Bob Schukai

Bob Schukai, head of advanced product innovation in technology operations

This post was written by Bob Schukai, head of advanced product innovation in technology operations at Thomson Reuters

I came across a story on USA Today that talked about the fact that there are 1.3 million apps available today for our smartphones and tablets. It’s a huge number and finding your way through the morass of application stores makes it tough to really discover exciting stuff. Apps we fall in love with are so personal to our situations, interests, etc. – but that said, the five that USA Today highlighted are all pretty cool. It’s worth a read of the story.

Since it has been awhile since I’ve shared some of the apps I’m currently using and enjoying, I thought I’d take a chance to put a few out there that I really like.

SignEasy: This is one I’ve loved for a long time that my assistant found for iPad. It allows you to electronically sign and or add text to documents that you receive on email. It’s a huge help for me with my travel schedule. It is also available on Android and BlackBerry.

Regent Street: This app is quite cool and was recently featured in the New York Times. Regent Street in London is known for its shopping, and the businesses along Regent Street are using beacon technology to promote offerings. What I really like about this app is the initial set up – you pick the businesses you’re interested in (like SuperDry) and toss aside the ones you’re not.

Refresh: I spoke at an event in Nashville earlier this year and met Bhavin Shah, who is the CEO of Refresh, an application that prepares insights for you on people you’re about to meet by linking your calendar with social media such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other sources. It’s really slick, and it works beautifully in pulling in the meeting invitees from my calendar to create a “dossier” ahead of my session.

Swiftkey: Although I have long been a fan of touchscreen smartphones, I’ve always kept a BlackBerry, because I love the hard keyboard. In fact, I bought an accessory from Typo that allows you to add a hard keyboard to your iPhone, because I struggled so much with email responses. Life got a lot easier in iOS 8 with the introduction of alternate keyboards, and while Android users have been able to use Swiftkey for a long time, its introduction to iOS has been a godsend! Rather than “fat finger” a response and get a crazy autocorrected word, Swiftkey lets you literally slide your fingers around the keyboard like you’re drawing as you spell words out. It learns your style as well which is very helpful for honing in on better autocorrect!

NewsBeat: I have a standard AM/FM/CD player in my car, and I just get tired at times of the commercials which predictably occur at 20 and 50 minutes past the hour (when I’m listening to rock stations) – or every couple minutes it seems on news stations. NewsBeat is much like my beloved Zite (which may now be officially dead and only available within Flipboard) in that it aggregates content in areas I’m interested in – but instead plays it out as a streamed, stitched together audio cast. The narrations are good – it uses a mix of humans reading the stories as well as text to speech technology so it’s not the same robotic voice over and over. The app is available on both iOS and Android.

Dumb Ways To Die 2:  The Games: Proving that I don’t spend my life reading tech stories, I was a huge fan of the game Dumb Ways To Die. The sequel, Dumb Ways to Die 2: The Games, is just as fun and clever as the first. It’s remarkable to me that this little app produced by Metro Trains Melbourne (Australia) has caught the world by fire – and there is even a catchy little tune and video that both kids and adults will find fun.