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|| News Item: Posted 2013-05-09

What’s The Apps?
Sports Shooter members list their favs

By G.J. McCarthy

(Editor’s Note: The Sports Shooter Newsletter asked members what are the mobile apps that they love, hate or think are just plain cool.)

Photo by

(clockwise from top left) Snapseed, 5-0 Radio, INRIX Traffic, Sleep Machine, Sollitaire, Camera+
While I hate to admit that I'm slave to technology, the fact is I'm now one of those persons who is completely dependent on my iPhone; I use it for work, I use it for play. I guess that's just a fact of life for all of us these days, so why fight it, right?

When Bert Hanashiro asked me to write about some of my favorite, most-used apps, it wasn't really a problem at all. In fact, the only problem was keeping the list short, since I have a bevy that I use for a whole host of different reasons.

So for the purposes of keeping this (relatively) brief, I've broken them down in to categories:

When it comes to taking photos with my iPhone, I keep it pretty simple, but I also don't have just one single app that I rely on. For my purposes, I use a tandem of two -- Camera+ and Snapseed. Basically, one is for the actual shooting of the photo (Camera+), and the other for a quick tone (Snapseed).

I've been using Camera+ since it came out, and I still haven't found a better photo app, or at least one I like enough to switch. The app lets me independently set exposure and focus on an image I'm taking, which is just enough manual control for me, at least as far as making quick mobile photos with.

I use Snapseed to quickly tone photos -- cropping, color balance, contrast, etc. It has a whole bunch of crazy photo filters and borders and such I don't really use, maybe just a little off the latter for Instagram photos. Again, the thing with me and mobile photo taking is, I want enough control to not feel like a completely useless participant in the actual making of the photo, but not enough that I'd basically be better off just using a dSLR … if that makes sense.

There are a lot more of these that I use, but probably the two most common are the INRIX Traffic app, and 5-0 Radio.

Like Camera+, I've used INRIX Traffic for a few years now and have gotten used to it. I'm sure there are better traffic apps, but this one suits me fine, and it's gotten pretty good with updates over time. Since more than half of my actual working time is spent driving, knowing what's going on with Dallas/Fort Worth-area traffic is a must. And for the record, the screen shot I took of this app is about the most amount of "green traffic" (meaning, good traffic) that I've ever seen. Go figure it occurred while I was sitting at my office … not driving anywhere.

5-0 Radio was a total fluke buy -- think I picked it up while it was being offered for free one day. Don't even remember why or how I came across it. Basically, it's police scanner, and while it's not as good as the real thing, it works pretty well in a pinch, and it's just one less thing to carry on me. Bonus that it's not an actual police scanner, so when I'm at breaking news, police, first responders, etc., don't realize I'm able to monitor what's going on. So, yes, I've heard them talking about me a few times. Nothing bad, just more of, "I think that guy over there is a DMN photographer." Hey, they're doing their job, I'm doing mine, so we just keep it cool.

These are admittedly weird, but useful.

Next to reading a book, Solitaire on my phone is probably my number one time waster/passer. It's been like my number one time waster/passer since I was a kid; my grandmother taught me how to play. It's nice to have it on my phone and eliminate the need to carry around a pack of cards. Also, the mobile version keeps stats on your play, so it's good to have a reference for just how bad I suck at the game, especially given how long I've been playing.

Another good way to pass time is to catch up on episodes of Marc Maron's WTF podcast. Been a fan for years now, and I never miss an episode. If you're a fan of good interviews -- and stand-up comedy -- it's a must.

Lastly, ever since the birth of my son I've been completely dependent on a noise machine to sleep; it's pretty sad. Since I travel for work a decent amount, it was cool to find a pretty decent app that I can run at night when I'm on the road.

G.J. McCarthy is a staff photographer with the Dallas Morning News. You can see samples of his work at his Sports Shooter member page:

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