My Favorite Apps: Top Three for Keeping Up

March 15, 2012

This post is Part 2 in a series of My Favorite Apps. Here’s what you might have missed:

There are thousands of apps out there that will allow the iPad to be used in many, many ways. I have to say that in my house, unless I’m going to be formatting a research paper or something of that nature, it is the device I pick up the most. At work, it is my go-to device for when I’m traveling from school to school and want something quick and light-weight to carry around to take notes, check emails, do web browsing, and more. As I mentioned before, right now in my district administrators can purchase iPads for their use and we are now accepting applications for a student pilot of iPads in the classroom. Since administrators are the ones who have iPads in hand right now, I’m still keeping my focus on apps for them and teachers.

Don’t judge me for the US Weekly and Disney feeds!

So today, I’d like to share my favorite apps for taking in content. By content, I mean the apps I use to keep up with the blogs I read, news, current trends, and a little social media.

My first love for this is Flipboard. The first great thing about Flipboard? It’s free. So what does it do? Well according to the makers of the app, it’s a social magazine. Great, but what does that mean? Basically, you tell it what content you are interested in, and it pulls that specific content into a visually appealing magazine like format. All in one place. So no more going to twitter to read tweets, google reader to reed feeds, specific news sites to read the news. Everything is all there in one place. For those of you who are thinking, well I do that already with RSS feeds in a reader, well I did too! The reason I like Flipboard so much for this is because it displays the content in a more visual format, kind of like a magazine. You can see in the screenshot of a page of my Flipboard screen, I have a mixture of blogs, bundled folders from my Google Reader, magazines, and twitter hashtag searches all feeding into Flipboard. And I can turn the pages by swiping my finger. Also, I can easily share anything I find interesting by tweeting or Facebook-ing it, or I can send links via email. Pretty cool right? I think so too.

A second app that I really like is Zite. Instead of pulling your specific feeds into the app, you pick out sections from categories such as Technology, Education, Social Media, Pets, and more. You can also enter your own keywords to create sections. You can also connect to your accounts such as Google Reader, Facebook, and more. Zite pulls in stories, and you can “like” them, kind of like you like songs on Pandora or rate movies on Netflix. The app uses your preferences to send you more stories. It’s a great way to get information and see articles you know you’ll be interested in. And of course you can also share what you’re reading with the click of a button finger. Be careful…this app by default does make a whistle noise when it shares…it drives my dogs crazy every time!

And finally, even though I do love Flipboard for getting my read fixes in a visual way, I can’t not give props (is that still a saying?) to the Hootsuite App. I first started using this one more than Tweetdeck at the urging of Jason Mammano over at Have Technology Will Travel, all because he loved the little owl that pops up when you send a tweet. Seriously though, I think it is great for many reasons. You can add multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts, add hashtag searches to your streams, see all your direct messages, mentions, retweets, and more. You can also view analytics from this app, and follow people straight from the app. The other clincher for me is that if I’m not using my iPad, I can log-in from the web and everything is all synched together. For some reason there were times when my Tweetdeck columns weren’t synched between devices, which gave Hootsuite the advantage for me. Also great was the one time last summer when I tweeted a question to @hootsuite about an issue I was having, they replied back in less than 5 minutes. The free Hootsuite app and site both have a few ads, but I barely notice them.

So those are the apps I use to keep up with content- what are your favorites?

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