Apps I’ve been into lately — December 2018

This post is mostly driven by the realization that I haven’t made a blog post in more than eighteen months. For some reason I thought I wrote the previous version of this post a year ago, but it turns out it was way back in 2016.

Unlike the previous post, this was created by going backwards through the purchase list in the iOS app store to see everything I downloaded in 2018. What follows are my recommendations based on which apps managed to have staying power for me.

Rebel Inc — take control of a local bureaucrat and make peace with the insurgents.

Fun time wasters

Citizen — I’m not sure how helpful this will be to people who don’t live in dense urban areas, but it’s still worth checking out. The app crowdsources reports of crimes and then prompts to go to the location and live stream for everyone on the app to see for themselves what’s happening.

Snoww — An exhausted search for the best ski app came back with this. It’s easily the best designed app for tracking how much skiing you’re doing in a given day and most importantly, who in your group managed to go the fastest.

Productivity

Shortcuts — Apple released a cool little app to string together actions within different apps and then trigger those actions after the fact. For instance, I have one which calculates where I am and how long it will take to get home and then automatically texts my wife an estimate of the timing. The app takes the things you do over and over again and automates them.

Truecaller — Spam calling continues to get worse. Until Apple finally bakes some sort of solution into the operating system, this seems to be the best option. This isn’t a perfect solution for people like myself who easily get ten plus spam calls a day, but it’s a good step in the right direction.

1.1.1.1 — DNS provider Cloudflare released a free VPN app. If you have even the slightly concern about your privacy, this is worth checking out. You set it up once and never have to think about it again.

Bear Writer — I finally dumped the default Apple Notes app this year, mostly because I’m concerned about the ability to share the data within notes with developers. Luckily it’s always off by default, but just seeing the toggle in settings worries me. Bear also has a lot of extra bells and whistles around formatting and searching which make it super useful.

Smart home

Lemonade — While I’m no longer a renter, this app makes getting renter’s insurance an absolute breeze. This is the way it should work, just fill out some form fields, hit submit and get a rate.

Eero — This year we upgraded our home network in a serious way. We’ve now got a network powered by an Eero router and a series of wifi extenders creating a seamless mesh network that means our devices are never dropped from the network. The setup is a bit pricy but it has been totally worth it.

Ecobee — The biggest question I get, is why not get a Nest? I made my entire smart thermostat recommendation based off my neighbor saying something like “well, they are all pretty much the same and if you get the same one I have, I can guarantee I can help you install it.” An added bonus with the Ecobee has been the room temperature sensors, very useful for figuring out how to regulate heat and a/c throughout our apartment.

Games

Game dev tycoon — Put yourself in the shoes of an indie game developer and take a fledgling one man shop in a garage to a cutting edge AAA publisher. Good balance of fun and challenges along the way.

Pocket run pool — This was fun until I told my brother about it and he proceeded to crush what I thought was a fairly high score. Fun little twist on traditional pool games make this pretty addictive.

TerraGenesis — So much room for improvement, yet so good. The UI and performance is atrocious. Considering I have the latest iPhone, I’m curious about what the experience is like for everyone else, it seems like it would be unplayable. However, if you can get past those two things, this is a fun simulation game where you land on planets and try to terraform the surface and make it habitable for human life.

Rebel Inc. — One of the more creative game ideas I’ve seen in a while. Rebel puts you in the shoes of a local administrator of an Afghanistan-esque situation where coalition forces are trying to win the hearts and minds of the local population while keeping the local insurgent forces in check. Great strategy elements and an increasing difficulty make me think it will take me a long time to complete 100%.

Space Marshals — Usually these sort of shooter games don’t translate very well to a mobile device, but in the case of Space Marshals (there’s also a sequel but the original is a bit better) I was impressed. You play as a marshal tracking down outlaws in space. This one is commonly heavily discounted and promoted in the app store so keep an eye out for it.