It has been commented on lately that I am beginning to sound like a bit of an old fart. I’m not sure of the validity of the (numerous) claims, but there is a certain resonance in the sentiment that my recent articles have been little short of utilising the phrase “the good old days”. James Bond, Muse, children’s TV, they all were better than their modern incarnations and I’ll stick to that belief.
Anyhow, in order to prove that I’m not stuck in some sepia-toned world where riding a penny farthing to the cobbler’s via the apothecary passes for a respectable Saturday, I recently upgraded my cellular telephone to one of those newfangled iPhone 5 jobbies. And what is more, I rather like it.
Now, I’m not going to go all Apple-zealot on you, indeed my final remaining reservation before taking the plunge was just how nauseating the Jobs-o-philes you encounter are. Additionally the iPhone is not without its flaws. The aesthetically-centred “virtual” keypad means that, unless you possess the dexterity of a concert pianist, texting takes a few days and provides results like “Sew your in gate an hour”. Which is not ideal when you’re trying to meet people. Also the clever touchscreen means that answering a call, pressing it to your ear and inadvertently putting them on hold is not impossible either. Maybe I’m just doing it wrong. Or have fat fingers. Or both.
But then there are the apps…
Ah the apps. all those little things that you never, ever needed a phone to do, but somehow cannot live without. For a man, an iPhone fulfils the role provided to women by their handbag. Mine is now totally full of pointless shit that “might come in useful some time”, and I’m very happy with that. It doesn’t require a shoulder strap, nor a loss of dignity (Honestly, who in their right mind thought “man bags” were going to catch on?).
But while all apps are equal in their usefulness (or lack of), there are some that are more equal than others. To these ends, I have provided an Apple-amateur’s guide to the most ingenious apps that adorn my phone.
1. Songkick (free)
This is little short of genius, and an absolute must for fans of live music. The app synchs with the music you have in your library and creates a list of artists whose music you own. You enter a location (as broad or narrow as you like – essentially how far you’d travel to a gig) and press the magic button… Wham. You have a list of every time any of said artists are playing any venue in said location. Furthermore, it alerts you when any of your artists announce a new live date in your area and allows you to buy tickets directly on the app. You can additionally “top up” your liked artists by logging in on a friend’s computer and synching with his iTunes, then deleting all the crap bands afterwards.
Theoretically, you should never miss your favourite performer playing your hometown ever again, meaning that my seat at the Steps reunion tour is safely assured.
Good for: Gig attendence
2. Bus London (free)
OK, this is not going to set the pulses racing, but with the weather allegedly (and somewhat miraculously) set to get worse, who wants to be waiting for hours for a bus that isn’t coming? The first day I had this app, I avoided a “27 minute wait” for the bus home and spent the best tenner in recent memory on a taxi home, grinning at the poor, unfortunate, clueless bastards waiting at the stop behind me… It was love at first sight.
Good for: Schadenfreude
3. New Star Soccer (£0.69)
The rebirth of low-graphics games has been an extraordinary by-product of the iPhone’s success. Angry Birds is now big enough to command its own theme park in Korea, for example. To avoid plumping for an obvious choice here, my low-res timewaster of choice is NSS, a sort of mashup of Championship Manager, Sensible Soccer (remember that?) and Angry Birds. You build a career as a player, mercilessly whoring yourself from club-to-club up through the divisions. You can remain loyal to your club, your fans and your girlfriend on it, but where’s the fun in that when you can be an Ashley Cole… Only with your phone in your hand rather than your rectum.
Good for: Friday morning hangovers
4. Sky Go/Sky Plus (free)
If you have sky, they are simply the best thing in the world. If you don’t they are not. To avoid being elitist, I will leave it there. Besides, if you have Sky and don’t know about these yet, you are possibly too stupid to read this.
Good for: Sky-free pubs
5. BarChick (free)
Little plug here as our very own Em Bell was a member of the BarChick team in a previous life, but BarChick has a good array of bars and restaurants on it’s database. All are lovingly (if a little universally positively – maybe that’s the point) reviewed, while the search parameters, including whether a place is good for a date/mates piss up/cocktails/dinner with mum, are quite novel.
Good for: Going out
Right, that’s your lot. I’m sure that you’ve probably got all these already, or don’t have an iPhone, in which case this has been about as useful as a chocolate teapot. But I am new to this crazy and surplus-to-requirements world. And darn it, I’m going to make the most of it.
by Harry Harland