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TUAW's Best of 2012 Personal Picks: Mel Martin

Mel Martin

Well, it's time for the year-end best-of post, and this one is a pleasure to write. There is a real explosion of useful apps that can make our lives easier or more fun. Happily, since the apocalypse didn't destroy us all on December 21, we're all here to enjoy them. To get on my list, the app had to either come out this year of be significantly enhanced in 2012. These apps also have to be apps I use a lot, not just on occasion.

Navigon and Glympse

These are my go-to apps for travel and local navigation. Navigon is not new but continues to have continual worthwhile updates. Apple Maps and Google Maps are free, but both have their weaknesses. Navigon has its maps loaded in the app, so I can be in the middle of nowhere and still navigate. When I have data services, Navigon offers Google local points of interest, and street-level maps. There are also destination weather, parking info and the ability to send your route to others.

A great new feature is the addition of Glympse, which is a favorite all by itself. It lets your friends or family know when you are going to arrive, and they can see your progress via smartphone, tablet or computer. Glympse is free as a standalone app. But built into Navigon, it's doubly useful. Navigon is a paid app, with lots of options and a range of prices to fit your needs.


There are hundreds of photo editors, but I keep returning to Snapseed, which started as a Photoshop plug-in and now is on iOS for free after being bought by Google. What I really like about Snapseed is that you can improve your photos without making them look garish or like op-art posters. Yes, you can do all that with Snapseed too, but I like the light touch I can get from Snapseed.


It pulls photos off your camera roll and publishes them to the web. No charge, no signups. You can re-arrange your photos the way you like and upload them. You'll get a URL to send to friends and family. This app is free and easy to use. The only downside is you can't select multiple photos at once.

Just Landed

This app gets my vote as the most innovative travel app for people meeting planes. Just Landed tracks a flight, gets arrival gate information and tells you when to leave for the airport, taking current traffic into account. It's a clever and useful idea. I've used it several times, and it always makes meeting a flight a lot less stressful. It's worth spending the US$0.99.

All the apps have been optimized for the iPhone 5. All but Just Landed are universal apps or have iPad versions.

Happy Holidays to all our readers, and here's looking forward to 2013.

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