15 August 2012

Fortress Around Your Heart

I have a friend who refuses to put any apps on his iPhone and I think it's crazy. "I like to keep it uncluttered." Listen, I'm a Virgo, I understand all about having to keep stuff clean and organized. But why have an iPhone that is stripped bare of anything but Phone, Mail, Messages, Camera, etc. That's like having a premium computer and not downloading any programs. "No no, I'm good with TextEdit." There are wonderful apps out there that make your life easier. I'm not saying you have to download all of them, just the few that you'd use often.

Historically I've been against paying anything for apps but I've recently changed my stance. It's completely silly to think that I'd pay $4 for a Jamba Juice but not 99¢ for an app. For example, I recently dropped a dollar to purchase the ad-free version of Chess for Friends. I've been using this app since 2007 and every time I've made a move I've been served up an ad. For a buck I ended the nuisance.

What's crazy is that even a week after eliminating the ads, I'm still trained to move my finger down to close an ad after I push my piece. I've been hard wired to be Zynga's pawn for five years!

Having said all that, I'd like to plug a few apps that might rescue you in this dark time. I used to download and try out every Twitter client. Some of the time I was on Echofon, some of the time I was on Tweetie (until it was acquired by Twitter), and I was always on the lookout for something better. Well, that something better is Tweetbot.

Tweetbot has a clean interface, wonderful gesture based actions, and allows me to switch between accounts easily. While it's not substantially different from anything freely available, the little touches add up to make it the best Twitter client available. I was a skeptic, but after using it for a few months, I'm glad I spent the $2.99. If you use Twitter regularly, I recommend you dig out a few dollars for this app too.

Also, Tweetbot just released a Mac client as a public alpha. Tell me how it is because I can't use it. My OS is still on Snow Leopard. I know, so embarrassing! And if you're heavy on the Twitter, you should probably be using a desktop client because Twittering via browser is just silly.

Next up, Stitcher. This one is free actually. Everyone knows I'm a guy who loves his podcasts. What isn't fun is refreshing them one by one, or syncing to my computer daily. Stitcher solves this problem by making it easy to refresh all your podcasts at once and then having them streamed whenever you need them. No local storage, more space for your games and music.

The only downside is that Stitcher doesn't have every podcast I listen to, and that can make it easy to fall behind for some podcasts. However, used in combination with the native iPhone podcast application, I've streamlined my podcast consuming to all new, way more efficient levels. Rejoice. Stitcher also makes it simple to discover new podcasts by suggesting stuff based on your listening preferences.

Here's two podcasts I'm into right now: Planet Money and How Was Your Week with Julie Klausner. Usually I can't stand a lot of NPR's podcasts but their Planet Money one I can get behind. As for HWYW, each episode starts with Julie droning on about her week and after awhile it gets kind of like she's your friend and you just get invested into knowing what she's been up to. Also, she has great guests like Rob Sheffield, Tavi Gevinson, Kurt Loder, Choire Sicha, and Patton Oswalt.

Actually, my absolute favorite podcast right now is Grantland's Reality TV Friday with Dave Jacoby and Juliet Litman. I've always loved Jacoby but when Juliet came on board a few weeks ago, their podcast chemistry made them my absolute favorite couple. Like in life. I don't know two people I'd rather listen to or hang out with. I know, strong statement, but it's absolutely true. I don't even watch the shows they talk about -- mostly Bachelor and Real World -- and I still can't wait to hear them banter and discuss the trivial each week. Here's a sample episode. And by "hang out with" I mean I listen via technology while they talk and don't even know I'm alive. It's a very one-sided relationship but I'm fine with that.