Essential Apps

Wired magazine just published an epic issue – reviewing 400 outstanding apps for iPhones, iPads and Adroids. I’m giddy! So many tools, toys and games to explore. The special issue is beautifully designed and illustrated…and the reviews are a feast of information in tiny well-written tidbits. I also loved the tactile experience of reading this app guide – the thick & glossy paper is proof not only that print isn’t dead…it is a perfect medium for showcasing this digital download of data. Sweet irony!

Here are a few standouts:

FlipBoard (iPad, Free): Called ‘Literary Nirvana,’ this app aggregates content from multiple sources into a single interface. Content is organized by topic and easily taps into Facebook and Twitter streams…so you can see your friend’s Instagram pics next to photos from National Geographic.

Daytum (iPhone, Free): Log everything you do — miles biked, coffee drank, hours of uninterrupted sleep  — and then turn it into graphs for a snapshot of ‘what it’s like to be you.’ Wired says: ‘Makes your life seem cooler than it actually is. (Even bad habits look nice as graphs.)’ Nice!

Minimal Folio (iPhone $0.99, iPad $2.99): A venue for presenting photos, videos and PDFs with Dropbox support for access to your files.

BeyondPod (Adroid, $6.99): A podcast manager with a built-in media player that lets you read and import RSS feeds and search for new podcasts. Never miss another episode of This American Life.

Ringstone Studio/RingDroid (iPhone $0.99, Adroid free): Both of these apps let users create custom ringtones from any audio file. Just in time to give all those marimbas a much-needed rest…

NYPL Biblion (iPad, Free): This was a top app pick from Evan Ratliff, editor of The Atavist app and contributor to publications like Wired, National Geographic and The New Yorker. I took note of this app, which takes users deep inside the hidden collections of the New York Public Library, because Ratliff says ‘they’ve somehow engineered in serendipity.’

Adobe Ideas (iPhone, iPad $5.99): A simple sketchbook app billed by Wired as ‘way better than the back of a napkin’ that has smooth brushstrokes and clean zooming. Can also be used to doodle on top of photos.

Brushes (iPhone $4.99, iPad $7.99): The same app that has been used to create 8 New Yorker covers, it is billed as both beginner-friendly and expert-ready. Comes with 19 adjustable brushes and can animate sessions with video replay.

Stumbleupon (iPhone, iPad, Android; Free): A riff on Pandora, but with content pulled from the web (a site, a photo, a video). No subscription required and includes a rating system to improve future ‘Likes.’

Uzu (iPhone $0.99, iPad $1.99): I admit that I love the name enough to list this here, but the app is an amazing doodling tool as well. Well…not really a doodling tool as a way of making kaleidoscope-esque screen saver art!

TED (iPhone, iPad: Free): Puts all those great talks on your mobile device for clean viewing. With new talks added weekly, you’ll never miss one that doesn’t land on the TED homepage.

Camera+ (iPhone $1.99): Pre-shoot and post-production photo editing tools at a touch…and integrates with the usual social media sites so you can quickly share those great snaps with an admiring public. [this app and Instagram were mentioned in the earlier iCandy post]

Incredibooth (iPhone, iPad: $0.99): Take your own photo booth pics and create those silly strips of squeezed-into-the-frame mug shots…complete with sound effects. Curtain not included.

Instagram (iPhone, Free): A tool for making highly-stylized photos complete with feeds that allow you to follow your favorite shooter’s stuff. Its 16 filters transform “pedestrian images into something that looks like a faded Polaroid, say, or a highly saturated dye-transfer.”

Chomp (iPhone, Android: Free): Chomp makes browsing for apps a more satisfying experience by filtering out the junk and focusing on those that have received strong user ratings. Saves time, your battery and your patience. Perhaps it was even the inspiration for Wired’s App Guide! Same idea…

Be sure to pick up a copy of this guide. It is well worth the $10.99…and with its various categories (Games, Lifestyle, News, Productivity, Arts & Entertainment, Social, Photography), there is something here for everyone.

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