it's an app app world

el rastro frame wall When I look at my iPhone I still can't believe what it's capable of doing. I mean, I remember having to wait in line at my High School's payphone to call my parents for a ride home after track practice was cancelled. The fact that I now have a neatly arranged digital wall of services and tools (with phone capabilities) ready to launch at the tap of a finger is still absolutely mind-blowing. And yet, I can't imagine my life without it. On a previous post I mentioned a few London transportation apps that save me in this city and one of you commented that you'd love to hear what those were plus more. So, here are several of my favorite apps in different categories that make my everyday things, tasks and thoughts more simple and efficient.

{To-Do List} Teux-Deux - a clean and minimal interface that acts (and reacts) like a real to-do list. It literally looks like a simple list, no bells and whistles with color-coding or categories. Just the way I like it. It also features the very important "someday" section for all of those thoughts and action items that don't have a specific timeline. Available online plus mobile app.

{Travel} TripIt - free itinerary management system that organizes your travel booking details in an easy to read/use package. Once you book your flight, hotel, car rental, etc, simply forward the booking confirmation emails to their designated address and voila! You can share trips with other users, add them as travelers, or email details to friends and family. The app is extremely handy when you need to reference a flight number or check-in time at a hotel - all of the info is there without having to sift through old emails. Also, it's accessible offline which really helps when you're in another country and have your data roaming turned off!

{When in London} TubeMap - fed by Transport for London (TFL), TubeMap gives live service updates, departure times, and plans your trip based on the fastest route or the fewest line changes. It's also a much more savvy way to refer to the actual Tube Map instead of the fold out paper one provided for free at each station - a dead giveaway for tourists and newbies (I was guilty for two months).

Bus Mapper - a Google Map function shows you where you are, what buses are near you, and which one to take to get to your destination. It offers several route options with total travel times and expected bus arrivals - it's been a life saver in a town where the bus system is great but can get a bit confusing.

{Read Later} Instapaper - don't have time to read something you've just come across online? Instead of emailing it to yourself or bookmarking it in hopes that you return to it later, use Instapaper's applet or forwarding email address to save the article, plus images, into your own feed. I love this more than words can explain primarily because I can access my saved articles offline. A major plus given that the Tube is an internet dead-zone and it's when I actually DO have the time to read long, in-depth pieces.

{Cooking} Foodily - a simple and visual recipe aggregator from the top sites and blogs on the web. What makes it stand out is that you can search for recipes with a single ingredient. For example, I buy chickpeas but have no idea what to pair them with. I type in "chickpeas" and up comes dozens of recipes for a complete meal or side dish. Ingredients, time to cook, and nutrition values are all presented up front and you can save and search by different categories like "quick" "vegetarian" "low fat" etc. All of this in a clean and modern user interface really motivates me to cook!

{Staying in Touch} WhatsApp - free text and MMS with other users from anywhere in the world. This one is big because it allows for my friends in the States and I to text as usual without incurring any extra costs! It works off of your existing data plan and can be used on different types of phones - so yes, iPhone friends can chat with their Blackberry or Droid buddies for free, too.

{International Conversions} Units - a simple, calculator-like, conversion app for anything from currency to weight. It has been extremely helpful since almost every unit of measure in the UK is different from the States. It's a trusty travel companion too for figuring out current exchange rates wherever you are as well as for buying fabrics by the meter versus by the yard. I know it's simple math but I'd rather let the app do the thinking on this one.

{Dining} Matchbook - a well-designed and easy to use app to save "places" you want to check out or re-visit. I LOVE this one and use it often while reading restaurant reviews or skimming through local newsletters that mention a new cafe or bar in town. You can save each place within neighborhoods, categories, and tags and when you're out and about, simply open the Google Map feature and it'll show you which "saved" places are near you. So great for never missing a good meal or drink ... I was the queen of "oh, I read about a place but I don't remember the name or street it's on" - never again!

So there you have it, my top app picks. Do you use any of these or have ones that I must check out??? Always up for finding new ones to make life easier and more organized.

(image: wall of vintage frames at El Rastro flea market. Reminds me of my iPhone screen with different frames of apps :)