50 iPhone App Recommendations for Newbies

Now that Verizon is selling iPhones, a whole bunch of my friends + coworkers have recently made the switch to iOS for the first time.  That means a lot of "what are the best apps I should download first?" questions coming in!  Now that Blippy is on the verge of getting shut down, I thought it might be helpful to write out a quick list of iPhone apps that I recommend.  For the most part I've left a quick note about each app's purpose.  Some of these might be a bit unusual, but I'm recommending them because I really like them at the moment or I think they have real potential.  Some of them also require subscriptions to other services, though I've tried to minimize that.  I've also left games off this list because they're fairly subjective and the best ones are usually reviewed heavily in the app store.  Last but not least, a lot of these have very comparable alternative options, but these are the ones I've been drawn to for one reason or another.  With that said, here's my list- what do you think? Which do you agree or disagree with?  What would you change?  What are your questions? [view the full list on the post page]


Square Hits New York City

One reason I've been jealous of San Francisco lately is because for the last year they've been able to make purchases in many business with new mobile payment startup Square.  Square is a simple credit card payment system powered by a dongle that anyone can plug in to their smart phone or iPad.  Square will send you a dongle for completely free, in exchange for taking a 2.75% cut from purchase made by the Square unit.  This is a relatively low transaction fee for the seller, and for the shopper it's a more helpful purchase experience.  After your first purchase from a Square register, the system remembers you credit card and pulls up your information automatically- including your email and cell phone, where you can receive digital receipts that include a list of the items you purchased and a map showing exactly where you bought from.  Square is so simple to set up and use that I've even got one for the rare time someone wants to pay me back for something by credit card.

Up until now I haven't seen any stores in New York City using Square (though nothing was stopping them).  But this week Square announced a brand new product and Manhattan was one of its launch markets.  The new program is called Card Case, and it's a very cool.  Now sellers can set up a product menu via Square, and shoppers can register digital credit cards  with vendors.  After a shopper has paid via the Square system once at a particular merchant with their credit card, they can link to that merchant permanently.  Then in the future you can see what the merchant is selling that day, and pay at that the store without ever pulling your credit card.  The virtual cards are kept in the new Square iPhone app in a wallet-like screen.  With this a physical store merchant can now feature sale items, manage customer loyalty and more in a completely connected relationship powered by Square.  You can see what the Card Case looks like in my pictures above.

I love the idea of Square.  I love that it shows me all of the transactions I've made at a vendor over time, and easily lets me see what they were.  I love that I get digital receipts instead of wasted paper.  Now I love that I don't even have to take my credit card out of my wallet to pay at places I go often.  And I'm really excited that my favorite coffee shop in New York City, Everyman Espresso, is one of the launch partners for Square Card Case.  Before this, Everyman didn't even take credit cards- so clearly they see value in the system for themselves, as well as customers.

Keep your eye out for Square payment options soon, and let me know what you think.


Using Storify to Capture my Social Media Community's Reaction to the News about Osama Bin Laden's Death

As is the trend with breaking news stories in the last three-to-four years, each one seems to top the next in how social media was used to cover, spread and react to the event.  Last night's news about Osama Bin Laden finally being killed began and ended on Twitter.  From a Pakastani man documenting the raid in real time, to the first unofficial news of the story being leaked well before the President addressed the nation, to four thousand tweets-per-second being published about the news, television and newspapers took a back seat to social media once again.

Another pattern of breaking news is use of new tools to help us capture and share the story each time.  Last night some news outlets harnessed a powerful new curation tool Storify to pull together people's reactions to the news in one easily consumable timeline.  Storify enables "authors" to combine original content with social media curation to tell a story through the eyes of many.  I think this is just the beginning of us all following big historical events through quickly curated Storify timelines.

Here's my own coverage of last night's news, as told through my social media community.  I've broken down into a few sections: raw reactions & discussion, an overview of how people used different social media platforms to share & celebrate the news, and some interesting longer-form blog articles about how social media played its part in spreading the news.