Make Your iPhone Work For You

Make Your iPhone Work For You

You don’t have to wait for Apple to release iOS 7 this fall to give your iPhone a functional facelift. On the following slides we’ve rounded up 10 new (and new-ish) apps that can make your phone into an even more powerful tool to help you stay on top of your life tasks at work and at home.

1. Collect Your News Feeds with Feedly

1. Collect Your News Feeds with Feedly

Long before Google retired its Google Reader service on July 1, diehard RSS users started casting about for alternatives. Feedly is one of the best. If you installed it before July 1, you’re probably already using it to stay on top of all of your old Google Reader feeds; if you didn’t, its clean, card-based interface still offers great way to sift through headlines from thousands of sites. It’s not yet searchable, though, which was a great feature of Google Reader.

2. Stay on Top of Your Calendar with Tempo

2. Stay on Top of Your Calendar with Tempo

A spinoff of the same defense-funded project that gave birth to Apple’s Siri technology, Tempo is a smart calendar that digs through your e-mail, contact list, and LinkedIn network to find everything related to your upcoming meetings. It can give you directions to your next appointment, let you respond to event invitations, and even help you send a text message if you’re running late.

3. Document Your Life with One Second Everyday

3. Document Your Life with One Second Everyday

The product of a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign by solo developer Cesar Kuriyama, One Second Everyday is an unusual app that helps you record one second of video each day, and then assemble the clips into a sequence encapsulating your life over months or years. It’s not a productivity app so much as a way to be more thoughtful about shaping the overall arc of your life. “Recording a moment daily encouraged me to wake up and seize each day,” Kuriyama says.

4. Keep a Digital Diary with Day One

4. Keep a Digital Diary with Day One

It’s hard to keep a daily journal if it feels like work rather than pleasure. Day One provides a beautiful interface and useful features that help tip the scales in favor of fun. You can add photos and GPS locations to your entries, and you get calendar and timeline views of past entries so that you can review what you’ve been up to. Day One’s maker, Bloom Built, offers Mac desktop and iPad versions as well, and entries sync automatically across all three.

5. Be a Better Note-Taker with Vesper

5. Be a Better Note-Taker with Vesper

For Apple watchers, there’s no better source of analysis and insight than John Gruber’s site Daring Fireball. Now Gruber is getting into the app business with Vesper, a minimalist note-taking app. Named after one of James Bond’s girlfriends, Vesper has been hailed as “the first app for iOS7” due to its use of color, typography, and animation, and its relative lack of UI elements or “chrome,” highlighting the notes themselves.

6.Hear Your Favorite Audio Shows with Swell

6. Hear Your Favorite Audio Shows with Swell

“Radio rebooted” is how Swell describes its app, which aims to present you with personalized, Pandora-style stream of news and talk radio, drawing from shows produced by NPR, ABC News, and American Public Media. If you like what’s playing, keep listening. If you don’t, just swipe left to hear a different selection. Over time, the app learns your preferences and plays more content that’s relevant to you. Big buttons make the app easy to use while commuting.

7. Make Your Apps Talk to Each Other with IFTTT

7. Make Your Apps Talk to Each Other with IFTTT

If you’ve never heard of If This, Then That, you’re missing out on a magical way to connect the software and services you use throughout your day. For example, you can set up a “recipe” on IFTTT that says “If the weather report says it’s going to rain today, send me a text message.” Up to now, IFTTT recipes have only worked with Web-based tools, but the new iPhone version of IFTTT lets you build recipes that tap your phone’s contact list, photo albums, and Reminders app.

8. Track Progress Toward Your Goals with Lift

8. Track Progress Toward Your Goals with Lift

You can think of Lift as a control panel for your New Year’s resolutions. It lets you set goals such as sleeping more or eating better, then helps you track your daily adherence. If you have friends who use the app, they can check in to offer encouragement or get you back on track. The most popular goals on Lift: “exercise,” “drink more water,” “read,” “floss,” “pushup(s),” “meditate,” and “sleep by midnight.”

9. Check the Weather with Foresee

9. Check the Weather with Foresee

You don’t look at a weather report to find out the temperature or the wind direction. What you really care about is whether today is a good day for washing the car or some other outdoor pursuit. Foresee shortcuts the process by creating personalized “activity forecasts.” Based on your location and preferences, it will tell you the best time to do things like going running, mowing the lawn, or even flying a kite or playing fetch with your dog.

10. Relax with Thunderspace

10. Relax with Thunderspace

There are many ambient-audio apps that provide relaxing background sound to aid with sleep or meditation, but Thunderspace is one of the simplest and cleverest. The $0.99 basic version comes with two different recordings of thunderstorms, the windy “Roof Garden” and the softer, more foresty “Waterscape.” Both come with a “lightning” effect that sets off your phone’s flash bulb. Four more tracks are available as in-app purchases, for $0.99 each. The sounds for the app were recorded in collaboration with the renowned acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton.

As you can probably tell from my calendar (pictured in the first photo above), I’m jetting off to Michigan today for a week’s vacation with my family. For me, vacation is a time to put aside my gadgets—or at least, turn off my e-mail—and focus on sun, sailing, and cervezas.

But for everyone who has to work next week, I’ve got a summer treat: a list of smartphone apps that can add some new kick to your routine. From time management to note-taking to after-work relaxation, these apps represent the latest in good design and fun features.

The look and feel of the iPhone will get a major overhaul this fall when Apple releases iOS 7. But my goal with today’s list is to show that you don’t have to wait that long to load up your phone with apps that extend its functions in interesting new ways.

Check out the images above for detailed descriptions of the apps. Here’s a complete list, with prices and links to the iTunes App Store. (Apologies to Android and Windows Phone owners: most of these apps are iOS-only.)

Feedly | free

Tempo | free

One Second Everyday | $0.99

Day One | $1.99

Vesper | $4.99

Swell | free

IFTTT | free

Lift | free

Foresee | $1.99

Thunderspace | $0.99

The Author

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy.

  • Amber

    1 second Everyday is .99 not free :/

  • http://www.onlinebackupmag.com/ eric1210

    Thanks for this information!