Beyond Google Maps: The Best Utility Apps

December 14, 2012
By   Jen McDonnell
Category   Uncategorized

It took three long months, but iPhone owners are finally able to use Google Maps again. The world’s most popular online mapping system made its much-anticipated return with Wednesday’s release of the Google Maps app. iPhone users have been anxiously awaiting its arrival since Apple replaced Google Maps as the device’s built-in navigation system with its own, bug-riddled mapping software in the recent iOS 6 upgrade.

Now that we’ve all welcomed back Google Maps (which quickly soared to the top of the download charts, where it currently sits with an average user rating of 4.5 out of 5), we’re taking a look at some other utility apps the staff here at Reshift Media can’t live without.

Steve’s picks:

Without a doubt, the No. 1 presentation app for iPhone and iPad. It maintains all PowerPoint formatting, unlike most slideshow apps. It also allows for sharing of presentations between devices and people so you’re never without your “pitch deck.”

Apple Remote
This is great for managing my Apple TV from the comfort of my couch without having to find my remote. It’s also easy to type and interact with content on-screen.

This allows me to take a picture of the cover of any book, DVD, CD, or video game and get a rating, description and links to Google, YouTube, Wikipedia, IMDb, Barnes & Noble and more. I can also scan a UPC/EAN barcode on any product to get information on it. It allows me to quickly find more information on products to compare prices, buy online, or to save it for later.

This allows me to photograph wraparound panoramas. It’s kind of fun and useful if you want to really capture a specific event or space. It also allows for sharing with friends directly from the app.

Carly’s picks:

You put in the restaurant bill amount and then it lets you calculate the tip by % (10% = fair, 15% = good, 20% = great, etc). You then have an option to round the tip/total bill up or down. And if you’re in a group, it splits the bill for you and works out the amount each person has to pay.

Easy Percentage Calculator
Because I’m arithmetically challenged I also sometimes use the Easy Percentage Calculator – if I need to work out something like ’17 is what % of 60′, for example (answer = 28.3%). I’d never be able to do that in my head.

XE Currency 
This one is super useful for aliens in Canada who still think in £££s. It does exactly what you’d expect by converting cash amounts from one currency to another.

Jen’s picks:

Droid Light
I downloaded this one during Hurricane Sandy (even though I was nowhere near the storm’s path – I just got sucked in by all the media hysteria). It’s a great little app that turns your phone’s camera flash into a flashlight. The interface is super simple (it looks like a light switch that you flip on or off), and you can even switch to “morse code” if you’re in trouble or “strobe light” mode when you feel like partying!

Need to scan something on the go? This free app lets you snap a photo of your document, crop and enhance it, save it as a PDF and share it.

If you’re using Dropbox on your desktop, this free app extends the service you know and love by bringing your files, photos and videos with you. Any file you save to Dropbox is accessible from this app.

Ghali’s picks:

This free app helps your remember everything and stay organized across all your devices. You can take notes and photos, record voice memos and create to-do lists, and organize everything by notebooks and tags.

This app allows you to mark up and annotate images (either ones you take, or screengrabs from web pages and maps), send them through Twitter and email, and save them to Evernote.

Share files, photos, video and contact info with others easily – just by bumping your phones together. You can also bump files from your photo to your computer.


Jen McDonnell

Jen is the Vice President of Content and Social Media at Reshift Media, where she manages a team responsible for the social strategies for several national and international brands. She has a strong content background, having previously worked in online journalism for 10 years. Her articles have been published in the National Post, the Ottawa Citizen, the Vancouver Province, the Calgary Herald, Flare, and more.

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