That iPhone in your pocket is good for something besides playing video games and taking pictures and texting with your friends, you know. You could actually do something productive with that iPad. You could download a bunch of free apps that will help you be more productive and organized and thrifty, meaning you’ll have more time to play video games and have more of them to play. It pays to be efficient!
Orchestra To-do will run on your iPhone, iPod touch, or your iPad provided you’re running iOS 4.0 or later. You can add items to the list manually or use voice recognition and speak your to-do items out loud. You can upload your to-do list onto the Orchesta website and keep your smartphone and the site in sync so that you can make changes in either location. You can set reminder alerts for when it’s time to do something. If it’s a task you have to commit repeatedly on a regular schedule, you can set up recurring task alerts.
Orchestra isn’t just a tool for individuals. It can also be used to help groups organize their efforts. Real-time chat supports multiple simultaneous users. You can set up different groups, like one for your family and one for your classmates and one for your World of Warcraft guild to assign tasks accordingly, share lists, and collaborate more effectively.
Video games are expensive so it’s probably a good idea to get your finances in order. Mint.com Personal Finance runs on iPhone and iPad. It lets you create a budget, and then as you make purchases subtracts the purchase amounts from your budget. You can also hook up your online bank information, strictly for the purposes of viewing your balances.
When you spend money, Mint will categorize the purchases for you. You can set reminders about paying bills. You can choose a goal for how you want to spend your money – like saving up for the usual deluge of new Fall video game releases – and then track your plan. Mint.com Personal Finance is also available for Android devices.
Chances are you’re as into good television as you are into good video games. You’re going to need to take regular breaks from all this responsibility your new productivity apps made possible, but with 900 channels on our cable system we could use something to organize our TV watching. BuddyTV Guide will do the trick, and runs on your iPhone, iPod touch, or your iPad provided you’re running iOS 4.0 or later.
At its simplest, you can use this app to make lists of your favorite shows and look up airtimes and set reminders to prompt you before the show is about to start. You might be able to turn your iOS device into a remote control if you have the right kind of hardware hooked up. You can also use the app to see what’s available on the streaming Netflix you probably have hooked up to your game console, or check your DVR for recorded shows. You can hook into the social networks for different shows to chat with fans, or post directly to Facebook and Twitter if you want to make witty wisecracks while you’re watching a new episode. Just watch the spoilers, please. BuddyTV is also available for Android devices.
We’ve finished our chores, balanced our budget, and watched a little TV, but when it’s time to play video games it might take a little while to sift through all your choices. Video Games Manager runs on iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, and requires iOS 5.0 or later. This app lets you build a virtual video game library and a Wishlist. You look up the name of the game, add it to your collection, and Video Games Manager will create an entry that includes a game summary, a picture of the box art, the genre, release date, developer and other details.
There’s also a manual barcode entry and a “camera scan” function for scanning barcodes. The camera scan is awesome, but unfortunately you can only use it 10 times for free. Then you have to pay $3 to get unlimited use.
In the Personal section for each game, you can give it a rating out of five stars and include information like the last time you played the game and whether you’ve beaten it or not. Available platforms go all the way back to the Commodore Amiga and Atari 2600. If you need to find a picture of the box art, there’s a Google images button that will help you find an image to use from the web.
When it’s time to buy a new game to add to your collection, chances are you might be making the purchase online. Slice is a shopping tool used to track online purchases. You add the email account where your merchant notifications are sent, like purchase confirmations and shipping notices, and then Slice gets to work. You can track all of your in-transit packages on a single map, and receive notices when a package ships.
Slice will keep records of all your online purchases and back up your receipts. If something you bought is eligible for a price adjustment, Slice will let you know. You can check return policies and get customer service numbers for the online stores you made the purchases from. Slice is also available for Android devices.
If anyone makes fun of you for using your smartphone “just to play video games,” or says you’re wasting time with all that texting and tweeting or posting to Facebook, you can show them your organized to-do list, your responsible budget, your disciplined TV watching schedule, your impressively-catalogued video game collection, and how perfectly you’re on top of all your online purchases.
Then you can ask them what they have on their smartphone.