Self-improvement via iPod
August 4, 2011 7:14 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to find a use for my iPod touch that will, in some way, enrich my life more than just playing endless games of Drop7. Some ideas I've had: reading great literature in ebook form; memory training; becoming more virtuous; studying a foreign language. What other things can I do?
posted by yankeefog to Education (22 answers total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
More a specific suggestion to your existing thoughts but I definitely appreciate having the free complete works of Shakespeare on my pod. There's always time for a sonnet!
posted by nanojath at 7:18 AM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

I used mine to download a Couch to 5K running app, and had great success with it.
posted by cider at 7:21 AM on August 4, 2011

Crosswords are thought to sharpen the mind, and Scrabble is probably similarly virtuous.

More generally, just going through the process of learning new games will get your mind's circuits running, as long as those games have some measure of strategy. I wouldn't call it a major accomplishment, but it definitely engaged my mind when I took a break from Drop7 to figure out Carcassonne and get pretty good at it.

Maybe the key here is find something with the right addictiveness/value ratio. You don't want something that is highly addictive but only provides small (or no) value to your mind.
posted by alms at 7:40 AM on August 4, 2011

posted by Chairboy at 7:40 AM on August 4, 2011

First play, Sword and Sworcery EP. The game is a piece of art.

It is not really a question of what you can do, but what you want to do. I use my iphone( I had an ipod touch first), to store my calender, keep track of email, keep up on reddit, take amazing photos, play games, track my diet, navigate, track my running, check my account balance, store important notes, read ebooks, watch movies, listen to music, track my phone usage, navigate, draw, create 8 bit art, blog(though rarely, not my phones fault) and probably a hell of a lot more.

To be fair a few of those really need gps and 3G internet, but there is a lot you can do just with an ipod touch.
posted by adventureloop at 7:43 AM on August 4, 2011

The iPod has some great apps for fitness programs, including the amazing Nike+ transponder-based run/walk tracking system. It's also great for downloading and listening to podcasts and iTunesU programs.
(phunniemee: The 960x640 screen of the Touch is roughly one pixel per hour of an average human life)
posted by rocket88 at 7:44 AM on August 4, 2011

Make part of your life more organised. You've already thought of reading e-books on the iPod; you can keep track of them, and catalogue your paper books too, with Book Crawler. (This'll work best with the paper ones if your iPod is recent enough to have a camera.)

Learn lists of trivia (countries of the world, numbers in German, British monarchs, ...) with Sporcle.

Get fit. There are lots of apps to help with exercise routines - Hundred Pushups et al - and with weight loss.

Sabotage your attempts to get fit with a baking app. It's good for the soul. Cookulus (which a thread on here tipped me off to) adjusts its recipes to suit your personal cookie texture and size preferences.

Become more aware of the natural world around you by learning to identify birds. If you're in Europe, try Birds Europe or Chirp! Bird Songs; they both have photos and song clips.

If you wake to an alarm, improve your mornings with Sleep Cycle. It works for me (wakes me at the least groggy point of my sleep cycle), but YMMV; I sleep alone and I suspect I toss and turn a lot, which gives it plenty to work with.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 7:47 AM on August 4, 2011

couch25k is a life-changer.
posted by mateuslee at 8:05 AM on August 4, 2011

They have pedometers for the Touch. Also, I have access to my bank and credit card info. That's helped me get a handle on my spending. I like Action Method. It's a souped up todo list.

Also, If the pixels on my Touch aren't dying, am I immortal?
posted by hot_monster at 8:17 AM on August 4, 2011

You've got the Kindle app downloaded, right? I also organize my life with Wunderlist--that helps me a lot. I like the Epicurious app for finding recipes; I haven't gotten around to downloading it yet, but I understand the Kindle version of Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything" is only $5 and as super-useful as the book. My honey swears by My Fitness Pal (app and website) for tracking calories consumed.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 8:35 AM on August 4, 2011

Seconding chairboy - I LOVE Brushes. Then set a goal of spending a specific amount of time (I usually do 10 minutes) and draw everyday; doesn't matter what or where or how good. Something about combining the visual with the tactile feedback of moving hands and fingers clears my mind and relaxes me.
posted by jalexei at 8:42 AM on August 4, 2011

Download the app for This American Life. Listen to every episode. Don't forget to purchase or contribute every so often.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 9:10 AM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

I feel like the screen is a bit tiny for my taste when we're talking about reading novels, but I *love* using my Touch for jogging with the Nike+ app. I also really like the GymBuddy app for when actually go do a workout, it has great tracking/customization options.
posted by Jinkeez at 9:42 AM on August 4, 2011

  • Download the Shredder app and do chess puzzles (still a game, but maybe a refreshing change)
  • Get the MobileSynth app and try to make a police siren sound using an LFO.
  • Download the Traveling Classics Audiobooks app and listen to those classic books for free (via Librivox).
  • Get the iThoughts app and use mind-mapping to plan out your future.
  • Get the Golden Hour app, discern when the golden hour will be, and then go outside and take photos.

posted by circular at 9:43 AM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

There are various self-hypnosis programs for iOS out there (relaxation example). One advantage of these is that they're semi programmable, adjustable to one's needs.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:30 AM on August 4, 2011

I like the On This Day app - I read a few articles that look interesting. A great way to learn about something you probably wouldn't have learned about otherwise.

Mental Case is a nice flashcard app - you could use it to learn a number of things, from history, to languages, to math problems.

Fitness apps are good too - Hundred Pushups, or 20 chin ups are two examples. Couch to 5K if you want to get into running.

Podcasts - I like using Downcast to manage my podcasts. There seems to be a podcast on just about any topic.

Some of the music apps (spotify and rdio for example) might help introduce you to new music.
posted by backwards guitar at 10:45 AM on August 4, 2011

Pocket Universe:

Algebra Touch:

Knot Guide:
posted by subajestad at 12:22 PM on August 4, 2011

Some of the musical-instrument apps are fun. There's a virtual synthesizer thing called "NLogFree" that has a whole plethora of interesting sounds included, and lets you play music in the background (enabling you to learn to play along!). Of course the ipod touch screen is pretty small and thus won't help you learn good piano technique from a "how to hold your wrists" standpoint but it can definitely help you learn to pick out notes if you're into that sort of thing.

Other instrument apps I like (which aren't free but which are under $10) are Ellatron and BeBot. Especially BeBot. It looks cute but is actually *very* powerful/flexible. And you can make theremin sounds with it!

Oh and there are several programs out there to help teach yourself (some semblance of) "perfect pitch". Obviously it can't insert the innate ability but even developing good memorized or relative pitch is good for musicians and good for your brain besides.
posted by aecorwin at 2:15 PM on August 4, 2011

Nanostudio is $15.00 and astonishingly good. It's largely replaced games for me as a recreation. To give an idea of what it can do I did this on the bus on the way home last night.

The bus.

(I'm a little giddy about it tbh, so apologies for the tacky self-link. It's my favourite piece of music I've done in years and to do it so smoothly and easily has me verrrry excited about what I'll do next :)
posted by Sebmojo at 2:52 PM on August 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

Can't speak directly for iPod/iPhone, but most of the Android stuff I use has equivalents for Apple:

1. Michel Thomas language program mp3s/TuneIn Radio (for foreign radio)
2. C25K
3. Pushups/Sit-ups/Pull-ups/Squats apps
4. Rubik's cube trainer/timer
5. Google Calendar for tracking your progress
6. Astrid tasks/Wunderlist for to-do
7. Ear trainer apps
8. Pzizz
9. Khan Academy (only on Apple for now, as far as I know)
10. Flashcards ToGo
11. Sleep As Android
12. TED Mobile
13. DoggCatcher
14. Evernote for miscellaneous note taking

For reading, I prefer to just use my Kindle; reading on the phone is too difficult and kills the battery.
And of course, there are TONS of audio lecture things out there to prepare you for pretty much anything you can imagine: (e.g., Torah study, bar exam, real estate/accounting/finance certifications, the Teaching Company, etc.).
posted by holterbarbour at 4:53 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, and mad props to Sebmojo, that's a great track.
posted by holterbarbour at 4:56 PM on August 4, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, everybody!
posted by yankeefog at 6:11 AM on August 7, 2011

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