A Really Mobile Christmas

by Martyn Davies on 23rd December 2009

As the Christmas Season rushes in on us, we thought it would be a good moment to reflect on the mobile apps this year that we particularly enjoyed at Really Mobile.  Which apps were the Marx Brothers, and which the Chuckle Brothers? Which were the cash cows and which the mad cows?  Which was 50cent, and which just 31p?

Actually, we will answer nearly none of these questions, but here’s our list:

Who do you think you are?  Michael ShoeMaker?

Who do you think you are? Michael ShoeMaker?

  1. Games: Dan recommends Words with Friends, an iPhone game much like Scrabble.  If you fancy a game, Dan is “DanLane”, doing his bit for social networking transparency.   Words with Friends is on iTunes.    If you’ve got time for games over Christmas, take a look at Real Racing (also on iTunes).  This is a brilliantly animated motor racing game from Firemint, those lovely people also responsible for Flight Control on the iPhone.  In Martyn’s household this has been quite a hit with the kids, who play it when he is not looking.  Rather like the Elves and the Shoemaker, Martyn leaves the iPhone out on the bench in the evening, and when he comes down in the morning he finds a perfectly completed Championship, and an unlocked new V12 to drive.
  2. Musical: Those with a degree of musical talent might like to download Ocarina (on iTunes), which turns your iPhone into an electronic flute.  Twins John & Edward, you needn’t bother.  Simon Cowell probably has enough wind. Shazam and Midomi are both nice apps (Symbian and iPhone) for recognising music tracks, well worth a go.
  3. Money-saving phone services: The ever popular Truphone is available for iPhone and Symbian, Jonathan uses both, Martyn favours the Symbian version which amazingly “just works like a phone”, the way that so very many VoIP apps do not.  They’re actually running a Christmas promo for half price calls, so go take a look.  Jonathan also likes other money-saving phone options Skype and Ribbit Mobile for the iPhone.
  4. Ok, if you hate Twitter, please look away now: What geek’s life would be complete without a mobile Twitter solution?  Ben recommends Tweetie 2 for the iPhone (as does Jonathan), and Dabr for mobiles with only a browser.  Jonathan favours Gravity for tweeting on Symbian.  James is an enthusiast and advisor for Dabr.  Martyn uses Dabr, but still loves BuddyCloud for its ability to cross-post to Twitter together with his location.
  5. On the subject of location… Ben loves Google Latitude (for everything except the iPhone); Jonathan and Martyn also enjoy the Symbian version, which has proved to be useful for emergency navigation when all else has failed, and (as long as you have flat-rate data) is rather fun watching your blue dot move on the map.  Note to white van drivers: do not do this.  If you love to get out into the countryside, Martyn recommends Nokia Sports Tracker (for Symbian, natch) so that you can share your location and flaunt your level of fitness to all of your chums at the same time.  The iPhone’s inability to run apps in the background seems to make a similar thing impossible, any recommendations?  On the iPhone, Foursquare seems to be a grower on the iPhone, although this US-based company seem to think that everything in Britain must therefore be near London
  6. Travel: Jonathan recommends travel apps National Rail Enquiries and London Tube Deluxe (both on iTunes).  If you use the travel plan service Tripit (as several of us at Really Mobile do), then (as Apple would say) “there’s an app for that” on iTunes.
  7. Shopping: It’s probably now too late to buy those last minute presents from Amazon, but there is a rather nice iPhone app that allows you to buy on the move.  As the Christmas panic rises, you can now actually be in a Nativity service and finish your Amazon shopping both at the same time.  Disclosure: Martyn actually did this.  If you have an iTunes account registered in the USA, then you can now get Kindle as an app, and download ebooks to your iPhone.  Foreigners need not apply.
  8. Email: GoogleMail is a popular app, and Ben recommends the Java version for everything.  Martyn says that it still beats the pants off the email client built into the Nokia phones.  The iPhone mail app is pretty nice, but that may just be due to the large screen size.
  9. Photography: If you’re one of those people that likes to share pics on the Internet, Martyn likes the email-to-twitter service offered by Twitpic, which can be used easily from any mobile with email.  Ben describes Pixelpipe as “crap” (no documentation), while Martyn has struggled with most apps of this type (ShozuPixelpipeOvi [we know], Flickr).  Getting the “mobile picture to Internet” service working reliably and with great ease-of-use is still an opportunity for 2010.  If you want to share video via the Internet, the QIK is still a nice option for Symbian, which automatically geolocates your movie.
  10. WiFi: WiFiTrak is an inexpensive iPhone app that allows you to scan local WiFi to find an open hotpsot to the Internet.  Jonathan is probably outside your house right now, sucking the life out of your WiFi router.   Nokia owners can turn their phone into a WiFi hotspot with JoikuSpot, available in free or paid versions, which could be a more convenient option than buying a separate MiFi or 3G dongle.

So dear readers, have yourself a Merry and ‘Really Mobile’ Christmas, and may all of your wish list arrive under the tree or at least in the white heat of Bluewater next week.

Do please let us know your recommendations for the top mobile apps of 2009….

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