Replacements for core iPhone apps?

It’s not uncommon to read tech articles from the Observer and wonder how the author has a job. The latest hype is “deapple-ification” of your iPhone by replacing Apple’s “clunky apps” with “smarter versions”. We should all get Sparrow, Mailbox, Opera Mini, Chrome, Haze, Google Maps, Evernote, Sunrise Calendar, Kindle, 7 digital music sync, Camera+, Record- Voice Recorder. If you need the links, I’ll refer you to the article.

Haze is a beautiful app for weather, and I think I will use it a lot. Certainly, the Yahoo weather feed for the baked-in app is terrible- the app itself is fine. But as the comments reveal, Haze has an achilles heel – it only shows the weather where you are. Which app is smarter? You’ll need another app if you want to know the weather elsewhere tomorrow, say because you’re about to go to the USA.

Camera+, Evernote and Google Maps are sensible choices. The others are either marginal (Kindle, Record, 7 digital music – perhaps you need these) or quite misleading.

Sunrise Calendar is Facebook only! It might have a nice UI (I’ll never know at this rate) but you are throwing away a lot of system integration – e.g. you can’t add an event with Siri.

Due to Apple’s policies, Sparrow doesn’t have push alerts for new email. Sparrow also isn’t apparently developed any more – it’s staff were bought by Google last year. Sparrow has a useful feature – ‘Attach photos”. No more useful than hold-tap in empty space in Mail app (to get the “select/select all”) and tap the right arrow.

insert photo

I guess if you don’t know the core apps very well, alternatives can seem much better.

“Mailbox” has a long waiting list and is free despite having a giant server commitment. There’s a lot of suspicion about how Mailbox can survive with this pricing model…and anyway it only works for Gmail.

Opera Mini compresses webpages (it’s a pseudobrowser), which is apparently useful for saving bandwidth and therefore eye-watering data charges whilst roaming. But it is awful at displaying web pages! I would recommend the following solutions for roaming charges. Either have a decent plan that allows you to top up data at a good rate or have an unlocked iPhone and get a 2nd simcard (e.g. from Mr Simcard for the USA) if you are systematically abroad. Why switch to an awful browser?

Chrome syncs to your PC via Google log-in. Not a feature I use. Is it enough to make you dump Mobile Safari, with it’s rock-solid, fast browsing experience? Go ahead if you wish.

Overall, some obvious choices, and false dichotomies for the rest. Scarcely life changing.


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