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What’s on my iPhone: Intro & page 1

When people notice I have an iPhone, they often ask if I know of any apps they should have. I figure some others may find that sort of info useful, so today I’m starting a blog series showing the apps I use. I’m going to do this by showing screenshots of the app pages from my iPhone starting with the home screen in this article with future posts for the other ten (yes, I have eleven pages of apps). I have an iPhone 4, but most of these apps can also be used on other iPhone models, iPads, and iPod Touches. And most of them are available for Android as well. Prices shown are as of this writing and may change.

I’m going to start with the bottom row. This row is always visible, no matter which page you’re on, so here I put apps I want be able to get to as quick as possible and also that may have important indicators (like unread messages).

Google Voice. I use Google Voice as my primary phone number. It's free and allows me to give out a single phone number that I can control where and when it rings (cell phone, home, office, etc.). It also has a lot of cool features like voice mail transcription to email, the ability to set different voice mail messages depending on the caller, and the ability to send certain callers directly to voice mail (I love this for blocking telemarketers). Obviously, the app is only useful if you use Google Voice, but if you do, you use the app to receive or make calls using your Google Voice numbers. The icon displays a counter if you have any missed calls or new voice mail messages. Price: free.
Mail. This is the standard iOS email app and I have it hooked up to my Gmail account. Price: free (built-in).
Messages. Although I use Google Voice to send and receive most of my texts since it's free that way, I do sometimes use regular text messaging on the iPhone, so I keep this app handy. Google Voice doesn't support photos or videos for texts, so I use this if I want to attach something. I also use it if the person I'm messaging has an iOS device, since it then uses iMessage, which is free and provides delivery & read notifications. Since I typically only send or receive a few regular texts per month, I don't have a texting plan and pay ten cents per text, which has always worked to my advantage. Price: free (built-in).
Music. Easy access to my music. I use iCloud and iTunes Match, so I don't actually have much music stored on my iPhone but instead download it on demand as needed. Price: free (built-in). iTunes Match is $24.99/year.

Now, on to the regular icons on the first page of my iPhone. My general philosophy is that the apps on the first or second pages should be ones that I access often and that I may need to get to in a hurry.

Google Maps. Since the built-in Apple Maps app is horrible, I've replaced it with Google Maps. I put Google Maps right here in this prominent spot, and since Apple Maps can't be removed, I moved it to the last page inside a folder I labeled "Unused". Price: free.
Chrome. The built-in Safari web browser is decent, but Chrome is better. If you log in to your Google account, it learns about the things you typically search for and the sites you visit. If you use Chrome on other devices and turn on synchronization, you can access your open tabs from any device. Price: free.
Google. Since Chrome has Google search built in, you may wonder why I need the Google app as well. Well, it provides voice search, which is nice for those of us without a Siri-capable device. It also gives easy access to other Google apps like Translate, Docs, News, Reader, and Picasa. Price: free.
VoiceMemosiOSVoice Memos. I used to carry around a micro-cassette recorder to catch those thoughts and ideas that could come at any moment. Now I record them on the iPhone. Price: free (built-in).
Camera+. Forget Instagram; Camera+ is the best camera app for the iPhone and is consistently among the top paid iPhone apps. Not only does it provide crops and filters to improve the quality of your photos, it has a built-in stabilizer function and the ability to take a photo by pressing either volume button on the iPhone. Price: $0.99.
Camera. Although I always use Camera+ for taking photos, the one thing it doesn't do is videos. So, I keep the built-in Camera app handy for times I want to capture a video. Price: free (built-in).
Photos. The standard iPhone app for accessing photos you've taken. Price: free (built-in).
The Weather Channel. A great app for checking the current conditions, forecast, and weather radar. It also provides notifications for severe weather alerts. Price: free.
Foursquare started out as the definitive social media achievement app where you earn special status among your friends by "checking in" to the app when you visit restaurants, stores, etc. It's still good for that, and it's fun becoming the "mayor" of your favorite hangout, but it's evolved into one of the best apps for finding out about places to go. You can search for types of food or activities you're interested in and easily find out what's around along with tips and photos from Foursquare users. And checking in not only earns you status, it can tell your friends where you're looking for some company. Price: free.
Google Latitude. The better alternative to Apple's Find My Friends, this allows you to share your location with others. It runs in the background, and you can also use the app to locate others who have shared their location with you. You can also check-in to specific locations like you can with Foursquare.  You can access your data from the web and see your complete movement history along with an analysis of how much time you're away from home vs. work, etc. Use Latitude to never again be asked "where are you?". Price: free.
GetGlue is like Foursquare for TV and music: you can "check in" to a TV show you're watching and see real-time comments from others watching the same show, reading the same book, or listening to the same music. Becoming a regular fan of shows and certain other events will earn you "stickers", which, once you earn enough, translates to an actual page of real stickers GetGlue mails you for free. Price: free.
Places folder. In this folder, I have apps that are useful when I'm on the road looking for a place to eat, sleep, or get gas. See below for the specific contents of this folder.
Facebook. Of course only useful if you're a Facebook user. But if you are, you want the app handy. Price: free.
Yelp is the best app for getting reviews and tips about restaurants and other destinations. It also allows you to check-in Foursquare-style and become a "regular" at your favorite spots. Price: free.
Waze is the killer GPS app that makes your old standalone GPS obsolete. It will direct you to your destination with spoken turn-by-turn directions and crowd-sourced traffic updates and rerouting. What does that mean? It means you'll know about accidents, hazards, and speed traps reported by other Waze users and you'll be re-routed when traffic ahead is slow. And if your vehicle supports Bluetooth, you can pipe the navigation instructions through your car's speakers. Price: free.
Twist. Tired of calling work or your friends & family to tell them you're going to be late? Twist solves this problem! You tell Twist where you're going and it automatically keeps people informed about your expected arrival time by text or email. It even includes a link to a map showing your location in real-time. Price: free.

Here are the apps inside the Places folder I mentioned above:

Urbanspoon is another great app for discovering good restaurants. Price: free.
Google+ Local is another app for finding places to eat, drink, sleep, and get gas. It includes ratings from Zagat as well as other user ratings and reviews not found in other apps. Price: free.
AroundMe is another app for finding places close-by or at a specified location. It includes a direction & distance indicator so you know how far away and in what direction each destination is. Price: free (ad-supported)/$2.99 (ad-free).
GasBuddy shows the places to find the cheapest gas. Price: free.
Roamz is another good app for discovering popular places and keeping track of ones you want to visit. Price: free.
PlaceBox provides several different ways to locate places for food, lodging, and entertainment and integrates with Twitter and Facebook so you can keep your friends informed. Price: $0.99 (iOS only).

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