iPhone

The 20 best iPhone apps of 2011 for productive geeks

Jason Hiner offers his top picks for iPhone apps that can help you work smarter and improve your productivity.

11. Podcaster

Sure, you can use iTunes and the built-in iPod app to listen to podcasts, but if you're an avid podcast listener (I regularly follow This Week in Tech, Buzz Out Loud, and Tech News Today) then the app Podcaster offers a better experience. You can download over the air (so that you don't have to constantly sync to a computer to get the latest episodes), you can skip forward and backward 30 seconds, you can increase playback speed to 1.5 times normal speed, and the app is even compatible with AirPlay.

12. Photoshop Mobile

Photoshop is, of course, the best known photo editor in the world and its mobile app doesn't do anything to hurt that reputation. But while the desktop version is known for having a zillion features, the mobile app is distinguished by its simplicity. It's the best iPhone photo editing app for simple crops, brightness adjustments, and sharpens, for example. However, once editing is built into the native Camera app in iOS5, editors such as Photoshop Mobile may quickly become unnecessary.

13. Pano

Pano makes it easy to take excellent panoramas with the iPhone. It helps you line up your shots and it automatically corrects many of the imperfections. My wife is a photographer with a big, expensive Nikon camera and she's regularly jealous of some of the shots I can get with the iPhone and Pano.

14. Instagram

The camera and camera app on the iPhone are now good enough to replace a point-and-shoot. You can even take pictures that are worthy of saving in your family albums. For those, I upload them to Flickr using the iPhone app. For the everyday photos that I just want to quickly post on social media, I use Instagram. It is very quick, dead simple to use, and very social media friendly. But, do me a favor and go easy on the filters. They are badly overused by most Instagram users, while 90% of photos are better with no filter at all.

15. Navigon Mobile Navigator

I used to carry a separate Garmin GPS unit for turn-by-turn directions but I eventually got rid of it and decided to just use the iPhone instead. In researching the various apps, I eventually decided on NAVIGON, which is a company that makes a lot of the built-in navigation systems for many cars. Tip: Make sure your iPhone is plugged in to power when you run a GPS navigation program like this because otherwise it will quickly drain your battery.

16. Where To?

A great companion to a GPS system is the app "Where To?" which lets you quickly look up various types of shops and services, from Cuban restaurants to medical specialists to animal hospitals to local museums and much more.

17. RunKeeper

This is a great little app that can save you from buying a pedometer. It uses the iPhone's GPS to track the miles you've run or walked, and it compiles the data into some nice dashboards that you can view on your phone or on RunKeeper's website.

18. Nutrition Menu

Another app for all of you health-conscious geeks out there is Nutrition Menu. This thing is a mobile compendium of nutritional data. It has calorie information on common foods and most major restaurants, and it has calorie-burning information for many types of exercises. It also allows you to track your daily weigh-ins and makes notes on your progress.

19. GroceryGadget

This is an app plus a website and you can quickly sync between the two. The way it usually works for me is that my wife makes a grocery list, enters it into grocerygadgets.com, and then it syncs to my iPhone so that I can swing by the grocery store and pick up the stuff.

20. RedLaser

This is a great app for shoppers. It turns the iPhone camera into a barcode scanner and it's quite accurate. You simply scan a product's UPC code and let the app go to work to find it in Google Product Search and TheFind. For food it will even look up allergen information and for books it will scan to see if you can get it in a local library. You'll be amazed at how fast it works. A similar product is SnapTell, which not only scans barcordes but you can also take a picture of the cover of a book or DVD and it can look them up that way. These apps are great when you're shopping at a retail store and want to check the prices of products online before buying. It also reads QR codes.

Your picks?

What are your picks for the most useful, valuable, and productive iPhone apps? Post them in the discussion below.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

39 comments
Arisha Burman
Arisha Burman

If you are looking for some of the best productivity app, then you should check outFuture Scheduler and Location Alerts Productivity apps (Paid). 

wallace.austin
wallace.austin

Check out Downcast in the iTunes store. A great podcatcher app that is activley maintained

rm.squires
rm.squires

the "Join.me" app which is an extension to the website "join.me" Its great for when a friend or family member says "I don't understand what my comptuer is doing?!?!?" I can simply ask them to go to the website download and install the client then they give me the numbers at the top of the screen and I can see what they are talking about and even take control if I need to! Its brill! :) PocketClould I use this all the time to RDP into servers and home computers. Its user interface is great with the ability to use almost any key and program shortcuts. It connects not only via RDP but via VMserver and any kind of VNC connection as well! In fact one time I was away from my server with no one to reboot it and one of my processes had gone rogue and was using 99% of my processing power and windows wouldn't even connect. To save me a journey back to the server I tried this app and it was slow but I was able to end the process!

sstenhjem
sstenhjem

Checkout Minus, it is a new cloud based storage solution. 10GB free. Better than the 2 or 1 that DB gives you. Dont get me wrong I will keep my DB but who doesnt need another 10GB of free storage to share files? minus.com

dhstallings
dhstallings

I personally perfer TripCase over TripIt when I'm in transit.

pocjoc
pocjoc

Hi, There is one very simple and free app that I found it NECESSARY it is Autoshutter and lets you to take a photo automatically in a configurable number of seconds. It was in the 'New and worthy of note' section for 4 weeks.

Daneco
Daneco

There are so many great productivity apps out there for nerds like us haha! I'm a huge fan of ActionMethd by The 99% peeps. As well as, like you mentioned, Evernote. bangin.

debuggist
debuggist

1. JotNot - handy for taking pics of docs or whiteboards, crop the pics and save to PDF 2. Meetup - keep track of tech meetups 3. Colloquy - IRC client (paid) 4. Prompt - ssh client (paid) 5. SugarSync - similar to Dropbox. I used Dropbox originally but grew concerned about its security robustness. 6. SimpleGeo - location app with geo/political stats and visual indicators for nearby businesses

MaryAnn_Wayer
MaryAnn_Wayer

This is a great App that saves you time and money when buying makeup. The App allows you to apply virtual makeup to a virtual you.

kschlotthauer
kschlotthauer

I liked the article but was disappointed that most of them where/are for the iPhone. Last time I checked, the Android is outselling the iPhone. Here are some of my favorite Android apps I use all the time: 1. SportPal - it tracks your running, walking, hiking, skiing, rollerskating via GPS. You can upload your results to Facebook or Twitter and even export the info in a GPX format and import it into Google Earth. 2. Calorie Counter - This is an amazing FREE program. It keeps track of your food intake (providing you enter it). It has a Barcode scan feature that when you can the UPC code, it will automatically enter the nutritional information for you. If it isn't listed, you can enter the info yourself. 3. Out Of Milk - is a great grocery list program. You can barcode scan your pantry of items you are running low on and it will add the item for you. 4. HeyTell - My son actually introduced this to me. You can send VOICE messages (not voice mail and not translated voice into text), this will take your voice and send it to the recipient. It is like the "Walkie-talkie" that some phones can do....thing is....doesn't COST because it uses text, so if you have unlimited texting...this is a must. 4. MyBackup - This is INVALUABLE. You can backup everything onto your SD card and if you have to restore your phone after you factory reset it (or get a replacement if you damaged your phone), it will save frustration and time. I know the CLOUD will back up your programs, but I found this to be faster and to me, more secure in knowing I have the latest data. You can set it to automatically backup in the middle of the night. 5. Double twist - I love this program because I can set my playlists up in iTunes (hours of time spent creating my mixes, compliations). I hook my Android (Thuinderbolt), and then pick SYNC and it transfers the music and creates the playlists for me. 6. GasBuddy - Gives you gas prices of the local stations around you. 7. BUMP - Great to transfer contact information, pictures, apps between co-workers, family and friends...and you can use it between a DROID --> iPhone or iPhone --> Droid 8. Dilbert - Do I need to explain this one! I have many more, but these are my favorite ones

alexisgarcia72
alexisgarcia72

Logmein ignition is a must. Quick Office Pro HD is a must (for Ipad) I don't know if this app is available for iphone. iAnnotate is the best pdf reader/editor outhere too.

Derek Schauland
Derek Schauland

Not that I have an iPhone *yet* but Omnifocus is pretty awesome as far as keeping me on track everyday... and from what I have heard the app for the iPhone is pretty sweet

Akilestar
Akilestar

LogMeIn Ignition lets me log into all of my computers from my phone. I can even turn them on (using wake on LAN.) I use this more than any other app on my phone. I used it to turn off computers when I went on vacation this year and left them running to finish some tasks. The response is fantastic on it. Once it has support for Linux it will a near perfect product.

SuperC2615
SuperC2615

Thanks for your tips, Jason. As a "geek", I also like to work more efficiently outside the office...and always like to learn something different! I use a few of your suggestions, plus some "paid for" apps...like Guitar Mach, Cleartune, Flighttrack, Bloomberg, and Word Warp when I am mindlessly waiting.....

carlsen13
carlsen13

I've been using ListPro for a long time and now there's an app, works great making misc lists, shopping, parts, health, custom and more lists. Also KeePass 2 for passwords. Alarmed for Reminders, timers, and wake-ups. Google Earth PDFReader (many document types)

pjm_dwbh
pjm_dwbh

An app called "Close Calls" was just uploaded on 8/25 and is both a time management and contact management tool. Busted appointments and call review are now in your iPhone not just your thoughts. Efficiency is the goal and I think for sales types Close Calls delivers.

Phillip.Webster
Phillip.Webster

My wife is a fan of radio commentary. She listens to all sorts. However, many of these stations are on AM which does not recieve well where I live. The iPhone plus TuneIn or IHeart Radio and viola'. Problem solved. Now she can travel all over. These type of apps could be XM killers.

kurt.d.werth
kurt.d.werth

Yelp - a necessity to find local restaurants, hotels, services, etc with reviews so you know where to go and where not to go. Photosynth - create 360 degree panorama's. GPS Drive - excellent GPS navigator. Pay by the year or by the month.

robertocasiraghi
robertocasiraghi

Two apps which I find invaluable are: - Opera Mini, the browser for iPhone/iPad which does away with all the limitations of Safari - Xport Contacts which lets you backup all your iPhone contacts in one go and export them to your PC or Mac in a matter of seconds

with
with

Great article and useful apps - but I have a few more that I use more than these... iCurrency Pad - http://www.sollico.com/icurrency.html great and simple app for those of us who travel or need to be aware of currency rates PONS SnapTranslate - from menus to worrying letters in a language you aren't comfortable in this is an amazing little app that scans printed text AND translates it to the language required... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyL9cQmTFbo 7.0 Megapixel Camera +ZOOM By CrowdCaf?? Dead easy to use with some surprisingly good quality results - a must for those of us with older iphones - http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/7.0-megapixel-camera-zoom/id340035727?mt=8

psinclair
psinclair

GPS gadgets, pedometers, grocery apps, photoshop and redlaser make you more productive as a geek how?? What about apps to remotely monitor servers, access file systems, manage and update project information, troubleshoot network issues, check sql/ java/ .Net syntax etc?? So you can quickly navigate to a grocery store and find out if the food you are buying is gluten free and send a post a picture of you doing this onto the web ... mmmm ... interesting geek job you must have.

robbymgood
robbymgood

Hi Jason, It's a nice list, thanks! Dobango's play2Win iPhone app is a unique app that combines best of Groupon and Zynga. This app is location aware. You see lots of offers like Free Lady Gaga CD or $25 Subway Sandwich Gift card. Each offer is a 30 second game like Wheel of fortune. You play a game and battle for free offers. Once you win, you can brag your win on facebook or Twitter. Don't just play. Play 2 Win at Dobango's Play2Win iPhone app at http://www.dobango.com

herlizness
herlizness

oh my, I'm surprised that Jason missed this one! :) any chance the app accesses and matches actual color swatches available from the major cosmetics houses? how about hair? we need one for color and style ....

Cworker
Cworker

clearly stated as apps for the iPhone. maybe there will be a separate one for android...

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

is coming next week. Look for it next Tuesday (9/13).

Timbo Zimbabwe
Timbo Zimbabwe

Photosynth by Microsoft. Great photo app! Pano on steroids....

dhearne
dhearne

iPads/phones are only 'tools' for information consumers. If you make or manage information, then counting your steps is the best they can do.

Katiejstar
Katiejstar

think that list should have been called "the 20 best iphone apps of 2011 for productive cool people" ;-)

rstaveley
rstaveley

Technical types don't use iPhones. They are chained to the desk. ;-)

sh10453
sh10453

Lady Gaga??? Forgive me, but I laughed at this. Have you ever listened to the Greatest Hits of the giant music bands and singers? Maybe you want to try hits from AC-DC, Aerosmith, Air Supply, ..., Bad Company, The Beatles, Black Sabbath, Blondie, Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band, Boston, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, The Carpenters, The Cars, Cheap Trick, Chicago, CCR, Def Leppard, Dio - Heaven & Hell, Don McLean (bye bye Miss American Pie), Fleetwood Mac, Foreigner, Heart, Jefferson Airplane/Starship, Jimi Hendrix, Joan Jett, Journey, Pink Floyd, .........., Queen, Styx, Van Halen, The Who, ... and the list could go on & on & on ... These bands produced REAL MUSIC, and sang REAL songs, not irritating noise. You may want to try to listen to some of their hits to appreciate real music, and you probably will be glad you did.

charleswdavis6670
charleswdavis6670

Your list should be "productivity" items for IT folks. Not grocery shopping, not best gas prices. How do I improve productivity in a 40 machine shop?

Dknopp
Dknopp

Everybody has their own musical taste. I happen to like all of those on your list and lady gaga, and a bunch more you probably never heard of.