5 apps I couldn’t live without – Cam’s choices

5 apps

Over the next few weeks, each of us here at TiP will be writing up our lists of the most important apps in our lives. To make it challenging I told the guys we’d only be selecting 5 of them. And, believe me, if you were to see the number of apps I’ve downloaded or purchased, you’d see how much of a challenge that is. And to make it harder to cop-out, we’re not allowed to choose any of the default stock apps as our choices. Since they’re already on the iPhone, we don’t have a choice to have them, or not.

When choosing the ones I couldn’t live without the hardest thing was not selecting the awesome apps I’ve got installed that I maybe don’t necessarily need. For instance, Instagram is a great app, but I could live without it happily. As for not being able to live without them, it’s apps that I find absolutely vital to get through each day.

1. Digg Reader – FREE

digg reader headline

When Google Reader shut down, the entire blogosphere kicked up a stink, but it ended up being a great thing for app development. Other companies got in on the RSS feed scene, and some of them were more impressive than others. Digg is a company I’d thought disappeared years ago. In the early days of broadband internet, I remember seeing the little “digg” logo next to articles on certain websites. It was essentially just a way to show that you “liked” a particular post. Then it reinvented itself. And it worked fantastically well.

I have Digg Reader installed on my iPad and iPhone. What’s great about it is that the home page is more visually focussed, giving some interesting and key news stories from around the world. But, I can switch to a more productive view by entering the side menu and browsing the feeds I subscribe to. The fact I can access the service through my browser on the Mac means that anything I read on one will show as read on the other. That uniform experience makes the app a no-brainer.

App Store Link

2. Google Hangouts -FREE

hangouts headline

Let’s get this out there right away: Google Hangouts is the most beautifully designed messaging app for any platform, anywhere. Its minimalist user interface, straight, fine lines and clean look make it appealing to most who see it. It’s sure as hell more beautiful than WhatsApp, it doesn’t take as much effort to set up as BBM and it’s not a Facebook product, which means it works. Its recent update also meant I can’t give it up on iPad either.

Perhaps what I find great about it, is that it’s a brilliant all-in-one. I’m not limited to just instant messaging. I can have private or public video calls, one on one, or in groups. And all it takes to join is a Google account, which so many people have. That doesn’t mean they’re all on there though. And I kind of like that too. I have maybe 3-4 friends or family members who I know use it, and work colleagues at Phonedog, and former colleagues, maybe a couple of PR people I’ve built a relationship with. To some, the idea that not everyone is on there is a bad thing. To me, it isn’t. I’m far more selective about the people I’ve circled on Google+ than I am with Facebook.

App Store Link

3. Sunrise Calendar – FREE


I’ve been on a mission to find the perfect calendar app for iPhone and iPad for years, and I think I’ve finally got one. It syncs with your Facebook account with events you’ve been invited to, or are attending. It access your on-device calendars and is compatible with Google, iCloud and Exchange. It updates in the background to make sure you have all the information you need, lets you add reminders, includes birthdays (from Facebook), timezone support and shows the weather for the next couple of days, broken down to 2-3 instances within the day.

In short, it’s as close to being the perfect calendar app as you can get. What’s more, its design and gesture control is gorgeous. It shows faces and profiles of people I’m meeting with using LinkedIn. Perhaps more crucially, it supports natural language, meaning you can just quick-add an event by typing something like “Meeting Matthew for coffee at Starbucks on Sunday at 11am” and it’ll glean all the relevant information and create an event. It also uses Google Maps to help give directions to your events… and so on, and so on. Did I mention it’s free? And that it’s universal for iPad and iPhone? It’s just fantastic.

App Store Link

4.  Tweetbot 3 for iPhone – $4.99/£2.99

tweetbot header

It’s the only non-free app on the list. And some of you may wonder why a Twitter app makes it on to my list of essential apps at all. Simply put: The thought of not having instant access to Twitter sends shivers down my spine. Yes, there’s a free official Twitter app, and I could access it using the browser, but I’m pretty sure I’d be so frustrated by the experience I’d thrown my phone out the window. That, or turn gigantic, green and angry.

Tweetbot is not only beautiful and well designed, it works. It syncs with the app on my Mac through iCloud, which means any time I read something on the Mac, I don’t then have to go and read it again on iPhone. And vice versa. I can add multiple accounts, I can set notifications for things I really want to see and it updates in real-time without moving me from my position in the stream.

App Store Link 

5. Remote by Apple – FREE

remote headline

I have an Apple TV. And Apple TV does have its own small and beautifully formed aluminum remote controls. The problem: I have kids and the remotes (I have two) are tiny. Once I’ve finished a long day in the office and want to kick back with some Netflix, or watch a TV Show or Movie I’ve purchased, I really don’t want the hassle of looking for them. Because inevitably, they will get lost during the day. Nine times out of ten, they’re in between the cushions on my sofa. But,  if you have kids and sofas, you’ll know that sticking your hands down the gaps in the cushions is a risky undertaking. If your hand doesn’t end up covered in sticky two-day old Cheerios or toast, you’ve done very well.

Apple Remote on the iPhone means I always have a remote on me for my Apple TV. What’s more, when I go searching for titles or actors, I don’t have to navigate through the letters pressing right, left, up, down and select like I would on the physical remote. Instead, a keyboard appears on screen, and I can type as easily as I would anything else on my iPhone. I can also use it to control the iTunes library on my Mac using Home Sharing. In short: It’s the least-hyped, but one of the most essential apps to me on the App Store.

App Store Link

And you?

What are your most essential apps? Leave them in the comments below or tweet me: @TiP_Cam


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  • howardbamber

    Mine are Skype. My fiancée lives in California I’m in the UK. We sleep with the audio on! You know how couples make lil moans and the other replies in sleep.. Just so comforting in a tough situation. It’s now got perfect sound. It’s a great app. The best of it’s kind, and I’ve all of them.
    Real racing 3. This is the go to game for me. A quick race or some career building. What pissed me was upgrading to Nexus 5.lost the 40% I’d completed on the N4,even with cloud backup. It’s still great. Good physics, graphics etc. Can be very expensive though…
    Google maps. Love this for the spoken turn by turn navigation. Not long ago a gizmo to do this cost hundreds! I find it accurate and it just works and gets better.
    Tunin Radio. Love OTR, like Sam Spade, Dragnet etc. Plus science podcasts and of course tech! I’ve had it from day one and have nearly dumped it due to bugs after updates. Now it’s perfect so leave it be!
    Last XDA ‘a app. Just rooted my 5 and xda has saved my skin many times. It’s a great, community, with a wealth of knowledge. The app is loads better than the full site, IMO.

  • My top apps would like be:
    1. TweetBot – Best Twitter client I have used. Not only does it provide a cleaner and more beautiful Twitter experience than the official client, it also is much easier to use. And from the complaints my friends say about the official client, I’m glad I use TweetBot.

    2. Clear – When I need to mark down items for a grocery list or things that I need to purchase soon, I turn to Clear. Using it on my Mac, I can easily add an item to a list that I can then see and check off on my phone later in the day. Simple.

    3. Waze – It’s the closest I’ve gotten to owning a GPS device. It’s perfect for long road trips when I want to have live traffic information along with my turn-by-turn directions, something that Apple’s maps don’t have yet. (Though I have no problem using Apple’s built in maps for turn-by-turn).

    4. Manilla – If not for Manilla, I would not be on top of paying my bills like I am. In short, it’s the best way to stay ahead of those monthly annoyances.

    5. GarageBand – As a musician, this app is invaluable to me. I’m able to create jam tracks and backing tracks with little effort, and they sound great during live performances.

    6. Flipboard – Perfect way to read the latest news when commuting to work in the morning.

    7. Evernote – So many details of my life end up in Evernote some how. Being able to easily write different items on either my computer, iPad, or iPhone makes this an invaluable service. This app lets me easily see the documents I need when on the go.

    8. Moves – My favorite motion tracker, helping me get an idea of how active I am on particular days and giving me some motivation to do better the next.

    9. JW Library – My favorite Bible app, with very handy footnotes, cross references, and multiple translations.

    10. Slack – New to my iOS devices, but it’s becoming a great way to organize my code changes in Git or Bitlocker and updates in Asana with others.(or even myself)

    • Prozac69

      Josh – you obviously don’t understand ‘top 5 apps’. Back to school for you!!

      • I know. I realized as I finished posting it that I went way past 5… Oops! Once I got talking, I couldn’t stop!

    • Cam Bunton

      Some great apps in there. If I wasn’t limiting myself to 5, I’d have chosen a couple of those. Love Flipboard on the iPad, and use Evernote a lot on iOS.

      • I obviously couldn’t limit myself. I had trouble choosing just 5. I don’t know how you did it.

  • zhabrina

    for me its facebook.why facebook?bec. i can easily communicate my friends in other country without spending a lot of money.if you have gadgets and internet in your home then you can use facebook free.