Tuesday, 26 June 2012

My Apps for iOS [Part 3]

This post continues the little guide to setting up and fine-tuning iOS. If you followed the previous entry, read on to find out the apps that I use on iOS, so that you too could hopefully save some time and trouble. 

Mail, Contacts and Calendar


Support for Google's services on iOS devices took a hit after Apple dropped the company as official maps provider and opted for their own in-house product for the next major update to iOS. Just last week Google phased out their Official Mac and iOS blog although they are fully committed to making Maps and other Google services available to iOS users. GMail was one such popular service that took a while to appear on the App Store, and when it did, it was pulled almost immediately because of a critical bug. I use the official GMail app instead of Mail.app to check my primary mail. The only con at the moment is lack of notification center updates. Update : Update for the GMail app went live today and the app now integrates nicely with notification center. 

Setting up Mail accounts to sync Calendars and Contacts on iOS is very straightforward. I use Mail.app by syncing my secondary email account and my @me.com Email address to it. Having a @me.com is  recommended so that it can be used for account sign-ups as well as for giving out to strangers. The @me.com address also syncs email across your iCloud account so signing into iOS devices using your Apple-ID lets you check your mail using the default Mail.app on that device. 

I have my Contacts set to sync with GMail so that entering new contacts on the browser automatically reflects on the Phone and vice versa. This makes it easy to look up contact details even if I'm using either the Android tablet or iPad as all contacts are in sync across all devices. 

One problem I encountered while setting up Calendars on iOS was that the Calendar is set to sync your primary calendar by default. If you have more than one calendar in Google Calendar you can set these to show up on your iOS calendar by going to m.google.com/sync on the iOS device. From there you can manually add up to a maximum of 25 calendars to sync to iOS. One way to use this is to stay up with your favourite sports team's fixture schedule, or the Euros for example. Calendars can be added from websites such as iCalShare



Dropbox is by far the most important app for me. If you want to access documents across PC's, tablet devices and phone then Dropbox is an app you definitely have to install. I use Dropbox to share links to pictures, Ebooks and RAR files as well as to keep my KeepPass database in sync. If you use Dropbox with apps such as iBooks or GoodReader, you can sync and read your PDF's .mobi and ePUB files on your iOS devices. IMO Dropbox is the next tech company to follow; since it's appearance in 2007 Dropbox  has become the best File syncing service and it makes competitors such as Box.net and Sugarsync look pale in comparison. Dropbox works really well with services like itff (If This Then That) - I have it set up to automatically download all YouTube videos that I 'like' into Dropbox. If you haven't already done so - get started with using Dropbox
There are many PDF readers on iOS; GoodReader, to name just one, is probably the best out there. But to keep things simple, I recommend using iBooks. It works really well with Dropbox. I drag and drop Ebooks into Dropbox and I have the option of reading it in iBooks.
Til quite recently I used an note-taking app that syncs to Dropbox, before switching to Evernote solely because it does a great job of keeping everything in sync. Things are made simpler by adding a new contact with your Evernote Mailer email, so whenever there's something important to clip just use the embedded iOS 'Mail to' shortcut and send it to Evernote. 


AirVideo Free

AirVideo fills the gaping void between your iOS device and your collection of Media and TV Shows. Simply install the AirVideo server on the PC that contains your Media, add the relevant folders and load it up on your iPhone/iPad. Zero to none stream-lag is the reason why this works really well. 
Stitcher is the app I use to keep up with my favourite Podcasts. Simply subscribe to your favourite stations and be alerted to the latest shows. It's great to catch up with the latest happenings instead of reading through tonnes of feeds. Who said pod-casting was dead?
Absolute 80s
 Absolute 80s Music. Music from the best eras of our time.

Downloads is perfect to grab any sort of file and immediately sync it to Dropbox. For example if you're looking for an Ebook, download it using Downloads and it'll automatically show up on all the devices that are synced to Dropbox. It's a great way to download new music and it also has a RAR extractor. 



Goes a step further by being a bit more useful that the stock Weather app on iOS. Plus, it displays information on its badge icon. 
 30/30 is useful if you want to organize your work for the day/hour. It splits up tasks into 30 minute intervals punctuated with 5 minute breaks. Look to this app if you want to stay focus and complete a task - it help me write this blog post in under an hour.

 The Eurosport app works with Notification center and alerts you to your favourite team's Matches, News and Goals. If you are unable to watch a match and want push notification alerts to what's going on, this is highly recommended.


Livescore lets you see practically almost every Football fixture that is out there. 
 A somewhat gimmicky app that is fun to play around with. The image above was done in about 5 minutes.

Color Effects
 The Color effects app is perfect for adding quick effects to photos.
Photoshop Express
 Photoshop Express is free and lets you do basic image editing such as cropping, flipping, rotating and adding frames to photos. 
Find my iPhone
By far the most overlooked feature on the iPhone is Find my iPhone. It takes a little under a minute to set-up and I suggest that you do so by going to General > Mail, Contacts and Calendar  > Add Account > iCloud > Turn Find my iPhone on. From then on, go to iCloud.com and sign in to view the location of your iOS device and perform the actions shown in the picture above. 

 DataMan is a handy app that runs in the background and helps you monitor your 3G usage letting you get a better idea of how much data you use per month. This could help you when it comes to upgrading or downgrading your data plan.

XE Currency

My favourite dictionary app lets you bookmark works for reference later. 
 Dict.cc is good to quickly look up German translations.


 I use G+'s instant upload to decide which pictures I want to share and to whom. One other great feature is Hangouts which works really smoothly. Chat however, should be removed as it is implemented poorly.

 Let you do something the official Twitter app can't - browse your Lists.

I use Dropbox to quickly share videos and Photos and to send links to documents that are stored on my account.

There you have it! Those are most of the apps that I use on iOS. Let me know if I got anything wrong, or if you find this useful. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have a tip or suggestion. 

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