Best iPhone utilities apps

The iPhone is a hugely useful piece of technology to have in your pocket. It can help organise your life in so many different ways. Just by itself, there is plenty of functionality there to make your daily goings on a lot easier. Without apps, however, you will never truly approach German levels of efficiency. 

Below is a selection of apps designed to speed up your life and take proper advantage of the tools that your iPhone can offer. Get downloading.

Barclays Pingit

Pingit is a pretty clever way of sending money to another person simply by sending them a text message - well, more or less. If you want to send cash to anyone with a UK number, then you’ll need a Barclays account and the relevant app for your relevant mobile phone, but to receive the funds you don’t have to have either. The story at the other end is that you’ll receive an SMS saying that someone wants to give you some cash. If you’re not already registered with Pingit, then you will have to do so within 24 hours or the payment will be cancelled.

You don’t need the app but, again, it helps. You can register online at  www.barclays.co.uk/pingit. Once you’re set up, you can send up to £300 per day in amounts anywhere between £1 and the full dose. You can receive up to £5,000 in the same time period. We know which we’d rather do. Pitched as an easy way to split bills and sort out the odd friendly bit of I owe you this, that and the other, it does the trick very nicely indeed. Read more

iTunes: Link

Price: Free

Rating: 4/5

 

Summly

The basic premise of Summly is a simple one - and within its simplicity lies its brilliance. Summly is a "simpler way to browse and search the web by automatically summarising search results, webpages and news articles" making it easy to find what you're after, quickly, and with all the useless gubbins cut out.

It works as a standalone app, or as an extension to your iPhone's Safari browser after following a few simple steps to get it up and running. The idea is, you find a webpage you want (or rather, it helps you find the page you want) and then, rather than wasting your precious time reading it all, it summarises the key points using a "patent pending summarisation technology" that researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have apparently tested. Read More.

iTunes: Link

Price: Free

Rating: 3/5

 

LogMeIn Ignition

LogMeIn Ignition is an app that works in tandem with either Windows or Mac software (a free version or a pro version with added goodies) that lets you access your files when you're out and about - and even gives you direct access to your machine's desktops. Setting up is easy - simply install the app on your iPad or iPhone (or both) and download the desktop software that you want direct from LogMeIn's website. It's then just a case of pairing up your devices using the log in procedure; you can also set a username and password for added security.

Once paired, your iDevice now has access to all of your PC's goodies (so all your programs and data) that you want it to, so long as that machine is turned on. If it's not turned on, Ignition even has functionality to boot it up, or awaken it from a nap. Sure £20+ for an app is a lot, but when you consider it's an app that basically turns your iThing into a functional PC then it's not really all that expensive.

iTunes: Link

Price: £20.99

Rating: 5/5

 

0870

With free minutes allowances constantly growing and more and more people ditching the landline for the mobile, those pesky 0870 and 0845 numbers remain a costly nuisance. Thanks to this incredibly useful anti-0870 app you can now circumvent expensive calls by using a suggested landline contact number. The application searches a database of around 13,000 companies to find 01, 02 or cheaper 08 numbers. It doesn't always get it right, but bigger companies often have a direct line contact number, in some cases helping you skip call-queues.

Simple but incredibly useful, if you are the sort of person who regularly uses their mobile as a landline alternative you could see the 69p outlay for this shaving a serious amount of cash off your phone bill. Read more

iTunes: Link

Price: 69p

Rating: 4/5

 

Onavo

Onavo’s core functionality is based around shrinking your data to save you cash on roaming fees. That’s a nice idea considering mobile phone operators around the world are happy to charge you through the roof. And while in the UK most operators give you a reasonable deal on calls, it’s data that’s where they get you. In the US you can play up to £5 a MB, so any way to save on that is welcomed.

Onavo works by installing a profile on your iPhone and then re-routing all your streaming through that. After you’ve set it up you hardly notice. Yes, pictures are degraded, but if it’s saving you cash we’re sure you can live without crystal-perfect images for the duration of your trip. The best thing about Onavo is that it is free and does nothing but save you money. As an app running in the background it is virtually indispensable should you plan on using your phone abroad.

iTunes: Link

Price:Free

Rating: 4/5

 

MyHome

British Gas has come up with an app that, once setup, turns your home into a remote controlled power station. You can control everything, from appliances to your house alarm, using just your iPhone. The app also lets you monitor what sort of energy usage you are getting through and switch various pieces of kit off remotely.

The app works by using smartplugs and keyfobs to work out who is at home and what is switched on. These can then remotely control devices and even identify what is plugged in and draining power. Even how much power is being used. It takes a bit of setting up, but once done could save you quite a bit of money and help keep your home secure.

iTunes: Link

Price:Free

Rating: 4/5

 

Posted

Do a lot of work with eBay? Or do you send a lot of postcards and packages? This is the app for you. It is designed to help you manage and track parcels using delivery companies and couriers. You just need to enter tracking numbers or scan barcodes if you are sending packages and the app should do the rest.

Once you have packages entered, estimated delivery times and wether or not the recipient has received the parcel will appear in the app. Push notifications are also now supported using iOS 5 which practically turns your phone into a full-on mail management device. If you wondering what companies are supported then check out the app’s page in iTunes. Virtually every continent and major provider is covered for.

iTunes: Link

Price:£0.69p

Rating: 4/5

 

Spark

Battery keeps running out right when you dont want it to? Spark is the app for you. Like Onavo, it runs silently in the background, keeping a close eye on the battery level of your device. Once things get dangerously low, then Spark will send an email out to selected contacts informing them of your near battery dead situation.

The other hugely useful application of Spark is for worried mums. The alerts sent out when you have low battery are location based, so you should at least get the last known wherabouts of your teenager should he be avoiding you. Simple and easy to setup, Spark uses virtually no battery and shouldn’t clog up too much iPhone power either. Good stuff

iTunes: Link

Price:£0.69p

Rating: 4/5

 

O2 Priority Moments

O2's take on location-based deals arrived today in the form of Priority Moments, an app specially for O2 customers that grants them access to some pretty juicy offers. Everything from Yo Sushi! to Halfords has got involved in the deals setup, with significant savings to be made on items such as food and shopping.

Fire the app up and you will be asked to enter your mobile phone number, seconds later a text will be sent with a code that grants you access to the service. Enter this and you are through the login process. From there on out it's a relatively simple setup, tapping "me" allows you to shift your shopping preferences up and down so you get notified of deals relevant to you. There is a list of all the "moments" nearby that gives you an overview of deals. Careful, things can get pretty tempting. Once you tap on one you are given a map with a more specific location, along with exact details of the offer. Read more

iTunes: Link

Price:Free requires O2 subs)

Rating: 4/5

 

Remarks

Readdle is back with yet another note-taking app, this time in the form of Remarks which it describes as a new way to "write down your thoughts, capture ideas and information, annotate documents and outline notes anywhere from university class to sofa at home". Remarks is an app that treats whatever is on screen, whether that be a PDF file, an image or simply an empty text file, as your notepad. You can do with it what you want.

You can add typed notes with several font options, you can hand-write notes using a varied selection of virtual pen and pencil types (with different thickness), you can highlight, you can chuck in shapes or arrows and you can insert pictures. It's simple to use your finger but it's obviously designed with styluses in mind (we used the Griffin Crayola one). Read more

iTunes: Link

Price:£2.99

Rating: 4/5

 

Ubuntu One Files

Before you panic, you do not need to have Ubuntu - nor any version of Linux - installed on you PC in order to use Ubuntu One and the Ubuntu One Files app. This is a service that is, and has been since its launch, open to anyone who can access the internet. What this app offers is mobile phone access and syncing to it. Ubuntu One gives anyone who signs up 2GB of free online space to insert whichever kinds of files they wish. All very nice. Naturally, you can upgrade that for more room but doubtless you can figure that one out for yourself, should you get hooked.

 

Installing the Ubuntu One Files app on your phone means that you can sync whatever’s up there in your cloud with your Android mobile. In fact, as soon as you open it up for the first time, it will offer to upload your handset’s photos to Ubuntu One and to do so every time you snap a new one. Naturally, you’re welcome to drill down and select exactly when you’d like that to happen and whether over mobile broadband or Wi-Fi or both. Beyond that, you’re welcome to upload any other file type manually. Definitely worth a crack. Read more

iTunes: Link

Price:Free (subs required)

Rating: 4/5

 

Opera Mini Browser

Opera works slightly differently from the native Safari browser on iPhone. It uses servers in a land far far away to pre-load websites and then push them out to your phone. The theory is that this speeds up web page loading times. But wait, there’s more. It also does all sorts of clever things with the way you can browse the internet. A data usage meter for example, will show how much data you are saving while browsing the internet.

On top of this there is predictive typing and one-tap page favouriting. Opera Mobile, the app’s bigger brother, doesn’t shrink down websites to save on data. Instead it is the whole shebang, HTML 5 packed pages and all.

iTunes: Link

Price:Free

Rating: 4/5

 

Dropbox

We'll waste no time in telling you that here at Pocket-lint we love Dropbox's simplicity. The app works by letting your share files quickly across computer, iPhone or iPad. You get full access to Dropbox folders on your mobile, meaning you can access documents, videos and music.

The application also allows you to email out files and even upload photos straight to folders. Not hugely complex, it is designed more for speed than looks. Best app for getting files between iDevices? You betcha.

iTunes: Link

Price:Free

Rating: 4/5

 

Thetrainline.com

Covering the entire UK rail network, thetrainline.com app is said to be easy to use and offers a start-to-finish route planning feature, using station search by name or on a map showing the user's location and nearest rail stations. The "Next Train Home" function gives users stations and departure times from their current location anywhere in the UK to their stored home destination, while there's also up-to-date Tube information, that can be saved for offline access.

There's also some Twitter integration with the option to tweet other passengers about their journeys. Thetrainline.com explains: "It brings travellers together in sharing thoughts or sharing taxis! This quirky - and likely popular - function has a pre-loaded # tag specific to the users' trains, so it's simple to engage other passengers and spice-up the long trek home!"

iTunes: Link

Price:Free

Rating: 4/5

 

Any other useful apps you use regularly? Let us know in the comments below ...