Sitting at the airport waiting for a flight gives you time to think. I’m heading off to EduTech in Brisbane for a couple of days and am trying to figure out just what I hope to find out, that I couldn’t get from a Twitter Feed. 

Of course, there’s power in the networked connections you can make in conferences, but I’m hoping too that there’s more that I’ll come back to my school with.  I’ll blog my thinking over the next couple of days but I’m particularly interested in:

  • The state of play in the LMS world (and specifically where Schoolbox sits in that)
  • IOS student response systems and apps
  • Are there possibilities in Chromebooks I’ve ignored for too long?
  • What do the new iPad admin settings look like
  • How can I get on board the next OneNote thing
Mixed up bunch isn’t it? Tech agnostic: Google, Apple, Microsoft … I’ll be interested to see if I’m any clearer on some of these key questions by Tuesday night.

My top Apps for 2014


Inspired by several lists of apps I’ve seen lately, like this one by Alex Brooks from World of Apple, I thought I’d share my own top apps for 2014.

I use an iPhone and a couple of iPads daily, along with my iMac, Mac Mini and Le Novo Yoga, my work laptop, but for this list I’m sticking to the iOS apps and not differentiating between the iPhone and the iPad.

The best indication of how important an app is for me is where I store it. My most used apps are on the home screen and page 2 is all folders. My most used, most used apps are on docked at the bottom of the home screen. So, here goes.

On the dock


My favourite calendar app, esp. as it works so well with Outlook, which is what I use at work, so that is my primary calendar. When I was on leave this year I went back to Google Calendar for a while, and at that time I used the Sunrise calendar app, which is also nice. But Fantastical looks great and has rep,aced Agenda as my default calendar app.


I use gmail for my personal email and, while their new Inbox is pretty good, Mailbox makes it super easy to process emails and move them into action, waiting for, archive or just trash. I can process my email really quickly and its replaced Airmail on my Mac as well.


Okay, the standard email app, which I use to look at the Outlook email from work. Nothing fancy, but it works.


I paid big $$ for Things on the IPad, iPhone and Mac, but gee it was slow to update for iOS 7 and it never had a Windows version at all. So, I was using it for home tasks and Outlook tasks for work tasks, and splitting into separate systems isn’t wise (I read the Getting Things Done book a few years ago and it changed the way I work). Wu der list is free, works on anything and,while not quite as full featured as Things, works really well.


I use Chrome pretty much everywhere but on iOS Safari just seems better and smoother.


Not really an app, but I’m fiddling around with settings so much that I keep it in the dock.

Also, on the front page …

(Note: alphabetical!)


My favourite writing app on IOS, mainly because it syncs so nicely with Ulysses on the Mac. I use it for writing on the go, for poetry mainly. Apparently, a full-blown IOS version of Ulysses is in the works for 2015.

Day One

My favourite diary/journalling app. It adds weather, location, and you can add a photo (or use HTML to embed) It can publish to a web page, but I use it for my own private use. I even got my old MS Word journal out from years ago and added those entries to the appropriate dates.


My second favourite writing app, especially for quick notes that are going to end up somewhere else. You open it and you get a blank screen to type on and it has an enormous range of export options.


The old workhorse for remembering ‘stuff’. From the modem router setup notes to recipes, gardening notes, poetry ideas, travel ideas, teaching ideas, photo tips and tricks for Lightroom, all go in here. I started using this in 2007 I think! and I’m approaching 5000 notes that are available on all platforms


My photo app of choice. Flickr has improved a lot in the last 12 months and the new (long-awaited) IOS apps look great.


Since Instagram still hasn’t got an iPad app, I use InfinitGallery to look at Instagram on the iPad and the original app on the iPhone.

Mr Reeder

Video killed the radio star, and Twitter has just about killed off RSS, but if you just want to get an update whenever a webpage or blog is updated, then RSS is great. I was worried when Google Reader died, but Feedly has done a great job of taking up that feed aggregation thing and Mr Reeder provides a nicer interface for reading them.


I read The Age on the iPad in Newstand.


Any web page, or article of interest that I want to read later, I sent to Pocket. They look great, and are available offline, so when you get on that plane trip your own interesting little magazine is there and ready to go. Replaced Delicious for me a couple of years ago now.


I’m a long time fan of this simple note taking syncing thing. It’s the ‘works on all platforms’ thing that always sways me.


My favourite way to read Twitter.


The best app for Australian weather by a long way

Yahoo Weather

Visually very nice. I put in places I want to go and travel to, like Kyoto and nice pictures come up.


Not sure how long this will last since Flipboard bought it (I think) but still works really well to find articles you’re interested in. Better than Flipboard, which is based on the provider or publisher model, this reverses that model and goes out and looks for the interests you’ve specified.

(I haven’t mentioned Photos, Reminders and Calendar, which are also on my home page)

Page 2

Here, I’ve just got folders, and they are …


All the standard Apple apps, most of which I don’t use.


Highlights here are TuneinRadio and some TV catchup apps. TuneinRadio has added silly features like the need to create an account,but it’s still the best radio app I know.


Chrome, Docs, Drive, Gmail, Google+, Sheets, all work well. All somehow unlovely too!


My Cleartune guitar tuner, Pandora and Spotify. Could this be the year I get into subscription music?


ABC, Flipboard, Guardian and the surprisingly good MSN News

Office 365

Microsoft has been late to the party but they’re keen now. I’ve talked a lot about how much I like OneNote but I’ve got OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, PowerPoint and Word here too, as well as Lync for messaging within the work environment.


The highlights here are Lightroom, which syncs well with the desktop model (I’ve bough the annual subscription to that and Photoshop) and VSCO Cam, still the coolest photo filters of all.


Workhorses, like Dropbox, Documents, GoodReader and a couple of mind-mapping tools in popplet and SimpleMind+


GoodReads for sharing my reading and the Kindle app of course.


The Shorter Oxford Dictionary and Wikipanion, for nicer reading of Wikipedia


The map apps, and Tripit and TripAdvisor


Things that make other things work well. Like third-party keyboards Fleksy SwiftKey and Swype, Feedly, LastPass, and TextExpander


Okay, I’m a sucker for writing apps like 1Writer, Byword, Editorial and iA Writer, but I keep coming back to Daedalus.


YouTube and Vimeo of course, abut also StreamToMe for streaming video in a range of formats to the iPad or IPhone, and Plex, which I use to stream movies to the Apple TV.

Finally, I’ve started using WunderStation for its great local weather options, which are crowd-sourced from thousands of private weather stations around the world. There’s one just down the road from me and I really appreciate being able to see the real local weather.

Here’s how it all looks:



It will be interesting to see how different these look by the end of 2015. Late late year, I poste on The Tools I Use, about the tools I use on the desktop. Maybe I should alternate between the PC and IOS year by year. Let me know if there’s something great that I’ve missed.