Following on from my previous post how I use my iPhone, I’ll run through some of the apps I use here. I’m still relatively new to the iPhone, so I haven’t got anything too obscure for the most part, and there are bound to be other programs I should check out, so I’m open to suggestions. But these are the ones I use at the moment.
As noted in my previous post, I usually have the colours inverted on my screen (so black text on a white background becomes white text on a black background instead). However, if I want to look at a picture or a video, or if an app already uses a colour scheme that my eyes are comfortable with, then I will quickly flip the display back to normal by triple-clicking the Home button.
The screenshots I’ve included below therefore represent how I use my device to read things – meaning most of them use the inverted colour scheme, and also larger text. The exception to this are the two camera apps which, by definition, I use in regular mode, so those pictures show how those apps normally look. But anyway, on to the general list of apps…
There isn’t much to say about the basic Phone, Contacts and Messages apps really, they’re pretty basic and simple to use. The only thing that didn’t seem to work for me was Visual Voicemail, but that’s not a big deal, normal voicemail is fine. I like the way the Contacts app syncs up with my Mac, that’s extremely handy. I don’t use Facetime because the people I know either don’t have it or don’t use it either – but I do have Skype, as I already have contacts on there, so that comes in useful occasionally.
I do, of course, have the Facebook, Facebook Messenger and Twitter apps. I don’t post on those networks much, and I’m still feeling my way with Twitter a bit anyway. But they are handy for keeping an eye on what’s happening in the world, when you ignore the pointless nonsense that some people post. The text in those apps is nice and easy for me to read as well, because it seems to be responsive to the larger text settings I have. The LinkedIn app, on the other hand, doesn’t have enlarged text, which is a pity. It’s still readable, it just requires a little more effort.
Music & Radio
I have a large collection of music, which I’ll write about in later posts, so I’ve been able to store quite a lot of it on my phone. The option to show only music downloaded to the device itself is rather sneakily hidden, but I was glad when I found it (hitting the down arrow next to the Artists heading reveals it). I’m not interested in Apple Music, so I’ve not signed up to that. But I do enjoy using the BBC’s iPlayer Radio app, it’s very easy to find shows on there to listen to. I have Tunein Radio as well – I don’t use it a lot, but it is a handy way to find stations on pretty much anything when the mood strikes you.
TV & Video
I have the BBC iPlayer and Youtube apps for a start. I don’t watch much on them unless I’m travelling, because I much prefer watching things on my big Mac or TV screens. And the writing on Youtube (particularly comments) is quite small in the app. But they’re still handy to have. I also have the Roku app, as I have a Roku 3 box connected to my TV. I don’t particularly need the app, as I use the physical remote with the box anyway, but there’s no harm in having it.
That’s where the Youtube app on my phone particularly comes in handy, as I can use it in conjunction with the Youtube app on the Roku. The Roku app doesn’t show clip descriptions or comments, and it’s harder to type with the remote to search for things – so I can do all the text-based stuff on my phone, including reading descriptions, leaving comments, adding things to playlists, searching for videos, etc, while watching the videos properly on my TV. The connection between the two apps works well.
I also have the DiscoverTV app by Radio Times, which is useful if I don’t have the magazine handy. I wouldn’t want to read the whole magazine on my phone, but being able to reference the TV guide quickly is good.
I’ve used the camera for plenty of photos and videos, though I’ve edited the latter using iMovie on my Mac rather than the equivalent app on the phone. Recording video inevitably eats up the battery life too, but it’s possible to get a fair amount out of it. I managed to get 90 minutes of footage on my friend’s wedding day last year, on a single charge. I just made sure I had airplane mode on, no Bluetooth or Wireless enabled, and no background app refreshing either, to ensure the battery would last as long as possible. I had about 5% left at the end of the day, so it worked out very well.
One very useful app that’s saved me a couple of times already is Video Rotate & Flip. When recording video, especially quickly to capture a moment, it’s easy to assume you’re in landscape mode, but the phone hasn’t quite registered the angle you’re holding it at. So I’ve occasionally ended up with a clip where the picture is on its side. Finding this app was a godsend for fixing that. It does exactly what it says in the title, without affecting the quality of the footage, so I recommend it.
Another camera app I’ve found incredibly useful is Scanner Pro by Readdle. This allows me to use the camera as a document scanner, storing multi-page scans as PDFs. I can then transfer them to my computer, where I can bring them up nice and big on the screen and invert the colours to read them really easily. I’ve also organized all my PDFs into collections in iBooks on my Mac as well, so it’s easy to find things.
Scanning with the app is quick and easy, because most of the time the app will detect page edges automatically and snap the shot for you (especially if the page you’re scanning is distinctively different from the surface you’ve placed it on). And when it doesn’t quite get it right, it’s easy to drag the corners to the right position, especially as it zooms in a bit to help you.
I’ve found lots of uses for it, such as scanning in all the booklets from my CD albums. iTunes will sometimes provide digital booklets for albums you download, but now I’ve created digital copies of booklets from all my physical discs too. It means I can enjoy the text and images they contain a lot more easily, as physically they’re pretty small.. I’ve done similar scans with DVD booklets I have, historical family documents, and artwork from old vinyl records I’ve been sorting out, and other bits and pieces. It’s soon added up.
I have a selection of news apps, as it can be a good time-killer to flick through them to see what’s going on. I have Apple’s built in News app, as well as BBC News, BBC Sport, ITV News, Yahoo News Digest, Evening Standard and The Metro. They carry most of the same stories of course, but it’s good to get a more-rounded picture by reading different reports, and some will flag up interesting stories that others don’t. So I like having the variety.
We’re signed up to the RNIB Overdrive service at home (to download their talking books, a service I might also write a separate post about). So I have the Overdrive app on my phone as a result. My mother is the heavier book listener, as I’m more into my music, so I tend to transfer her books from the website on to her Victor Reader Stream player on my iMac. But when I have had books on my phone, the app is good to listen to them on. There’s a great video by Fashioneyesta about the service – though it’s important to note that, since that video, the service has now become free of charge, which makes it even better.
I have both Apple Maps and Google Maps, both of which I tried when visiting my friend for his wedding last year, as I didn’t know the area. They both made it easy for me to figure out where I was going, and I like the audio prompts you can get to tell you when to turn into new streets. I think I prefer Google Maps out of the two if I had to choose. I also have Google Street View, which I find useful for planning journeys in advance, as it helps me pick out landmarks I can look out for when doing the walk for real. Plus I have the National Rail app for getting around on the trains, along with the built-in Weather app and the BBC Weather app for checking conditions if I need to.
I have the app for my bank, as well as apps for Paypal, National Lottery and the Premium Bonds Prize Checker. One gripe I have with the National Lottery app is that some parts of it use black text on a red background, which is very difficult for me to read. Inverting the colours doesn’t help there, because I end up with white on a light blue.
I’ve got Apple Pay set up with my debit card on my phone, but I’ve not had the chance to actually try it yet, so I don’t know how well it works. I also have the Amazon app – which is useful, as I buy from them regularly (often DVDs and occasional CDs, and other bits and bobs). Plus I have the app for Marks & Spencer (which seems to look better than their annoying website) and the app for the Nectar loyalty scheme (because I have one of their cards, though other than checking my points balance I’ve had no other use for the app to be honest).
I’ve got the Google Drive app, as it’s handy extra source of cloud storage if I ever want to move documents around. I don’t have the GMail app though, as the in-build Mail app serves my needs sufficiently at the moment. I’ve also got the i-nigma app for scanning QR codes and other barcodes, and Basic Unit Converter to convert units of measurement. I also have the My EE app as they’re my mobile provider – I’m not sure the colours or general interface design are as good as they could be, but I rarely use the app anyway so it doesn’t really concern me. It mainly helps me keep an eye on my data usage, just in case.
Apps I Don’t Need
I could easily live without the Health, Compass, Stocks and Watch apps as four that particularly spring to mind. It’s a pity they can’t be deleted (and no, I’m not going to jailbreak my phone, before anyone suggests it). Still, I’ve organised all my apps into folders, so the ones that can’t be removed don’t really get in the way. I like the way it’s easy to create folders for apps, by dragging apps on top of each other. It is a neat trick for arranging things, so I can keep everything on one Home screen.
I haven’t really looked into playing games on the phone much – as with videos, I’d rather play games on a bigger screen than focus intently on a small screen for too long. But, as with all types of app in general, I’m open to ideas if there’s anything people think I should try out.
So those are the apps I use right now. If it’s the type of thing you like reading about, then I hope you found it interesting.