Life Could Be Easier - On the Go, Part 2

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Life Could Be Easier - On the Go: part 2

Are you wondering whether you should get a smart phone? Do you have a smart phone that you'd like to get more out of? This summer, we're asking our colleagues from across the University to recommend their favorite apps, and to tell us what's so useful about them. Chime in in the comments here if you have questions or recommendations of your own.

This month, our app recommendations come from the Libraries' Web Development Department and Science/Engineering Reference:

Cody Hanson, Web Architect and UX Analyst, Device Type: IPhone

Elements - $4.99 (Universal)
Elements is a very basic text editor, allowing you to create and edit
plain text files on your iPhone or iPad. It has one killer feature:
Dropbox integration, which automatically syncs your documents across
all of your Dropbox-connected devices. In practice this means that I
can keep notes in my Dropbox folder and edit them on my iPhone,
laptop, and iPad, and my changes are seamlessly reflected across all

Instapaper - $4.99 (Universal)
Instapaper is both an app and a web service, allowing you to save
articles from the web for later reading. Instapaper strips extraneous
formatting and advertising out of web pages and presents articles in
an easily readable format with an innovative tilt-scroll feature.
Great for saving long articles from the web for reading on the bus.

Keynote - $9.99 (Universal)
Keynote is Apple's answer to PowerPoint. The Keynote app is a
fully-featured presentation creation and editing tool, which includes
PowerPoint file import/export. I used Keynote on my iPhone to create
my slide deck for a presentation at this summer's ALA Annual and was
quite pleased with the results.

Beejive IM - $9.99
Stupid name, great app. This IM client allows you to connect Google
Talk, AIM, Yahoo! Messenger, Facebook chat, and MSN Messenger accounts
for mobile instant messaging. I've got both my personal and UMN Google
Talk accounts connected, and use it to stay available when I'm away
from my desk. If you see my UMN Google Talk status set to "mobile",
I'm using Beejive.

AnyConnect - Free (Universal)
This application is the OIT-endorsed method for connecting iOS devices
to the University's VPN. Handy if you need an on-campus IP address to
test a resource from home, or just want to protect your data when
using a sketchy public wi-fi access point off-campus.

Kindle - Free (Universal)
I am a complete and unapologetic convert to e-books for my pleasure
reading. In the past couple of years I've read several dozen books,
thousands of pages, on my phone using the Kindle app. I read more than
I did before because I always have it with me. A tip: use the white
text on black background setting, which is easier on your eyes and on
your battery.

Photo fx - $2.99
As a new parent, I take lots and lots of photos with my phone. There
are many apps out there for photo sharing or for applying novelty
filters to make lousy shots look arty. Photo fx is the best
application I've found for serious photo editing. The high-quality
filters and adjustments have allowed me to salvage one-of-a-kind shots
that I thought were goners.

Carcassonne - $9.99 (Universal)
Uh. This is a game. It's a high-quality version of the European board
game with excellent asynchronous multiplayer. I mention it mostly
because I'm eager for more opponents. If we're coworkers and we're
playing a game together that makes it work-related, right?

Jan Fransen, Computer Science and Engineering Librarian, Mobile Device Type: Droid Charge

Getting to, from, and around campus is a little more challenging than it used to be.

Two apps that help:

One of several apps for getting Metro Transit Next Trip information. Metro Transit lists several others on its site, but I've found this one works best for my needs. I especially like its emphasis on your own "favorite" routes and stops.

I've been using Nice Ride bikes to get around campus this summer, and have gotten burned by empty racks a couple of times. SpotCycle provides real-time status (number of bikes and empty docs) for Nice Ride stations near you, along with maps.

When I moved from pay-as-you-go to a smart phone on a family plan, I rationalized that I'd be able to use my "downtime" on the bus or waiting for kids more effectively.
Besides the usual Google suite, a couple of the apps that help me do that are:

Read it Later
Read it Later is Tivo for blogs. I subscribe to far too many RSS feeds, but I rarely read entire articles when I'm skimming through in Google Reader. Instead, I use Read it Later in my browser to mark the ones that interest me. The articles are downloaded to my phone and I can, well, read them later, whether I'm online or not.

Pocket Casts
I don't listen to much music, but I love podcasts. With Pocket Casts I can subscribe to the podcsts I like and listen by either streaming over 4G or wireless, or downloading to listen offline later.

The first day I had the Charge, my battery was dead before I caught my evening bus. 4G is fast and the Charge screen is beautiful, but both eat up battery life. Now the battery lasts at least a day, because of one simple app:

JuiceDefender preserves battery life by automatically doing things like turning off 4G when home or U of M wireless connections are available.

Virginia Bach, on behalf of the Current Awareness and Personal Information Collaborative. CAPIM is focused on helping people organize and access personal information more quickly and efficiently

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Virginia Bach published on August 10, 2011 9:33 AM.

Google Scholar Profiles was the previous entry in this blog.

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