Here is an update on what apps I’ve been using lately, books I’ve been reading, and my absolute favorite iPhone case.
applications I use all the time
- Stitcher – I’m too lazy/impatient to download podcasts (I know.) so I use Stitcher to listen to them. With a super easy Favorites list it’s become all I need. (free)
- IMDb – We use it to play the “where have I seen him/her before?” game while watching Netflixed movies. (free)
- Convert – I think I saw this recommended over at Make, it’s got everything I’ve ever needed to convert, including bytes to kilobytes. It’s also handy for halving recipes that call for things in tablespoons. (99 cents)
- Public Radio Player – This allows you to listen to any streaming public radio station, but I mostly use it as a one-click way to listen to my local station. (free)
- NPR News –
It’s buggy and the interface is confounding and I want to like it but it causes me nothing but frustration.update: A recent upgrade has made this much easier to use, and relatively bug free. Much improved. But it remains the easiest way for me to listen to Morning Edition short of actually getting out of bed early enough. (free)
- (In case you’re interested here are my favorite podcasts: The Moth, Good Food, Splendid Table, Marketplace, WaitWait Don’t Tell Me, On the Media, To the Best of Our Knowledge, Sound of Young America, Dinner Party Download.)
applications I’m looking forward to getting to know better
- How To Cook Everything – All the recipes right there with me at the grocery store! ($4.99) disclosure: the HTCE app was a recent giveaway item on this site.
- Ratio – Michael Ruhlman’s ratios in handy, interactive-y form. I found myself stressing over quartering a large dough recipe recently and decided it was time. ($4.99)
- This American Life – The good: you can listen to any of the shows back to 1995! The bad: only when you’re within wi-fi or 3G network range. So, not in an airplane or my doctors office waiting room. ($2.99)
games I’ve been playing
- Babylonian Twins – This is currently consuming me, it’s a fun platformer that is challenging but never quite makes me frustrated. There are apparently secret levels to unlock but I’m still working on the final level so I’ll have to let you know. Highly, highly recommend this game. The story behind the game is fascinating. (free/$2.99)
- Archibald’s Adventures – A puzzle platformer that kept me completely distracted on the plane ride to Paris. The initial level set is far more fun than the additional sets, but there are so many it’ll keep you occupied for a good long time. (free/$3.99)
- Broken Sword – A classic point and click adventure game, updated with a parallel plot. I grew up playing the Sierra King’s Quest series so I really enjoy this, but I can see it feeling a bit slow if your parents bought you a Nintendo when you were a kid (lucky). Also, it’s set in Paris and I played it on the airplane to and from for my trip so I recognized locations in the game. ($4.99)
- Resquare – A simple, cleanly designed version of the ‘fit these shapes into this square’ style of game. It’s my current favorite for standing in long lines at the post office or bank. (free/99 cents)
- Flower Garden – This is more an entertainment thingy. It’s like having a pet garden that you care for. I didn’t expect to like it but I find I’m exited to check on my flower pots in the morning, birds chirp in the background and the flowers grow before your eyes, it’s all silly and charming. You need to grow certain flowers to unlock other seed packets and there are in-app purchases you can make to expand your garden (though I avoid in-app purchases like crazy). (It’s free right now!)
- Games I’m looking at: Giana Sisters, Domino’s Adventure, Dragon’s Lair.
- update: Games I’ve loved in the past, and keep on my phone, include Spider, Drop 7, Rolando and Glyder.
sites I read to learn about apps
- app.itize.us – Features little known but nicely done apps.
- Fingergaming – Game reviews, nice amount of detail and opinion.
- Touch Arcade – Game reviews, nice amount of detail and opinion. (Sometimes I mix Fingergaming and Touch Arcade up to be honest, but both are good.)
- Mobile Monday at Casual Gameplay – They try out a lot of smaller games the other sites don’t mention.
- (I’m always looking for sites that do a good job of curating apps and games, if you have one you like I’d love to learn about it.)
Kindle books (I still think the Stanza reader is far more pleasurable to use, but Amazon has the ease of purchase and delivery that has grudgingly won me over, at least when the book is significantly less expensive.)
- Waiter Rant – It took me years to finally buy this book to read, and I’m really looking forward to his upcoming book on tipping.
- Cleaving – This was a book that felt appropriate to read in a dark room while the glowing screen gave up intimate secrets.
- Interface and The Cobweb – Older Neal Stephenson books, I’m a big fan.
the quest for my favorite case
My quest ended with me going back to get new version of the very first one I bought. The case I love (pictured above) is the Incase Protective Cover, simply a rubber sleeve that hugs the phone all the way around. I love it because it’s grippy. When I drop my phone (which is rare, see: grippy) it simply bounces. The only downside is that the rubber makes it a bit harder to slide in and out of a pocket. Of most importance, though, is that the Incase rubber cover is the most comfortable for playing games. What can I say, I fully embrace my inner ten year old boy. They make a similar one for the iPod Touch called a gaming cover which I covet.
After I wore down my first Incase protective cover I tried a few hardshell cases and one other rubberized case, all of which I found too slippery to hold on to (admittedly, I’m a clutz). One hardshell case failed me when I dropped my phone and it cracked, luckily not the screen. (Wave Case I’m looking harshly at you here.) One final note, the Crystal Film made by Power Support has saved my screen from countless scratches, I like it very very much.