Not Martha

current iPhone apps and the quest for my favorite case

[my iPhone peeking out of my bag]

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 NewsIt’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

  • – 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.

· comments [31] · 05-13-2010 · categories:iphone · technology ·

31 responses so far ↓

  • 1 liz // May 13, 2010 at 2:44 am

    i also love the incase cover. my first generation iphone and i are on our second one (the first grew old and saggy, kind of bulging and drooping around the edges eventually). my only complaint is that it sticks to – and pulls – my hair sometimes when i’m actually using the iphone as a telephone.

  • 2 Emily // May 13, 2010 at 3:20 am

    Stopping in to say that I love the Crystal Film too! I have the switch easy rebel case. I like the combination of the hard plastic and the soft-grippy-ness of the main piece.

  • 3 Joe Ganley // May 13, 2010 at 3:49 am

    If you like Stephenson, you should check out John Sundman’s “Acts of the Apostles” ( ). Not connected to Sundman in any way, just a fan.

  • 4 Lauren // May 13, 2010 at 4:34 am

    Ok, reading about all this goodness might make me cave and get an iPhone.

  • 5 Sam // May 13, 2010 at 5:36 am

    Oooo we are addicted to podcasts ever since my husband got an audio in for his car stereo so we can listen to his iphone on road trips.

    I like all of what you listen to and also recommend: Radio lab, This American Life and A Way with Words. I think you’d love all of them.

  • 6 Seanna Lea // May 13, 2010 at 6:29 am

    If you like computer games, my husband just bought the Humble Indie game bundle ( and insists that World of Goo is a must play.

  • 7 veronica // May 13, 2010 at 6:31 am

    i am afraid to check the games out because Drop7 is still consuming much of my free time! :)

  • 8 Trebuchet // May 13, 2010 at 6:34 am

    Yes yes yes on the Switcheasy rebel case ( I have a clear one and I love it. Its just grippy enough and rigid enough.

  • 9 Karen // May 13, 2010 at 7:23 am

    Veronica beat me to it — whenever I’m not playing Scrabble or Words With Friends, it’s Drop7 all the way. And I also love the Incase cover for the same reasons you do, but also don’t like trying to slide it into my jeans back pocket.

  • 10 sarah // May 13, 2010 at 7:47 am

    Have you played Plants Vs Zombies yet? Because it’s the greatest game of all time!

  • 11 natalie // May 13, 2010 at 7:50 am

    Thanks! I took notes on the app recommendations.

  • 12 Laurie // May 13, 2010 at 8:41 am

    great round-up.
    I just wanted to mention that although the crystal film was comforting, I never looked back after I got my Anti-Glare from Power Support, the 80% reduction in finger prints really sold it for me.

  • 13 Martha Ann // May 13, 2010 at 10:02 am

    go for angry birds! My sis recommended the Moron game – she said I would hate her – and I do! LOL Both silly time wasters! Checking out some of those you mentioned. Thanks!

  • 14 Carrie // May 13, 2010 at 10:26 am

    HTCE is fabulous!!!! Great for when you’re in the supermarket trying to figure out what to make for dinner. You can add the ingredients of a recipe to a shopping list and then just go off of that! I got it when it was first introduced for $1.99, but the $4.99 would be well worth it, especially if you’re a Mark Bittman devotee.

  • 15 Carrie // May 13, 2010 at 10:27 am

    Sorry… forgot to add something. I’m looking for a sparkly cover for my iPhone. Something with little stones all around it. Seen one?

  • 16 emily // May 13, 2010 at 11:32 am

    Try the incase bamboo slider 40% recycled materials, not too slippery. Also the anti-glare films offer a slightly better feel than crystal and kinda reduce glare.

  • 17 lauren // May 13, 2010 at 11:37 am

    Ah, thank you for this! I’ve been looking to update my phone with some new goodness.

  • 18 Susannah // May 13, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Add me to the Switcheasy chorus. I think it would provide just the right amount of bounce/cushion and not-grippiness for you. I’ve been very pleased with mine, and I bought one for my dad, too :)

  • 19 gribblette // May 13, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    i am currently addicted to Angry Birds.

  • 20 Amanda // May 13, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    If you’re a mystery game fan, you might like Nick Chase. It kept me occupied for a good couple of hours and it’s told in a fun style. Spider still gets me sucked in for a crazy amount of time. Dragon’s Lair is also out there. If you played it at all as a kid, you’ll get a kick out of the app.

  • 21 Kay // May 13, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    Thanks for this! My husband just walked in telling me he finally listened to The Nerdist so I quickly dropped my newfound Stitcher knowledge on him.

    As for cases, we have a 3 year old so we swear by the Otter case The guy that sold it to us, dropped his phone twice (deliberately). Sold! But man, is it a pain to dissect when apple juice is spilled on it (sadly, it’s not waterproof).

    Thanks again!

  • 22 Elle Sees // May 14, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    I have a Droid, love it, but we have crappy apps! It’s getting better, but not fast enough! ;)

  • 23 ADR // May 14, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    SIRI is a great app!

  • 24 krissy // May 14, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    zombie farm. zombie! farm!

  • 25 wendy // May 15, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    Check out Grove – they have the coolest bamboo cases and you can custom design your own, or pick from a line of artist illustrated ones!

  • 26 dan // May 16, 2010 at 7:12 am

    Convert is good, but since I’m always cooking in range of wi-fi, I just use Google. You can type “3 tbsp in tsp” for example and it will give you the conversion. (Same for metric vs. standard and just about any unit you can think of.)

  • 27 Cindylou // May 16, 2010 at 10:14 am

    Save your money! Here’s the same case (quality exactly the same) for under $5

    Bought one for my husband and it’s just as good as the expensive ones :)

  • 28 megan // May 16, 2010 at 10:36 am

    Dan – I know about Google’s conversions, honestly though I like that Convert involves so little typing.

    Cindylou – I’m a little skeptical about the fit of that case since it’s for 2G through 3Gs. I like that mine hugs so well.

  • 29 Rachel // May 16, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    I love when you post about apps! I just picked up Flower Garden.

  • 30 Link Love 05.21.2010 // May 21, 2010 at 7:03 am

    […] Current iPhone apps and the quest for my favorite case […]

  • 31 Mark // May 23, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    Have to admit, I still love my iPhone’s “native” case. Still using a 2G with the indestructible metal case and loving it as many others in the 3G world are needing to trade up due to damage.

    4G is looking awfully tempting though with the move back to metal casing. Good luck on the search!

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