Radio for the iPhone? Apps–so–lutely!
     

Songza
A thief comes over to a man walking down the street and says with murder in his eyes, “Don’t move, this is a stick-up! Your smartphone or your life!”

The man pauses for a long time. Finally, the thief says, louder, “Come on, buddy, your smartphone or your life!” To which the guy replies, “I’m thinking it over!”

That’s a modification to the great, old Jack Benny routine; in the original, the thief is demanding money, not a spiffy gadget.

Whenever I’m without my iPhone I feel not only out of touch but positively disconnected. It’s not because I’m afraid I’ll miss a call. It’s mainly because I’ll miss my apps.

With summer upon us and at least a few days of vacation looming, I thought you might enjoy recommendations for apps that can be quite useful to those in the broadcast biz. I’ve also included a few for fun. Note that not all are available for all phones.

RADIO

I’ll assume you’ve already got the streaming apps from the major U.S. radio companies, plus Pandora and Slacker. But I run into lots of radio folks who have never tried Stitcher for on-demand news and talk radio.

Stitcher is probably the most useful app for mining fresh talent, getting ideas for new shows and being able to listen easily to programs in episode form. Their cool new feature is that you can set your phone to do the downloading when you have access to Wi-Fi, saving you bandwidth charges and eliminating buffering.

These other radio-like apps are worth a test drive:

* Concert Vault, by Wolfgang’s Vault, consists of music from Bill Graham’s archives
* OTR Streamer has old-timey radio shows that take you back to the days before TV
* Scanner Radio Plus acts like a scanner for police, fire, EMS and airport
* Police Scanner Plus is a scanner plus music with the ability to record
* Songza brings you music to fit a mood
* Twitter’s “music” hashtag (#music) is an interesting way to find new music trends out there in the tweeting ether.

PRODUCTIVITY

Dropbox lets you easily transfer large files via all devices, and can automatically back up photos taken on your phone.

Life360
CamScanner makes amazingly clear PDF files using your phone’s camera and is terrific for doing PDF conversions on contracts, memos and receipts, then sending them effortlessly to an email address.

Evernote lets you make notes on either your phone or computer and they sync.

NEARLY TECHNICAL

SpeedTest X HD tests the speed of any Wi-Fi connection you can reach. I used this baby often, to see if I’ve got enough “up-speed” to stream.

Maglight isn’t perfect, but when you don’t have a magnifier handy, it’ll help you read that invisible serial number.

UDID+ displays your unique device identifier (on iPhone and iPad) and allows you to email the numbers. When you’re testing apps, this is true time saver.

Analytics tracks all of our Google Analytics on as many websites as you have in your profile.

And get Flashlight (or any of the bright LED apps out there) — come on, you know you’re going to need it!

NAVIGATION

Waze has saved me many times from being stuck in traffic when the bigger name map apps have failed. Why? It’s user-driven, and in major cities that means that lots of people are using it to share information. It has a very cool interface. In my market, they’ve partnered with a TV station, but perhaps in your city they’d partner with a radio station.

Life360 pretty much “Let’s Stalk Your Kids”; at least, that’s how my kids saw it when I demanded they put this tracking device on their smartphones. But once they started using it, they realized they could find my wife and me, too! You could execute some really fun morning show bits with this app and probably also get yourself into serious trouble.

There’s Compass, for those times you just gotta know which way is north.

Spotify
With Traffic View, the free version shows only photos, but sometimes these shots from live traffic cameras can help you out quickly enough to check info for on-air use or just for driving somewhere yourself. The paid version streams live video.

NEWS & CONTENT

Get as many news apps as your memory will hold, but if you gotta choose, pick Flipboard. The interface will blow your mind and you can customize it to your needs.

iReddit will show you what news and topics people find interesting (it’s the app version of www.reddit.com). Any of them may be just what you need to know in the moment.

There’s also Wikipedia. Need I say more?! Nothing has made on-air personalities sound like genius more than this product, and it works super fast on your phone. Of course, factual accuracy is not guaranteed.

And let’s not forget Weather, a pure necessity for anyone on the air. I like the Weather Channel’s version, but almost all weather apps deliver the goods.

SOCIAL

Get LinkedIn. In this business, you gotta stay connected because, well, you never know.

Group SMS lets you send text messages to large groups of people, like your sales staff to remind them of their 7 a.m. meeting every Monday morning.

As for the WhitePages app, it’s not perfect, but what phone book ever has been?

JUST FOR FUN

TonePad is a blast. If you have no musical talent whatsoever, at least you can drive your friends crazy by playing with tones. Highly addictive.

Virtuoso Piano
If you actually do play piano, try Virtuoso Piano. You’ll be frustrated by the size of the keyboard, but it makes for a good icebreaker with the opposite sex.

As you can tell, I’m a bona fide app junkie and very appreciative when friends share great apps they love with me. There are so many released daily that it’s virtually impossible to keep up.

Mark Lapidus is president of Lapidus Media. Send him more suggestions of great apps; write to marklapidus@verizon.net.


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