Pocket change: New apps for the New Year
September 5, 2012
Labor Day is over, and the High Holy Days are upon us. Time to break out some new apps. This time, I thought we might take a look at a few useful ones that aren’t specifically Jewish, but can help launch the best possible 5773. Here are some suggestions of apps I use constantly that might help this new year truly be a Shana Tova, or a “good year.”
Appigo ToDo and Pocket Informant
Keeping track of your obligations can be a challenge. And while Apple finally saw fit to include a reminders app right in their mobile operating system, it remains a bit limited in scope and functionality. That’s where some third-party task apps can come in handy. Two of my favorites are ToDo from Appigo (tinyurl.com/37x2r3u) and Pocket Informant from WebIS (tinyurl.com/bq5maey). ToDo is specifically a task manager, but it does integrate nicely with the company’s Notebook app. Best of all, if you work with Apple products, it integrates with iCloud so tasks you add in one place will appear on all your devices.
If you want an application that will combine tasks with your calendar, notes, and contacts, then Pocket Informant is a great option. Be warned, it is feature-rich and it does take some time to set up properly but, once you do, it will allow you to access your important information all in one place.
Both apps come from companies who were quick to release iOS apps and, since then, have constantly improved them through both refinement and additional features.
The Hebrew month of Elul is, in part, all about hesbon hanefesh, looking back over the past year and determining what went well and where we might improve in the new year. That task becomes far easier if you keep a daily journal throughout the year. My favorite? Day One (tinyurl.com/426p2gm). The app works on iPhones, iPads, and iPod touchs, and there is also a Mac application. Best of all, the various applications can sync with either iCloud or Dropbox so you can record thoughts and memories on any Apple device and have them available everywhere. It also integrates with FourSquare so you can easily record the various places you visit. Day One can also remind you to record your thoughts (or, thanks to a recent update, pictures) at a set time or times each day.
Our tradition teaches, “Do not say ‘I will study when I have time,’ for you may never have time.” Setting time aside each day to read and learn something new is one of the best commitments we make to and for ourselves in the New Year. And while there are numerous options for reading on your mobile device, I recommend and use Amazon’s Kindle apps (tinyurl.com/74kvms2) since they are the most universal and promise to have the longest legs. And if you are going to load your Kindle with books of Jewish learning from only one author, then I cannot recommend Rabbi Telushkin’s more. He is prolific and learned. Picking up his Biblical Literacy, or one of his Jewish Literacy, Wisdom, or Values books and reading just a chapter or two a day will fill your year with Jewish knowledge. You can even use ToDo or Pocket Informant to set daily reminders to read a chapter.
With so much news coming from and about Israel, much of it biased, it is all but impossible to stay up-to-date as committed members of the Jewish community. RSS (really simple syndication) feeds make it easier than ever to sort quickly through numerous sources of your choosing. Reeder (tinyurl.com/ygzzavc) is my RSS reader of choice thanks to its speed, clarity, and ease of saving or sharing those articles of note. My personal section of Jewish feeds includes Honest Reporting (honestreporting.com), the Daily Alert (www.dailyalert.org), and, of course, New Jersey Jewish News.
I’m still mixed on Facebook (tinyurl.com/yda2jgt) since I find there to be far too much “over-sharing” on it, but it is a fact of life in 5773. And if you want to stay in touch with family and friends throughout the world, there is no better way. Thanks to a recent update, FB’s iPhone and iPad apps are faster and easier to use than ever. Just make sure you spend the time setting your privacy settings properly; remember that once anything is on Facebook, it is public forever.