Gini Dietrich

iPhone Apps: My Top 10 Favorites

By: Gini Dietrich | March 15, 2010 | 

When I moved from a BlackBerry to an iPhone, my life was changed. Those of you who know me well know that I wasn’t super keen on switching, mostly because I was super efficient on my BlackBerry and was afraid the learning curve on typing on the iPhone would be too much.

Well, I was wrong! I’ve often joked on Facebook that I’d love to marry my iPhone, that’s how much it has changed my life. Yeah, it took a few days to get used to typing, but now my little thumbs move over the keyboard just as quickly as they did on the phone I left.

So, after six months of loving my phone as much as one can love an inanimate object, I’m here to present my very favorite apps (not including the social media apps), in no particular order.

Starbucks Mobile Card. The Starbucks mobile card app allows me to reload my balance on my card via my phone. No longer do I have to do it at a computer or at the store. And, as soon as Chicago has pay-by-mobile at Starbucks, I already have it loaded so I can pay using my phone instead of my card.

Instapaper. Instapaper allows you to save articles that you’re reading online by dragging a widget to your toolbar and clicking it when you have the article open. It syncs with my phone and I can catch up on my reading in the back of cabs, in the airport, during that downtime between getting on the plane and the doors closing, on the bus or train, in line at the grocery store, or wherever else I have some time.

Flixster. We see a lot of movies – it’s my husband’s absolute favorite pastime. Flixster does a few things that I love: I can buy tickets (but have to still print them at the kiosk at the theater), I can see what’s coming to the theaters, I can watch trailers, and I can see when movies are released on DVD so I can add to my Netflix queue (see iPhlix below).

Old Camera. I have just discovered Old Camera, which takes photos in B&W, sepia, or watercolor automatically. If you take a lot of pictures (like I do), it’s a cool way to mix things up a bit.  My mom got a lot of B&W photos of Jack Bauer, our dog, this past weekend.

Redfin. My friend Mari Luangrath introduced me to Redfin, which is an app that shows you which homes are for sale in your neighborhood. Well, not just your neighborhood. It searches your location by GPS and tells you which homes are for sale in a two mile radius around you. But it gets better!  You know how much they’re listed, how long they’ve been on the market, and can take virtual tours. Even if you’re not looking for a new home, it’s super fun to see the inside of your neighbor’s homes!

Order Pizza. Order Pizza is a Chicago business so, of course, I was curious to check them out. You download the app and, using GPS, it locates all of the pizza delivery and take-out restaurants in your area. You choose which restaurant you want to order from, choose your pizza, and hit send. It takes care of the rest. The only con, right now, is that you can’t use a credit card for payment (cash only). They’re still working on the security of allowing you to do that.

iPhlix. If you’re a Netflix geek like me, you will love this app. It accesses your queue, lets you add and remove movies, and move the order in which you want to receive them. It also allows you to alert Netflix if a movie is lost in the mail or you’re having shipping troubles. It’s better than Netflix online.

iTriage. I was introduced to iTriage at a Vistage meeting in Denver. A local doctor created it in order to better service his patients. Right now you can look up ailments and it gives you common symptoms and a phone number of a local doctor or nurse to call. We also use it when we’re working with healthcare clients to better understand their product or service. Warning: If you have tendencies toward being a hypochondriac, this is a bad app for you.

Yelp. If you like to eat out or travel quite a bit, then Yelp is a must! Just like other apps, it locates businesses around you by GPS and ranks them in order of best to worst reviews on restaurants and closest to your location for retailers. So if you’re looking for an ATM or the hottest new nightclub, Yelp has it all for you.

Weather Bug. I am a weather nerd. I love the weather…anything about it. So the weather app that comes standard on the iPhone is not enough for me. I want to see the radar, I want to see the forecast, and I love to see the alerts. And, because our IT guy won’t let us have the Bug on our computers, this satisfies my need to always be in the know as weather constantly changes.

What am I missing? What are your favorite apps?

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • I have been clinging to my blackberry because of the keyboard, mayby I’ll take the iPlunge…..

  • Jill Sites

    I feel like you wrote this blog from my brain. I had the same trepidations about switching over to iPhone and a year later, I’m insanely happy. So is my husband.

    That said, Lose It didn’t make it on your list? 🙂

    Another favorite, for me, is Shazam. Husband is a musician, and we’re music-obsessed. Being able to figure out a song while it’s playing is fantastic.

  • Gini,

    Great list! How is the call clarity of the iPhone vs. Blackberry? I have heard those who made the switch as you did, notice the difference in clarity and greater background noise in the iPhone.

  • Gini:

    I can’t believe that you didn’t include Pandora. Being able to drive 65MPH listening to a radio station made just for me, streamed across the cellular Internet makes me feel like I live in a Jetson’s movie or something.

    I also use the Amazon app a lot to add books someone is talking about to my wish list or just to comparison shop. Pic2Shop is useful that way too, you can scan a UPC code and it will search the Internet for places to buy that item.

    Runkeeper is the bomb! It tracks my rides via GPS, gives me distance, time and pace, then plots the ride to a map. I love that!

    Urban Spoon sounds a little like Order Pizza, but it works for all kinds of restaurants. Enter ethnicity, price and neighborhood and it gives you options of where to eat.

    Don’t forget Jelly Car and Unblockit, my two favorite games.

  • I’m going to have to check a couple of these out! As a fellow movie buff, I feel confident saying you NEED to check out the IMDb Mobile iPhone app. You will love it. It’s fabulous for ‘What else was that guy in?’ questions and ‘Wasn’t she on Seinfeld that one time?’, settling lunchtime bets and more.
    The rest of my favorite Apps are here:
    But that list does grow and change…

  • How could this list not include Bounce or Koi Pond?

  • Beverly, DO IT! You will not regret it!

    Karen, I’ve never had a problem with clarity of the calls. The AT&T service isn’t great, but it has nothing to do with the phone. I love, love, love the phone.

    Dang, Jill! YES! Lose It should have made the list. Even though I’m not trying to lose weight, I love that app! It tracks my exercise and calories I eat. It shows me how many more calories I can eat for the day (which, these days, is A LOT) and I feel like it’s rewarding me instead of punishing me.

    Brad, I love Pandora on my computer, but I don’t use it much on the phone. I don’t drive so that’s probably why. That being said, I haven’t had it during cycling season yet so that may change as soon as we can get outside. On Runkeeper, do you have GPS on your bike? If so, how is this different? I have the Garmin on my bike so don’t know that I need it?

    The rest of you? I will check out some of these apps I don’t already know. Thank you!

  • Gini, nice! I have to get a couple of those. Here are my additions. Livestrong – sounds like Lost it – a great app to track my food, fiber, sugar, fat, etc AND exercise. same deal – it tells me how much more I can eat. It’s all about, how much more can I eat, after all.

    Epicurious – this is great for looking up recipes on the fly, especially when I’m in the grocery store and suddenly get inspired to make something. You can favorite recipes and even create a shopping list, AND, you can click off the list as you get the item. Because I love crossing things off my list.

    Pandora – I use pandora when I’m running or hiking. love it.

    and lastly – Kayak.

  • YEAH! Redfin made your list!

    I think we got our phones around the same time, so it’s fun to see your list. I’m adding
    iPhlix so I can catch up on classic 80s movies. 🙂

    I use the Coach to 5K app, Local Concerts (via iLike), AroundMe, and CropForFree a lot. Colin loves Math Dr. and Balloon Animals. (I’ll let him show that one to you.)

  • Great list Gini!

    I have some but not all of the apps on your list. I have been using the iPhone since it first came out and so I thought I would share a few of my faves with you:

    1. USAA – this is an app for the USAA credit union. With this app I can do everything that I normally do online plus I can deposit my checks using the iPhone! No kidding!

    2. Sportacular – I am big into sports and this app allows me to keep track of the teams and games I am interested in without being glued to the TV.

    3. Qik Video – When the 3GS came out I felt like I was missing out on the ability to record video but with this app I can shoot and post videos straight from my old 3G!

  • Thanks for the app list. A couple on there I had not heard of yet, but will try.

    My favorites are: I LOVE this app and to use your phrase, want to marry it. This app allows me to follow scores and detailed stats on every mbl game. I can also listen to the local radio broadcasts so that means I can hear my homer Red Sox announcers. I can even watch games if I want to, but have had more enjoyment just listening.

    Pandora – I met a guy at an airport bar during an extended layover and he told me about pandora. I did not use it much at first, but lately have been combining it with my own library to listen to the exact music that I want to hear. Sweet.

    90.7 WWOZ — I can listen to my favorite public (or non-public) radio station whenever I want to: WWOZ out of New Orleans.

    Shazam: This app allows me to discover the title, artist, and other details of music that I hear while out and about. If the iphone microphone can pick up the song, shazam will spit out the details. It works quite well.

    Tweetie and FB: nuff said!

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  • It’s a toss up for my favorite app. The three I use most are Red Laser, Tweet Deck and Evernote. All three are fantastic.
    Next tier down is Words with Friends, Kobo and Dropbox.

    You have a good list here btw.

  • Gini Dietrich

    I also love, love, love Words with Friends. But I have to ignore it or I could sit all day and play it. It’s a HUGE distraction for me.

  • I love your list Gini. What did my suggestion not make the top 10. Haha My Droid has so many apps to choose from I find it hard to rank them. I will see about trying out a few of yours.

    I have yet to put mine down yet. I may not be married to my phone but we are having a great time together. Haha

    Thanks for the list Gini.

  • Marcy Horn

    iTriage is definitely one of my favorite apps, too! I love being able to find a healthcare provider when I’m traveling anywhere in the country.

    I also have another favorite — Fluent News. It’s a free app, like iTriage and is an aggregator news service. Kindle App is the third one I use all the time.

  • bettina

    how’s about the top ten apps for training (bicycling and/or running) / bd

  • Ces

    Think I’ll stick with my BlackBerry for now. While the apps sound fun and interesting, I don’t need technology to help me with the various things you have pointed out. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to those that do, I’m just satisfied with the way I do business, shop, and search for things that I’m looking for.

  • Dawn McKenzie

    Thanks for the list and I feel the same way you do about the iphone! How did I live without it? I love your app suggestions and all of the additional ideas in the comments are great too! I just stopped to add several of these to my iphone!

    A few of my favorites that aren’t on the list include:
    Opentable! I use this app to make restaurant rervations more often than I do when I’m in front of a computer. Once we did a last minute walk-in to a restaurant and they were booked, “unless you had a reservation.” We went outside, turned to the iphone, searched “nearby” to see what was available, and saw a reservation for this restaurant in 10 minutes! We booked it, a different member of our party walked in to say we had a reservation, and we were quickly seated!

    TripIt is good to keep all of your travel reservations and details in one place.

    Shutterfly to access your larger library of photos while on the run

  • Wow, the most unbelievable apps have not yet been mentioned in all these comments. My favorite is CardSnap. I speak to 30 to 100 CEOs per week (often far more). I collect business cards. With CardSnap, just take a picture of each card and a few minutes later they show up in your contact list; amazing, powerful, and valuable.

    I’ll second “Shazam” and “Yelp” and also shout out for TweetDeck, SouthWest (all you travel monkeys) and the ever entertaining iBeer, Flashlight, and CowBell. So many apps; so little time.

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  • LOL Dave! These are my favorites, not all of them. I forgot the one I use daily (thanks for the reminder, Jill) – Lose It.

    BUT! I had no idea about Card Snap! Patti will be so happy to learn this…no longer will she have to input the cards I bring back. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • “Is it wrong to love a thing so much?” That’s what I think the iPhone tagline should be.

    This is definitely a topic after my own heart. Great to learn about some apps I will definitely try. Was just looking for an app to sync my Netflix, so thanks for the iPhlix suggestion.

    Some of my faves:

    — Voice Memos: great for recording yourself, lectures, webcasts (I put the phone near my mac), ideas, etc. Can email them as MP3s.

    — Bump: makes it quick and easy to trade contact info with other iPhone users. And it’s fun.

    — Movies OneTap: Finds movies near you, gives showtimes,cast & summary info and lets you see previews.

    — Animatch: If you want to keep a 2-5 year old occupied, this is the game. Has come to the rescue in many restaurants with my niece.

    — Bejeweled 2: My loved ones have threatened an intervention, but truly, I’m not an addict.Much. I like to play the “endless” game because it’s endlessly meditative. And it makes me philosophical. Blog post on this to come.

    — Torch: Very handy for finding your way in the dark.

    — Bread & Milk: Terrific for making & customizing shopping lists that you can re-use.

    — Tides: Is it coming or going? Real beach fanatics need to know.

    — FB, Tweetie, and LinkedIn apps, of course.

    FREE APPS that come with the iPHONE
    * WEATHER: I need to know. Often. Not just here, but 2 towns over. And in cities I’m not even going to visit.
    * CLOCK: I use constantly! STOPWATCH tracks my walks with mdog. TIMER keeps me on sched., reminds me to wrap up client calls and set breaks. ALARMS does the same. WORLD CLOCK lets me know what time it is wherever I’m calling.
    * MAPS: I prefer over YELP. Find it very handy to locate the nearest Starbucks or a florist in San Diego. And to tell me how far away I am from my destination (just keep setting “start” to “current location”).
    * NOTES:Great place to store confirmation numbers, window measurements, Doctor’s visit notes for my mom, my hair formula from my stylist, instructions, and more. Plus you can email a note to someone else or to yourself.

  • Great list of apps! Thanks! (Thanks for Kat for RT this article!) I am most excited about the potential of instapaper and Old Camera. Another simple shopping list app that I have been using & found extremely useful/helpful is ShopShop. WordPress app allows me to reply to comments easily (they also have a BB version). I LOVE TripIt for all our travels (without it I wouldn’t know which hotel my husband is at) and I love their iPhone app.’s app is surprisingly easy to use which may not be a good thing. One click and you have ordered something you may not have really NEEDED…

  • Great recommendations, Gini and gang!

    What about a wine app — a wine log/journal — that allows us to enter info about wines we’ve tried and liked (or didn’t!)? Velvet Wine’s okay. Anyone have other suggestions?

    For app-finding, do any of you use

    P.S. I think Kevin’s referring to 🙂

  • Molly, I didn’t know about appolicious. Thank you!

    As for Amazon, I’m worse off than the app. I have the Kindle so anytime I hear about a book I might like, I just download it. I’ll never read everything I have on it. Sigh…

  • Great post. If you would like to listen to BBC Radio on the iPhone – I strongly recommend BBC Streams – it is easily the quickest and most reliable way to listen to BBC Radio on the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch and it’s free at

  • Great post. If you wish to listen to BBC Radio on the iPhone – I strongly recommend BBC Streams – it is easily the most convenient way to listen to BBC Radio on the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch and it’s free at

  • Do you mind if I share this information to my students? I will properly cite you.

    • Gini Dietrich

      Debbie, I don’t mind one bit!!

  • fascinating blog about iPhone Apps: My Top 10 Favorites | The Fight Against Destructive Spin. I read it twice.

  • KathyCash

    Most of the previous commenters piped up with most of my faves but I also love Cardstar, an app that stores all your loyalty card numbers in one place….so you no longer have to lug your frequent flyer cards, hotel rewards cards, grocery store discount cards, etc. in your wallet! Also if you like real estate apps you will like Zilllow!