If, like me, you’ve succumbed to the allure of the iPhone, then you’ve no doubt also lost countless hours of sleep since the launch of the iPhone App Store. At the time of writing there are over 2,000 apps available to download, either for free or for purchase.
So whether it be to compensate for functionality that should already be present in the device, to take your productivity to the next level, or to simply convince yourself that your old phone is due to be replaced and it’s time to join the cult, we thought we’d pull together the five iPhone apps that we at SitePoint consider to be “must-have”.
While some are definitely worth paying for, others are free.
There are a number of RSS readers available for the iPhone, but as far as I’m aware only NetNewsWire allows you to sync your reading list (and your list of articles that have been read) with an online service (NewsGator). So if you use either NetNewsWire on your desktop Mac (or NewsGator, if you’re on Windows) then you can sync your reading list between your phone and your computer. Sweet!
If you’ve already made the leap to collecting and collating your life trail in text, images and sound with Evernote, then adding the free iPhone version to your arsenal is a no-brainer. If you’ve yet to discover the convenience of capturing your life in an Evernote account, then the iPhone version of this app might just be enough to convince you to give it a go. Free accounts receive 40MB upload per month, and $5/month gets you 500MB/month.
The desktop version of OmniFocus is the mother of all GTD-inspired task managers (Mac only). The iPhone version is no exception, with features like GPS-based context switching and syncing via Apple’s MobileMe or via a WebDAV server on your Mac. While it definitely has a learning curve, when migrating from other task management tools, it’s one that is worth persisting with. One notable omission is the “perspectives” view that is so useful on the desktop; hopefully this will be added in future versions.
The inability for the iPhone to act as a USB storage device is something that has bugged many users for a while. Cries of “this functionality should be built in to the operating system” have been ignored by Apple, but not by the developer community. FileMagnet is one of a bunch of apps that are popping up to address this limitation in different ways (others include Caravan, Files and DataCase). While not perfect (FileMagnet runs into memory problems with larger files, unfortunately including many SitePoint PDFs), its slick and intuitive user interface gives it the thumbs up over the competing apps.
One other potential hurdle — it’s a Mac-only app. Adding Windows support and improving its ability to handle larger files would elevate this app to the top of the list; hopefully the developers will tackle these issues in future releases.
While OmniFocus allows you to add photos and audio attachments to tasks, for simple voice recording, it’s overkill. Note2Self is a simple app that records audio and emails it to an email address of your choice. That’s all it does, but given the potential for what can be built on top of this one task, that’s a pretty powerful little task.
Note2Self provides an intuitive interface for quick voice recording, ensuring your ideas can be captured at a moment’s notice. While the Jott iPhone app supposedly takes this feature to the next level by leveraging powerful audio transcription, unfortunately Jott requires registration via a telephone number in the United States and Canada (talk about limiting your audience!) so I wasn’t able to review it.
Until Jott sets its sights beyond North America, Note2Self is an easy-to-use solution for sending myself short notes. It may even be possible to set up something similar using email filters, automator, and a speech recognition app, but I haven’t explored how feasible this is as a solution. For short notes, I don’t feel like I’d benefit that much from the automatic transcription service, but for longer purposes, like when I’m in the mood for dictating the next author contract I send out, rather than typing it out (ahem!) I can definitely see the value this feature would provide.
What are your favourite iPhone productivity apps? Let us know in the comments!