Friday, January 24, 2014

Claus’s iPhone App List - Updated (Jan 2014)

So it has been a little while since I’ve posted an update to my last iPhone App List so I figured “why not now?”

Before we get to that, let me point out a few new apps I’ve added that stand out:

I have a very well-rounded collection of weather apps on my iPhone (see below). That class of apps is probably the most used set on a daily basis, followed by my RSS feed reader, web browser, and email app.

BeWeather - (free/$$) - App Store on iTunes - This one is new to me, though apparently Blackberry users have loved it for a long time. I really like the way the data is displayed and the background images are very pleasing but not distracting. The free version has almost all the features the average Joe could want, except a detailed (by the minute) precipitation forecast (available in the $$ version) and unlimited numbers of weather location saves (for when you want to quick-check the weather in more than your current location---also opened up in the paid version). Next time I get an iTunes card I’ll probably go ahead and buy it. However it faces some already stiff and entrenched competition from apps like Wunderground weather and The Weather Channel that cover all the same features and a few more. Still, I don’t mind having it handy and would recommend it. Check it out.

Reeder 2 - ($$) - App Store on iTunes - I had been using the previous version “Reeder” for my RSS feed reading. It went from ($$) to free a while back during a short window before the developer yanked it from the iTunes store. I could continue using it but decided to show my support and pony up the $$ for the new Reeder 2 edition. It has more bells and whistles and I really works nicely for my OMPL (standalone) RSS feed reading. I don’t use any cloud-based RSS services (now that Google’s feed service shut down). This app really rocks for my purposes; and it does support a lot of cloud-based RSS feed services if that is your thing.

VNC Viewer - (free) - App Store on iTunes - I spotted news that a free Android version of VNC was available and went looking to see if there was a free iOS version out. Yep. This is it. I use TightVNC on our home systems for my remote-support needs and VNC Viewer is pleasantly compatible with it. No surprise there. I found the iOS app interface for VNC Viewer to be very easy and stable to use. I did previously pay for the ($$$) version of Mocha VNC and it seems to have more features so I’m sticking with it, but I will keep VNC Viewer app on my phone and will use it as well.

The TeamViewer for iOS app offerings is a mess.  I’ve been using this TeamViewer for Remote Control (free) on my phone for the (very) limited times I’ve needed to perform emergency remote-support to family and friends while on the road but it was very kludgy. When I launched the app today it recommended I jump to a new version (not an upgrade of the current one I had). It pointed me to this one TeamViewer: Remote Control (also free) which has been optimized for iOS 7. So I downloaded it and installed along side. There is also this older (free) TeamViewer HD for Remote Control app for iOS as well. It’s a bit hard to tell the difference between the two older versions feature-wise. Anyway, if you need it and you have a newer platform/iOS version you probably want to go with the middle one I linked to above.

Microsoft Remote Desktop - (free) - this one is of limited value to me at the moment. I can use it to connect to an virtualized version of Window 7 (IETester) Enterprise I have, but since my primary systems are running Win 7 Home it doesn’t work. We don’t really use RDC/RDP at work so no use there.

CNP Mobile Outage Tracker - (free) - A while back my brother called me to check if we had power on our side of town. We did but he did not. Localized outage. I pointed him to this (regionally useful) app so he could check for status updates himself over his iPhone. If you live around the Houston area and have CenterPoint as your electricity infrastructure provider, you may find it useful. Works OK in an emergency but really could use an overhaul for iOS 7.

VLC for iOS - (free) - This app has gone through a series of updates. I really like it, especially being able to upload video files to it directly from my PC when I’m too lazy to connect my iPhone via USB and iTunes to drag-n-drop the files over. Plays great. Great features. Lots of fun.

Updated January 2014

Not a lot of “new” installations…though lots of existing apps have been updated to newer versions.

Here is an updated listing, semi-categorized, of iOS iPhone apps I’m using on my iPhone 5.

All links will be to the iTunes App Store page unless otherwise noted. I’ve updated the permanent link on the sidebar under “Claus’s Toolbox”.

I’m only listing Apps that I use (or plan to purchase relatively soon for use). This post is for me to self-reference and primarily be a way to recommend/share Apps with the few family and friends who have iPhone discussions with me.

A mini price-range key:

  • free = free. May or may not be ad-supported. That said, if it is ad-supported or pop-up in-app notifications to upgrade to a paid-version are too annoying or obtrusive, the app is deleted.
  • $ = $.99 to $2.99 range.
  • $$ = $3 to $7.99 range.
  • $$$ = $8 to $9.99 range
  • $$$$ = over $9.99

Note that when posted, some apps may be on a special pricing discount for holiday or promotions. I’ll try to keep an eye on things but it’s only a rough guide.

“Default” apps that come installed/bundled with the iOS don’t get listed.

I have a few great Apps I won’t list for privacy reasons; banking/insurance/shipping/specific shopping/vendors, etc. Just because you don’t see those listed, doesn’t mean I don’t use them.

Finally, just because all these apps fit on and run on my iPhone 5 (64 GB), currently iOS 7.0.4, doesn’t mean they will all fit on your own iPhone.

Here’s the list.

Core Apps

  • Reeder 2 - ($$) Supports “standalone” RSS feeds rather than one of many supported on-line RSS services. Newer version has many more nice interface features and GUI enhancements.
  • Chrome - free
  • Gmail - free
  • Google Maps - free
  • MiniKeePass - free
  • Naturespace - free/in-app $ (and I purchase a LOT of these tracks)
  • Wave Alarm - free (note I sprung for the in-app $ paid version). Wakes me up every day!
  • Wave Timer - free (note I sprung for the in-app $ paid version)
Productivity/Organization Apps Weather Apps
  • Weather Underground - free - (I paid $ for a 1-year in-app removal of ads) “realtime” radar data map display makes this app priceless to me! + it comes with lots of tropical weather (hurricane) tools and links so I may not need to purchase a hurricane-specific app.
  • WeatherMap+ - $ - Super cool forecast data projections. Awesomeness!
  • The Weather Channel® Max - $$
  • BeWeather -free/$$ - very nice GUI and great features.
  • NOAA Hi-Def Radar - $ - beautiful image quality but radar data lags from several to +5 min behind current time. I want near real-time radar data please!
Text/Reading Apps Networking/IT/SysAdmin Apps Faith Apps Media & Sports Apps Specialized Utilities Photography/Art Health/Fitness/Education/Fun Hardware Support
These are the primary “hardware” items I use (or will be using) with my iPhone. Note: Price rating system suspended here. Do the research if you are curious.
  • Bluetooth Headset, Jabra WAVE - Got this in lieu of a Jawbone ERA. The reviews were good but the two factors that really sold me on this replacement headset for my battered Jawbone were the ability to connect/pair it to TWO iPhones at once (I now carry two, one from work and one is my personal) so hands-free car-driving is a joy again…and the fit around my ear due to the design means it stays fast and put when I am working and playing…no sag like the Jawbone ear loop does after a while. Highly Valca recommended device. Call quality is quite good (my own experience and feedback from family/friends on the far end).
  • Jawbone JAMBOX Wireless Speaker - Christmas present from Lavie. GSD post: It just has to be bigger on the inside…
  • Lightning Digital AV Adapter - Lightning to HDMI - Apple Store (U.S.) - Hey Mom, seen movie (insert title here) yet? Nope? Want to watch it right now off my iPhone on your HDMI TV? Great! Let’s go!
  • Jawbone (version 2) - (obtained back in 2008) - still running strong, though highly battered. Now retired but still works in a pinch.
Previously Used Apps (free) Upgraded to Purchased Versions or Alternatives
These are apps that I previously had on my iPhone but later upgraded to purchased versions and/or removed to make way for another/different version of the same app function. They are still highly recommended. Still pending purchase/installation - (sooner or later)

Hope you find this helpful.

--Claus V.


Unknown said...

Why are you not using the Feedly cloud as a Google Reader replacement

Claus said...

@ unknown - I never really got into the RSS in the cloud thing to be honest.

From day-one of my RSS usage I had adopted a local client-based RSS feed reader. It started out as an add-on "Sage" in Firefox, then when support stalled on it, I jumped to the Firefox addon "NewsFox" as my RSS reader.

I tried more than a few other client-based RSS feed readers over the years but only recently jumped out of the web-browser add-on (too slow) to the Windows desktop app Omea Reader.

The only real reason I went to Google Reader at the time was that I had gotten a new iPhone and the iOS app Byline had the best UI for my RSS feed reading preferences. I was able to to export my considerable RSS feed list as an OPML file format, then import it into Google Reader, then link to it that way in Byline. Easy. It was less about the Google Reader cloud experience than having an easy way to get my feeds onto the iPhone/app.

When Google Reader died, as I recall, Byline didn't support standalone RSS pulling. I needed to find a close substitute for (again) my preferred RSS feed reading UI format. Having already had one RSS cloud service "expire" on me I wasn't eager to repeat the process. I was pleased to find that the iOS Reeder app supported "standalone" RSS feed pulling (along with the considerable cloud-based RSS feed provider support).

So while Feedly is a great service and has lots of features and platform support, the fact it was cloud based wasn't on my consideration list...having support for "standalone" RSS feed pulling and viewing was.

I get the benefits of having a cloud-based RSS feed service...just not my thing.

Hope that makes sense.

Cheers and thanks for asking!

--Claus V.