Apps to make you better in 2012

An iPhone is an amazing tool but it doesn't help if you're spending all your time on it playing Angry Birds. Here are a selection of excellent apps I've recently discovered that are serious productivity boosting contenders. Click the names and it should take you directly to the Appstore.

Flipboard (Free):

Named Apple's iPad App of the year and one of TIME's Top 50 Innovations, Flipboard creates a beautiful, easy to navigate personalized magazine out of everything you like to read, from niche blogs to publications like Business Insider, Fast Company, Al Jazeera, CNN, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, Rolling Stone or Vanity Fair.  As a bonus you can also use Instapaper or Read It Later to save articles for when you want to read them. I use this app to catch up on the news when I am commuting or over coffee in the morning. Its just like a newspaper except its only filled with things I want to know and it sure is a hell of a lot easier to turn the pages. And this brings me to my next recommendation...

Read It Later (Free):

Read It Later lets you save webpages (or Flipboard articles) to read at your convenience, even without an internet connection. It's been called "a DVR for the web" by the New York Times, Business Week, Time, TechCrunch and more. When you come across an article or a webpage you'd like to read but can't at that time, save it to your Read It Later list. You can then read it whenever you have a moment, whether it's on the couch, during your commute, on the plane, train, or practically anywhere. There is a paid version of the app but I've found no reason to upgrade yet.

Cardmunch (Free):

Look we all know LinkedIn is pretty much a lame duck, but this app by the same creators is a winner all the way. Snap a pic of a business card and the app turns it into an address book contact automagically by sending it off to a central server and using OCR technology to extract the data and update your iPhone contacts. The process is quick and painless and while there are options for LinkedIn integration you really don't need to use them (I certainly don't). This little app also makes a great conversation starter. Once you meet someone and snap their business card, you can tell them about the app and show them how it works, play it right and you've made a friend with your recommendation.

Recurring Events ($0.99):

I love my iPhone, but I hate adding recurring events to it because it takes forever. So this little app is a dollar well spent because Recurring Events lets you repeat an event any way you want! Like a project meeting on Monday and Thursday every 2 weeks, or a reminder to send out your tax invoices on the last Friday of the month. With Recurring Events you can create complex repeating events with just a few taps. All events are fully customizable and compatible with every iPhone calendar app so my new events show up in iCal immediately.

HiCalc Pro ($0.99):

Basically the best bang for your buck you're gonna get from any app. In fact, HiCalc actually replaced three other apps in my setup. It really is the ultimate calculator or rather 12 calculators: Basic, Scientific, Currency Converter, Unit Converter, Finance, Date - Time, Constants, Equation Solver, Statistics, Base conversion, Graph & Tip calculator - all in one. Moreover, its got a great easy to use interface that makes using it a pleasure.

Easy Spending Expense Tracker ($0.99):

This app makes keeping track of your expenses a cinch. The user interface is great and you can add a new Income/Expense in seconds on the go. Just remember to use it every time you use your wallet. Recurring expenses or incomes can be created in the app as well and the notifications for these are also added to the default iPhone calendar so you'll never forget to pay a bill on time again. I also really enjoy being able to use my choice of currency which I haven't found with other apps I tried out. Most importantly though Easy Spending allows you to review your transactions and find your Top Income/Expense categories and generate Timeline reports, so all the data you are generating is actually useful. You can also email your transaction record or upload it to Google Docs as a spreadsheet.

Meernotes (Free until February 4!):

I was going to buy a Moleskin diary this year and use it for my journaling but in the end I decided it makes more sense to use a digital option which I could sync on multiple platforms. I searched around for a while until I found the perfect answer in Meernotes which has just been released... Its got a real retro charm about it and is fabulously designed. The app is the perfect companion for notes, musings, journals or just about anything you might have used a notebook for. I love it because it feels like writing on real pages - in real books and you can choose  between a handwritten font, academic type-set, or typewriter style. The Meerkat covers had me hooked and the DropBox syncing features pushed me over the edge. Great app.