My favorite iPhone apps

I’ve had my iPhone for a couple of months now (really 2 1/2) and over that time I’ve found several iPhone apps that I really like and regularly use. I’m going to first discuss the replacements for the Palm apps I was worried about losing and then others I was either less concerned about or hadn’t even considered.

Just before I ordered my iPhone, I described how must of my areas of concern were basically handled. Here’s the current status:

Pocket Quicken
No change here and this is probably what I miss the most. There are lots of financial apps for the iPhone, but I’m still married to Quicken for Windows (under VMware Fusion). I don’t expect this situation to change any time soon, so I have resigned myself to entering receipts at home and not being able to look up historic items on-the-go.
TeeShot (version 1.6) is serving me pretty well for this, though it does tend to crash quite a few times during a round of golf. Luckily, it is very good about saving state such that when I re-launch it, it is pretty much right where I left off. Usually the crash completes very quickly and the re-launch is also quick, so it isn’t that big an inconvenience, though occasionally, that isn’t the case and it takes a while to recover. The usability has improved with each new version and the next version (1.7) should be coming out soon.
I went ahead and purchased SplashShopper (version 2.5), but I find that I am only using it for checklists. For shopping, I am using ShoppingList (version 1.2). It has a nice feature to dynamically order the items based on the order that they have previously been bought. Unfortunately, this doesn’t quite work well enough for me as it only applies if the items are filtered to only show the items previously purchased at the current store or not at any store. Just because I purchased an item at a different store in the past and not at this store doesn’t mean I don’t want to get it here. I emailed the author about this and his response was positive, but the app hasn’t been updated in nearly two months. The other thing I used to use HandyShopper for was to track when I last watched each of my DVDs. I use this as a guideline for things like which DVDs to take on trips without having to think about what I might want to watch — if I own it and haven’t watched it in a while, I’ll probably enjoy watching it again. SplashShopper does not have a built-in date field for items, and using one of the custom fields for that doesn’t appeal to me. I’ve ended up using iProcrastinate Mobile (see below) and it is working quite well for this.
In addition to the fundamental functionality of tracking fuel efficiency, I also wanted maintenance reminders and a graph of fuel price. Car Care (version 1.15) provides everything I wanted and the interface is pretty nice. I do wish startup were a bit quicker and that I could configure it to startup on the fill-up entry page.
iCal on the iPhone isn’t anywhere near as functional as DateBk6, but I’m surviving OK. For ToDo items I’ve settled on iProcrastinate Mobile (version 1.1, icon name “Tasks”). It does not support repeating items, which is mainly what I have, but I’ve found that rather than marking an item as done I can simply reset the date to the new due date (I store the repeat pattern as text in the Note field to remind me of what to do). As I mentioned above, I am also using this app to track when I last watched each of the DVDs that I own. This app would be greatly improved if Apple would add the ability for an app to update it’s badge (number shown on the icon in the app launcher) at some regular interval without the user having to launch the app, along with allowing for alarms from 3rd party apps.

Other iPhone apps I am using as replacements for Palm apps:

Separate Checks
This is by far the best iPhone app I have found for dividing up a check as it lets you actually assign the items to individual people rather than simply splitting the total evenly. Other than a couple of usability issues, and the fact that it doesn’t save any data between invocations (so if you leave the app for some reason before you’re finished, you have to start over — ugh), the main design of the app is, I think, superior to the Palm app I was using, Tipsy.
Expense Sharer (web site under constructon)
I’ve been waiting for an app like this since I got my iPhone (in fact, I seriously considered writing it myself, but the learning curve seems fairly steep if you haven’t done any Mac/Cocoa programming before) and it finally came out last week. Yeah! Based on at least one review in iTunes, some people simply do not understand the point of this app. The ideal use is for sharing expenses when going on a group vacation (as the name of Palm app I used, Holiday Debts, indicates). While I do use the app for this purpose, I also use it to track daily lunch debts between my regular lunch group — whomever is behind pays for that day’s lunch and the expense is divided appropriately (possibly with the help of Separate Checks) and entered. The app then shows how much is owed to and from each person which tells us whose turn to pay it is next. I like this app a lot, particularly the nicely formatted email summary that can be sent.
Simple body weight tracking app, but the first one I found that is both free (as this is not really something I care enough about to pay for) and shows a graph. In truth, this isn’t really a replacement for the Palm app I was using, CK Diet Diary, as that app did much more (tracked meals and exercise, including a database for both), but for the last few years I had only used the weight tracking aspect of that app.

And, of course, there are a number of iPhone apps I use that fill an entirely new niche for me:

Nice iPhone interface to Wikipedia — better than accessing via Safari as it is formatted better for the iPhone and includes a table of contents view that can be handy.
I like this for finding nearby restaurants. There are lots of apps for this, but this is the one I have liked best so far. I also like that it lets me post a Twitter update with a link to the restaurant’s Urban Spoon page.
This app is for finding all sorts of nearby stuff, but the only thing I use it for is for looking at nearby gas prices. There may be a better app for this.
This is a very cool app that interfaces with either Netflix or Blockbuster Online and lets you manage your queue. I’m only using the free version at this point, which doesn’t let you add DVDs to your queue, but still lets you reorder and delete items.

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  1. #1 by Ben on October 17, 2008 - 12:11 pm

    I found a vm for palm for my N800. Maybe there’s something similar for the iPhone? (Although I did a quick search and didn’t see anything.)


  2. #2 by CC@Where on October 17, 2008 - 12:22 pm

    Thanks for the shoutout! If you have any suggestions for widgets that you’d like to see on WHERE let us know! CC


  3. #3 by Aaron Berk on October 17, 2008 - 4:34 pm

    I’m glad you like Separate Checks. I will be making the data persistent through uses and also the ability to save, among many more features. As far as Usability, definitely let me know where those issues are. There are many points that bother me as well and am constantly thinking of ways to make it better.


  4. #4 by whall on October 21, 2008 - 9:16 am

    Is there a hardware qwerty keyboard app yet?

    whalls last blog post..He shoots, he scores


  5. #5 by Ren on October 22, 2008 - 12:11 pm

    Ben, not sure Apple would allow something like that — at least not yet.

    CC@Where, nothing comes to mind right away, but I use Google maps for finding most locations. The inclusion of the recent gas prices is what gets me to use Where for that. I’m not sure of anything else that is quite so dynamic.

    Aaron, already corresponded via email — thanks again!

    whall, [chuckle]

    Rens last blog post..My favorite iPhone apps


  6. #6 by martymankins on October 23, 2008 - 12:08 am

    I’m a current Palm phone user (Treo 755p) and I’ve had a running list, very similar to yours, on what I would do to switch to the iPhone.

    App wise, I’ve found I don’t use Pocket Quicken that much, but when I travel, it’s inseparable. I use Quicken 2006 for Mac and it does pretty much everything I need it for, including synching to Pocket Quicken. I recently bought The Missing Sync from Mark/Space and it’s made life a bit easier than the HotSync from Palm for the Mac.

    The biggest thing I would miss? cut and paste. If they can find someway to implement that on the iPhone, that may get me to leave Sprint. Next on the must have list is some form of category-based notes. I live and breathe by my notes and how they are categorized.

    My wife has an iPod touch and I really like it for it’s web use and other functionality, but compared to my Treo, there’s some things that I would really miss if I switched.

    It’s good to see you have made things work for you. That’s a plus in the right direction.

    martymankinss last blog post..Scooter Sunday #27


  7. #7 by Ren on October 23, 2008 - 10:12 am

    martymankins, as it happens, the Treo 755p is what I had for the year before I got the iPhone, and I had been a Palm user for years before that.

    When I switched to Mac, I did some research on the state of Quicken for the Mac and came to the conclusion that it was not up to par with the Windows version. Therefore, I still run the Windows version under VMware Fusion. For a little while, I did sync my Treo with this instance of Quicken, but I really found it to be too much trouble. A month of not using PocketQuicken because of this led me to conclude that I could stand to be without it indefinitely. Still, it is by far the thing I miss the most with my iPhone. (Copy/Paste being missing has only been a mild annoyance.)

    The browser experience is so much better than my Treo that it makes up for a lot, but it is really the richness of the App Store that has mad me feel at home. While there is not yet quite the diversity that there was for Palm, and more of the apps cost money (though often only a dollar or three), there is a certain freshness to the apps that was missing on the Palm — most of the apps were really starting to feel stale to me.

    I don’t specifically use category-based notes, but it wouldn’t surprise me if such an app already existed.


  8. #8 by Evil Genius on October 24, 2008 - 11:23 am

    First off, I hate you for having an iPhone. I want one so bad! But ugh, the expense, plus I can’t really switch my mobile carrier right now. I was able to (FINALLY) score an iTouch, but I’ve only had it a couple weeks and with all that’s been going on around our house I’ve barely had time to play around with it yet.

    I also use ShoppingList and iProcrastinate, but you’re right, the Palm apps are a little more user friendly and flexible. But I gotta have my lists!

    Wait…I thought the latest update allowed users to integrate calendar info from Outlook (which I use extensively). Hmmmm…I synched my Touch but like a dummy didn’t check to see if my recurring items carried over. I guess I’d better check on that!

    Evil Geniuss last blog post..A Dose of Happy


  9. #9 by Ren on October 24, 2008 - 12:49 pm

    Evil Genius, as with healthcare, my company comes through for me again with a corporate discount for my cell service (with both Sprint and at&t), so the iPhone plan didn’t cost as much as it would have otherwise. I think it’s about $17 more per month than I was paying before, but I get more monthly minutes and roll-over minutes (which are nice).

    I don’t use Outlook, but a friend of my with an iPhone does, and it seems to iCal seems to sync with it just fine. However, as far as I know, tasks are not yet handled.


  10. #10 by martymankins on January 31, 2009 - 2:11 pm

    Finally getting to replying to your comment to reply to me.

    I’ve thought about using the Windows version of Quicken, but Quicken 2006 for Mac works pretty well for my financial organization needs. I passed on moving to Quicken 2007 because it is an absolute mess of crashes and unstable code.

    Having used my wife’s iPod touch, I can 100% agree with you that the browser experience is levels above the Treo (Blazer browser). And the AppStore is chocked full of programs that I could use

    I will have to see if I can find a Notes sync app that works for me. Having an iPod touch that I can test it on is a good thing.

    About the only outstanding thing I use my Treo for that I would miss in the included tethering plan I have with Sprint. Moving to the iPhone, plan wise, will end up costing me with all of the extras that I now get included in my plan.


    • #11 by Ren on February 3, 2009 - 5:14 pm

      @martymankins, no question that I’m paying more for my service than I was with Sprint. However, I had already given up my “free” tethering when I moved to the 755p / Vision Plan. This has resulted in me foregoing Internet access on occasion when traveling, other than using my iPhone directly — but, of course, using the iPhone counts for a lot.

      I do feel that I get my money’s worth, though.


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