on a bit of an app downloading bender, so here's my pick for my favorite iPhone apps... so far!
Personal Assistant by PageOnce
Personal Assistant is a great little app that lets me keep track of the balances in all of my various accounts-- credit cards, banks and brokerage accounts. So instead of logging into my accounts at all the different websites trying to figure out who I owe money to this month, I can check one page on Personal Assistant.
In addition to keeping track of my balances, Personal Assistant keeps a running list of transactions and provides alerts when payments are due, or when unusual transactions occur. In addition to providing the alert within the app itself, you'll also get an email from PageOnce if you've set up an account with them on their website.
Personal Assistant supports a massive list of companies, so in addition to keeping track of my credit cards and banks, you should easily to track all of your utilities and other bills too. For example, I can keep track of the balance in SunPass account, which is Florida's automated tollbooth payments program. Pretty handy!
If you travel a lot, Personal Assistant can also keep track of your itineraries , flight times, frequent flyer programs, and hotel loyalty programs.
In addition to the iPhone app, PageOnce also supports Blackberry, Android and Windows Mobile.
I definitely recommend setting up an account on PageOnce's website as the web service will allow you to kill the app on your iPhone or iPod Touch remotely in the event that you lose your phone.
Instapaper is a must have app as far as I'm concerned. Download the app from the Itunes store and then on your regular computer go to the Instapaper website and put the bookmarking applet on your browser.
Now whenever you come across a long article that you'd like to read later --- say while you are sitting on the bus with no 3G -- just bookmark it with Instapaper. Before you leave the vicinity of a wifi connection, open up Instapaper on your IPod Touch and let it sync. Now you can read your articles offline.
If you are wondering why you'd bother with this if you have 3G access on your iPhone, the big advantage of reading your articles in Instapaper rather than Safari is formatting. Instapaper formats articles in a way that is just much easier to read, especially for articles that are longer. Also, its default set-up is to not include images, but if you want images in your Instapaper articles you can turn that back on.
I actually find Instapaper so convenient and pleasurable to read that I also have the bookmarklet set up on the Safari browser on my Ipod and whenever I come across a story that is more than a few paragraphs while I'm browsing with Safari, I just bookmark it to Instapaper and then open that app instead.
If you've ever been a Palm Pilot person and were looking for a great replacement for Plucker, Instapaper is pretty much it. It rocks!
New York Times
I hate to say it, but before I bought my Ipod Touch, I barely bothered with the news. Oh sure, I'd catch the major headlines every day, but that's about it. I hate wading through the NYT and other news websites. I'm not keen on spending a lot of time "reading" at my desktop computer. I spend most of my time on it writing rather than reading.
But I could not live without the New York Times on the Ipod Touch. I have tons of news stories at my fingertips and the app refreshes whenever I open it and I'm on a wifi connection. If I'm not online with the iPod, I can still read the most recently downloaded news, which is great. I love having the news cached on the device so I don't have to be tied to the internet all the time. It's one of the reasons that it is so easy to do without that monthly ATT service for running an actual iPhone.
I also think the NYT app has a nice reader interface and good fonts for reading and I prefer reading the Times on my iPod to reading on my laptop or desktop.
The Directv App is so great, I think it justifies switching from Cable to Directv just so you can use it. If you've seen the commercials, you probably already knows what it does. The Directv app lets you remote program your Directv DVR. It also works on my DirecTivo, though it doesn't let me set up season passes for that. I do believe that you can set up a season pass for the Directv branded DVRs however, and currently that is what most people have.
While all of my favorite shows have season passes on my TiVo, the Directv app allows me to schedule a recording for anything that happens to capture my interest when I'm way from home, without having to remind myself to do it later. Click, done!
How the DIRECTV App works
You too can have William Shatner on your iPhone or iPod Touch! If you use Priceline's Name Your Own Bid feature much, you will find this app quite handy while you are on the road. I use it on road trips.
Once I'm actually getting tired of driving I'll pull over, find some WiFi and use Priceline to check local hotel and motel rates. Then I can decide whether I want to do a bid or just go check in at the hotel. Once my bid goes through, I just step out of the car and walk into the lobby *g*
In any case, its is very convenient and it means I don't have to stop by five different motels to find the best rate. Also, it saves me a lot of grief when it comes to the quality of the hotel, as you can check the Priceline reviews too.
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