The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of a bookdealer in Brooklyn, New York.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bookish Iphone Apps

I recently overcame my Macrophobia (what's stronger than that? Mac-Hate....opposite of Macrophilia?) and bought an Ipod touch (or iTouch as I've creepily contracted it). I wanted a video walkman and I could no longer resist the torrent of seductive apps that friends were constantly showing off.

Also the app store--with its hundreds of cheap or free goodies fighting for your attention by being the most useful or cool--feels like the arena that has always given birth to the best PC programs rather than the standard Apple way where Jobs on high deliverith the new testament...

oh forget it, I'm only justifying my compromised principles.

Anyway here are some apps that I've found useful for bookhunting, selling, listing and reading.

Google Mobile App [FREE]
A somewhat reduced and mobile-optimized set of the standard Google utilities. So far I like these:
  • Google Docs allows me to upload all of my bookscouting lists and keep them in sync with my desktop.
  • Translate helps with foreign language buying decisions.
  • Reader keeps me up-to-date with blogs on the go (though you'll want a secondary RSS app to sync with Google reader because the Google installed font is painfully small and non-adjustable--I use NetNewsWire)
  • Book Reader gives access to Google Book scans. It displays 10-12 pages per long scroll--but between all of the scan artifacts, typographical ugliness and constant scrolling I wouldn't use it for more than fact-checking.
Read It Later [FREE lite version or $4.99 pro]
My favorite new web-tool. You know when you come across a really rich and text-heavy site that you know will be a rewarding read but you don't have the time now? You toss it in a bookmark folder and never look at it again, right? This app will cure you of this. Read it Later is a bookmarklet that you can install on your iphone and desktop. When you find one of those time-consuming sites, you click the "Read it Later" icon and forget about it. Then when you have some spare time (on the train, in the post office line, in the bathroom, etc) open the read it later app and you'll find the full web-page (no connection necessary if you've synced the Iphone) just when you want something meaty to read. I have the free version. Not sure what the pay version adds.

Ebay App [FREE]
I was out of town this past weekend when I had some high-dollar items listed and this app was a good way to obsess over them and keep track of questions and activity. I haven't used it very deeply but the interface is nice (pleasantly cleaner the the desktop My Ebay page) and it did what I wanted.

RoboForm Mobile [FREE]
After an emailing piracy scare a while back I started using Roboform to create and store my passwords. Now instead of being--slight--variations on a theme, my passwords are complete Greek salad that even I couldn't tell you on pain of torture. Problem is when logging in on another terminal I'm SOL unless I'm carrying a printed record of my passwords (the loss of which is a greater risk than hacking). The roboform Iphone app solves this. I can enter a protected site either by opening roboform and clicking on the login I want or I can view the password (PIN and masterpassword protected) and type it into another terminal.

Dragon Dictation [FREE]
This is a mobile version of the Dragon Naturally Speaking software (which I used to have on my PC but must have lost after a crash). It's terribly useful for transcribing long passages of book description when you're trying to hold open an antique tome with one hand. The desktop version had a training mode where it would learn your voice by having you read passages of Alice in Wonderland and such. While the mobile version doesn't have this, it was fairly accurate out of the box (using a cheapo mic) and there's a built-in option to email the text so you can clean up and edit on a real keyboard. I would pay for an upgraded version of this app.

Wikipanion [FREE]
Dedicated Wikipedia search

BookzeeNYC [FREE]
From the NYC BiggApps competition to find creative ways to use city databases. Search a book title and it will tell you libraries that have it.

Kindle App [FREE]
Nice way to test the first few chapters in a book. Much easier on the eyes than the Google Book Reader presentation.

Paypal App [FREE]
Send and receive paypal on the go. Installed but haven't tried it yet.

Alright, running out of steam but I'll add more as I discover them. Are there other booksellers who've found useful apps (or painfully addictive games)? Please let me know. I'd love to compare notes.

And just for the record, I still hate Itunes. I won't let the f%$ker within 2 drive partitions of my music...but the iTouch has won me over.

No comments: