Each week, Geek Gamut takes you on a quest through the massive realm of awesome subjects that make up geek culture in an attempt to further understand what makes us tick. Today, let’s take a look at iPhone apps.
Where the Buffalos roam (additional roaming fees may occur)
No Geek is complete without some beloved and trusty gadget close at hand, and for many of us, that gadget of choice is none other than Apple’s iconic iPhone. Think of it like the bond between the Cowboy of the wild west, and his horse. He travels everywhere with it, he cleans it when its dirty, nurses it back to health when its sick, plays pac-man on it while waiting in line at the saloon- well, maybe the analogy ends there, but nonetheless, it is a very important bond.
Since I, too, am a user of this awesome little piece of hardware, I have decided to write up a list of 10 essential iPhone apps for geeks. So, as you are trekking through the endless terrain that is the App Store, keep these in mind for serving your geeky needs on the go.
(The Apps below are in no particular order)
-Words With Friends
This app is basically just the same scrabble you’ve played with your friends around the dining room table, arguing whether or not “Borg” is a legitimate word. Except now, you can show off your vocabulary to your friends anywhere and anytime, even if you are halfway across the country, through turn-based play not unlike email games. So now you can use the word “Sovkhoz” (Russian wage-paying farm) to get an impressive 76 points, while visiting one!
This fun little application takes all of life’s most difficult problems (Should I apologize? Do I have a chance with her? Should I let the boss win?) and translates them into complex equations. You just plug in the variables (The importance of the issue, how attractive she is, how many witnesses there are) and then solve the dilemma mathematically and empirically. Perfect for all of us logic-minded geeks.
-Level Me Up!
This one is for those of us who could use some help accomplishing our goals. Perhaps you have no problem grinding out yet another level 80 death knight, but have a stack of actual work that has been growing on your desk for weeks. Level Me Up! Uses the hours of time that you put into your goals (studying for finals, doing the laundry, practicing Mario songs on the piano) and grants you levels based on your effort. You can get your work done and get the primal satisfaction that comes with attaining that next level at the same time!
Akinator is a little genie who asks you to think of a character, any character, and then asks about twenty questions with yes, no, or maybe answers to find out who it is you are thinking of. What is truly cool about this game is that this crazy little dude will guess who you are talking about no matter how obscure you think they are. Arthas? That’s too easy. Tom Bombadil? Psh, cake. Go ahead, give it your best shot. If you answer the questions correctly, Akinator will tell you who you are thinking of.
Anyone who has played any of the Warhammer 40k rpgs knows that rolling a die to see what happens when you critically hit an enemy is great fun. It’s always random and exciting. Will you knock his arm off? Will you light his head on fire? Will you knock his dismembered arm against his flaming head!? The Criticals app is like that, but for Dungeons and Dragons, or any other d20 based system. It has you fill in a couple of variables, like where you hit them and with what weapon, and then randomly rolls to see what heroic escapade you have pulled off this time. It even does critical misses!
Now, I know that iBooks comes standard with the iphone now, but it is still worth mentioning. Yes, the bookstore and reader use is very cool, but the best part about this app is that it adds a long awaited pdf reader to the iphone! Now you can bring your favorite rulebook or magazine with you and you can even download pdf files directly from the Internet into iBooks without even plugging into your computer.
To geeks, information is the manna that keeps us going. There are thousands of blogs out there constantly releasing new information, but we readers are still only human. Mobile RSS is a simple and functional app to help you keep up to date with all of your Really Simple Syndication feeds in one app, so you no longer have to check each individual website to see if a new post is up. It even syncs with your GoogleReader account!
If you do any sort of calculations using numbers or play any games on a laptop, then this app is for you. NumberKey allows you to set up your iPhone to wirelessly connect to your computer for use as a numpad off to the side. This makes data entry much, much easier, and opens up a whole new panel for you to keybind commands to as you wish. If you can get over the strange sensation of the smooth screen replacing the more tactile keyboard, this app opens up numerous possibilities.
This app is a good simulation of rolling dice of all shapes and sizes, which coincidently, is quite useful in a large portion of geek-related activities! With everything from d2s to d100s, you can avoid having to buy/find enough dice to fuel your tyrannid army, or use this as a replacement when you forget your dice bag on game night. You can even choose to actually shake the iPhone to hear that satisfying sound of dice hitting the table played through the speakers. Sheer bliss.
Pandora is a radio program that works by dissecting a song you choose, and using the information it gathers to build a specially tailored playlist based on your tastes. This app sounds like technology from the future, but its here today! It’s perfect for the busy geek because it allows all that precious brainpower being spent on choosing a song to listen to to be allocated to more important things while the machine does all the work. (as it should be) I wish I could take the idea for this app and apply it to other things in life. I could tell my refrigerator that I like PB and J, and each afternoon it would make me a new exciting sandwich! Pandora Radio is the first technological step towards an awesome utopian future of laziness and sandwiches, who could ask for anything more?