Observer App of the Week 2/8 – Essential Apps for iOS

Sheehan Hannan, A&E Editor

For a large group of students, the iPhone and iPad have replaced the laptop as a primary computing device. As such, using your iOS device for work and play has become even more important. These apps will help you work hard, play hard, and perhaps the finest of what the App Store has to offer.

Though it may seem exceedingly obvious, the iOS version of the Gmail app is by far the most usable mail client currently offered on the App Store. This is undoubtedly due to the acquisition of Sparrow, a startup that offered truly revolutionary ways of interacting with email, perhaps the most antiquated form of digital communication. The newest version of the app, released in December of last year, completely transformed the previously decrepit app. Now, it far outpaces the Apple-designed Mail app. Perhaps most importantly, it supports multiple logins so you can be logged into both your CWRU and personal email accounts at the same time.

Like the Gmail app, the Google Drive app may seem painfully self-explanatory. Nonetheless, it offers features far beyond anything in its class and is an absolute necessity for a student on the go. After rebranding Google Docs to Google Drive last year, Google has vastly improved on their documents formula. Gone are the obnoxious menus from previous versions and the painfully slow editing. The lines are cleaner, and accessing documents is much more functional. Editing too has been streamlined, with a minimized toolbar and easier-to-use controls. Though it’s still restricted to text documents and spreadsheets, Google Drive is the perfect tool to keep all your syllabi and notes in one easily-accessible place.

Twitter is a dangerous animal. So too is using the native Twitter app. Despite numerous improvements, it’s still clunky and something less than functional. A quality replacement is Tweetbot. Though it does cost a pretty penny (at least in terms of app store purchases), it’s well worth the $3. It is largely gesture-based, which is infinitely less distracting to use while ambling down icy sidewalks in the Cleveland winter. Though it’s less customizable than Tweetdeck (which features multiple feeds), Tweetbot is also much more stable than its aging cousin. An in-line Vine and Flickr viewer were also added in a recent update, along with the ability to open links in Chrome for iOS. As far as the dying breed of third-party Twitter clients goes, Tweetbot is by far the best.

Changing gears, at least from the aforementioned productivity and socially-centered apps, is Jackthreads. A wholly owned brand of Thrillist, the man-centered entertainment company, Jackthreads is a “members-only” discount men’s clothing store. Prices are ridiculously cheap, as brands attempt to liquidate excess stock through the Jackthreads app and online store. Sales aren’t very long, but the prices are excellent, the fashion current, and the interface simple to use. In short, it’s everything a man who likes to look good and save money could ask for.

Lastly, we return to the sphere of social networks with Pheed. An alternative social network that blossomed following the unveiling of Instagram’s seemingly maniacal new terms of service, Pheed seeks to go towards territory that Instagram discourages. It has proven a ready outlet for photographers and artistically-prone individuals, as users maintain absolute rights to their content. Additionally, channels can be rated by age-appropriateness, in direct opposition to Instagram’s obscenity-restricted system. Though it won’t be replacing Instagram anytime soon, Pheed offers a more open version of essentially the same service in a package that is simply cooler.