I use a lot of apps, but the ones that most appeal to me are the ones that do really impressive and novel processes under the hood of my phone. You know, apps that are just a little bit smarter. Sometimes I use apps solely because they have a really nifty way of utilizing the phone they live in. I can’t help that; I’m just doomed to forever be a techie. As a techie, I am fascinated by novel hardware/software/physical world interactions. So below is a list of apps I use regularly that consistently mystify and impress me with their novelty.
Hyperlapse. Remember that movie Cloverfield? Those guys could’ve really benefitted from Hyperlapse. I use Hyperlapse not just for its time-lapse ability (for instance, Cloverfield could’ve been 1/12th its original length – sparing us the pain of its 90 minutes of shaky camera panic), but also for its image stabilization abilities (again, really would’ve come in good use during that film). Hyperlapse uses your accelerometer to measure how much you’re trembling from fear, then stabilizes your shot accordingly. Neat, right?
Dark Sky. Imagine if you could measure the speed of a rainstorm on Doppler radar, then use that to predict, within a minute or two, when that rain would arrive at the user’s location? The future is now, my friends. Dark Sky has saved me from countless soggy situations, especially when I’m back home in the Midwest turning the pedals and tempting fate on my two-wheeled lightning rod.
Telegram Messenger. I use Telegram with a lot of my friends because it works seamlessly across pretty much any platform you can throw at it. It’s also heavily encrypted (and offers full end-to-end encryption, if you fancy), so should anyone ever want to spy on my or my friends’ daily inanities and cat videos, they’re going to have a hard time. The app has these peculiar little stickers of classic historical figures that substitute for emoji (although you can use emoji if you want to).
Azumio Heart Rate. Guys. An app that uses your camera…to take your HEART RATE. This app is absolute madness, first because it makes so much sense, but also because it works soooo well. Just start it up, hold the phone with your index finger over the camera and flash, and voila! Another added touch: it integrates with Azumio’s Sleep Time app (listed below) so that when I wake up to my alarm clock, I can instantly take my heart rate—a real treat for fitness nerds who can never remember to take their resting heart rate.
Azumio Sleep Time. So you toss and turn at night according to how deeply you’re sleeping. The less you move, the more you dream, and the deeper you sleep. If you wake up in the middle of deep sleep, it’s terrible and you feel terrible. Sooo…if you had an alarm to track your sleep and then wake you up when your body isn’t in the middle of inception, maybe it’ll be easier to pull yourself out of bed for that morning workout. Sleep Time is how I do that. It’s also a great way to track how long you actually sleep on average (hint, it’s probably way less than you think!).
Spotify Running. I don’t normally run with my phone, but when I do, Spotify Run is always on. What is Spotify Run, you say? It’s a little feature snuggled inside your Spotify app, right between your colossal playlist of 90s hits and the spoken word channels you would love to get around to listening to, someday. When I go for a little jog, I let Spotify Run detect the cadence of my footsteps and then arrange for me a playlist of songs that (1) are similar to what I normally listen to on Spotify (for better or for worse) and (2) have a beat that roughly matches my cadence. If I’m feeling spicy, I can even dial up the BPMs a bit and quicken my pace not through my own willpower (heaven forbid), but through some quicker jams.
Scannable by Evernote. Let’s be real: cameras should have been able to be scanners for a LONG TIME before now. OCR (Optical Character Recognition) has taken a little while to come to our smartphones, but that’s okay: it’s here now, and it’s ready to party. And by “party,” I mean “make text-searchable .pdfs of all of your receipts, business cards, jotted down meeting notes, and paper correspondence with little-to-no effort on your part forever.” If you’re not scanning your random paper documents, you’re not living, my friend.
Sky Guide. I’m not much for augmented reality (AR) apps because they generally never work as well as I expect them to. Sky Guide is a definite exception. I don’t use it as much now that I sleep under the smog and light pollution of the Mid-Atlantic, but when I lived in the Rocky Mountains, Sky Guide was a nightly toy for my fellow armchair astronomer friends and me.
PeakFinder. Another essential Colorado app. When the sun comes up and your buddy is trying to get the campfire started so you can devour that soggy bacon you wrestled away from that bear last night, you’re going to need something to do. And that something is going to be taking a sunrise picture of the mountains to brag to all your friends about how outdoorsy you are. Because America’s Himalayas have so many random peaks, an AR app for telling them apart is a godsend—especially one that has full offline access for those times when you’re really out there in the sticks.