Working remotely means being able to accomplish your goals from just about anywhere. Thanks to the advancement of smartphones and tablets, doing your work from home, the local coffee shop, or just about anywhere else with an Internet connection is possible.
At RocketTheme, our team is scattered throughout the world. Despite our distance, we are able to accomplish quite a bit. One of the attributing factors to this is the ability for everyone to discover their own preferred methods and tools for getting the job done. Not everyone on our team has the same software, uses the same Online services, or even the same computing platform.
In this article, we'll take a look at three members of our team and the apps they use most on their iPhones. Feel free to suggest the next device/platform you'd like us to focus on in the next article in this series using the comments section below.
Many of the apps on my phone are mostly geared towards communication. One of my jobs at RocketTheme is to keep up with our social media accounts, so having Facebook, Buffer, and TweetBot at the ready is pretty essential. I don't do a lot of writing from my phone, but I do keep a number of productivity apps at the ready so I can do some work while I'm out and about.
Dark Sky is an excellent weather app. It has a very different UI from just about any other weather app out there, and it will send you a notification when it's about to rain in your area. At about $4, it's not the cheapest app out there, but it makes up for the costs by being one of the best designed.
Square Cash makes it very easy to send money to someone. You just need their email address. It makes it really easy to split the check with someone, pay back a quick loan, or request money for something. I use it a lot when I'm at dinner with a friend or picking up something for them at the store while I'm out.
Tweetbot 3 is probably the best app out there for managing one or more Twitter accounts. I use it every day to keep up with RocketTheme's Twitter page. It has a great UI, and a number of other features that make it easy to keep up with conversations and/or track mentions.
Skype is, for better or worse, a very popular service for both VOIP service and chat. There are a few chatrooms I connect with for work, and my wife that has a Lync account at her job that can be accessed via the iPhone app. It's a great way to stay in touch, and save on phone minutes.
SimpleRockets is a rocket simulator that lets you build your own rocket from various components and test in in plants with varying gravity. You can launch from Earth (Smearth) and land your rocket on the Moon (Smoon). It's a lot of fun, and a great way to pass the time while waiting for an oil change.
Numerous takes tons of different numbers and puts them together in a single dashboard. How many days are there until WWDC? How many steps have I taken today (iPhone 5S)? What temperature is it outside? All of these answers are found in one place. It also has the ability to connect with third-party apps and services via its API.
Buffer is my go-to app for scheduling and viewing stats for posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. It's easy, and it works. Buffer actually makes it easy to get information out to our customers, leaving more time for one-on-one interaction and product creation.
HipChat is our primary method of communication. The iOS app makes it easy to receive notifications about any direct messages or important updates that come out throughout the day. It also allows me to answer any questions that come up while I'm out running errands or working away from the computer.
I'm a sucker for design, so when I'm checking for apps I'm usually drawn to the ones that are visually impressive first. If it looks bad I just can't bring myself to try it.
I'm big on usability too, so I like to see apps that really make use of the touch interface, and try to find new ways to implement things.
iTeleport is a great app. Once you have the client installed on your desktop/laptop, and have logged in with your gmail credentials (which it uses for authentication) you can then log in from anywhere using your iPhone. It's great for those times when you forgot to mail a file to someone, and can quickly log in and do it. I also use it as a "remote" sometimes for my MacBook when I'm too lazy to get up and change the music that's playing.
Witness is another app with a counterpart for your desktop. This one allows you to set the webcam on your desktop/laptop to act as a motion detector, which mails you pics when it detects movement. Living in rented accommodation and regularly moving about means I'm not going to invest in a home security system, so this is the next best thing. You can also set it to fire AppleScripts, too.
I use Citymapper all the time for getting me around town (London in my case). It's great for finding obscure bus routes I never would've thought of, and helps me avoid the dreaded underground. It is only useful for the supported cities of London, New York, Paris and Berlin.
I am quite picky about who I purchase groceries from, trying my best to only use ethical food producers. Buycott allows you to sign up to different campaigns, and then simply scanning a barcode with your phone will tell you the parent company of the product and if it conflicts with your beliefs.
Shazam really is great for finding the names of tunes you hear on your everyday travels. I've managed to track down plenty of good music with this, so I'd say it's a must-have for any music fan.
I use Backblaze on my MacBook to back up regularly "to the cloud". And this app allows you to access those files on the go. Has saved my bacon a few times so it's definitely recommended, although only of use if you have a paid Backblaze account, obviously.
VLC Streamer is great for watching movies on the go. When I'm on the same network at home I can stream directly from my MacBook, or I can convert stuff and load it to my phone if I'll be out and about for the day. Great for long journeys.
Photosynth is an amazing 360-degree panorama app. It's great for taking pics of landmarks and crazy places that a single image just won't do justice. Yeah you look a bit mad using it to fill in an invisible orb around you, but the results are worth it.
I've been using CloudMagic as my mobile email client for a while now, and I have to say it's pretty good. Quite a minimalist look, very simple, and just works. It handles multiple accounts reasonably well, which is probably the most important thing for me.
If you're into music, and have a decent collection stored in your phone, then why not get djay and be ready to showcase your great taste whenever the opportunity arises? I've actually played a few impromptu DJ sets with it, and they went surprisingly well. Not for the fat-fingered though.
I have three pages of apps on my phone. The first page contains my most frequently used apps, and the other two pages are folders of miscellaneous apps. I have moved most of the built-in apps that I don't frequently use into a folder on this homepage.
The key non-Apple apps for me are:
As we do about 90% of our RocketTheme team communication via HipChat this app is frequently used no matter what device I'm on. It syncs with all the other clients and has push-notifications so it's a great way to keep in touch.
The official Google Search app really is a great goto application that has fast voice search, and also comes with the super-handy "Google Now" for location-aware information
Although I also keep the Apple maps handy, Google Maps is just better and more reliable, so this is my de facto app for locating things and finding my way.
After switching to 1Password on my desktop computer, it just really handy to have a fully synchronized way to look up passwords on any device I'm on.
When Google shut down "Google Reader" I scrambled for an alternative solution for my RSS feed management. I tried pretty much every service out there but went with Feedly because of it's reliability and speed. I use ReadKit on the desktop, but really like their own Feedly RSS client on mobile devices.
This has been a long time home-screen resident on my phone. I generally take pictures with the regular camera app but use Camera+ for post-production image adjustment to create some really stunning results.
I've tried many weather apps over the years, but right now I'm loving Dark Sky for simplicity and accuracy.
OK you caught me, I'm a book nerd, and when I am unable to read a regular book, I'm listening to an audio book. I can typically crank through 3 or 4 lengthy books a month, so the Audible app is indispensable.
I use Dropbox for most of my sharing and syncing needs. Having it on my phone is a great way to share files among my devices.
Another Google app! We use "Google Apps for Business" at RocketTheme, and having the Google Drive app on my phone allows me to stay on top of any documents that we are working on.
As a web developer Chrome is pretty much the best choice for a desktop browser, and with our other Google integrations it makes sense to use the mobile version also. It is really handy having bookmarks, autofill, passwords, etc all synced between devices.
Even I need a little downtime, and there's nothing more fun that pretending your a WWII fighter ace in this hugely entertaining game. The added bonus is that Storm Raiders has really great multiplayer mode for some father-son dog-fighting.