After breaking my arm a couple of months ago, I learned a bit of biology. Bones are serious buggers, you know; they don’t just Lego into place after snapping. But even at 31 and five fingers down, I applied myself very fastidiously to apps that I could use one-handed. At first, they may seem eclectic, but I assure you that they were the best medicine. If you’re intent on joining my club, send in your resumes, apply something heavy/swift to your long bones, and then follow the gap!
After being unimpressed by Apple’s fancy with superfluous effects, poor typography, and piss-poor real book emulation, I quickly opted for simpler alternatives. Stanza still remains my favourite reading app. It is easy to use, backed by tens of thousands of free books, and boasts good text effects and resizing options for reading both indoors and outdoors. For member of my club, its button placement and navigation is great, but you don’t have to break an arm to enjoy it. The best part? It’s free.
Lexcycle, Stanza, 10.01MB – Free
Need help with Stanza? Try TMA’s how to transfer article.
If breaking an arm wasn’t hard enough, my favourite reference, Enfour’s Oxford Deluxe English Dictionary, went on the fritz with a new update, deciding not to boot on my iPod touch 4G. Bugger. In the meantime, the already excellent WordBook kept hitting with good updates, good interface, and a much better save and export engine. Oxford has the upper hand as a reference, but now comes 2nd when I just want to dig into definitions, synonyms, and save and print my bookmarks. For the price and convenience, there is no better English dictionary. If you’re shy an arm or a couple of fingers, WordBook plays nice. You can annotate, bookmark, flip through daily vocab, and have a jolly good time with just one hand.
Written by bestselling author, Alice Kuipers, WritingTips is nothing more than a collection and exercises of tips in any of eight categories. Its design isn’t great, and some of the tips are doubtless oldies, but it’s compact; everything comes under one, pithy roof. If you can get over the poor typesetting, constantly changing text sizes, and strange framing, there is a lot to enjoy about WritingTips. Because WritingTips sports such a simple interface, it is easy to pick up and put down without ever lifting another arm.
Rich Lowenberg, Writing Tips, 2.82MB – $0.99
Well, there are a lot of great writing apps out there, but Pages is the one I turn to most. Why? Compatibility and overall polish. I don’t like Apple’s strange insistence on the emulation of analogue items in a digital app, but otherwise, pages responds faster, and is easier to use than many other productivity apps, especially if you plan to add photos or other media. There are myriad small user-interface issues, but each iteration gets better. On my iPad, Pages can relax with me next to my pillow in any screen orientation I see fit, and operates wonderfully one-handed. Writing is slow – that can’t be helped when half of your team plays hooky – but it is much easier than dragging a mouse or touchpad and jumping to the keyboard.
Apple®, Pages, 87.90MB – $9.99
While not as sexy as a real polaroid, Instagram sure sets the barn on fire by emulating great photo frames, and allowing you to share with all your friends on your favourite social networks. I love this app. For the broken handed, Instagram’s thumb-driven interface is simple genius. Even adding a couple of effects or frames can be done easily with just a lap and a thumb.
Burbn, Inc., Instagram, 6.77MB – Free
This app is a life-saver. Strapped into my upper-arm-down cast, even sitting up hurt. Forget Lightroom and Photoshop. Forget Photomatrix Pro. Photogene has gotten better and better each iteration. Today, it can export my photos in full resolution, has a rudimentary layer design for dodge and burn effects, interfaces seamlessly with my photo library, and does most of what Lightroom does, but for a small fraction of the price. Caveats? The vignettes are pretty poor, there aren’t real layers yet, and sadly there is no universal binary. But this 2,99$ app is worth it for both the iPod/iPhone and iPad. Prop your iPad up in its nifty sleeve and enjoy full-featured, one-handed editing. If you’re interested in seeing what PhotoGene can do, check out my Flickr stream; most of my photos go from D200 to iPad through small Photogene adjustments and onto Photoshop.
Omer Shoor, Photogene for iPad, 6.38MB – $2.99
Home Design 3D by LiveCad for iPad
There is no such thing as a cheap do-it-all portable alternative for true workstation CAD suites. Nevertheless Home Design 3D is killer. It’s square-based level designer isn’t the easiest to wrap your head around, but when you do, it’s intuitive and quick. LiveCad have added dozens of house add ons such as doors, windows, bathroom fixtures, and more. For a home interior designer, it’s got pretty much all you need. Adding other floors, basements, etc., is really sometimes foul, but overall, this app is killer. No matter the time of year, it comes at the top of my must-have list. The only thing that can be tricky to operate is the 3D view (yes, it has a 3D walkthrough of your house); all other features work great if you’ve only five fingers.
Anuman, Home Design 3D By LiveCad – For iPad, 46.22MB – $5.99
Anuman, Home Design 3D By LiveCad – For iPhone, 52.89MB – $4.99
What’s a recommended app-list without a game? I’m not a big gamer, but I enjoy a good hack and slash now and then. Infinity Blade’s excellent (and easy) navigation and fighting interface is violent, yet incredibly easy to navigate. No matter how invalid you are, you can kill baddies with a single hand and look as bad as Boba Fett while doing it.
As much as I’ve enjoyed my break (get it, get it?), I’m enjoying getting back in the saddle even more. Instagram, as much as I love you, I do prefer to take time with an my Nikon FM2 or my D200. But, when I finally upgrade to an iPhone, I’ll be playing instantly with the likes of Photogene and Instragram without the annoyance of a PC interface.