I hate winter. I basically don't go outside when it's cold, which makes for a lot of indoor time for me between about November and April each year. Besides going to a lot of movies, I tend to spend a lot of time at home during winter months either reading, watching TV or movies and, of course, on the computer or iPad or iPhone. So in that spirit, I figured I may as well share some of the stuff I'm doing with all this online or on-device time, so here are five apps I've recently discovered that I'm finding pretty useful:
- Letterboxd--Ok, so my first app is not actually an app, but it does have a mobile site which I added to my homescreen so I count that as an app. Super hat-tip and hugs to Maddie Grant for finding Letterboxd for me, because it has solved a huge problem for me. If you read my 2012 movie recap post you know I see a lot of movies and write a recap post each year. In this year's post I said that if I had one wish for 2013, it would be that someone invent the movie equivalent of Goodreads. Maddie turned me on to Letterboxd, and--bam--wish granted! Letterboxd lets you keep a running tally of movies you've seen, as well as rate and review them. It has an awesome feature called "diary" that lets you add the date you saw each movie, so stuff like writing an annual movie recap post will be super easy. Letterboxd is still in beta, but you can use the beta code "happynewyear" to register and try it out.
- Marksta--Now that image sharing is so popular, even crappy photographers like me are starting to use image-sharing sites. Whether it's posting pictures on Instagram or uploading them to Pinterest or wherever, the issue of copyright is a big one these days. I read about Marksta, an app that lets you watermark your photos right from your phone, and figured I'd give it a try even though I highly doubt anyone with any taste would want to steal any of my photos because they suck. But you never know when someone will want to make Lil' Delicious the next cat star, right? I have to say that Marksta is not the most intuitive app to use, and takes a while to figure out--or at least it took me a while. But I like that you can use it right from your phone, so there's that. It did cost $1.99, but if you share a lot of photos online and care about copyrighting them, it might be worth it.
- Vine--Vine definitely falls under the "trying" category rather than loving, because I admit I'm somewhat of a Vine skeptic. There's lots of buzz about Vine, Twitter's new app that lets you create and share six-second video clips. Because what the world was missing was six-second video clips, right? I have seen some cute, creative clips on Vine, but mostly, not so much. The main things I don't like about Vine are that you can't use pre-recorded video clips--you can only either do six straight minutes of video right from the app, or a stop-motion clip again from the app. Also, I find the app kind of hard to use--it took a while to figure out that to take a video you just keep your finger on the screen or tap it and lift it to take stop-motion video. And apparently while the default is no sound, you can turn on the audio and hear videos by "hitting the toggle at the bottom left of the video"--I have yet to locate this control, but supposedly it's there. I admit that my curiosity got the best of me after I heard that people were sharing porn clips on Vine and I did a search for "porn"--my eyes are permanently broken and I want to take my kids' phones and permanently disable them because I'm so grossed out that people actually share stuff like that on public sites. So maybe that has something to do with my not-so-rosy feelings about Vine.
- Red Stamp--Every year, I mean to send holiday cards. And most years, I never actually send them. Mind you, I usually order them, taking the time to select the perfect photo or, as is the case when you have teens who refuse to pose for photos with other family members, montage of photos. They arrive, sometimes looking great and sometimes, as was the case last year, looking not so great because I accidentally chose the wrong photo in my ordering haste, and, more often than not, sit, un-addressed, as the holidays speed by. Sometimes they end up being new years cards instead of holiday cards--that's still a holiday, right?--and sometimes I just let the virtual card I post on Facebook be enough. But this year? I actually sent some holiday cards--even to my friend in the UK, thanks to Red Stamp. Red Stamp lets you create custom photo cards right from your phone--then lets you SEND them right from your phone too. If only everything in life was this perfect and easy. Red Stamp also has business products like cute "networking notes" with pop-out business cards and mobile calling cards.
- SnipSnap--I like to clip coupons, but I almost never remember to bring them to the store and/or redeem them even if I do remember to bring them. I always wish for a way to just scan coupons into my phone and have them be automatically redeemed if I happen to purchase that thing. So Snip Snap sounded cool--an app that lets you scan coupons and which sends you in-store reminders and expiration date alerts. However, when I went to scan in some coupons from the Sunday paper, I got a message that manufacturer coupons are not supported yet. Um, then what the hell good is the app? I suppose I could be pleasantly surprised and this functionality could come soon, but until then, I don't imagine I'll be using this app very frequently, if at all. Another thing I wonder about is if it would work if you use the self-checkout, which I sometimes do--my experience with apps like Key Ring is that they don't work well with scanners. But since you can't use manufacturer coupons, I'm guessing it doesn't really matter since you won't have anything to scan at the grocery store anyway.