I was a late adopter to the smartphone phenomena. When I finally sprung for the iPhone 4, in the summer of 2011, it took me approximately 2.6 seconds to realize how this baby was going to either help my life enormously or hinder my ability to have any boundaries whatsoever.
I’ve come to learn how to harness this pocket-sized tool for good and not evil, so aside from the occasional time-suck of scrolling through Instagram (though it’s come to be my favorite social media tool), my phone has helped me in ways I never imagined.
I find it ironic to call it a “phone,” because what I do least with this thing is make and answer calls. I hate talking on the phone, and like my friend Myquillyn said in one of our podcast episodes, I wish there was a way to delete the phone-app part of the phone. Alas… there is no such way.
So here are some of my favorite apps that I use on a regular basis. Yep, these are for the iPhone, though many times, they’re also available for other smartphones. I don’t mean to be exclusive here at all—this is just what I know from my own life.
(If you use something else, I’d love you to add your favorite apps in the comments!) Read on after the jump.
Around town (and travel)
AroundMe: Toggle categories like restaurants, pharmacies, hospitals and more to see what’s closest to you.
GasBuddy: Tap one giant button and you’ve got a list of the closest gas stations and their current prices.
Google Maps: Get directions and find addresses—and often find contact info for places.
Wi-Fi Finder: Find the closest public wifi connections, both free and paid.
Yelp: The Motherload of reviewed and recommended everything—restaurants, doctors, coffee shops, and more.
Currency Converter: The phone comes with a default one, but I like this one better—more currency choices.
HomeAway: Find an independently-run vacation home.
Hotels.com: Get rates and book hotels on the go (though I’ll usually call the hotel directly after to see if I can get a better rate).
KAYAK: Awesome source for flights, hotels, and car rentals (though again, I’ll call the airline directly and often find a better deal).
Southwest Airlines: Since my favorite airline isn’t listed on KAYAK, its own app is the next best thing. You can also check in to your flight.
Camera+: Fancier, faster, and a better-quality camera than the built-in camera app.
Frametastic: Easily create collages of multiple photos.
Snapseed: By far, my favorite photo editing tool. Changed my (photo-taking) life.
Squaready: Make your photos square for Instagram without the pesky black bars.
Audible: All my audiobooks, accessible on my phone.
BBC News: My favorite source for non-Americanized news.
Bible: Great Bible with many translations.
Kindle: All my Kindle books, right there on my phone, too.
Ease into 5K: The app that’s turned me in to a runner.
MyFitnessPal: In my opinion, the best, most intuitive food journal and calorie counter.
Nike Training Club: Great little videos for workouts.
Pandora Radio: Access to my Pandora account.
Spotify: By far, my preferred music resource. Heavenly.
Shazam: Hear a song but can’t pinpoint it? Tap a button, and it’ll tell you what it is.
Fandango: Movie times and tickets.
IMDb: Can’t place that obscure person in a movie or TV show? Look it up while you watch.
Redbox: Check what movies your local Redbox has in advance. Reserve it, too.
Price Check by Amazon: In a store and want to compare the item’s price on Amazon? Scan the barcode and find out.
Craigslist: I prefer scouring Craigslist on this app over its actual website.
Etsy: Easy to navigate app for the Etsy portal.
Dropbox: Access to all my files right on to my phone.
Evernote: Same here—all my clippings and notes on my phone.
Google Drive: Ditto—all my Google files on my phone.
Skype: Call China from my phone. Or continue my Skype meeting as I move around the house.
Todoist: My current favorite to-do list. I can make multiple lists and share them with Kyle.
Food & Drink
Hello Vino: Find out what type of wine will go best with your meal.
Starbucks: Pay for your latte on your phone and collect rewards for free drinks.
Foodily: A database of favorite celebrity chefs’ and food bloggers’ recipes.
ABC Letter Tracing: Simple letter tracing for preschoolers.
Bob Books: A surprisingly good app for learning to read.
DailyArt: A new famous work of art daily, with its history and links to learn more.
Flashcards+: Make your own (or import) flashcards.
Scout’s ABC Garden: Helpful letter-learning and phonics tool from LeapFrog, and the dog knows your child’s name.
Google Earth: Fly over the entire world, for fun.
SkyView: Hold your phone up to the sky, and it’ll tell you what stars, constellations, and planets you’re looking at.
TED: My favorite place to learn and be inspired by smart people.
Wikipedia: The open-source encyclopedia in your pocket.
Angry Birds Star Wars: All my kids love this goofy game.
Matching Zoo: My toddler plays this any time he gets time on my phone.
RC Plane 2: Fly a plane all over the world.
I add apps all the time, but I don’t find them useful after a few weeks, out they go. So if you see them in the screenshots here (but they’re not linked to in this post), that probably means I use those, too.
And since one of you asks at least once a week—yes, I’m still hoping to develop an app based on my Daily Docket printable. I’ve been busy with book writing, blog writing, various site running, and oh yes, keeping my family and home running. Hoping to get to in the nearish future, so I’ll let you know how things progress in that department!
Alright, now it’s your turn—which apps can’t you live without? (And if you have a non-iPhone, feel free to add your favorite apps in the comments, so other readers can glean from your knowledge.)