Author: Jason Lykins

Jason is a Photographer and all around tech guy. Jason is also the owner of Jason Lykins Photography. Follow him on Twitter @JasonLPhoto or on Facebook.
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10 iPhone Apps That I Can’t Live Without

I haven’t done this in a while and I’m always getting asked what Apps are “must haves” for new iPhone users. Usually I point them to our Top 100 List, but I thought it was time I shared with you my latest Top 10 Apps That I Can’t Live Without.

 

Instagram

I’m addicted. There I said it. I absolutely love Instagram, not as a replacement for my camera, or a place where I go to make “art”; but rather a really fun way to take, “filter” and share what’s going on with me at that moment with my friends.  There is a reason that it was Apple’s #1 App last year… If you’re on Instagram don’t forget to follow me @jlykins !

You can get Instagram for your iPhone for free from the iTunes store here: iTunes

 

Navigon

Navigon has made it into many of our lists over the past few years, and while we continually try out new navigation Apps, Navigon is by far our favorite over here at Best App Site. I use Navigon almost every single day. With it’s turn by turn Navigation, (new) street view, and awesome local search function, Navigon is the gold standard for iOS Navigation Apps.

You can get Navigon North America for $39.99 from the iTunes store here:iTunes

 

GasBuddy

While you’re out driving around with that new Navigation App you just bought, you will undoubtedly need some gas at some point. Make sure you find the cheapest prices around you by using GasBuddy from the website of the same name. Before there was the iPhone and the App, there was GasBuddy.com; a place where you could go to find the cheapest prices in town. Using crowd sourcing information, and location services GasBuddy can now find the cheapest prices near you, or near a destination of your desire.

You can get GasBuddy for your iPhone from the iTunes Store for free here: iTunes

 

Facebook

It seems like everyone is using Facebook these days, even big businesses. I access Facebook probably 50 times a day, and as such I want to be able to access it from my mobile phone with a semi-native App, meaning I don’t want to have to access it via mobile safari or other mobile browser. While we all know that there are some bugs and performance issues with the official Facebook App, it is by far the most full featured that I have found to date for iOS. If you’re on Facebook don’t forget to “like” the Best App Site Fan Page!

You can get Facebook for your iPhone from the iTunes store for free here: iTunes

 

Chase

I love Chase Bank. I have been using them for a few years now. I also love the fact that I never have to go into the bank (unless I’m making a large withdraw). With the Chase App I can do all of the things that you would normally expect with a banking App, but I can also take pictures of my checks to deposit them! This saves me a trip to the bank and I appreciate that saved time.

You can get the Chase Mobile App from the iTunes store for free here: iTunes

 

Nightstand Central

 

I long ago removed a “stand alone” alarm clock from my room. My iPhone is battery powered, auto updates for daylight savings time, and does more than my old alarm clock ever thought about! I like Nightstand central a lot because it has a ton of customizable features. backgrounds, alarms, songs, sleep timers, weather conditions, etc. You want it, this alarm clock App has it.

You can get Nightstand Central for your iPhone from the iTunes store for $1.99 here: iTunes

 

Dropbox

For those who don’t know, Dropbox is a cloud service for files that puts a local folder on your computer and automatically synchronizes that folder’s contents with the cloud. There are a ton of uses for it, and it’s free! If you don’t already have a Dropbox account, go here to sign up for one for free! Once you have a Dropbox account, and you’re putting your files there, make sure you can access them on the go from your iPhone with Dropbox for the iPhone. It’s an awesome App with a wonderful UI.

Get Dropbox for your iPhone from the iTunes store for free here: iTunes

 

MLB.com At Bat 2012

I’m a huge baseball Fan; specifically my hometown team the Cincinnati Reds. I go to a bunch of games every year, and when I can’t make it to a game, I like to keep up with what’s going on. MLB.com At Bat 2012 does that for me! With At Bat 2012 I can watch real time what’s going on at the games and keep up with all of the scores around the league. It’s hands down the best way to follow your favorite MLB team from your iPhone!

You can get MLB.com for free from the iTunes store (there is an in App purchase for full use) here: iTunes

 

Pandora

If you don’t know about Pandora, you’re missing out. This free online radio plays stations customized by you. You select the artist, genre, song, etc. and it selects “like” songs to play. You give songs the thumbs up or thumbs down to tell Pandora what you think of it and the App learns your musical likes for that station and plays the music that you want to listen to.

Get Pandora for your iPhone for free from the iTunes store here: iTunes

 

645Pro

Last but not least we have 645Pro. I did full review on this App a few weeks ago where I told you how this is the only camera App that allows you to save your photos in uncompressed Tiff format. It has phenomenal camera controls built in that are at your finger tips, and selectable quality settings. This is my go to App when I want the best possible photos out of my iPhone. I would recommend it to anyone that likes to take good photos with their phone.

You can get 645Pro from the iTunes store for $2.99 here:iTunes
There you have it! The top 10 Apps that I use daily or almost daily and can’t live without! I would suggest getting each and every one as they are the best of the best!

Foursquare - Find restaurants and other places you'll love

Foursquare Is All New

Last week Foursquare labs released version 5.0 of their wildly popular Foursquare App. There are lots of Apps now that let you check in, (Facebook, G+, Yelp, just to name a few) but it all started with Foursquare. The guys and girls over at Foursquare labs have been busy toiling away, completely rewriting the App taking what YOU the users have been asking for! This isn’t just a refresh of the same old check in App, it’s a complete redesign to shift the focus from being solely checking-in to checking in and exploring new places. The redesign promotes rating the locations that you check in to, exploring locations around you, viewing your friends locations and more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Interface

The redesign starts with the tabs. Along the bottom of the screen. Friends, (the left most tab) is selected by default. This tab shows you your friends current status’ and allows you to quickly comment, and/or favorite their activities. A welcome addition, these controls make it really easy to access your friends comments and more fun to interact with them.

Explore is exactly what you think it is. Selecting explore (the middle button along the bottom) shows the most popular  places around your current location that people have checked in (indicated by a blue pin). Tapping a pin shows the name of that location and allows for expanded information including location address, phone number, menu (if applicable), and more! Of course you can still search from within the Explore section like you always could.

The profile section (far right icon on the the bottom) is a direct result of feedback that Foursquare got from you, the user. Many users indicated that they wanted to be able to access their profiles quickly. From within the profile section you can access your friends list, stats, photos, tips, badges, lists, and more. This is a welcome addition for me. I like being able to quickly see my stats, which includes where I’ve checked in at, my mayorships (Chipotle mayor lol), my points, and most explored categories.

Checking in has been moved to the upper right corner of the screen. Tapping it shows a screen similar to the explore screen (a map with pins indicating previously created locations to check in). Under the map is a list (from closest to farthest away) of the locations on the map. Tapping on one of the locations brings up one box to comment on your check in and another to tap if you want to add a photo. Below that are selections to post your check-in to Facebook and Twitter.

 

The Bottom Line

All-in-all I don’t have any complaints about the new Foursquare. I love the changes that Foursquare has made. The new version is well made, extensively thought out, and what you would expect from a major player like Foursquare.

 

You can get Foursquare for your iPhone from the iTunes store for free here: iTunes

@Timer

A Simple Timer For Your iPhone

Today we’re going to keep it short and sweet; not because this App is lacking in quality, importance, or love from us, but rather because it is SO incredibly easy to use that there isn’t a whole lot to say. As a matter of fact, it’s this simplicity that makes this App the best of it’s type that I’ve ever used! When you want to start a countdown timer, you don’t need (or want) the extra frills and bells that accompany so many other Apps; you want quick, simple, and to the point. Timer for the iPhone fills this need perfectly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

User Interface

The user interface for Timer is simple; crazy simple. As you can see in the screen shot above they have included what they feel are common times that people want. activating these times is as simple as tapping the desired icon. When a time is selected, it immediately starts counting down. When it reaches the end of the time an alarm sounds indicating that your timer is up. To reset the expired timer you simply tap it a second time. It’s as easy as that. To change any of the preset times, all you have to do is hold that particular timer for three seconds to enter the edit screen.

 

Custom Times

If you want a custom time that is not indicated by a preset on the screen there are three custom options at the bottom of the screen to choose from. By tapping on one of the grey squares along the bottom of the screen you can input the time that you need. These custom timers act just like the preset times, counting down until the time expires or it is reset by an additional tap.

The Bottom Line

So that’s it! That’s all there is to this super simple, but extremely useful App! If you need a simple, to the point timer for your iPhone, this is the App for you.

You can get Timer for your iPhone for $.99 from iTunes here:iTunes

Smart Merge Pro - Duplicate Contacts Cleanup for AddressBook Gmail Facebook & Google Contacts

Merge Your Duplicate Contacts With Smart Merge Duplicate Contacts

If you’re anything like me you have multiple copies of your contact list in multiple places, all of which converge in your “Contacts” App on your iDevice. Personally, I have contacts from my Google account and my Yahoo account. Contacts that were merged from my computer, not to mention all of the contacts that I put in my phone on a weekly basis. It becomes a little overwhelming at times. Because all of these different locations were feeding names and numbers into my phone, there were multiple duplicates. I tried to keep up with them but going through almost 500 contacts was a daunting task that I didn’t want to take on regularly. I even considered deleting my contacts altogether and starting fresh, but that idea was quickly vetoed by my worrying mind fearing that I would lose an important email or contact that I didn’t have synced somewhere else. Enter Smart Merge Duplicate Contacts, or Smart Merge for short. This App not only goes through and sees what duplicate contacts you have, but it finds duplicate numbers, duplicate email addresses, contacts with no email or no phone number, and more! It has a really easy to use interface, AND it’s a universal binary! It has everything that I wanted and more!

 

Find The Duplicates

As soon as you launch Smart Merge you are taken to the main screen showing you an assortment of information. You see how many contacts you have total, Duplicate contacts, Duplicate emails, contacts with no name, contacts with no number, and contacts with no email address. It’s a lot of information, sorted very quickly into easy to understand categories.

 

A quick tap on any of the categories will expand the list to show you it’s contents. For the duplicate contacts page you will see a list of all of the duplicate contacts. Tap the merge button to allow Smart Merge to do it’s magic. It will take your to a screen like this one where you select any contacts that you don’t want merged.

Simply tap the check box next to each contact that you don’t want merged. When done, simple tap the merge button in the top right corner to merge all of the selected contacts.

The same works for the duplicate phones, and duplicate emails fields. Smart Merge shows you the duplicate phone numbers, which contacts they reside with, and allows you to individually control which numbers/contacts are merged.

Missing Fields

When it comes to the bottom three fields (No Name, No Phone Number, and No Email Address), the real point is to let you decide if you want to keep or delete the incomplete (in the Apps eyes) contact. It assumes that if you don’t have the full information, why would you want to have them in your contact list. For the most part this is true, if I don’t have all of your info, I don’t want/need you in my contact list especially if I don’t actually have your phone number. There are some exceptions to the rule, and this is just my personal preference.  A lot of social media Apps will offer up user information for your phone without you even knowing it. The majority of the contacts that I deleted were contacts automatically generated by Facebook, and LinkedIn. There are a few select contacts that I only have email addresses, or twitter names for but that’s what I love about this App; the flexibility to remove certain listings before the App does a mass purge.

 

The Bottom Line

If you’re like me and have multiple duplicates in your contacts App of your iPhone you’re going to love this App. I can’t recommend it enough and I know you won’t be disappointed with it!

 

You can get Smart Merge Duplicate Contacts from the iTunes store for $.99 here: iTunes

The Weather Channel and weather.com - local forecasts, radar, and storm tracking

Weather Channel Update for The iPhone

Just recently my absolute favorite App for weather on the iPhone got a complete overhaul. The Weather Channel is the official App from WeatherChannel.com. I’ve been using it for two years or so now, and with this update It’s just that much better! In version 5.0 the UI is completely revamped. Adding swipe between locations, a find me now button, and much more!

What’s Changed

 

Like I said, the UI has been completely overhauled including the start-up screen, background images, saved location interaction, location searching, Social media interaction, and more.  The first thing that I noticed when I launched the App for the first time after the update was the bright background screen. The splash screen is now a beautiful photo of a sunny day with some thin clouds. Once your location loads, the background will switch to represent the current weather being displayed. Along with the new backgrounds the update brings a new swiping interface to quickly switch between your favorite locations.  When in “weather” mode a simple swipe left or right will take you between your saved locations seamlessly and quickly. While we’re talking about locations, you’ll find a new feature in the location search section; a “find my current location” button. The Weather Channel App will use your current location to find the most accurate, up to date weather for that area.  Are you into tweeting about your weather? Yeah me either, but in case you are, there is a section for that built right in! Of course you still have your maps and video section, but not much has changed in either of those. Luckily, they were pretty good to begin with.  Probably the biggest improvement that I’ve noticed is the speed of the App. Without a doubt, the great developers over at TWC have improved things under the hood of this App because it feels a LOT faster. Faster to load, faster to switch between sections, and faster to load maps.

The Bottom Line

This App update has been a huge improvement. Not only on the UI side, but in the speed department. My only complaint would be that they only updated the iPhone App and not the iPad version. I can’t recommend this App enough, and at the great price of FREE, you can’t go wrong!

 

Get The Weather Channel App for the iPhone from the iTunes store for free here: iTunes

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