iApps That Ruled my 2010

Offhand I believe only one of my 2010 predictions came through, the fourth one regarding a game-changing mobile device hitting appearing. I'm no Nostradamus but at least I gave it a shot.

Anyway, in that spirit and in the wake of kicking the Crackberry habit, I figure drop props to certain mobile apps I discovered last year. Here, the criteria is how useful they were to me, in situations where it really counted. Some of these I'm using several times a day, others not even weekly. This list is in somewhat relative descending order, in that rather than trying to rank them in a hard order I've listed more by logical grouping. In the parenthetical per, I've noted what Apple-only devices they have native versions for (apologies Droid/Nexus/Evo/other users, you'll need do your own follow-up homework if/as inclined):

01. OmniFocus (iPhone / iPad)
If I had to pick a favorite app this would be the one; a tasks / personal productivity management app that I use all the time. I was honestly skeptical when a friend of mine over at UnicornLabs first brought this to my attention. When I got my first organizer in high school or so, I thought they were really lame. This is not an inexpensive app and it doesn't have a Windows client, but otherwise it seriously rules even for those who like myself aren't hardcore GTD methodology-heads. I'm frequently shuffling things around i.e. rescheduling things in here which bugged me at first, but I eventually realized it's not that I'm constantly putting things off. Rather, I'm actually optimizing how I spend my time by staying focused on what's most important at any given point of any given day (the location sensitivity helps), so it's like I'm optimizing my productivity all the time even though I'm never getting everything done as quickly as I'd prefer. Also, generally I don't ultimately forget to do anything anymore. Aside from being able to have a workflow well-suited to day-to-day task and project priorities that sometimes can be in relative flux, the ability to make it very hard for ideas or other "stuff" to eventually fall through the cracks / into the ether, that alone is worth the price.

02. Evernote (iPhone / iPad)
This works as a great companion to OmniFocus. I know I don't use all of its features having only dipped into the desktop client a bit, but basically having a place to take text/media notes that auto-syncs for easy follow-up later is all kinds of awesome. I'll admit I don't use its media features often. I don't let sensitive non-textual content sit long on my iPhone. I'm not a MobileMe user and I've found that seemingly even with units managed under strict corporate security policies, pulling all user-generated pictures, audio and video files off just about any given iPhone without ever knowing its unlock code isn't hard at all.

03. TimeWerks (iPhone)
This mobile billing application is an independent contractor's dream, and after not too long I was able to migrate all my respective invoicing to it. It's not uber-advanced but has a lot of great features for billing different clients and/or projects at different rates whether per hour or per project ("item"). One can track everything very tightly. 20-minute gig? No problem. Set the client / project up on the way to it, start / stop the timer at the beginning / end of the session, email them their bill as a PDF on your way out the door to the next thing. Easily enter payments, for those hopefully rare occasions when you need to follow-up to let Clients know of any late payments. If/as needed to support Clients' and/or your own larger accounting needs you can easily activate the app's server to export some or all of its database to CSVs you can pull down wirelessly onto your laptop, pull into an Excel pivot and then copy from. The only gripes I have are the PDF generation occasionally doesn't work, also and the projects level the description fields only fit so many characters. The latter is more a result of the interface, so I'm hoping to see an iPad version of this come out soon.

04. Expensify (iPhone / iPad)
The guys at Expensify are a smart and passionate bunch, but I should admit wasn't an early adopter here. Aside from privacy matters, spending money can be fun but I'm fiscally conservative: As a marketing guy I know how easily money potentially burns, and as a creative guy I know how easily it can get used on something that isn't aimed at profitability by definition. I didn't start using credit until early college, and felt weird about using anything but cash for commerce at the time. As much as I dislike debt and am wary of financial intangibles though, in the end I've got to say Expensify rocks. As long as you make a point of always using plastic or plastic-backed systems like PayPal, it makes life much easier whenever it's time to fully and thoroughly report, itemize or claim expenses. You can take snapshots of paper receipts with it if needed, but I tend not to. One still always needs to do a bit of work adding descriptions into things over the Web version for one's accountant at tax time.

05. MyKeePass (iPhone)
A must-have for users of the KeePass desktop app. If you're like me you have at least hundreds of logins, between contexts to sites to servers to email to terminals, and need to have them always readily available because when you need a certain one you really need it. This is a simple app into which you can wirelessly import and access your .kdb files. You can't edit and then export them from your mobile back to your desktop (or sync them externally if you want... I wouldn't), but that's a minor inconvenience.

06. LogMeIn Ignition (iPhone / iPad)
I'm also a Box.net and PogoPlug user, but when I'm mobile I tend to use LogMeIn the most as I'm not accessing files so much as I'm remotely restarting, debugging or just checking in on automations. There's nothing like kicking it on a beach for a few days, briefly jumping into this app to just make sure that back home your laptop is still running ("Ahh, technically speaking I'm still getting work done... More Tequila, please."). Just watch those roaming charges. If you don't purchase ahead they'll get you, and if you don't watch your I/O usage carefully they'll get you anyway.

07. GoodReader (iPhone / iPad)
Best PDF reader available. All the features I need and then some; easy and intuitive to use. I tried a couple others. They always got snagged on something e.g. reading password-encrypted ones or other scenarios.

08. HT Professional Recorder (iPhone)
It's overkill if one's needs aren't advanced far beyond the iPhone's default audio Memos app, and it doesn't have the dot-duh simplicity that apps like iAudition do. If all you need to do is make a recording and then email/FTP it off, less expensive apps work fine. What this one does have is the ability to make high-quality recordings for variable situations, from conferences to small meetings. I use and have tested several audio recording apps and have found this one to be best for recording meetings. Use the right setting and it's very good at capturing what people say even when they're muttering, potentially even whispering. The ability to start/stop a given session even after closing out of the app is great, also it has easy and variable export features. When accurate and full capture of any and all exact words spoken is needed, this is the way to go. Consider pairing it with Recorder for bonus points. Your lawyer will thank you... Or not. Use responsibly.

09. HopStop (iPhone)
From local to international contexts I've not found a single travel planning app for every need, so I toggle between this one, Routesy, PocketMUNI and Kayak. I tend to use HopStop the most when my needs are "I need to get from A to B by C," whereas the others sometimes work better more for other things like predicting, mapping or otherwise finding the stops of particular lines.

10. OpenTable (iPhone / iPad)
Obviously not every good place to dine is within their system, but many are. Used in concert with the reviews on Yelp, you have a wicked combination. Highly recommended for those situations where you need to line up something cool quickly. Especially in cases of Thursdays - Saturdays when things book up quickly, this helps if/as one gets a random ping a-la "Hey, I'm in town! We need to talk. Can you meet for lunch soon or dinner tonight?"

Got any cool apps along the lines of the above that you'd like to call out? I'd love to hear about them.

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2011.01.14 update:

Honorable mention goes to CraigsPro+ (iPhone) ... It didn't cross my mind at first because I get almost no good leads off CL normally. If you're like me and you need to stay on top of what gets posted each day, whether as a matter of due diligence or as a critical part of your business, being able to automate queries and get text notifications of matches is a huge time saver. It's great, for example, for keeping feelers out there - for keeping keyword-based gig/job searches active - also positioning one to respond very quickly to want ads in cases when one does want to respond.

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