The Top 5 iPhone Apps You Need Right Now

There are certain standard apps I have on my iPhone that I’m pretty sure everyone uses such as Instagram, Twitter, etc.  This list talks about some of the apps that perhaps you aren’t familiar with but should be.  These are my favorite apps that I use almost every day and I have a feeling you’ll find them equally useful.  And best of all, all of these apps are free.

5. iMapMyRide
is an app that uses the GPS of the iPhone to track and record workouts.  Personally, I use it to track my bike rides but there are also versions for walking, hiking, fitness, etc.  It’s great for keeping track of my rides and to look back and see my favorite routes but the feature that earns it a place on my top five is the ability for live tracking.  Like most apps, there is a social element that let’s you connect with friends and family.  When you connect, your friends can see where you actually are on the trail which is nice if you’re going to meet up with someone.  However, I like it because my wife and I can track each other’s rides.  With three young kids, we rarely get a chance to ride together…one of us stays home to watch the kids.  It just so happens that on one ride I hit some mud and wiped out.  Other than some scratches and bruises, I was able to finish the ride but it was comforting to know that if something had happened, my family would know where to find me.

4. Fooducate lets you scan the bar code of a product in the grocery store and find product details and healthier alternatives.  Certain grocery stores have nutritional information on their store shelves such as the NuVal system but the Fooducate app looks at specific products – even store specific brands (i.e. Trader Joe’s).  The app also gives you an option of sending them product information if it isn’t already in their database.  For example, I scanned a new Bisquik Complete Pancake & Waffle Mix with Whole Grain but it wasn’t in the database.  I sent them an email and they replied once it had been added.  They gave the product a B-.  Like all products it gives several alternatives in this instance, they also included a recipe for homemade pancake mix that could be made with minimally processed whole grain flour.  Again, helping me make healthy food choices.  The other thing I enjoy about this app is that it lets you compare several products side by side.  Overall it’s a handy way to make healthier options at the point of purchase.

3. Peel.  A while back the O’Doyle’s cut cable (read the adventure here).  I still have no regrets about that decision, but one of the things we missed was the ability to view the channel guide.  We enjoyed being able to pull up the on-screen guide and see what was on, rather than channel surfing – which usually means hitting all of the commercials and wondering what show really was on.  Peel provides a visual guide of programing.  It’s nice because it’s not the name in a chart but shows a picture of the program. (lets face it, I’m a visual person so I like that).  The app allows you to customize multiple rooms which is nice.  I showed the app to my parents because they have over-the-air programming in one room but DirecTV in another so the app lets them switch between providers.  Peel also lets you select your favorite shows or channels so they show up as your top picks to make sure you notice they are on.  You can also sort between TV shows, movies, sports or conduct a search for your show.  You can also select the day and time to see when a program will air in the future.  I find this app much light-years ahead of the other apps available.  As a side note, I was having issues loading the programming and their customer support was super helpful and they even offered to send me a t-shirt.  For the record, they would have been listed here even without the t-shirt…but it was still nice.  Peel also has a remote control feature to control your tv/cable/satellite/DVR/blu-ray from your phone but I haven’t tried that feature.

2. Orchestra is probably one of the apps that has most impacted my life.  I’ll say it’s been a totally positive experience (but really just because I know my wife reads this blog).  As a stay-at-home dad there are many tasks that my wife and I balance between us that sometimes fall between the cracks. So far we’ve avoided forgetting to pick up a child from soccer but you never know.  Communication errors happen.  This app helps make sure we’re all working toward the same goal.  As Orchestra’s tagline says “everyone plays a part.”  This app lets you create a task and then assign who should complete it.  My wife has found this incredibly useful for her “honey-do” list…while I find it harder to plead ignorance. Orchestra lets you send tasks to people even if they don’t have their own copy of Orchestra.  You can send messages and status updates by individual tasks and even forward tasks people send you via email directly into Orchestra.  A nice feature is with iOS 5 tasks in Orchestra appear in the Notification Center.  I would love it if they added future functionality such as setting a date for a task to be completed.  I’d also like to see location-based reminders.  There are times when we’re at the Dr’s office and I wanted to stop at a nearby store on the way home but got distracted by a screaming child that didn’t appreciate their flu shot.  If there was a location-based ping to remind me that I needed to stop, my life would be complete.  This made the top 2 just because of the ability to manage our family life but you can also sort between personal and work tasks (or create your own lists) and manage everything in your life so the benefits are really far reaching.

1. Vlingo is my number one app.  I purchased this app when there was a fee for some of the functionality but it’s now free in the app store.  This app was worth the fee.  Many people have been jumping over themselves about the iPhone 4S and Siri but for my money, and my iPhone 4, Vlingo takes the cake.  Vlingo is a voice-activated app that lets you send email, text messages, social media updates (Twitter, Facebook), driving directions, web searches and voice dialing.  Seriously, this app does everything…and it’s free.  I like this app so much that I added it to the iPhone’s menu bar at the bottom of the screen so I always have it accessible.  It takes a little getting used to, especially composing emails since you have to speak the punctuation but once you have some practice it’s an incredibly slick app.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I did win a Twitter contest with Vlingo but it had no bearing on my decision to put it in the number one slot.  The reason I was interacting with Vlingo on Twitter was because I was already in love with this app.

There you have it, my top 5 iPhone apps.  What are you waiting for?  Go download them!  Did I miss one?  Agree or disagree with my choices?  Please let me know in the comments.  Thanks!


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