Warning: This post is iPhone-prejudiced. I am sure any app recommended here links to some murky equivalent in your world, my beloved Android-using readers (get an iPhone, please).
I WAS STRUCK BY A CAR a few summers ago while crossing the street with my toy poodle, Caesar, on a leash (long story short: 100% the driver’s fault/my sweet, gentle soul decided not to sue/also, I was too lazy).
The second I rolled onto the hood of that car, I did two things in this order:
- I screamed, “CAESAR!” (He was fine, thank God. His reflexes are faster than mine, as it turns out.)
- I checked my iPhone, which had spilled out of my purse, along with my wallet, keys and a few other bare necessities. Now, by “checking,” I mean I thoroughly examined every inch of my phone for dirt, scrapes and cracks. Likewise, THANK THE LORD, not a scratch on my baby.
This is definitely the order in which I love things in this world:
1. My dog
2. My iPhone
Whether it was the iPhone 4 I had back then or the 6 I own currently, I adore my Apple smartphone first and foremost for its plentitude of handy apps. Apps make my world go round, whether they are allowing me to alter my selfies to the fullest potential a telephone can or check bus schedules with just a single downward swipe upon my screen. My photo-filtering apps (hint: not Instagram) shall remain a well-guarded secret, so I’ll simply share my four other favorites that make me appreciate sooo much my existence in the 21st century. The following apps are all either free or, at worst, have killer extra features that require only a very inexpensive upgrade. In no particular order:
1. “NORDSTROM” by Nordstrom, Inc.
App Category: Shopping
I HATE SHOPPING–but I love buying stuff. I only recently discovered the enlightening addiction of online shopping that grants this predilection the permission to proceed.
The physical action of browsing through sections of products, be they clothes or cosmetics, is nauseating. I get easily overwhelmed by choices and shopping is filled with those.
To find out one of my favorite department stores, Nordstrom, had its own 5-star iPhone app was a game-changer. Once you log into your store email-registered account, you can add (and remove) multiple items to your wish list before your shopping cart as you browse, effectively narrowing your choices down further and further. The app enables you to sort products according to standards like item category, pricing, and customer rating. Even after you directly purchase with the app’s shopping cart, there is a Saved for Later section of the cart that holds un-purchased items so other stylish jackals can’t get their paws on it… Heaven on Earth.
In addition to practicality, the app’s home page offers Daily Style Scoop, official Instagrams and digital video content. OH! Did I mention–Nordstrom ALWAYS has free shipping and free returns? Download before they start charging this app. Do it. Now.
2. “TV SHOW TRACKER 3″ by Pixel-Perfect Widgets
App Category: Entertainment
I WATCH A LOT OF TV. Why? Because I am an American human being currently living and breathing in the Golden Age of Western Television. Network dramas like The Blacklist are, at the very least, aspiring to be HBO-smart. Basic cable shows are so rich in substance that they are spawning spin-offs running at the same time as the original (i.e. The Walking Dead begot Fear the Walking Dead on AMC). Let’s face it–even late-night programming is GREAT again–Jimmy Fallon dominates NBC nightly and Stephen Colbert has now invaded CBS with his particular brand of quirky and intelligent funny.
So… I am sure many fellow Americans (and citizens around the world) face this dilemma:
How do I even keep track of all the awesomeness?
We have our DVRs and TiVos to tell us which recorded episodes of our favorite shows are unseen, but we would need to actually sit and manually scroll up and down/left and right with the clunkiest modern device out there: the remote control. (Site-note: why do we still have something like the remote control in the same era as iPhones and Google Glasses?) ENTER “TV Show Tracker 3.” It allows you to organize all seen and unseen episodes of favorite shows and alerts you to the number of unseen episodes left in your cache:
My very own show-tracking list (Go ahead… judge my choices):
3. “MIRROR” by Contrast
App Category: Tool
HOW MANY PEOPLE carry a compact mirror around with them at most times? Not many–certainly not more than those who clutch their smartphones with them even to the toilet:
“Oh sh*t! I have a meeting with this big shot. No mirrors in this bathroom. Need to check my teeth for spinach in a pinch!”
OR, SIMPLY: “Let me check my lipstick before my date shows up!”
What do you do? You open this app and it immediately transforms your screen into a mirror reflecting, well, you to the depth of your desire. You can zoom in to an extraordinary degree and tap once on the screen to freeze it and snap a selfie if you are liking what you see. Surrrre, you can use the iPhone’s front-facing camera as a mirror substitute, as well. To access that, however, you have to manually select the front-facing camera. Even with a selfie-catering app, you must tap on the camera icon to activate this feature. The mirror app is as simple as it gets–tap to open and see yourself. Tap again to take a selfie. Then, save the selfie to your camera roll with literally two more taps. The app embodies what the iPhone has emphasized about itself from the start: user-friendly.
With a $0.99 upgrade, the Mirror app will automatically adjust to your environment’s lighting and turns on a Flash setting as needed, as evidenced below (the Flash is incredibly bright–it only looks reddish below because of the pink walls of the room I was in).
4. “HANGOUTS” by Google, Inc.
App Category: Social Media/Communication
LET’S FACE IT–FaceTime remains one of the iPhone’s most primitive built-in applications. Let’s also face it–Skype, even on a fully operational computer (laptop or desktop), SUCKS SO BAD.
The iPhone Skype app is horrid. It, like its computer counterpart, is known for a lackluster connection signal enabling you to miss Instant (ha!) Messages from acquaintances at the time they were meant to be seen. Its poor signal also allows for many dropped Skype video chats and phone calls. And just like FaceTime, one cannot alter the size of the thumbnail in which one appears.
You could have a booger hanging out of your nose during a Skype video chat and never know because you can’t see yourself (and because your friend’s an asshole).
The “Google Hangouts” app is almost as flawlessly versatile and reliable as its computer counterpart. It does not crash like Skype and its signal is strong as the connecting Wi-Fi will allow it. Its greatest thrill, personally speaking, is that you can adjust your own thumbnail without having to switch your side of the video call to the main screen. Adjust how? With filters almost as diverse as Instagram’s, goofy special effects such as Fish Eye and Vignette and the ability to enlarge, minimalize, and even drag around your thumbnail.
Oh yeah, its IMs never get lost, either.