Evernote is a free application and service that lets you capture everything -- photos, web pages, articles, notes, sound files and more -- and have them stored, sorted and indexed for search. The service is usable on the Evernote site, and also via desktop and cell phone applications.
The best new thing about this now-old service is its new Palm Pre and iPhone apps. The best trick these phone apps perform is that they let you use the camera in your phone to snap a picture from the application, which is uploaded and indexed. That means you can take pictures of signs, menus, magazines, Web sites or anything else with words in it, and Evernote will index the words inside the picture. Later, when you search Evernote, your picture will come up.
Evernote also "geotags" items, so the place where you uploaded them from is included in the meta data.
And finally, you can simply record voice notes, and Evernote will file them away with whatever project they're associated with.
Best of all, Evernote for phones has been performance tweaked, and optimized.
Like Evernote, reQall is part Web service, part cell phone application. It's also something you can use via a telephone even without the app. Here's how it works in a nutshell. You set up an account. Afterwards add any information by typing it in, or speaking into your cell phone handset. If you speak, it will transcribe your words into text as if you typed it in.
What's great about reQall, though, is that there is intelligence on the other side. For example, if you say, "call Steve Friday at 10am," it will remind you at the time you specified. (I've been using this feature for months, and it has never made a mistake.) If you say, buy a loaf of bread, it will automatically add "a loaf of bread" to your reQall shopping list, which you can retrieve as a list also via voice command.
You can choose to take advantage of reQalls hooks into Microsoft Outlook, Google Calendar, Firefox and more, which make reQall even more knowing, functional and easier to use.
The cell phone applications for reQall are fantastic. But what's really exciting is that the company will be releasing a brand new version any day now that will take reQall to a whole new level. Because it's under a press embargo, I can't give you details. But I can express my tentative recommendation based on my experience with the current version and my understanding of what the new version will add to that.
The combination of Evernote and reQall transform your cell phone into a second brain and one starkly more reliable and organized than your first one.
If you own an iPhone, then you own an Amazon Kindle. If you don't own an iPhone, then you should buy an Amazon Kindle.
Thanks to the recently upgraded Kindle for iPhone app, you can now buy the Kindle versions of books directly from the app (before you had to use a Web browser). Also, it lets you read books in landscape mode.
Two years ago, everyone argued about whether electronic book readers were appealing enough to use, or whether books were actually readable on a cell phone. Thanks to the newest versions of the Kindle and the Kindle for iPhone, those conversations are no longer meaningful. Reading books on the free Kindle app is a joy, and at least as easy for most people as doing so on one of the Kindle devices.
Like the actual Kindle hardware, the new Kindle for iPhone app fades into the background when you're reading, becoming invisible -- the mark of a truly great and mature tech product.
These are the six old products that have been perfected to the point of indispensability by brand-new or soon-to-be-released enhancements. Make sure you try each and every one of them.