Jan 4, 2011

Apps with Web Components

I tend to prefer iPhone apps that have a web component, a web site that lets me enter information that syncs with my iPhone. One example is Grocery iQ, which I wrote about in my Shared Shopping Lists for Married People post.  There are some compelling reasons to choose these apps over others with equivalent functionality that do not have a web component.  Here are my reasons:
  1. You may spend at least a portion of the day, whether at work or at home, sitting in front of a computer.  Updating your grocery list, to-do list, diet log, etc. is much easier using a full-sized keyboard and a large screen.
  2. As opposed to iPhone apps that have corresponding desktop apps (apps that you install on your PC or Mac), you can get to your information from any computer that is connected to the internet.  This is useful if you are at work, at a friend's house, etc.  It's also useful if you need to update your grocery list or to-do list but ran the battery down on your iPhone playing Angry Birds too long.
  3. If you lose your data on the iPhone (by accidentally deleting your app, for example), you have a simple way of restoring it to your app without having to do a restore in iTunes.  Restoring your iPhone in iTunes may cause you to lose something if you haven't synced in a while.
Here are some of my favorite apps that fit this category.  Each of these apps sync with a web site:
  1. Todo by Appigo - This syncs with Appigo's own Todo Online for $19.99 a year or with Toodledo for free.  I use Toodledo because it does everything I need well and does it for free.  By the way, Appigo has a very good Todo app for the iPad as well.
  2. Grocery iQ - This one I've already covered.  Both the app and the web site are free.
  3. Lose It! - This may be the best free fitness app out there, if not the best one period.  It is a food and exercise logging app that only got better when they added the web app.  The web site is also free to use.
  4. Mail, Calendar, and Contacts - I know; these don't sync with a web site by default.  However, if you set them up with Google Sync, you get all of the benefits that I describe above with these built-in apps.  It's really nice to add events to Google Calendar and have them show up automatically in your iPhone Calendar app.  It's also much quicker to add contacts in Gmail Contacts with a full keyboard than on the small keyboard on your iPhone.
Next time you are trying to find the best app to meet a particular need, and that need involves a lot of data entry, consider whether the app has a web component.  You won't regret including that factor in your decision.

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