I have written about my five favorite books and my favorite movies. So it seems appropriate, in this day of electronic everything, to talk about my favorite apps. In this article, I focus on apps for the iPhone / iPad, although several of them have MacOS counterparts.
Hands down, this is my anchor app. Day One by Bloom Built Inc is a journaling / diary program designed for the IOS and Android platforms. There is also a version for MacOS. Unfortunately, there is no Day One app for PC and the program cannot be accessed through a web browser.
Simply put, Day One is an electronic diary1. You can set up any number of journals to satisfy your goals. Within the app, there is also an option to see entries from all journals at once, displayed in reverse date order.
While I have never been a great diarist, I use Day One to keep notes of important events throughout the day. Entries are automatically tagged with date and time, as well as location where the entry was created. You can also create tags for entries to help with sorting. The date, time and location entries, as well as the tags, can be edited at any time.
Locating entries is easy because the search function is capable to searching every word in your entries.
Day One also has a small app for the Apple Watch. Of course, it’s not really practical to write a full entry on the watch. However, I like it because it easily creates a quick date / time / location entry. That helps me remember to ‘fill in the details’ later.
Day One readily syncs across all your devices. Any or all journals on IOS / MacOS can also be encrypted with end-to-end security using a locally stored key for privacy. Encryption is not currently available on Android devices.
Evernote’s tag line is Remember Everything. I think that is quite accurate.
Simply, Evernote by Evernote Corporation allows you to save almost any type of information as a fully searchable note. This includes text files, PDFs, photographs and web links. Notes can be tagged with custom keywords.
Notes are also stored in notebooks, electronic file folders which allow an additional degree of organization.
But the real strength of Evernote is that optical character recognition (OCR) is applied to every note. It can even read handwritten notes as long as the writing is not cursive. That makes every word of every note searchable.
With an auxiliary app called Penultimate, you can even take handwritten notes directly on your iPad and store them directly in Evernote.
Best of all, Evernote works on all current platforms: IOS, Android, MacOS, Windows and Linux. Notes are uploaded to Evernote servers, protected by 128 bit encryption.
Note the World
Evernote can understand 28 typewritten and 11 handwritten languages. I found this extremely helpful when I was studying Japanese. I took notes in Penultimate, in Japanese, and the text was readily available in Evernote.
The Evernote app for Apple and Android uses the device’s camera to directly scan documents. You can scan receipts on the go and have a searchable record of the transaction.
You can start using Evernote for free. And it’s not just a limited time ‘free trial.’ The free option for Evernote is forever. With the free option, you are limited to 60MB of uploads per month and some features are not available. However, it’s a great way to see how valuable this app can be.
The Premium version costs $5.83 per month when purchased annually. It includes expanded search and sharing features, including the ability to store notes ‘off-line’ – directly on your device. With this feature, you can access notes at times when internet access might not be available. Premium users get 10GB of note uploads per month. There is no storage limit once your notes are uploaded to Evernote servers.
I’ve had the premium option for about seven years and I consider it well worth the cost.
Ride with GPS
If you include bicycling as part of your exercise routine, or just enjoy riding, this app is for you.
The Ride with GPS app tracks your movement in real time and even provides a map of your ride. You can also load pre-determined routes and the app will give you turn-by-turn directions for the route. Routes are created and posted by local bicyclists so you can be sure there are routes you can use right away. You can also create your own and share them with others.
Ride with GPS from Ride with GPS LLC also tracks speed and elevation changes. And with an external heart rate measurement device, it will also correlate your heart rate with portions of the ride. I usually use an inexpensive heart monitor that straps around your chest, but the Apple Watch will also provide heart rate information.
Ride with GPS is a competitor to the better-known Strava app. Both apps perform similarly and I have tried both. Although Strava has an advantage of linking to more of other types of apps, Ride with GPS presents a better interface. Both link with the Apple Health app. In my experience, Ride with GPS also has a better GPS rendering of route maps.
Interesting, one reviewer commented, “Probably the best aspect of Strava is that it’s also a robust social network ..” I don’t share riding information with anyone else, so the ability to ‘compete with your friends’ that Strava provides isn’t a concern for me.
I like that Ride with GPS has an easy to use browser interface. It’s particularly helpful to me to be able to view all aspects of my rides on my 27″ iMac monitor, as opposed to my iPhone.
I think that most people now recognize the popularity of e-readers. In another part of my life when I was writing novels, e-books captured up to 95% of the market for fiction books.
That percentage took a deep dive in the past few years. Amazon reported at the end of 2019 that for every 100 print books they sold, readers purchased 114 e-books. That works out to a little more than 53% of the market. However, that includes all types of books and non-fiction has never been as popular in e-format as fiction.
I buy a combination of print and e-books. The deciding factor for me is largely whether I want to be able to access the book remotely – away from home. I also prefer the e-format for fiction, so most of my fiction purchases are e-books.
Amazon and its Kindle reader are the clear leaders in the e-book world. Barnes & Noble’s Nook reader is still available however. In the early days of e-books, I owned a Kindle reader. But it was broken one day, so I looked for alternatives. One of the reasons I like the e-format is that I don’t have to carry physical books (plural) around. But the Kindle reader was an additional device to carry.
The Kindle app, available for IOS and Android, puts e-books on your phone or tablet. I almost always have my iPad with me, and my iPhone is always with me. So when I’m sitting in my car waiting for an appointment, it’s easy to spend the time reading.
I also have David Busch’s excellent manual for my Nikon Z6 camera on my iPhone and iPad. If I need to check a setting that I don’t use often, it’s a simple matter to look it up on the manual in e-format.
I’ve had the Amazon app on my phone and tablet for a long time. But they really came into their own with the COVID-19 crisis. As millions of other people have done, I’ve switched a lot of my shopping to online ordering and home delivery.
Whether you love or hate Amazon, they do have just about any product imaginable. And usually, their prices are as good or better than physical stores.
I have purchased paper plates from Costco for years. Lately, they haven’t been carrying the size I use, so checked Amazon. I placed an order – with free delivery the next day because I’m a Prime member – at a unit price cheaper than Costco.
So, while this app wasn’t something I used a lot in the past, since March 2020, it has become one of my most-used.
What are your favorite apps? How do they make your life easier? Tell me about it in the comments below, and let’s start a discussion.