This blog is the combined effort of four senior pastors of different churches. Their desire is to point you toward living a God-centered, gospel-focused, Christian life.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Daniel’s Top Twenty-Five Apps Countdown, Part 1

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I’m in a slow, reluctant transition from PC Nerd to Apple Fan Boy.

Two years ago, I purchased an iPad. I thought it would be a one-time thing and I’d stay in PC World. After all, I still had an Android phone and PC laptop.

Last year, I purchased an iPhone. I still have my PC street cred because of my laptop but it’s only a matter of time before I fully enter the Apple World. Unless an “accident” befalls my laptop, we’re still at least a year from that transition.

One of the things that’s surprised me in this time of transition is how much I’ve fallen in love with some of the apps. My android phone offered many of the same apps, but it seems more integral to the Apple experience. I also love the seamless connection between the iPhone and iPad. I thought it might be interesting to share a “top apps” list.

A few caveats about my list:

First, these aren’t just “Christian” or “ministry” apps. These are apps that I use in my life as a pastor, husband, dad, etc. Most of them help me be more effective in my life in some ways.

Second, I ranked the list using several criteria. The most important was how often I actually used the app. An app might be great, but if I never use it—or have only been introduced to it recently—it got ranked lower than an app I use every day. Other important criteria for me were things like interface, design, effectiveness of the app, how beneficial it was to me, and that ever-so-subjective criteria of “coolness.”

Third, the lower rankings are more arbitrary than the higher rankings. You could make a strong case for some apps moving up and down depending upon my mood. The top four apps are pretty much set in stone.

Fourth, I’m not an objective reviewer. Some of my reviews have significant bias and I’m OK with that.

Without further adieu, here’s the first installment of my list.

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#25: Microsoft Apps
I'm already cheating, but I'm including here all the new Microsoft apps: Word, Excel, PowerPoint. I just started using Microsoft’s apps for iPad. There are several shortcomings. First, to use them to their full potential is pricey. Second, the apps don’t let you utilize Drop Box (spoiler: Drop Box is one of my top apps). Instead, they force you to use OneDrive. That’s basically a deal breaker for me, at least in terms of using it on a regular basis. For those who argue Apple is too controlling with the user experience, I’d use this app as Exhibit A in my counter argument.

But even with that said, I’m excited about the possibility of an app that truly lets me work with Microsoft documents. Sometimes I really need that functionality. In fact, this is the app I've been waiting for since the first day I purchased my iPad. It's not there yet but we’ll see how this goes. I think the price might drop and they’ll add Dropbox interface.

 #24: Vibe-It 
This is an app I really, really hope takes off. It’s been described as a yelp-like app that is anti-yelp because there are filtering capabilities. It allows customers to receive promotions from companies and businesses to receive feedback from customers. It needs to have a greater number of adopters in our area before it really takes off. Hopefully that happens soon and businesses take note. So, please download this app! I've already rated Bethany Community Church (Five Stars).

#23: Logos Bible

This is a great app but with some significant flaws for me. Most significant is the limited platform. If I have a resource in Logos, I have to read it on either my PC or my iPad. I can’t bring it up on my dedicated Kindle reader.

It’s also an app that reveals the limitations of mobile devices. Logos Bible can do some powerful stuff when you’re running it on a PC, but so many of the functions just don’t transfer to the iPad.

If I played around with this app more, it would probably advance up the list.

#22: Soundhound

I think there is a clinical study proving that this app has prevented thousands of people from being driven insane wondering, “what’s the name of that song again?”

Wherever you are—car, restaurant, in your bed at night humming a song you can’t get out of your head—you can instantly find out what the song is. It even works well in a place where there is a lot of noise, like a crowded restaurant. 

#21: Lumina

If I do a list like this in a few months, I think this app will move higher up. Lumina is the full-text translation of the NET Bible (for more info, go here), including those incredibly useful footnotes. Scholars like Dan Wallace spearheaded the translation and I love reading it.

The app is simple and allows you to interface with the thousands of footnotes in the text of the translation. Unlike many Bible apps, it’s not cluttered and I feel like I can just sit down and read the text.

I suppose one downside is that the NET Bible has a limited popularity. If you begin quoting from it, some people might be a little lost.

#20: New City Catechism

Our family enjoys the New City Catechism app. Not only does it have the full 52 question catechism, it also includes devotional videos from folks like John Piper and D.A. Carson.

#19: Mindmeister

This is another app to which I’ve only recently been introduced. Mindmeister allows you to do some really fun mind mapping exercises.

In What’s Best Next, Matt Perman mentions mind mapping and so I thought I'd give it a try. I went through five or six different free apps before landing on Mindmeister. Each of the other mind mapping apps had one or two things that just felt “off” to me. For example, it would put in random colors or wouldn’t let me differentiate between levels of thoughts or wouldn’t let me isolate a cloud.

I suspect that deciding on an app for brainstorming session is pretty subjective based on your personality. I haven’t done a lot of brain mapping but found what I’ve done with Mindmeister beneficial enough to put it this high on the list.

#18: Twitter

You all know about Twitter. I like it but don’t love it. I don’t check Twitter feeds more than once or twice a week but it’s a useful enough app that I feel the need to check it semi-regularly.

#17: Goodreads

Goodreads: Book reviews, recommendations, and discussion

Goodreads allows you to track the books you read or want to read and the books your friends are reading. If you can, sign up and become my friend!

#16: Netflix

The ministry value of this is, um…. Well, our family has a great time with Netflix. It’s a cheaper alternative to cable and is way better than having to sit through commercials. The only time we turn on a broadcast channel now is to watch sports.

#15: Bible

A lot of people really love this app. It’s not my favorite because it has too much going on for my taste. My older kids both use it for their devotions. You can read in various translations and download several reading plans. You can also see what your friends are reading. I’m using the same reading plan my kids are doing just for the sake of family fellowship.

#14: My Fitness Pal

This app blows me away with all that it can track about your diet and exercise. You can enter foods manually or scan bar codes and it will tell you the nutritional content. You can also enter your current weight and your desired weight and it will help you calculate your caloric intake. It adds or subtracts calories for the day based upon your exercise.

This has been a helpful app as I try to maintain a healthy balance between enjoying foods God has provided and slipping into gluttony.

I’d offer a word of caution. If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or are already tending toward obsessive compulsiveness with food, this may not be a good app for you. If you can use it for the glory of God, it can be very helpful.

#13: Trip Cubby

This is an app I use to log my miles when I drive. There are other apps out there, but this was the easiest for me to work with. 

 #12: Facebook

There are many things I don’t like about Facebook. But I love the ability to connect with friends and people from church. 

Coming Soon: Favorite apps, part 2. 

If you have suggestions or predictions regarding my top 11 apps, put in the comments section.


  1. Feedly is a great RSS reader. I wouldn't be able to follow all the blogs/news-sites that I do without this app.

  2. Love Soundhound. Makes for fun "Name That Tune" games between me and my daughter.

  3. Evernote=Extremely useful! Probably my most used app across devices. Although, I just started tinkering with Microsoft OneNote again (which I used to love when I used a PC), and it may take Evernote's place?!?! If you use Evernote, I am guessing its in the top ten. If you don't.... you should :)

  4. Luke and Brock, I can neither confirm nor deny which apps will be in my top 11, but both those apps are in my top 11.