Smartphone Apps: 12 Must have Apps

I love having a smartphone, and although a lot of commentary could be said for being a generation that is addicted to our phones, they can be incredibly useful tools. I try to keep my phone free of games, and focus on making it a useful productivity tool.  This blog post is 12 apps to fill your home screen that will help you make the most of having a smartphone.  I have an iPhone 3GS, but these apps are also available for Android.

  • Google Maps - when Apple switched to its own maps app on iOS, it pretty much cut my phone's usefulness in half.  You've heard the horror stories, so no need for my personal ones... But now Google Maps is back with a bang! Spoken turn by turn directions, public transit info, and a great user interface, Google Maps is the way to go!
  • Google Search - Provides spoken answers to simple questions with a simple voice search, or also allows you to search by taking a photo.  The quickest way to search on your smartphone.
  • Google Chrome - Way faster than safari for web browsing, and syncs your bookmarks and history to your other computers via your google account.
  • Pandora - Not much to say about this one, I love listening to pandora and being able to play it on my phone is awesome!
  • TopoMaps - I love this app and use it all the time for hiking, backcountry skiing, and mountain-biking!
  • FlipBoard - When I do have some time to kill, I use flipboard to browse facebook, twitter, google reader, and the latest news. It's an awesome app!
  • Evernote - I use evernote all the time for my research.  The app is a super great way to jot down notes, record conversations, and browse past notes.
  • Dropbox - I don't use this every day, but it's a great way to load up a file i need to look at in a pinch.  I do love me some dropbox!
  • Stitcher - When commuting to work, I love listing to Podcasts like RadioLab and Freakonomics radio.  It makes the commute fly by, and my head is always full of interesting stuff at the end.  I can also stream NPR (or hundreds of other stations) when i want something other than music on around the house.
  • PayPal - Having a paypal account is an incredibly convient way to send money amongst friends. Having the app makes it even more convient. When out for beers with a few friends, normally one of us will pick up the tab and the rest will contribute via paypal.  The paypal app is also awesome for paying rent, and you can deposit checks just by snapping a photo!
  • Google Authenticator - I use two step verification, and this app makes it super easy to get verification codes when i need them.
  • Amazon Cloud Player - Did you know you can get hundreds of classical MP3s on amazon for less than 2 bucks? That's awesome, but my phone can't store all them. So, i stream them from this app!

Runners Up

While those apps are great, and fill my homescreen, I wanted to mention a couple other awesome apps that, while I could probably live without, are really fun to have on your phone.  They include: Strava, Wunderlist, Amazon, Friend Finder, Airfoil Speakers, Star Chart, Graphing Calculator, WolframMint, and the Bible app.