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Monday, July 29, 2013

A Day in the Life of My iPhone

Each morning at 7 a.m., I am awakened by the sound of a spaceship next to my bed. I reach my arm from under the covers, flail around blindly looking for my glasses, then grab my iPhone to silence my alarm. But it’s not any normal alarm clock; it’s an app, Walk Up!, which requires you to get up and walk around until the alarm stops its annoying blares.

Like most people I know, I haven’t used a real alarm clock in years. Apps have replaced almost everything that once served a single purpose in my life. Cash, travel, sleep and work â€" all revolve around a folder of applications on my phone.

People often ask me which apps I use on a daily basis, so here are a few of my go-to ones:

First, I check how well I have slept using an app that syncs with the Jawbone Up wristband. The app gives me a readout of how many times I woke up, or didn’t, throughout the night. Then I sift through the news on Twitter and my e-mail using the free Gmail app.

Because I live in San Francisco with its bizarre microclimates, I check the weather using a hyperlocal app, SF Climates. This app shows the forecasts for 17 of the city’s neighborhoods, which can vary in temperatures by as much as 30 degrees at any given time.

For my calendaring, I use two different apps. To create an appointment I have Fantastical, which is more like a personal assistant than a calendar. If you type “Lunch meeting on Thursday with Bob,” the app figures out what that means and sets up an appointment for noon on the next upcoming Thursday.

Another app, Donna, takes my calendar appointments and figures out when I need to leave to get to the meeting on time. It does this by looking at my current location and the location of the upcoming appointment, then checks the traffic and alerts me when it’s time to go. If I need to, Donna will also let me order an Uber or taxi from the app.

When I arrive at my meeting I no longer pay the parking meter with coins. Instead, I use the PayByPhone app. PayByPhone lets you pay for your parking spot by inputting a series of numbers on the side of the parking meter, then paying with a credit card. It’s clunky and slow, but it has a killer feature: It will alert you through text message when your meter is up and allow you to refill it remotely.

If I need to take a note during a meeting, I use Captio, a simple text-based app that sends an e-mail of the memo to my inbox. I also sometimes use SimpleNote, which syncs all my notes with my iPad and laptop computer. If I edit or add a new note, it updates across all of these devices.

For lunch, I use Foursquare’s “Explore” feature to search for new and interesting places in the neighborhood. The app looks for the restaurants that have been rated highly by my friends and then recommends the best of what’s nearby.

I try to avoid paying for things with cash â€" that’s so 2012 â€" so I often go to coffee shops and restaurants in San Francisco that use Square Wallet. This app allows me to walk into an establishment, order and then tell the person at the register to charge my phone â€" I don’t even need to take it out of my pocket.

If I go for a run after work â€" which is a rarity these days â€" I load up MapMyRun or RunKeeper, which uses the GPS in my phone to track my distance and pace. Cardiio can be used to track your heart rate before and after exercising, too. You hold the phone’s front-facing camera up to your face while Cardiio monitors your blood flow and gives you an accurate reading in seconds.

While exercising I use Rdio to listen to music. I also sometimes stream Pandora Web radio.

I keep track of my fitness routines and other habits using Lift, which encourages people to build better habits in their daily life by allowing their friends to give them props. Several friends use Lift to track meditation, reading habits, or how many times a day they have done a good deed.

For dinner, I make reservations on my phone using OpenTable’s app. If I don’t want to drive because I might be drinking, I’ll use a ride-sharing app, including Uber, Sidecar or Lyft. If I need to see around in the dark when I get home I use iHandy Torch Free, which makes a phone into a flashlight.

Before I go to bed, I’ll read a few articles I’ve saved throughout the day on Instapaper, or a few pages of a book using the Kindle app. I sometimes go to Digg’s new app, which has a built-in RSS reader. If I am going to watch TV instead, I use Apple’s Remote app to control my Apple TV. Remote allows you to navigate the interface and type from your phone onto the television.

Then, when it’s time to call it a day, I turn on my Jawbone Up, set my alarm to the spaceship sound, slip off my glasses and go to sleep.