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2013 ROG Awards: 5 Mainstay iOS Apps

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114407473I’m starting a new tradition this year called the ROG awards. ROG stands for Rock of Gibraltar and in this context it applies to the 5 rocksteady apps that make my iOS devices worth using. I go through a lot of apps on both my iPhone and iPad. It’s perfectly logical… I do write a tech blog for crying out loud and I am an IT Director. Aside from that, I’m a tech and Apple enthusiast. I give A LOT of apps a try from productivity apps to games, but the thing is, very few of the apps I download actually stay on my device for longer than a couple of weeks. As I really thought about it, I realized there were only five solid workhorse apps that truly make a big difference in my life.

While there are some apps that I find really cool and genuinely useful such as the iWork apps, Google Voice, a few camera apps, a weather app, some games and some social apps, this prestigious list is reserved for the top 5 apps I couldn’t live without. These apps stay on my device even as I delete scores of others that I either got bored with or that didn’t deliver on their promise or hype. These are the five apps that will make my iPhone and iPad worth owning in the coming year. It’s quite possible that you have heard of most, if not all, of these apps before and you may even be sick of hearing about them, but I mention them nonetheless because if it weren’t for these five apps I don’t think I’d find my iOS devices nearly as compelling. This list excludes, of course, built-in iOS functions such as Siri, Mail or Safari. Duh.

Evernote

This is the one non-Apple app that has the singular distinction of living in the dock across the bottom of my iOS devices. It’s there because I use it so much. I’ve written about how great I think Evernote is before, but to recap, I use it for stashing important information I know I will want to find later (both for work and in my personal life). To me, Evernote’s killer feature is the ability to attach pictures to notes and then search for the text within those pictures later. One use case is this: As an IT Director, I always take pictures of the serial numbers of new devices I buy so that I have that information on hand later… I see so many computers, printers, tablets, etc. that it can be a real hassle keeping track of a serial number when I need to talk with a support technician, for example. With Evernote I can simply title the note with the appropriate person’s name and then take a picture of the box and a closeup of the serial number–searching for that information becomes a breeze later on without needing to scan through some long spreadsheet or going down into the storage area to find an original box.

Flipboard

Flipboard is the granddaddy of the newsreader apps is still my favorite. It’s been out for what seems like forever, but nothing has managed to beat it yet in my opinion. This is the first app I recommend to new iPad or iPhone owners and their eyes always light up then they first see it in action. Aside from a neat and clean-looking interface, Flipboard does an amazing job of digging up content producers I have never heard of before. When I have Flipboard installed, I feel pretty confident that I am not going to miss out on anything I might be interested in. This, I think, is due to Flipboards curators who do a great job of discovering content sources and surfacing interesting articles, photos and videos to save me some time. Combine the cover stories feature with the fact that I can see relevant social updates in my feed and I’m all set. I get my news from Flipboard and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Clear

On a very basic level, DailyTekk essentially runs on lists made and organized in Clear. It is where I store all of my post ideas. I have a list for every series on the site and lists for different types of ideas. Every time I open the app I get a good feeling; from the inspirational quotes (if you follow us on Twitter you know we like those) to the colorful interface to the innovative navigation, Clear is an app that is simple and helps me stay organized. Even Evernote, which I love, takes to long to open and create a new note or to search for an old note to add to. Clear is quick and that is why it rocks for jotting down my ideas. Of course I do use Clear for other lists as well like the more traditional to-do type of list, but if Clear disappeared from my home screen, I think I’d feel a bit lost.

Spotify

I listen to a lot of music, I always have. When iPods and iTunes first arrived on the scene, I was an avid buyer, often spending my last few dollars on a few songs here and there in my college years. When Napster was reborn, I thought it was an interesting concept–renting music, as much as I could consume, for the price of a CD each month. It sounded good on paper, but it was lacking in execution. I hated it–the music selection my eclectic palette demanded wasn’t available and the interface stank. Spotify delivers big time on the rented music concept. The execution is great as is the selection. I almost never listen to Spotify on my Mac; instead I’ll listen to it off my iPhone whether I’m in the car or at the office. When I am listening at the office, I simply use it in conjunction with my Bose SoundLink speaker. I do supplement Spotify with a little Grooveshark or Songza here and there, but Spotify is my goto music service and I don’t see that changing anytime in the near future.

Google Local

This last app may come as a surpise–you may not have ever heard of it as it doesn’t seem to get a lot of press. As you may have read in a previous post, I do quite a bit of traveling. Wherever I find myself I know I can count on the Google Local app to help me get oriented. I most often use the Restaurant feature but frequently use the Gas Stations feature as well. There are seven other categories including Coffee, Bars, ATMs, Hotels, Attractions, Pizza and Post Office, but I never even touch them. My main needs are mostly food and fuel, I guess. It’s not only when I’m out of state that this app comes in handy, however. Even when I’m on the other side of town, I like to check out what the food options are. It works great for finding good specialty restaurants, like say “Vegetarian Restaurants,” if there are any nearby to be found. I’m sure there are plenty of other apps that do nearly the same thing, but this happens to be the first one I tried and I have never switched. The interface actually isn’t my favorite, but it gets the job done. If you have any recommendations for replacements, let me know (but I can’t promise it will become a Rock of Gibraltar app).

What about you? What are your top 5 ROG apps?

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