I’m no longer a fan of BBC Radio 4 “Desert Island Discs”. It all seems a bit outdated if you ask me. Let’s be honest, these days we’re hardly tripping over CD players (I think my now ‘retro’ Sony Discman might still be sitting in a box in my parents garage, most likely without the required AA batteries!)
You know what I’d do if I was stranded on a desert island? I’d start with the same thing I’d do if I were stranded in the airport, a checkout line, in a slow moving meeting or spending time on that cosy Central Line: I’d pull out my phone and start tapping at some apps.
So I introduce what ought to be the next generation of ‘Desert Island’: The Desert Island Apps.
App 1 – Due
I’d be lost without this app. Everything and anything that I need to remember goes in here. The app’s designed to quickly add things and assign a rough due date and time with a few taps. When it’s ready to remind me the app will ding and present a few options – check off or delay the reminder by 10 mins/60 mins/1 day. This usually ends with me tapping the “delay by 1 day” a couple of times and dealing with it later, but it’s the thought that counts right?
App 2 – Weatherline
A really fancy way of displaying the weather. Line graphs show how the temperature is predicted to move during the next 24 hours and the upcoming week. The app also integrates with Dark Sky to predict when it will rain in the next hour – invaluable when deciding on whether to take the umbrella out to lunch. The short term rain predictions are uncanny, it’s not always bang on but it’s closer to right than wrong most of the time.
App 3 – Overcast
I’ve been listening to podcasts for a while… but apparently now is the time podcasting is set to explode into mainstream. So when it does, Overcast is my recommended podcast app. It’s advantages over many free alternatives are “smart speed” (cuts out silence, speeds up the slow talkers while not making fast talkers sound like chipmunks) and “voice boost” (equalises volume and tunes the audio for voice).
App 4 – Fog of World
A guilty pleasure. Fog of World records where you’ve been via GPS and as you travel maps your adventures. It’s wonderful watching your expeditions carve away at a fog shrouding the world map. The app is also handy for retracing your steps and helping you pick a route you haven’t visited before. It’s a battery hog so you can’t leave it on all the time but I flick it on and off as needed. It tells me I’ve explored about 170km² of the world (or 0.00003%) so I’ve still got a fair bit of travel to do!
App 5 – Acompli
Bit of a boring suggestion but a solid one. It’s an all-in-one email/calendar/directory app that’s better featured than what you get built in. Another advantage – it’s sandboxed away in its own little app, ideal for those pesky work email accounts you don’t want integrating into the rest of your phone…
It might be a bit of a moot point recommending it because Microsoft recently bought the company, so chances are that you’ll end up using this app sooner or later, if only by accident.
App 6 – Metapho
This app helps fill one of the iPhone’s glaring omissions – displaying verbose photo metadata! Easily see when a photo was taken, ISO, shutter speed, file size and GPS location. Includes an iOS 8 extension so you can use it directly from most places on your phone and in a tap it can remove all that metadata, useful if you don’t want it following the photos you post on the internet.
App 7 – Dumb ways to Die
I’m Australian so I definitely need to include a token Aussie app! This game is part of a very strange advertising campaign run by Metro Trains in Melbourne. It’s meant to promote train safety but it’s really just a bunch of strange situations and odd characters being comically mutilated unless you intervene. The game presents you with a scenario, “Stay off the tracks” or “Jump the shark”, and very little info. You need to work out how to do what you’re told (tap, swipe, rotate, shake, sing!) before the little guy on the screen meets his demise. If you survive long enough you’re rewarded with having to do it again – but faster, and faster, and faster. Good for a laugh and it’s free so why not? I prefer the first one over the sequel.
So stay strong while you’re stranded on that desert island. Pray for rescue, but failing that, hope for good mobile reception and an external battery charger!
Mark is a Technical Project Manager based in the BJSS London Office.