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4 smartphone apps I can't do without

Carlton Boyce / 15 June 2016

I sometimes yearn for a softer, gentler, quieter life. A time, in fact, when a mobile phone only made calls and the battery lasted a whole working day…

A man uses an app on his smartphone

Then reality kicks in and I remember how much easier my life is now I’ve got an iPhone; it’s my sat-nav, camera, voice recorder, video camera, editing suite and note book. It’s not really a phone anymore, it’s a powerful handheld computer and these are the four apps I couldn’t live without.


Snapseed is my default photo-editing suite when I’m on the move. The latest  iPhones are capable of shooting high-quality photographs that are easily good enough for use on social media and websites and can, at a pinch, be good enough for magazines too.

But even the best images need a little bit of tweaking and Snapseed does a brilliant job of turning a mediocre photo into something wonderful. I’ve covered the process in more detail here but if you do nothing else, cropping and using the automatic enhancement feature (Tune Image and then press the wand in the bottom tool bar) gets it 90% there. Google has some good tutorials here.

9 tips to take better photos with your iPhone


I don’t know shorthand and my second-rate scrawl is barely legible at the best of times so iTalk is how I make a backup to supplement my notes when I’m interviewing anyone.

It does cost £2 (yes, not everything on the Internet is free!) but has saved my bacon more than once when I’ve forgotten a crucial fact. I also use it for recording background sounds for video and for making a verbal note of something I want to remember.

The interface is simple, uncluttered and intuitive, as is transferring it to the computer afterwards, either through iTunes or Dropbox. Best of all, you can vary the sound quality from Good to Better and then Best, which is ideal if you don’t need broadcast quality sound and your iPhone is running low on memory.


Almost every new press car comes with a factory fitted sat-nav system, but for times when they don’t or when I’m driving a classic car, I navigate using CoPilot.

The speed limit warning can be a bit flaky but otherwise it is rock-solid and frequently works better than the unit the manufacturer fits, if for no other reason than it gives a three different routes to choose from.

It also has speed camera warnings, a live traffic option (about £7 a year), and can be upgraded very cheaply to give worldwide mapping. Pair CoPilot with an iPhone and a QuadLock case system and you’re guaranteed to never get lost.

As a result, I wouldn’t ever pay extra for the carmaker to fit their own navigation system: call me a cheapskate, but CoPilot costs £25, while an O.E system could cost four figures. That saving would buy a lot of petrol. 

How do sat navs work?


I love a notebook and pen but I can’t add photos or clickable hyperlinks to paper, which is why I use Byword. Each project has its own page and can be saved and synchronized across platforms, meaning that my iPhone, iPad and MacAir are all running the same version of whatever I’ve written. Of course, I could do it in Word and then synch it using Dropbox, but Byword is much more elegant and utterly lovely to use.

Byword turns a fundamentally disorganised travelling ape into something resembling a professional writer, which makes it worth every penny of the £8.99 cost.

By the way, I’ve bought all of these with my own money because they’re worth it, just in case you were wondering how objective I am!

Do you use any of these apps - or think you know of one even more essential to everyday life? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below...

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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