Yesterday at lunch, the other middle school teachers went on a communal rant about iPhone decorum, specifically directed at generations teen through their 30s. The teachers I work with are pretty cool so far, but let’s be honest: they are of a more “mature” generation. Today they all commiserated on corporal punishments they witnessed or were victim to when they were kids. Last week, it was all about the chronic aches and pains they suffer from redoing their deck or cleaning gutters. No one talks about video games or watches Regular Show or is excited for the new Machete Kills movie.
But Lindsay you LOVE stuff that old people love! you might say. And I would reply, I know, right? Totally. But my coworkers aren’t ELDERLY. They aren’t into bingo or cross stitching or QVC or jello or going to bed at 7:45 – now THAT I would totally dig. But they talk about things like mutual funds and Law & Order, and they complain about people my age while I giggle to myself that they haven’t officially “identified” my species yet.
Their biggest complaints yesterday were that all the young people are addicted to their phones. They can’t put them down! They are always using them! GOD FORBID!
Their diatribe drove a deep cultural crevasse between us. They have absolutely no clue how much more productive their lives could be if they knew how to actually use their phones. So tonight my blog is dedicated to the apps that make my life more productive, interesting, and entertaining.
1. Nike+ Running. Yes, I’ve blogged about running apps before, but this one deserves the gold medal. Every run is tracked by GPS so you know how far you gone, what your pace was per mile, what your elevation was, etc etc etc. You can also see how you stack up to your friends who use it (which drives a competitive person like me to run an extra mile occasionally). An old person could argue that you don’t need an app to run, and they would be right. But if you aren’t tracking data, then you can’t make improvements. How do you like them apples?
2. Find My Car. It’s as simple as it sounds. If you’re an idiot like me and can’t remember where you parked, you need this. When you get out the car, you set your location, and when you need to find your car it leads you there. Genius.
3. Common Core. This one is for educators. All these heavy requirements are shoved upon us and we are supposed to make sure we are constantly teaching content and literacy specific skills – but how do you keep track when every government funded education site looks like shit? You use this app, that’s how.
4. Pandora. When I’m out on a run, stuck in traffic, or just need some tunes, I can stream music for FREE. That’s right, old dudes, you could create a station just for you that plays the Beatles and Peter Frampton and the Doobie Brothers and all that other lame crap but no commercials.
5. Howler. I use a timer all damned day. It’s like, “You have two minutes to clean up your desks, go!” or “Talk to your neighbor about your answer for 30 seconds.” Whether I’m on the spin bike at the gym or I’m in a meeting with a parent who I know is going to talk my ear off, I LIVE BY THE TIMER! And this time rules. When it goes off, it’s real wolf howl. And a creepy crow caws the last 10 seconds. My students also love it – when it goes off, they howl back in return.
6. iBook. I admit that I used to chide Thor that I would never give up reading REAL books. Then one night in a moment of desperation, I bought a book I could read in the dark on my iPad while Thor slept. Within 48 hours I realized I would never go back. You don’t realize how much better it is until you just try it. Also when I have had to read 800 page textbooks for my admin classes, it’s SO much easier to search a word or phrase than flip through all those stupid pages hoping you’ll find what your looking for.
7. Touchtunes. Oh. my. god. Life changing. My friend, Kelly, introduced this to me while we were tooling around Omaha. Basically you can control the jukebox in a bar from your phone. It has a map to show you the multitude of places nationally that have a Touchtunes jukebox in their bar. The other day I was at happy hour, and I said to my friend Min, “Min, if you could hear any song right now, what would it be?” and he goes, “Hello by Lionel Richie.” I punched it into my phone and within 30 seconds it started playing. His head basically exploded.
8. Reminders. This comes standard on an iPhone, and I joke that I couldn’t live without it because I literally have a reminder set at 11:18 everyday to drink water. Sounds stupid, but when I teach I am so busy that I very easily go a whole day without eating or drinking or peeing. But I also need reminders to pay bills, email my boss a question, touch base with a student, etc etc etc. If you say you remember everything and don’t need this, then you don’t have a hard enough job.
9. Gaze. This app has like 15 different natural backgrounds running on a loop; beach, a waterfall, a running stream, etc. When I want to calm down my students, I project one of their soothing images and pop a little ambient music via Pandora…and they like it.
10. Noise Alert. Another educator one, but probably useful for parents, too. You set a tolerable level of noise, and it measures ambient noise with a giant thermometer. When the kids get too loud, it sets off a gentle alarm to remind them to shut it. I make it a game, like, “If it goes off less than 3 times in an hour, we’ll go out to recess.”
11. Dropbox. If you’re not using Dropbox and you have a job, you need to leap into 2008 already. It allows you to access any file that you simply dragged and dropped into your Dropbox file from any device. I can check important work documents from my iMac, laptop, iPad, or phone at the touch of a button.
12. Voxer. Thor can’t stand this one, but I can’t get enough. Open it up and instead of texting, your phone functions like a walkie talkie (and no you don’t have to be near your recipient). You can also send a text or pictures, but voxing verbally is way more fun…and if you’re like me, you will enjoy giving yourself a sweet handle and talking in code.
Don’t get me wrong. I have several friends that are older than me and they are VERY cool. I have no desire to go bar hopping with 22 year olds because we have the same texting speed. I’m just saying that when you start to complain about generations younger than your own, you need to take a good look in the old person mirror and reflect on what you’ve become.
And like a good little digital native of the Matrix generation, I am very eager to hear about all the apps that make your life more easy, efficient, and fun.