My Favorite webOS Apps for 2009
Well folks, it’s been six months since webOS launched, and we now have 1,000 total apps in the U.S. App Catalog! But which are worth downloading? I recently did a blog on the my favorite webOS games for 2009, but hey, we buy don’t just buy these phones to use as toys, right? They’re tools.
UPDATE! I should add that on 1/7/10, Palm launched some awesome 3D games for the App Catalog, which completely changed the landscape of webOS gaming! Check out those new awesome apps in the App Catalog now.
While the App Catalog has nowhere near the number of apps as other platforms just yet, there’s still quite a few jewels you should pick up. You just have to know where to look, and that’s why Totally Palmed is here to help! I’ve watched the catalog closely since I first got my Pre in June and have downloaded tons of apps. After the break, fire up your Palm App Catalog and follow along with me as we go through which apps are, in my opinion, worth downloading. No, I don’t get any kickbacks or free downloads for doing this! Hey, I’m just a nice guy, what can I say.
Much, much more after the break!
Before I start, yes, I’m fully aware that the folks at Precentral.net have already listed their favorite webOS apps for 2009 … hey these guys are my idols when it comes to all things Palm. But I was already halfway done with writing this piece when I saw their piece, so I decided "ah, screw it," and finished my own list. I definitely recommend you also give the Precentral article a look for another point of view.
This list is pretty comprehensive and detailed (read: long) but hopefully will be of some use to you guys. So let’s do it like this…
1) Open up your App Catalog.
2) Tap "Explore"
3) Follow along with me in each of these categories as I go through them!
4) … Or you could just sit there and do nothing. 🙂
Ready kids? Buckle up, because heeeere we go!
Free Books 23,469 Classics to Go by Spreadsong, Inc. (FREE)
As the name implies, this free app lets you download thousands of classic books for your enjoyment, free of charge. The search function works efficiently, and you actually download the books to your phone, which means you won’t need an internet signal to read them. The reader itself is rather basic, but the text is large and very legible, and at least the reader marks your place when you close the app or move on to another book… Hey – what do you expect for access to tons of classic books… for free?
ShortCovers by Shortcovers (FREE)
Shortcovers is another free book reader app that was released shortly after the Pre launched. You can purchase and download books to your phone for reading, or download a good number of classic novels, plays, and short stories for free. The reader is basic, but more advanced than that found on Free Books, incorporating gestures and flicks rather than mere tapping. Recent updates incorporated a "night mode," which is nice for reading next to a light sleeping spouse. The app has gotten faster with updates, but still hangs for longer than I would like.
For those looking for an eBook reader, you might want to check out the Popelli Reader ($4.99). I have not downloaded this app, but it has mixed reviews. Plus, I use the homebrew app pReader, which I find suits my needs just fine. (Homebrew app recommendations to come in another article.)
I haven’t downloaded any apps from this category that are worth much discussion, though I just might pick up the rich text editor textPress! by r media inc ($1.99). If I do, I’ll let you know what I think of it.
Flash Cards by James Harris ($4.99) A free "lite" version is available.
As a physician having done years of training and now doing my fellowship in allergy/immunology, I’m no stranger to study aids. This one does NOT disappoint. This app allows you to create your very own flashcards from scratch, or download flashcard sets from a massive (and growing) library of flash cards. After downloading a flash card set, you can edit them individually, even inserting images and sound using HTML (open and edit the Children’s Alphabet flash card set to see what I mean). Audio is slightly laggy, but that’s more of a function of webOS than the app itself. With further updates I’m sure this will be fixed. Highly recommended.
Break Videos by Break (FREE)
If you’re familiar with websites like killsometime.com that feature videos of random human tricks and bloopers, then you pretty much know what Break Videos is all about. The app is great for a random laugh (while killing a few brain cells in the process). Hey, did you know that somewhere in China they made a huge snow sculpture of Santa Claus and that it’s the biggest in the world? No? Well, if you had seen it on Break Videos, you would have known!
Adam Carolla Network by Hidden World Hut (FREE, ad-supported)
I’ve always been a fan of Adam’s raw humor. If you are too, then this app is a great time killer and very well done. It gives you access to his podcasts which feature many other celebrities, including a separate channel for Mr. Carolla’s CarCast podcasts. You can also have a direct link to all of his tweets, and if you are so inclined, have a direct link to the message boards on his website. It’s a very well-executed app, with navigation reminiscent of the Twee Twitter app (see below). If you’re even a casual Adam Carolla fan, I highly recommend picking up this app. It’s a great time killer for long car rides.
Magic Fortune Ball by Innovative Odyssey (FREE FOR LIMITED TIME)
This isn’t your average Magic Eight-ball app… sure, it’s got the standard answers, but the cool part about this app is that you can make your own categories and edit your own answers. How many times has this happened to you: you and your significant other are arguing about where to eat on a Saturday night? Well I settled this with my wife. I’d say "let’s let FATE decide." I select my previously programmed "Restaurants" category with answers that we both contributed (hey, I’m not a jerk), and gave my Pre a shake. In a second, it tells us where to go eat. Neither of us can dispute the Magic Fortune Ball. It is the will of the Gods! LOL … You can of course find more eh… creative ways to use this app!
Flixster by Flixster, Inc. (FREE)
Flixster is one of the oldest webOS apps, and it’s a must-have. Not only do you get movie times, synopses, reviews (via Flixster and Rotten Tomatoes), and movie preview videos for new movies… you also get synopses, reviews, and preview videos of tons of older movies. This is perfect if you’re at Blockbuster or are trying to decide which movie to rent online. If you select a movie to see in a movie theater, the time can be synced to your phone’s calendar so you don’t forget. The only thing this app does not do is actually purchase tickets, as seen on the movie app Fandango (also free). But Flixster’s inclusion of rental movies makes it a winner in my book.
Backgrounds by Stylem Media (FREE, ad-supported)
This one is simple. TONS of background images free for download. The app is updated regularly.
Wooter! by Binary Idiot (FREE)
Why this app is under "Entertainment" is beyond me, but I digress. If you don’t know what Woot! is, you probably should. It’s a website that sells one thing a day at a massively discounted rate. Once the day is over, your chance is gone. The standard fare of Woot! sites (sellout.woot, shirt.woot, kids.woot, and wine.woot) are there as well. One thing I really like about Wooter! is that it includes customer discussions about the product being sold. In other words, you can see if people think it’s a piece of crap before committing to a purchase. Another free Woot! app called WootOn! by Delicious Morsel is also available, which gives you live notifications and does autorefreshes doing a Woot-off, but doesn’t include discussions. Choose between these apps depending on what matters more to you.
Checkbook by GlitchTech Science ($1.99)
Want to see how much money you are making vs. how much you are spending? This app is a MUST. I ignored this app at first, thinking "I don’t need some useless expenses app!" But after reading all the raving reviews, I downloaded it, and have not regretted it one bit. You can track multiple accounts, and log recurring income (like paychecks) and expenses (taxes, rent, bills, etc). This app crunches the numbers for you and tells you how much money you have left to spend/save in the end. Not only that, you can also import and export your data using Google documents! The developer responds very quickly to customer concerns and has improved on this app immensely. Checkbook is an awesome budgeting app. I can’t think of a reason why anyone wouldn’t spring two bucks for it. It’s that good.
Dealert by Kevin Foreman ($1.99)
We all have become experts at sniffing out online shopping deals. Unfortunately, sometimes finding these deals can be pretty hairy. I downloaded this app prior to the Christmas holidays and can tell you: this site is plain, freaking awesome. You basically tell Dealert what it is you are looking to buy, and it scours the Internet using eleven deal-searching portals for any low price alerts. You can have Dealert look for online deals as frequently as every 30 minutes if you like, or not at all. If it finds an alert, it will give you a pop-up notification to let you know that a deal has been found! Sometimes the feeds take a while to load if you do it manually, but after I got a really good high-speed wireless N router at a ridiculously low price, I became a believer. This app ROCKS!
Cool Tip Calculator by MyAppCatalog.com (FREE)
Yes, there’s a crapload of tip calculators available for webOS, but this one does something none of them can: it makes adjustments to your bill! Let’s say you’re at a pizza parlor with ten friends, but two of them already ate beforehand and just had a drink instead… you can adjust the bill to reflect that, in addition to calculating the tip that everyone pays! You can also save the bill for future viewing (great for corporate meals and such). … This has been so useful that I’ve become the go-to guy when it comes to calculating the bill for big groups. The styling is a bit… well, different. But this app gets my full recommendation as a tip calculator.
Taste Spotting Today by Jiyer ($0.99)
The founders of Tastespotting.com describe the website as a "visual potluck" of recipes. The webOS version of this site is perfect for people who use pictures in recipe books in order to decide what to make. This app downloads multiple popular recipes daily. Just look at the picture, decide "oh, I/my family/whoever would LOVE that," and then cook the attached recipe. The recipe details are a bit on the sparse side, and the daily downloads of recipes are nowhere near as extensive as what you get with the actual website, but this app is well done and definitely worth $0.99 if you plan to use it.
What’s for Dinner by Snazzy Software (FREE)
Although this app doesn’t have any pictures of recipes (at least, I haven’t seen any), it’s a far more comprehensive collection of recipes. Just type in anything you want to make… asopao, chicken ala king, cinnamon rolls… and boom! It searches multiple online recipe sites like AllRecipes.com, FoodNetwork.com, and Epicurean, and pulls up their ingredients and cooking instructions! It also allows you to create a shopping list of ingredients from any recipe. You can even email recipes. This is great for people who need recipes on the go or don’t want to keep lugging a recipe book to the grocery store. The hardest thing is deciding on a good recipe… there’s so damn many of them! Awesome app. I’m amazed it’s being offered for free. It’s that good.
GoodFood – Restaurants Near You by Goodrec (FREE)
I know, I know. This app isn’t listed under "Food," but I’m going to list it here because this is where it belongs (ahem, Palm! It’s listed under "Lifestyles!" Hello???). Basically, this app uses Google Maps to list any and all restaurants in your immediate area. You can then narrow your search by price or type of food. My wife and I use this app whenever we’re in an unknown city or are just in the mood to explore. Best of all, you can access reviews of restaurants and even inform GoodFood if a listed restaurant is no longer open or if the posted information is incorrect. I love this last feature and hate that other mobile search apps like Yelp! have not incorporated this. This app used to be slow as molasses (hence the mixed reviews) but subsequent updates have really sped it up. One thing I don’t like is that the map doesn’t reload automatically (ala Google Maps) when I’m on the road, which means I have to keep refreshing the map. Anyway I recommend you check it out and draw your own conclusions.
OpenTable by OpenTable (FREE)
A mobile app of the online restaurant reservation service. I have used this app several times now, including a romantic reservation for my wedding anniversary. Using only my phone, I was able to book a reservation, request a seating location, and have flowers waiting for us at the table. She was very impressed! The downside is that this app does not list all of your local restaurants, particularly if you live in a smaller town. But hey, this app is free, and it works very well. I highly recommend it.
Honorable mention: GetMeVino by Mteck Mobile… a powerful wine guide. UI is slightly clunky and search function could use some work, but it is currently the only wine enthusiast app for webOS.
For a list of my favorite webOS games, you won’t have to go far! Just click here!
HEALTH AND FITNESS:
Workout Tracker by OSG ($3.99) *** Currently being offered for $0.99! ***
I’ve been using this app since it was in beta, and like it a lot. You can use this app to track your jogging with GPS, as a stopwatch, or to log your workouts (reps, weight used, muscle group exercised). You can then look back at previous workouts and even make graphs to chart your progress. You can then email these results to yourself so you can keep track of your workouts on computer. This app is not without faults, however. For one thing, the UI is pretty basic. If you’ve ever used iFitness for the iPhone, this app doesn’t reach that level of sophistication by a longshot. Fortunately, the developer is very responsive to feedback and is continuously improving his product. Another fitness app called iStayFit by Looti Inc. ($4.99) was also released. Reviews are overall very positive and the app shows a lot of promise, but since I have Workout Tracker already, I haven’t bought it. You’ll have to decide for yourself.
Honorable mention: Although I haven’t downloaded it, my wife recently bought Conmigo by ConmigoLife ($5.99). "Conmigo" means "with me" in Spanish, and it’s appropriate: this app essentially finds you a "GPS workout buddy" to fit your schedule. For example, if you go for a run (no matter the time), you can log into Conmigo and find someone else who is also running your same distance and pace. You can then track their progress in addition to yours, which gives you that added motivation. I’ve never used it, but from what I can tell, the app is put together very well.
WHERE by where.com (FREE)
This app was one of the very first to launch with the Palm Pre. A few caveats aside, I love it. It’s several apps in one: news, reviews (via CitySearch), local deal finder, Yellow Pages, movie times (with reviews and previews), low gas price finder, and nearby Twitter postings. The local deal finder is hit-or-miss, and the Yellow Pages don’t have the most comprehensive or up-to-date listings in my town, but despite this, WHERE is a useful app to have. And hey, it’s free.
Pandora Radio by Pandora (FREE, ad supported)
If you don’t know about Pandora, then you’ve been living under a rock for the past several years! This is an awesome internet radio application… just tell the station which song or artist you like, and it will fetch songs and artists that sound similar. If you don’t like a song it chose, give it a thumbs down. The coolest part about this app is that it works well with Palm’s background notifications. Download the app to see what I mean.
Accuradio by Accuradio LLC (FREE)
The one problem I have with Pandora is that sometimes I’m just in the mood to listen to a genre of music. If you’re more of a "genre listener," then Accuradio is your app. It has tons of genre stations. For example, let’s say you like Celtic music. Find the RadioCelt station, and it pulls up six different stations for your listening pleasure (Celtic Rock, Progressive Celtic, Traditional Celtic, etc.) Accuradio also loads quite a bit faster than Pandora, which is nice. I highly recommend this app for just about anybody who’s even just a casual music fan.
RadioTime by RadioTime Inc (FREE, ad supported)
RadioTime is bad-ass. Why? Because it is quite possibly the biggest collection of internet and terrestrial (FM) stations that I’ve ever seen in a mobile app. The search function is slighlty finnicky, but if there’s anything you want to listen to – be it your local radio station or NBA Radio – this app has got it. Love it, love it. Would gladly have paid money for this app. It’s that good.
Concert Finder by Epic North ($1.99) A free "lite" version is available.
Powered by the online concert-finder site preAmped.com, this app is perfect for tracking your favorite band or seeing what shows are coming to your town. You can even get directions to venues, purchase tickets, and add events to your calendar. In my opinion, it’s better than the other concert-finding app, called Local Concerts by iLike (FREE), but it’s also a great app and you may think differently. My complaint of Concert Finder is that it’s not the best for finding lesser-known artists. I also don’t like how it creates a new calendar account without asking me first, but I’m nit-picking, here. Otherwise. I highly recommend it.
Trapster by Trapster.com, Inc. (FREE)
This app is simply awesome. Based on the huge worldwide database of speed traps and cameras found at trapster.com, this has been an indispensable tool for me on long road trips where speed zones trap an unsuspecting traveller. All you have to do is leave this app running while on a road trip (make sure you have your phone charging!). You can see your heading on a Google map, and icons for speed traps or intersection cameras. This "intel" is based on past reports from other users, and varies from expired to "high confidence," so you know when to really be careful. It even has optional audible notifications whenever you are within a specified distance of any of these traps. I’m not condoning speeding by any means. But if you’re like me and have ever been caught unawares, then don’t leave home without this app.
Engadget by AOL Inc. (FREE)
If you are into tech at all, then you probably know all about Engadget.com. App number 1,000 in the Palm’s App Catalog, Engadget by AOL Inc. provides you with easy mobile access to all of their latest posts (on Engadget.com AND Engadget Mobile), access to all webcasts of the Engadget Show, and picture galleries. There are occasional bugs in the software, but they’re minor and hey, it’s free. A must-have for tech geeks (ahem, like me).
Los Angeles Times by The Los Angeles Times (FREE)
I’ve tried just about every news app for webOS, and this one is my favorite. Why? Because it’s FAST. Plain and simple. The others take time to load and sometimes even bog my phone down. Not this app. My only complaint is – as can be expected from the LA Times – you usually only get one side of an issue… but then again there’s no such thing as unbalanced media, is there? (Newsweek suffers from this same affliction.)
Stitcher Podcast Radio by Stitcher (FREE)
There are currently two podcasting apps available for webOS in the Palm App Catalog, and this one is the better one, in my opinion. It’s fast, it’s very easy to use, and it has an extensive list of searchable podcasts. Developer support is also outstanding: they really listen to your feedback and get back to you quickly. There are a few key features that are missing however, such as the ability to "bookmark" your position in a podcast after closing the app, and the ability to download podcasts for offline listening. If you need those features, there is an excellent homebrew podcasting app called DrPodder by drnull that is available for download at the Precentral.net homebrew app gallery.
RSS Reader FACE-OFF!
THIRD PLACE: Feeds by Delicious Morsel ($4.99): This full-featured Google reader has two advantages. First, this is the only reader that sports an "offline mode" which downloads all your unread feeds for reading offline (i.e., on a plane, etc). This feature can be painfully slow at times but usually works well. Second, Feeds features real-time notifications of new articles, even when the app is closed. Problem is, it does this for ALL your feeds, not just some, so the advantage is rather weak. Price is quite a bit steep, too.
… But between you and me? Newsroom is the reader I use the most. Why? I love a pretty face! Hey, I’m just a man.
I haven’t downloaded or purchased any photography-related apps. Would love to see a full-featured photo editor, though…
ZIP Code Tools by James Harris (FREE)
This free app is pretty sweet if you’re hunting for a home or just wanting to know about your own zip code. It’s simple: punch in a zip code, and you’re given access to all kinds of details like number of people per household, median income, population estimates, and other demographics. Don’t know what zip code an address is in? Type in the address that you have and it will find the zip code for you. Don’t know which zip code you are in? It can find it using your GPS location. It also features an area code lookup and post office finder. Great little tool, and it’s free. I would’ve gladly paid $0.99 for this.
Geostrings by Hedami ($2.99)
Geostrings is one of the newer and more exciting apps for webOS. Basically, this app is kind of like your tasks app, but with location-based reminders. Many of our tasks, as the developer rightfully points out, are location based. For instance, I might want to pick up some cereal and milk on the way home from work for breakfast the next day. That’s where Geostrings comes in… when I get close to the store that I programmed into the app, it reminds me. At first, I thought this was a gimmick. But if you run a lot of errands (or are scatter-brained like me!) this app turns out to be a lifesaver. This program is so powerful and customizable that it can be a bit daunting to master initially, but the support from the developer is outstanding. If you’d like to see his YouTube videos teaching you how to use this app, just click here. Once you get the hang of it, you just may find yourself using this app daily.
Google Calendar Search by VivaLV Software (FREE)
The name of this app speaks for itself. If you have a Google Calendar on your Palm Pre or Pixi, then you owe it to yourself to download this app… at least until Palm decides to incorporate calendar searching themselves! It works quickly and flawlessly.
Speed Dial Plus by 8-bit development ($0.99)
There are several speed dialing apps available for webOS, and they’re all good at what they do. I previously used Quick Contacts (by Silver Spoon Software), but wanted a no-nonsense app where SPEED was the first priority. Speed Dial Plus fits that bill very, very well. This is the one app that I can have open all day for quickly calling/texting my contacts without slowing down my phone’s performance. Once we get past all the fluff, isn’t that the point?
Pack ‘n’ Track by Syntactix LLC ($7.99)
I initially did not buy this app because of the high price, but was lucky enough to scoop it up when it was sold at half price for Thankskiving. After having used it during the holiday shopping season, I definitely see the merits of this app, but still think the price is a bit steep. Still, this is a top-notch package tracking app, complete with real-time notifications and even maps showing the itinerary of your incoming (or outgoing) package. If you do a lot of online shopping or shipping of packages (business or personal), then this very professionally-executed app is well worth the price.
Honorable mention: Although this app is very controversial, I feel compelled to mention Classic by MotionApps ($30 for full version). While I wouldn’t necessarily call Classic a "favorite" app (still too slow for my tastes, a bit buggy), I use this PalmOS emulator almost daily for my old medical apps, and think it’s cool to have "a phone within a phone." People knock Palm for not including this for free, but what many don’t realize is that Palm had neither the time, people, or resources to do backwards compatibility with PalmOS and simply had to outsource it to someone else. MotionApps has for the most part released a great product with Classic and continue to improve on it. If you relied heavily on PalmOS applications, perhaps this app is for you.
wikiHow by wikiHow (FREE)
Where else can you find a free app that tells you how to do… just about anything? If you want to learn about all kinds of cool how-to’s, then give this app a look. It comes bundled with a survival kit which can be read offline, so you’ll have the answers to "how do I calculate the distance on the horizon?" or "how do I build an igloo?" right at your fingertips. But if you have a how-to question on anything else, just type it in the search bar and you can find it online. The one thing I wish this app had was a way to download other articles, but hey you can at least bookmark it and hey – for free I won’t complain too loudly. At the very least? This app makes friggin’ awesome bathroom reading! 🙂
Friendsbook by SICI Software GmbH (FREE)
Precentral.net listed Palm’s version of Facebook as the best Facebook app, and I respectfully disagree. Yeah, Friendsbook ain’t pretty… but it’s much more powerful than Palm’s crap version of Facebook. For example, unlike Palm’s Facebook app, you can actually view your friends’ wall! Unlike Palm’s Facebook app, you can actually post pictures, with captions, on the fly! Precentral’s argument is that the UI of other Facebook apps "lack polish and long-term potential to compete." Umm, yeah… that may be true. But respectfully? Right now? Palm’s Facebook app sucks! Friendsbook is better.
If you want notifications, though, Friends Flow fits the bill.
Twitter App FACE-OFF!
I’ve gone back and forth between different Twitter apps, and can’t decide on one to use permanently, which speaks volumes of the choices available. If you want to read my detailed review of all webOS Twitter apps, then click here.
But at the end of the day? I gotta say it… I keep comin’ back to Tweed by Pivotal Labs ($2.99).
For those asking "what about the Foursquare App?" … Sorry, while I think it’s cool there’s a version for webOS, I still don’t even understand what the hell the point of that app even is. But then again I felt the same way about Twitter six short months ago…
Sports Calendar by Unnamed Applications, Inc. ($1.99) A free "lite" version is available.
Ever since the Palm Pre launched with its unparalleled synergy capabilities, I longed for a way to easily incorporate the game schedules of my favorite teams. This app does just that. It includes just about every professional sport that you can imagine (professional, college, even stuff like mixed martial arts, English Premiere League, Serie A, La Liga)… and in the paid version, you can follow an unlimited number of teams. It even has optional reminders to let you know that the game is about to start. A nice touch.
Are You Watching This?! by RUWT? Sports ($0.99)
This app is based on the website AreYouWatchingThis.com, which is an awesome website that tracks close games. As a sports nut who hates missing out on potential classic games, I just had to download this app. A few UI issues aside, this app is plain freaking awesome! At any given moment I can see which games are highly rated by other spectators in real-time. The higher the rating, the more people are saying "you gotta see this!" The app even has a feature that tells you what channel the game is on once it acquires your location. Really, really cool.
Honorable mention: I used the "lite" version of Golf Caddie by DTW Consulting once when a friend passed through to play golf with me. Amazingly, this app had my crappy golf club in Shreveport in its database! It worked very well keeping our scores, measuring the distances of my drives (Ugh! Don’t ask.), and distances to the green. Nice.
Translator by MojoJungle (FREE)
One of the first homebrew apps I ever downloaded, "Translator" is the highest-rated translator app for webOS. It sports a very simple, easy-to-use interface with support for tons of languages via Google Translator. Translate a word or phrase, and then send the translated text via email or SMS.
Mezzoman by Mezzoman Studios, Inc. ($0.99) A free "lite" version is available.
This app is incredibly useful for setting up a meeting point between up to three people. Just input the location of up to three people, and Mezzoman finds a meeting place based on your criteria (i.e., "coffee" or "sushi"). It’s pretty darn accurate and has come in handy more often than I anticipated. I’d like to see the ability to send destination addresses to the GPS navigation app, or the ability to text the destination addresses to the people I’m meeting with, but hey, for 99 cents? This is a darn useful app.
Ah, c’mon, do you REALLY need me to tell you which weather app is the best? Look ’em up yourself! 😉
P.S. They’re almost ALL free… My wife prefers WeatherChannel, I prefer AccuWeather.
So there you have it! My top recommendations for the first 1000 apps in Palm’s App Catalog! Of course, there are other apps you might find awesome … if so, leave a comment! Granted, the App Catalog still has a ways to improve, and in my opinion there are some apps that I are woefully lacking on the Palm Pre and Pixi. The most important of these is a document editor such as Docs2Go that my Palm Treo had. Also, due to the lack of various API’s (Advance Program Interface), functionality for programs like Shazam and augmented reality apps are still a ways off. But these are coming! Hang in there, and enjoy these apps in the meantime. I know I am.