I have a confession to make: my first mp3 player was not an iPod, but rather a 256MB Creative Muvo TX FM--it had FM radio! I eventually graduated to a 40GB Sony NW-HD5 Network Walkman. The hardware was great and the player lasted me a few years, but it was an absolute nightmare to get music to sync up with it because of Sony's inability to make proper software. Frustrated, I ditched it for a 60GB Creative Labs Zen Vision: M.
Then came the realization that I was doing it wrong. On my first day on the job here at Mac|Life, Reviews Editor Ray Aguilera made the comment that my mp3 player looked like a garage door opener. When I could no longer get the software to sync music to my device, I threw my hands up in the air, drove out to the Apple Store, and finally succumbed to a 32GB third-generation iPod touch. I haven't looked back since. The touch is my portable gaming and music-listening device, and I also have a hand-me-down 8GB nano that resides in my car. I'm eventually planning on upgrading to one of the recent generations of the touch, especially now that I'm starting to see some slow downs with the recent iOS 5 upgrade.
So, yes, I just took you a walk down memory lane. But what I'm trying to say is this: the iPod is it. It's the portable music playback device that to has done it right from the get-go, much like how the original Sony Walkman and Discman set the precedent before. While I don't exactly have any cake or candles to celebrate the iPod's 10th birthday, I do have some free apps for you for hanging out with your iPod. Give it some love today. Remember that before the iPhone and the iPad, before iOS was even conceived, there was the click-wheel to rule them all.
The other day on Twitter, I lamented about how hard it was for me to get over my shyness and say hello to my mat neighbor in yoga class. And then I realized it's because everything I know about being social I learned from Twitter and Facebook. And then I got a little sad when I realized that's what my generation has come to. But that's alright, because I suppose that just gives me more of a reason to use my iOS devices, right? So I can stay friends with the few people I've met IRL? Oh crap, I'm using acronyms now. I've become the problem.
So, anyway, welcome to Free App Friday. And here are three social apps to help you stay in touch with friends.
You may not be privy to the world of Android (or even interested in learning its ways), but you can't deny that you don't utilize Google just a little bit (a tiny bit, even) on your own phone. Stop being so bashful about the habit and give in! Here are three free apps to help reinforce your Google habit with your iOS device or Mac, and three more reasons why Google's services still play a heavy party in our daily lives.
The notion of that is kind of scary, by the way. But we'll deal.
The worst part about living in a city is that if you plan on driving anywhere, you'll have to factor in 40 extra minutes to find a spot, successfully parallel park and then walk the three blocks it takes to get to your destination. Fortunately, iOS apps are good for this, and while you shouldn't be using your phone while you're driving, you could always double park, take a deep breath, and check to see your apps if you can find a solution.
You know how the song goes: I get by with a little help from my apps. Your apps can help guide you through the levels of a difficult console game, learn to play an instrument, and keep time, just like your human friends would. Well, except for that last part -- especially if you're trying to make it home by curfew. That never works out, so stop trying.
Don't know what it's like outside? Too lazy to open up the curtains and take a peek? Use your Mac or iOS devices to check and see what the weather is like. Here's a quick look at five free weather apps that let you know whether today's the day to leave the jacket at home.
Geocaching, a treasure hunting game where you use a GPS to hide and seek containers of "treasures", is making a comeback and there are plenty of apps out there to help you get started. Now that the sun is coming out and the snow is melting away, put on your explorer gear and get to hunting for buried treasure!
So you're going on vacation soon and you don't really want to spend your hard earned cash on apps before your journey. How about some free apps -- and a nifty new, helpful service from Google -- to get you all squared off for your trip? This week's Free App Friday features Google's new "What's Around Here?" Labs plug-in, free audiobooks for the plane ride there, an airport map on your iPhone and an app that let's you see what your pilot's seeing!
Butterflies in the sky, you can go twice as high. Just take a look, it's on one of those apps on your iPad, it's Reading Rainbow. Yeah, the song doesn't work so well with those lyrics, does it? Well, Executive Editor Susie started singing it the other day and we sort of derived a little inspiration from it and decided to scope out a few apps you can read. And don't worry, this isn't a column where I regurgitate the three e-book readers available in either of the App Stores. We actually found some pretty cool apps, including one that has every piece of information you could ever want to know about Apple's computer history, an iOS app for sad, emotional poetry buffs, and the link to an amazing website full of all the creative inspiration you could ever hope for.
We actually shouldn't say that because saying that word is like muttering Beetlejuice three times in a row--something awful happens, like some writer somewhere is just stuck and may never finish their novel because you dared to utter that evil phrase. Hopefully these apps will get you out of your situation and into the zone--where words flow out of your fingers like water out of a hose. Free flowin'.