Angry Birds, Shazam & Evernote: My 10 Favorite Apps of 2011

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I buy a lot of apps for my iPhone; too many, really. Some are just to review. Others are for actual use, some even every day. But, truth is, there are more on my phone than I can reasonably be expected to use on a regular basis, but I like them all...mostly, and I do use them all...eventually.

Let's face it, I will be buying more. Hell, I'm already addicted to Words with Friends and that just happened a week ago. Lucky for you, my -- don't call it an obsession -- interest in apps benefits you directly as I often write about them for this blog, taking the worry that the 99 cents you are about to throw down on that food app could be a waste of money. I absorb the app bullets for you because that's the kind of guy I am.

There have been a lot of apps I've enjoyed this year, but here are my ten favorites.

10. Angry Birds Almost a year ago, I wrote about the torrid affair I had with this ridiculous game. I talked about growing as a human and doing the right thing. I failed, miserably, and this game continued to take up residence in my consciousness throughout 2011. Maybe it will be kicked to the curb by Words with Friends.

9. Pageonce Back in June, I wrote this app had the potential to be "one of the most functional apps I've ever tried." The combo of app and Web site is formidable, but they need to fix the delay in their notifications. I don't need to know a week later that I made a deposit. But, it is a great way to keep bills organized and has more than once kept me from being late.

8. Cyclemeter This is a recent discovery for me -- an app that tracks all your bike riding. Having recently moved closer to downtown and finding more reasons to hop on the two-wheeler, this app is super handy. It stores your routes and gives you everything from mileage and time to average speed. I got a funky little iPhone holder for the bike and I'm pedaling like a maniac.

7. Instagram I resisted the whole Hipstomatic thing for a long time, being a photographer and someone who loves great images. But, I tried Instamatic and, truthfully, I was hooked. It's not just the photo aspect, it's the social connection to others through photos that I haven't had since I was active on Flickr. 6. Facebook In 2011, Facebook finally put some time in on its woeful app and the improvements were marked. The interface now delivers an experience much more akin to the actual Web site. It isn't perfect. There are still glitches. But, it has come a substantial way in a short period of time and I find myself much happier using it now.

5. Yahoo! Sportacular This fantastic sports app ranked number two on my list of the nine best fantasy sports apps. But, it is the clear number one for sports apps in general. It has everything a sports fan could want. I called it "my sports app of choice" and I stand by that.

4. The Weather Channel This app ranked number one on my list of the nine best weather apps (I was into 9s this year, I guess) and it still occupies a constant spot in my top five most used apps. It may not get as in-depth as some other more nerdy apps, but it is dependable, stable and filled with great information. Whenever I want an update on the weather, I go straight to it.

3. Shazam It's hard to imagine what we did in the old days when we didn't know the name of a song. I do remember back in the stone ages having to wait for a deejay to say the song title after 30 minutes of nonstop tunes on the radio. Today, there's Shazam. I've told people before that it's basically a miracle. Hold your phone up to the speaker and, if the song exists in one of the more popular databases, it will tell you what it is. It doesn't work on everything, especially less mainstream stuff, jazz and classical, but it's damn incredible nevertheless.

2. Echofon Twitter is built for the mobile environment. Its short messages are similar to texting and scrolling through messages is easy and engaging. There is simply no better Twitter app than Echofon. I've tried them all; nothing compares to it and it continues to improve. If you use Twitter and have a smart phone, you should have Echofon and just pony up the extra for the pro version. It's worth it.

1. Evernote I detailed in this post how Evernote has literally organized my life. Since that time, the app interface has gotten better and I consider it one of the best apps on the market. I use it every day on my computer and on my phone. I don't know what I did before I had it and I probably depend on it a little too much. That's saying something.

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