Sunday 25 September 2016

The 10 phone apps that I simply can't live without

Published 28/07/2016 | 02:30

Apart from obvious downloads such as WhatsApp, your phone offers plenty of tools
Apart from obvious downloads such as WhatsApp, your phone offers plenty of tools

What are the 10 apps you would choose to keep if phones were suddenly limited to that number? Most research shows that the ordinary person uses no more than 10 apps on a daily basis anyway. So which ones would you choose?

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For the purposes of pragmatism, we'll allow that you don't have to include obvious apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Gmail, YouTube, Outlook or WhatsApp. These are utilities, like the call button or SMS texting field. As such, they're arguably not discretional apps. You also don't have to include handy things like torch apps, as they're now built in to iPhones and Android phones.

For what it's worth, here are the 10 most phone apps I probably can't live without.

1. Docs

Of all the note-taking, word processing programs out there, Google Docs is still the one I default to for most things. That means work, too: I write articles in Docs (at home, in work or on the road) and then transfer over to external systems where necessary. Docs almost never crashes and it's the one productivity app I know won't be discontinued. There are no ads and, even as a free user, I'm also fairly certain that I'll never exceed its capacity limit if I stick to text documents - I've already posted thousands of files into it. The one crib I have about it is that the app doesn't support text-editing shortcuts with iPad keyboard accessories.

2. Spotify

 

This is one monthly €10 subscription I'm happy to pay for. Spotify not only gives you just about all the music in the world (except for Taylor Swift and a handful of niche holdouts), it's excellent for discovery. As many of your friends probably use it too, you can go and check their playlists within the app.

3. Twitter

I distinguish Twitter from Facebook as the latter is an essential utility, whereas Twitter is an optional affair. However, for anyone with any interest in current affairs, Twitter is unmissable. It's where almost all world news stories are covered as soon as they break. It's great for sports coverage too.

4. Dublin Bus/Real Time Ireland

I'm taking the liberty of counting these as one app. I mostly walk rather than cycle around town, which means I sometimes rely on public transport when it rains hard.

Dublin Bus is a simple app that tells you when a local bus is coming and which buses are due to arrive at a particular stop. If you want to expand this out to Luas, Dart and intercity trains, Real Time Ireland does the same thing.

5. Snapseed

I take lots of photos on whatever phone I'm using. The best user-friendly (and free) photo editing app is Snapseed. It lets me highlight bits of photos, sharpen them, brighten them and colour them. This makes a big difference when posting online, either professionally or personally.

6. Smart Voice Recorder

In my job, I have to have some means of recording voices. There are umpteen decent voice recording apps out there. This one is good as it lets you choose the quality of recording (and therefore the size of the file). You can share recorded clips across all the usual email, social and networking ways (but not over text).

7. TuneIn Radio

While podcasts are grand, local radio still throws up some of the best audio content going. I use TuneIn because it includes all of the main Irish radio stations, as well as UK or American ones if you want to venture further afield. Admittedly, the occasional 30-second ads upon startup are a pain so if you mainly listen to RTE Radio, the free RTE Radio Player is an ad-free alternative.

8. Snapchat

Not yet one of the core online channels but it's getting there. It's not because of just the different (more light hearted, spontaneous) way I communicate with people. Its Discover and Live channels are now becoming standalone news and entertainment stations in their own right.

9. Livescore

As a sports fan, I hate having to navigate through apps to find out what the score in a contest is, or who won. Livescore cuts through all the crap, giving you the current scores - and scorers - immediately on its first page. It covers football, cricket, basketball, tennis and hockey.

10. Google Maps

On iPhones, you have to download Google Maps. But I can't live without it. It's not just the detailed street, park and coastal maps or the turn-by-turn directions if you're abroad. It has handy effects like showing you where traffic is light or heavy on most Irish roads.

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