I swear this is not an advertisement! I’m just an advocate.
When I finally got an iPhone last year, I did it because 1) I needed a new phone, and 2) I knew it would help me stay on top of things like my e-mail and various social media notifications. Plus, I’d be able to surf the internet. Because, you know, I don’t do that enough as it is already.
What I didn’t realize was that it completely revolutionized – and I use that term very specifically – the way that I manage everything I do. It really was like a revolution. Suddenly I had a one man army at my fingertips, allowing me to keep tabs on everything I do. And I do a lot. I became more efficient and was able to interact on social media a lot easier. This was important to me because it’s not just fun, but also good when you want to build a readership and make connections with other writers.
There are cons, of course. Anyone with a Smartphone will tell you that they can become addictive. I check mine constantly, though I try not to do it when I’m around other people. The internet can suck a lot of our time and energy without us even realizing it. And it can cause tension on relationships. I try not to let that happen.
As with everything, there needs to be balance. And one of the best things about the iPhone is that it actually gives me more time to do other things – namely writing, but also spending time with my family and friends. Instead of having 50 e-mails waiting for me at the end of the day, I can keep an eye on them as they come in and read or delete them sooner. I can respond to tweets instantly, or check Facebook when something comes up with Hypable.
It’s hard to pick just five, but I’ve narrowed down my favorite apps and why I like them so much. These are the ones I use most often, and the best part about them is they’re FREE! We all like free.
The notes app is just a simple little application designed to look like a yellow legal pad. You just open it up and start typing. You can use it for reminders, to keep your grocery list, or to write down ideas as they come to you.
I tend to use this for the last option. I have background information on my characters written out, lists of blog ideas, outlines for stories, and so much more. The best part is that it’s so portable. You don’t need to drag a laptop around with you just in case an idea strikes. And those ideas never strike at opportune moments, do they? Who doesn’t carry their phone on them at all times these days, especially given the fact that most bloggers/writers are so dependent to the internet.
The WordPress app is one of my favorites (don’t tell the others). Instead of sitting down each night and replying to a dozen comments on a blog post, I can just respond to each person as they come in. And it’s so easy to keep track of it, as they end up in a queue in the comments section of the app.
For the longest time, I was only half using this application. I never used the reader portion – which is where new posts from the blogs you follow end up. Until recently, I would just go to my email and open up each one to read them, sometimes having to click through to the actual site. It wasn’t a pain in the slightest, until I realized there was a much, much simpler way to go about it.
When my inbox backed up to about 150 e-mails – most of them being blog posts – and I was drowning trying to keep up, I finally had the brilliant idea to check out the reader in the app. I flew through those blog posts like you wouldn’t believe. I could now do it anywhere – not just when I had my laptop on me. Of course, I could have done it from my e-mail on my phone before, but I’d have to log in each time to leave a comment and that was just such a pain.
Keeping up with blog posts now is a breeze. I hardly have any lying in wait in my e-mail because I can get to them whenever I have a few minutes. And the best part is that the app always has you logged in. You don’t need to constantly input your information, which can be frustrating on such a small screen when your fingers never quite hit the keys you intended.
The only problem I find with this part of the app is that I have to click into the blog post from the reader, then click into the person’s site, and click into post again in order to leave a comment and be able to mark it to notify me of any further replies. (I do this as an easier way to see when an author replies to me, but there’s also some hidden gems when other people leave comments. Plus, I’m a sucker for notifications/e-mails. Sue me.) But it’s a problem I’m willing to work with if it means I won’t be staring at an inbox of 150 blog posts any time soon. Hallelujah.
Okay, I know I’m cheating here by giving more than one app, but these sort of go hand in hand for me. They’re ways I keep in touch with people – Twitter for writers (mostly), Facebook to keep an eye on our Hypable group, and e-mail for, well, e-mails. As with the WordPress app, these other apps keep you constantly signed in, which is one of the perks for me. (And I realize this makes me sound like someone who is too impatient to even sign in each time I want to go on these things. You may or may not be right…)
Twitter makes for great distraction. I keep to my lists, which I’ve broken down into categories for why I’ve followed certain people. I’ve followed a lot of people on Twitter, and so it can be a little overwhelming at times. Having it broken down like this is much easier to handle (though sometimes I still avoid certain lists because – WOW – so many things to read). Twitter is, unfortunately, inundated by an incredible amount of people all sharing links. I see this a lot with many of the writers I follow. Twitter is a great place to share information like this, but it’s hard to get through a list when there’s hardly any “real people talk” and it’s mostly just links. But it is what it is, and I still enjoy it. It’s a place where I can share my thoughts and be more of myself than I can be on Facebook (sad isn’t it?). The only thing I wish would change is the ability to add people to lists directly from the application, rather than having to jump on my computer to do it.
The facebook app is a great tool, and I mostly use it to keep an eye on the Hypable group (where we share ideas and make sure all the news is being covered) and my writer page. I hardly do any “real” Facebook-ing, but I don’t mind. I generally keep my thoughts to Twitter. The one problem I’ve noticed with this app is that I don’t always get notified when there’s new activity. But so far it hasn’t been much of a problem, and I just make it a point to check in on everything once in a while.
The Goodreads app has so much potential, I’m sure, but I don’t really use it to its fullest extent. I’m not super active on Goodreads anyway, so I’m not bothered. It makes it much easier for me to update which page I’m on in my book – something that has no real use (because I don’t my friends on there really care I just read 15 pages), but makes me happy anyway. I also use it to quickly add books to my TBR pile or to add to my already-read list. It’s nice for when I’m suddenly struck with a memory of having read a certain book, or see a book in a store that I’d like to eventually read. I can just whip my phone out and input the title. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!
FIVE. Pocket Frogs
Yep, this is a tried and true app, and one that I am so glad I found. If you’re unfamiliar with the game, it’s pretty simple. You have a bunch of frogs that you breed and can either keep or sell. The game is super simple, but incredibly addicting. It’s fun to see what combinations you can come up with and to try to obtain all of the awards.
Smartphones can be distracting, and this is one instance where I can get sucked into a game like this (or Fruit Ninja, which I recently discovered and have a fondness for). When your main goal is to write and not be distracted while typing away on your computer (which sometimes feels like an impossible feat), having games on your phone isn’t always the smartest decision. But, I’ve also found it to be a nice break. A game like Fruit Ninja doesn’t take long (if you’re not too great at it like I am, that is), and it’s a good way to reward yourself once you’ve accomplished something on your to-do list. For someone who tends to reward herself with food (bad, bad habit), this is a much healthier alternative.
Do you have a Smartphone? Do you use any of the apps above? Which are your favorites? Got any good ones that aren’t on my list?