Many of you opened up an iOS device Saturday for a holiday gift, which means you scored an iPod touch, an iPhone or an iPad.
It’s slick, it’s shiny, and for the moment, probably pretty empty.
Apple’s iTunes is bursting with everything needed to transform that
iDevice to an app-running, music-playing, video-viewing dream machine.
And of course, it’s easy to do.
be an essential tool for converting your CD collection to digital music
files and organizing videos. It will also be a pearly gateway for
browsing the App Store.
more than 300,000 apps in iTunes, and wading through them can be a bit
daunting. Still, there are some strategies to help sort through things,
starting with searching for apps based on your interests.
If you are
into Facebook, then obviously the Facebook app will be important. Just
like the Twitter app is for tweeters and the Netflix app is for the
Google much? There’s a suite of Google apps, including the Google Mobile App, Google Voice, Google Books and Google Latitude.
Check and see
whether your bank has an app. Do you always fly a specific airline?
It’s very possible your favorite carrier has an app in iTunes, too.
down into your favorite hobbies: Enjoy wine? Cooking? Gardening? Comics?
Indeed, there are many apps for every interest.
Apple even offers a list of suggested programs in its Apps Store Essentials “apps starter kit,”
which while certainly worthy of consideration might not be all that
essential depending on your interests. Finally, after browsing the “top
charts” in iTunes for paid and free apps, here are a few more for your
thing about apps is that although many are interesting at first, the
novelty can wear off quickly. Here are a few with some straight-up
staying power - some free, some paid - apps that you’ll likely go back
to over and over again.
• Dragon Dictation
records what you say and eerily accurately transcribes it to text,
which can then be quickly copied and pasted into another app, e-mailed,
texted, Facebooked or tweeted. It’s exceptionally convenient when you
don’t have time to tap in information. And it’s free.
• White Noise:
Many apps have “white noise” somewhere in the name. Look for the one
from TMsoft, which has crafted a lovely app with a variety of sounds to
help drown out the chattering of co-workers or a snoring loved one. Most
of the selections, especially the “Amazon jungle” and “heavy pouring,”
are balanced just right so you can still concentrate on what you’re
doing. It costs $1.99.
• Dial Zero
calls the customer service numbers of more than 600 companies and
automatically jumps through the hoops so you can talk to a living person
instead of wading through voice prompts. It’s sweet, and it’s free.
• Tango Video Calls:
Video chat with friends who have the fourth-generation iPod touch,
iPhone 3G, iPhone 4 or Android phones. It works over 3G or Wi-Fi
Internet connections, and it taps into your iDevice’s contacts to help
invite friends so they can use the service. It’s free, and it’s easy.
• WeatherBug Elite:
This app has a lot of what you’ll want in a weather program, including
current conditions, forecasts and the ability to easily toggle between
multiple areas - around town or across the country - quickly and easily.
There’s also robust weather mapping, videos and local weather cameras,
all for 99 cents.
• RAGE HD:
This first-person shooter is an impressive demonstration of just how
amazing iOS games can be. Blast your way through apocalyptic levels as
gruesome creatures of all kinds try to kill you. RAGE HD is fast-action,
impressive animation and elegant technology, and it costs $1.99. If
RAGE sounds too intense, try an insidiously addictive word puzzle game
called Abca for $1.99.
If you are reading this story and you own an iOS device, then the
Journal Sentinel’s app is an easy call. News stories, features, blogs,
photos and videos all bundled in a neat, tidy, free package that’s easy
to read and navigate.
Even if you aren’t sure whether you want to invest in iBooks downloads,
the app is worth having for reading and organizing any PDF (portable
document files) you might download such as restaurants’ online menus or
documents from work. Amazon’s Kindle
app is also worth owning because your purchases can be accessed on
different devices, and there are many e-books available for free. Both
of these e-reading apps are free.
• Wunder Radio:
So many radio stations are beaming their broadcasts over the Internet,
too, and Wunder Radio wrangles more than 50,000 of them into an iOS
device. Search for favorite stations, browse by categories, use GPS to
seek out local broadcasters and bookmark favorites - among many other
features. All that functionality comes at a relatively steep price of
These apps are only the beginning of transforming that new iDevice into a personal portable supercomputer, and there are many, many more toys and tools to try.