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My favorite iPhone apps: Jason's picks

Jason Clarke

Picking my favorite iPhone apps was pretty straightforward. I went with three apps that save me time. The first one wows me because using it sort of feels like magic, and the other two are great mobile companion applications to wonderful Mac-based programs.

[iTunes link] Free

When I say using Shazam feels like magic, I'm not kidding. Shazam can listen to any music that is playing using the iPhone's microphone, and based on an acoustic fingerprint of the music can tell you the name of the song, artist, and album. It takes only seconds to listen, then a few more to look up the song and return results. Conveniently, Shazam maintains a list of songs that you've looked up (tagged, in Shazam's parlance) so that you can easily go back and follow up on the songs later. It also includes links to purchase the songs you've tagged from iTunes, as well as links to music videos for tagged songs if they exist on YouTube.

OmniFocus [iTunes link] $19.00

I have a particular preference for software that is available in desktop versions as well as mobile versions, particularly if they contain a solid synchronization function. While it can be somewhat of an acquired taste, OmniFocus on the Mac is arguably one of the most capable to-do list applications, particularly if you subscribe to the GTD methodology. Imagine my delight, then, when OmniGroup announced there would be an iPhone version of OmniFocus that synchronizes to the desktop version. What's even better is that the iPhone version isn't simply a clone of the desktop version, but includes iPhone-specific functionality such as being able to determine what context to display based on your physical location using GPS. As with all software that relies on remote synchronization, it can be a bit slow when starting up, but that's a hit you take to have the convenience of synchronization, it seems.

Evernote [iTunes link] Free

Evernote has been around for a long time as a capable Windows-based note taking product, but if ever there was an interesting story of a company re-inventing their product, this is it. Evernote in its modern capacity is a note-taking powerhouse, available on Mac, Windows, on the web, and on the mobile web. But even better, it also has an iPhone version. The beauty of Evernote is in its ability to capture various types of information easily, then make it searchable and easy to reference. Everything you store in Evernote is stored in an account for you on Evernote's servers, allowing them to apply advanced optical character recognition to your images and documents to make even non-text documents searchable. Like OmniFocus, Evernote can be a bit slow to start, and it's disappointing that Evernote's content is not stored locally on the iPhone, but is pulled down from their servers every time you access it. But for its ability to allow you to off-load important information to a secondary brain, Evernote is invaluable.

Honorable Mention

Given my attachment to synchronization apps, how can I not give a nod towards the iPhone version of NetNewsWire, which complements the entire stable of free NewsGator RSS clients, including NetNewsWire on the Mac. NNW would have made this write-up, had Steve not grabbed it first. But who can blame him?

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