What’s In a Name

AppsA Brief History

“There’s an app for that.”

As an avid Palm enthusiast who believed in the promise of quick, clean, and functional apps, I mentally chafed upon hearing this phrase whenever it was uttered by Apple devotees. You see, I had steadfastly clung to my trusty, battery miser, sleek Sony Clie TH-55 for nigh unto 4 years. I carried it along with my phone happily. This PDA was mine, personalized how I liked it, and not some banal equipment which belonged to the phone company.

The Good Old Days
I loved the speed and light footprint (45K!) of the Palm platform. I loved the responsiveness of the Palm Desktop and Outlook synchronization channels. I loved free Palm programs like Progect (a nested, hierarchical outline-based program which could be used for anything from project management to creating a packing list) which replaced my Memo application. I even installed a hack which allowed this portrait-oriented device to switch to landscape view- a killer app if there ever was one for the Clie.

Despite its gradual descent into obsolescence and the technological equivalent of Alzheimer’s disease, I stuck with my Clie. But after my wonder device lost its ability to connect to wireless networks (indeed it couldn’t connect to routers using WPA encryption), taking with it the usefulness of the browser, I silently conceded that my TH55 would now primarily serve as a recall device, with the occasional data entry on the go. Gone were the happy days when I could take my portable infrared keyboard with me, connect to wifi in a coffee shop and work quietly for hours without needing a laptop (and this was way before netbooks came around). Gone were the times when I could look things up on the internet and go about my business. I officially had a dumb device, or at least a blind one. I needed something else.

Letting Go

To make a long story short(er), I needed a new phone/PDA but I resisted. I value my sense of individuality, no matter how overdeveloped or illusory it might be, and didn’t want to succumb to the euphoria the rest of the world seemed to be indulging in when the iPhone was released. In short, I didn’t want to become an iClone. So I bided my time. Then the Palm Pre came out, with all its promises of multi-tasking, legacy Palm program support, and a physical keyboard- on the wrong network. Sprint and I have a history, and needless to say I’m never going back to them. My experience with Sprint can be summed up thusly: it is the only company in which I have ever come to suing for a declaratory judgement. No matter how bad some say AT&T is, the “now network” is past tense for me.

An Unexpected Opportunity- the Hook

Then my housemate decided to offer his 1st generation iPhone up for sale since he had upgraded to the faster, sleeker 3GS. He said I could play with it and buy it from him if I liked it. “If I liked it” – right, as if I could resist an app library larger than the Palm universe ever was or the suddenly acquiring the ability to browse the web in the palm of my hand. The familiar feelings of excitement all came rushing back. The prospect of technological exploration, the anticipation of the possibility of customization, and the general fun that accompanies learning a (relatively) new device intrigued me. Before I knew it, I was loading up an unheard of number of apps on my iPhone, and selectively deleting some after their first run. I’m pretty picky, and I like quality, a perspective which I no doubt developed while cutting my teeth on a device which had 16 megabytes of internal memory instead of 16 gigabytes of storage space.

Why This Blog?

I wanted to replace my productivity applications from my Clie with their equivalents on the iPhone, so I began my hunt. While the minds of weaker souls might have given up at the sheer number of apps out there or stuck with the well-tread path of least resistance, I looked under every rock and in every crevice for apps which were free, inexpensive, or value-priced to deliver what I needed. Yet I noticed that although the app store had a very useful review section for each app, and Google facilitated my search for app reviews, there were many times when I couldn’t find reviews which compared two or more apps against one another. “There are simply too many apps!” I exclaimed. Then I thought, “Why couldn’t I do executive summaries of apps compared against each other? I’m always giving app advice to others anyway, so why not write about it?” And thus the “Too Many Apps” blog was conceived.

I hope you find my reviews, perspectives, and comments useful to you in your search for the perfect apps to live on your iPhone or iPod Touch. Feel free to let me know what you think. Enjoy!

Too many ant.


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