Taking New York Times Writer Bob Tedeschi to Task for App Choices

Bob Tedeschi, a reporter for The New York Times, made a list of what he considers the 10 Must Have Apps and he graciously included a number of runner-ups (see: http://tinyurl.com/64fcyll). I can’t imagine how difficult that must have been to distill the Apple App store down to ten. Tedeschi notably pointed out that he does get paid to complete or slog through such onerous tasks.

While I share a number of choices Tedeschi assumes everybody has, Twitter or rather Tweedeck, Facebook and LinkedIn, I diverge on others.

Evernote, a Tedeschi choice,  has been sitting on my iPhone almost since I made the big switch from WebOs. I guess I don’t have sufficient motivation to do anything with it. I tried Angry Birds and played the game for a couple of days, but found the action and the skills required either just not fun enough or just plain frustrating. Maybe that says something about my tolerance for that kind leveling of up when I don’t see the objective as particularly satisfying.

I’m compelled to make some alterations to Tedeschi’s three categories: “apps that will save you time, make your life easier, and make you smile.” George Carlin condensed the ten commandments down to two so perhaps that gives me sufficient license to do as I please with Tedeschi’s app categories.

I consider saving time and making life easier as one category probably because I’m becoming increasingly aware that I’m holding onto the short end of life’s stick. I call my category not wasting time.

I find the Tedeschi “smile” category insufficient to the needs of the time we live in. I need a laughable distraction category which lasts longer than a smile.

My third category is an app that serves a personal passion (substitute your thing here); in my case the joie de vivre is photography/video.

Personal Passion

Ah, photography/video. I teach a workshop for small business people emphasizing low-cost ways to improve their video images. Making your video look better improves a small business’s competitive position and enhances their business storytelling. I initially fought the proposition that an iPhone can be used for professional purposes, but I’ve come around because of the large number of apps that make the smartphone more controllable, DSLR-like. I preach manual control over auto because, for example, auto iris tends to choose what is brightest in a scene. An auto iris scene will present the view outside the window as properly exposed while the person in front appears as a silhouette.

Filmic Pro – The Competition

Take a look at the efforts of Leigh Beckett (http://secondscreenacademy.com) for bare-bones examples of what is video-possible with an iPhone. Beckett has thoroughly embraced the iPhone and the accompanying DIY, do it yourself, approach to video production. The competition for the top of class app in photography is a close call between almost DSLR and Filmic Pro. Almost DSLR wins by a hair by virtue of controlled exposure, white balance and focus for both still and moving images. Filmic Pro’s sole use is for video capture and I’m a big fan of single function tools that do one thing extremely well. The Filmic Pro touch screen is less cluttered than almost DSLR and the behind the scenes setup includes frames per second, resolution, and framing guide. There’s also the added touch of a slate and color bars which prove helpful in editing.

Laughable Distraction

My laughable distraction category also touches on photography with a number of apps that specialize in photo manipulation using filters. With CamWow  filters, applying distorting and/or colorful effects to pictures of anything, you, your friends, enemies, whatever; and rapid changes are easy to make. My other photo favorite in this category is Paper Camera which doubles your fun by enabling the transformation of images from the iPhone’s library and photos you take. Increasingly gaining in my affections is GIFBoom.

Brooklyn Bridge Crossing created in Paper Camera

GIF or Graphics Interchange Format was launched in 1987 by Compuserve as a quicker way of downloading color images than earlier schemes. Subsequently, GIF, because of its limited color palette, was replaced by JPEG, TIFF and RAW. GIF disappeared from common web usage until the advent of  annoying, repetitious banner ads and is now reborn for personal, self-expression. The animations created bear a resemblance to flip books.  My tendency is to take manipulated CamWow images and combine them together in GIFBoom. While animations created in GIF will always appear jerky, they tend to look smoother if there are more images with smaller movement changes between shots.

AppZilla 2 is in a class by itself; it’s a Swiss army of apps; the ultimate pizza sauce with everything in there. The variety and flavor of apps is exhaustive: sleep aids, games, musical instruments and practical stuff, for example, pitch pipe, a level, etc.

Not Wasting Time

Walk Me

Walk Me is a GPS, global positioning satellite dependent application that pins (read: notes) a car’s location to where parked and reminds the owner to move it. When launching the app to locate the vehicle hold the iPhone out in front and follow the phone’s pointer lead. This gives the appearance of being led by a guide dog, but when the phone reassures the owner that the car is in sight in a stadium-sized parking lot or you’ve triumphed over the meter maid by moving the auto to the alternate side of the street, a noticeable feeling of euphoria results. The app only has one shortcoming, there is no audible reminder to use it.

The Tip Quick app is particularly useful when not carrying writing implements–who does–and removes feelings of awkwardness which may occur during paper napkin calculations, saying out loud carry the one. This app is time-saving and embarrassment-reducing. For me, the app is a must because I have no affection for numbers and have lost all my previous limited mathematical skills.

I use Pocket Scan for keeping track of and turning my receipts into PDF formatted files which I can store on my home PC or attach to e-mailed invoices. All that is needed to make Pocket Scan work is the ability to take a picture of the receipt with the phone’s camera. Cropping and brightness adjustments to the image capture is the final step before saving to PDF.

The AroundMe app sits in one of the soon to be over-crowded categories covering what’s in the user’s immediate neighborhood: restaurants, libraries, gas stations.  Around Me is blissfully simple to use. Just click and follow the choices. There is a Google map location with the point-of-interest pinned and your current location indicated.

The App Tally Sheet

TipQuick

Some of the apps on my list are free for example, TipQuick.  Walk Me costs ninety-cents. The most expensive on my list is Filmic Pro at two-dollars and ninety-nine cents.

One app that didn’t make my current top ten is similar to a baseball player trade that includes a player to be named later and in this case much later. For many years I’ve longed for an app or PC-based software coupled to a scanner that could prevent me from drowning in business cards. While OCR, optical character recognition, has improved over the decade, it’s certainly not there yet. I don’t want to correct the scanned mistakes to the extent that I do nor do I want to integrate the scanned contacts with ACT and Microsoft’s contact list via Excel. With fingers crossed I’m hoping for ScanBiz Cards to become my tenth must have.

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