I realised tonight that there are quite a variety of tools and products I’ve been using lately that I’ve been really enjoying, including:
I live in Beacon Hill, where owning a car is both expensive and difficult. As such, I have two RFID cards in my wallet – my monthly MBTA pass and my Zipcard. Zipcar finally released their iPhone application, which although not as exciting as made out to be (no initial unlocking of the car from your phone, but I do enjoy surreptitiously honking the horn while my wife is driving), does provide a very convenient way of getting a car when you need it last minute. Their website is actually very nice too, and makes finding and booking a car surprisingly easy — I particularly like how they’ve implemented the calendaring. The car sharing itself is also great. $6.13/hour, all-inclusive, for a Prius just 2 blocks from my apartment is very compelling. The insurance setup is less than ideal (only state minimums), and it depends on the goodness of others to keep the car in decent condition, but I’ve had no serious problems as yet.
While I wait for TripAdvisor’s updated mobile offerings, I continue to enjoy using Yelp’s nifty local review app. I’ve used it to find things to do when in NYC, somewhere to grab a quick bite, bars I didn’t know about and even write reviews while still at a restaurant. The augmented reality is a nice toy, but a little gimmicky. I recently used Yelp when visiting Michigan, and used it to find local favourites like Bates burgers and Bode’s Corned Beef House.
This is a pretty amazing flight search tool, replacing calendar widgets with a Googlesque search box. Not officially launched yet, but looks like it will be pretty awesome when it does. Try searching for things like “Brisbane to snow in early December”.
I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person who hates waiting around an airport with no idea what’s going on with my flight. Flightcaster will tell you the chances of a delay well before the airlines will. So far I’ve been very impressed with both the prediction system and the UI, which is very intuitive and pretty. I had a pretty amazing experience with Flightcaster last week when flying to San Francisco from Boston. Before I left, the flight was listed as on-time, while Flightcaster predicted it was “probably delayed”. I arrived at the airport, and the flight was delayed by two hours, due to weather at SFO. While waiting, I checked Flightcaster again and it predicted we would be leaving shortly, and within minutes an announcement came through that the two hour delay had been shortened to a 20 minute delay. Nifty.
I know the iPhone 3GS has been out for a while, and it’s hardly groundbreaking to proclaim how great iPhones are, but since upgrading from my 2G to the 3GS, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at what a difference it makes. It’s now fast enough that I’m able to work remotely, it’s great having a longer battery life, and the difference the speed makes to the user experience cannot be understated. I particularly like the improved camera and finally having GPS and a compass, great for when I exit a T stop in a bewildered fashion.
A while back I wrote an article about using an iPhone as a home phone using Fring. Sadly, it was a little too buggy for everyday use, and I continue to use my dedicated Netgear phone. Happily Skype released an official iPhone app, which does everything I’ve always wanted in a dedicated Skype phone (unlike the disastrous Belkin Skype wifi phone). While it doesn’t work in the background, or over 3G (yet), it does give me access to IM and voicemail at all times, and I can use Skype-To-Go to make calls over AT&T. It also makes a great second landline at home while my wife is using our Netgear.