A little under a month of gushing into my new iPhone (I was finally able to upgrade for free on Orange), I’ve put the toys away, calmed down and started integrating it properly into my work and personal life. As a thinly veiled excuse then to wax on about the (definitive?) smartphone, I thought I’d share my tips on some apps that help me in my third sector comms role. I would love if you would share yours with me in the comments.
This is simply a fantastic on-the-move app for catching up on all the blogs, articles, news items (whatever) that you rarely get round to reading but you know would help build your knowledge in the day job. I trialled the free version for a week, but decided to upgrade to the full deal for £2.99 and don’t regret it. Download the app and set up a free Instapaper account online to sync it to. Drag the web version bookmarklet to your browser’s bar on your work pc / laptop, and next time you stumble upon an interesting article – hit the button, and it magically transfers to your iPhone. You can then read the article at your leisure and offline! Catch-up on a week’s worth of blogs while you’re on the tube, stuck in a lift, waiting in a queue, or erm in the loo. The paid-for version includes pagination (ooh fancy) and allows you to add whole blog feeds (a bit like a lite version of GoogleReader). So you need never miss the latest AskCharity blog post again ;). Love this app.
At work I use Microsoft Outlook’s calendar for my meetings and notes (which I could access from home if I logged into the system but is a bit of a faff). This wasn’t providing me easy access to my weekly appointments, so I decided to sync Outlook with my Google Calendar (simple to do, but not recommended if you put a lot of personal appointments in Google, that you don’t want colleagues to see!). For me it’s fine, and allows for greater flexibility – I can check whether I have any meetings or lunch appointments the next day and and add meetings into the diary away from my desk. Calengoo is an intuitive, nice-looking calendar and notes iPhone app allows you to sync it with your Google Calendar.
So, all I now have to do is click the app on my iPhone and I get to see my work calendar immediately (through a multiple-syncing process, that once in place you don’t notice). It two-way syncs when you open it, so a meeting I add in when I’m out and out-and-about on my phone appears in Outlook when I’m sat at my desk hours later. Always know what your schedule is – and never double-book an appointment again. The app costs £3.99, but unlike free alternatives (I’ve tried a few) it syncs more than ‘one week at a time’ and has few more whistles and bells.
Update: since writing this, Tweetie has been bought by Twitter and is now the (free) official Twitter iPhone app. So bear this in mind:
I had been using free Twitter clients like Echofon and Twitterific, but decided to pay £1.79 for this premium app. So far, I’m loving this too. Tweetie2 allows me to tweet, retweet, DM, favourite, see my followers, search, and so on – as well as access all my Twitter Lists (valuable sounding boards, charities, journalist contacts) and also add and create more Lists. I can also edit my profile and bio on the move should I wish to. What really excites me though is the Instapaper add-on. When someone tweets a url, and I don’t have time to access it – or am about to lose signal – I hit ‘read later’ and whoosh: the url link itself gets sent to my Instapaper account. I can then open it up and read in my own time, and offline. So useful! I can also add photos and video to tweets (and choose my service – e.g. Twitpic, Posterous, and more) – and this app screen-rotates so I can type using the keyboard in landscape mode. I like a lot.
You don’t need an online account to use this great, free, DIY podcasting service – but if you do, it syncs all of the audioboos you follow to your handset app. Where the app comes into its own is obviously the instantaneous record and upload function – where you can broadcast to the world your intelligent “citizen journalism” (or just tell everyone what you’re making for tea). This has great potential for third sector organisations; report live from an event or campaign, interview a service user or fundraiser. I plan to record a bunch of audioboos with the young people at Whizz-Kidz as well as combine it with live-tweeting pics and video from major fundraising events. What will you use it for?
I’ve talked about Evernote elsewhere in this blog, and some of the ways I use it – which funnily enough have kind of been superseded by Instapaper a little bit now I have the iPhone. Evernote has a fine app – not amazing (how about a premium version, guys, where you can separate multiple folders like the web version?) but pretty good. Access all of your notes, snap something when you’re out and upload very easily via the app. Edit, rename, label, and favourite – all from the app. But it still helps to have the web version to ‘sort’.
Not strictly an app I know – but you can create a shortcut icon to your iPhone desktop by hitting “add to homepage”. There’s been a lot of erm buzz about Buzz. Personally, I like it – but only really out of curiosity for reading ‘nearby buzz’ when I’m moving around. I’ve got some nice local knowledge by listening in on what people are buzzing about within a five-mile radius; pub offers, restaurant reviews, and handy travel shortcuts. Just using Buzz to ‘follow’ people I find a little dull and intrusive – I’m happy using Twitter for this purpose for now. Logging into Gmail and seeing ’73 Buzz notifications’ just makes me groan.
Okay, I’m going to stop there as this post is getting a bit long, but I’d love to hear what you think about these and other apps. Here’s a challenge: why don’t you try using all of the platforms I’ve mentioned to run an online campaign (text, audio, video, photo and blogging) entirely for free and remotely? Now that’s got me thinking…
Oh and I’m really sorry if this has bored everyone who doesn’t have a smartphone or any of these apps. But you didn’t have to read it did ya? 😉