a peek inside the fishbowl

24 Apr, 2009

Top 10 (er, MY favourite) – iPhone apps for parents

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Oh! Things!

Back when I was playing Breakout on our Commodore 64 if you had asked me that one day we could sit in our living rooms with a tiny wireless telephone and simultaneously order pizza, play a game with total strangers, send a recipe, and find the closest coffee shop while doing our homework I would have thought you were totally off your rocker. But that day has arrived.

There was an article about the 10 best iPhone apps for parents in PC Mag awhile back. I didn’t agree with all of their choices, and even though there is a bit of duplication I thought I’d write up my own list of favourite iPhone applications based on what I’ve actually found useful.*

Here goes:

10) Kids fighting over a toy? Arguing over who gets to go first AGAIN? Get out the Heads Tails app. Touch the screen to flip the digital coin and all your problems will be solved. Flip it ten times and teach your kids about 50/50 odds.

9) Word Reference – I like homework help. English-French, French-English, English definitions, heck, it’s even helped me out too.

8) Unit converter – Best for the math challenged. How many inches = how many centimetres? Converts all kinds of measures.

7) Timmy Me – Because the iPhone’s built-in GPS, it can zero in on your location, find the closest Tim Hortons, and give you directions. There is also a Starbucks Me. (!) You will never be lost and coffee-less EVER AGAIN. 

6) Canpages/Yellow Pages – Canpages is voice searchable. Even though it makes me feel a little dumb I can hold up my iPhone and say “PIZZA in OTTAWA” and it will find a bunch of pizza places for me. Yellow Pages combines yellow and white pages for a very handy residential phone lookup, including reverse lookup. Where this app soars is its integration with other iPhone features. I can look someone up and it’ll give me an option to call that person, add them to my favourites, email the info, or give me directions on how to get there.

5) AllRecipes Dinner Spinner – How many times have I been stuck at the grocery store without a dinner plan? I love the concept of the Dinner Spinner. You pick your main ingredient, type of dish (i.e. main or side), prep time, and see what come up. I’d like to see this application with more recipes.

4) QuickVoice – Quick audio notation. Great for when you want to make a quick note and can’t be bothered with the keyboard. You can email your audio to someone too. Think of all the applications! You can email a recording of your screaming children to your husband while he’s at work! Your kids singing happy birthday to grandma! The sound of your neighbor’s yappy dogs barking to City officials! The possibilities are endless.

3) Shazam – Just because you’re a parent doesn’t mean you have to give up your cool, music-loving side. Imagine this, you’re driving down the road (as a passenger of course), or enjoying a rare glass of vino in a fancy wine bar when a really great tune comes up. Shazam listens, analyzes it, and then tells you what song it is, who sings it, what album it’s from, and gives you a link to YouTube video, full discography and gives you the option of buying it right on the spot.

I never thought this day would come. It’s like something out of STAR TREK.

2) ShopShop – I use this application EVERY DAY. It’s a virtual grocery list and it’s useful in so many ways. It keeps an inventory of everything I’ve ever entered, so re-entry is easy. I can shuffle items on my finished list. I can move all the fruit and veg together, in an order in which I know they appear at the grocery store. When my item is in the cart I clear it, thus making the list shorter and easier to scan. I can even email my list to someone else. Household managers need to delegate sometimes, right?

1) Globe & Mail, Scramble, Flickr Sendr, Blogpress, TwitterFon, Google Calendar
I know, I’ve just listed six things in the #1 spot, including one game which doesn’t exactly fall under the category of “things that have made my life easier.” Mark is particularly addicted to Scramble. Our budgie is going to start mimicking the game sounds any day now. But all of these apps I’ve listed in the #1 spot (except Blogpress, that has #1 potential although I have yet to use it much) are things I use on a regular basis.

If you’re an iPhone user I’d love to hear about your favourite and most useful apps.


* um, can just ignore the fact that I once said I’d never again own a cellphone? ;)

8 Responses to "Top 10 (er, MY favourite) – iPhone apps for parents"

1 | Soire

April 24th, 2009 at 9:24 am



I let my youngest play it while the older is at Aikido and she’s exhausted the 3 books and puzzle she brought and is starting to whinge.

I also like Scoops. :D

2 | Loukia

April 24th, 2009 at 1:24 pm


Bubblewrap is the best! My son plays with that when he’s bored sometimes on my husband’s iphone.

Did you read about that ‘baby shaking’ application by Apple that you could download for iphone? They just pulled it – and they issued an apology today about it. It’s really disturbing – basically, it’s a picture of a baby crying and you have to shake your iphone and then it stops crying. UM? How did they even allow this? The story can be found on CNN.com

3 | BeachMama

April 24th, 2009 at 2:08 pm


I haven’t found the right excuse yet for the iphone, but Shopshop might have just pushed me over.

4 | scatteredmom

April 24th, 2009 at 5:53 pm


I don’t have an iPhone, or iPod Touch, etc…because I just KNOW that if I did I’d be completely and hopelessly addicted.

5 | Canadian Lawyerista

April 25th, 2009 at 1:31 pm


Do they have any of these apps for blackberries? ‘Cause they sound pretty cool.

6 | helene blowers

April 28th, 2009 at 8:44 pm


Pandora, next to twitterFan is my favorite. i;ve also just discovered Stanza, a great ebook app that rivals kindle’s ipod app. It’ library is also full of lots of free titles

7 | Elliot

January 8th, 2010 at 3:31 pm


I have to agree, the Yellow Pages is a must-have app for parents. I get myself into enough pickles as it is, but throw a kid into the mix and I end up needing emergency trips to the (pharmacy, bathroom, burger joint, etc) a lot. I just pop in my search query and it sorts my results based on how far they are from me, complete with GPS directions of how to get there.
The family and I just got back from a Hawaiian vacation and let me tell you – my bacon was saved on several occasions navigating around an island I had never been to before.

Do yourself a favor and download this gem – it’s free

8 | My top picks for family-friendly iPhone apps >> a peek inside the fishbowl

March 8th, 2012 at 10:05 am


[…] back I mentioned a few of my favourite iPhone apps, and I wrote about some Ottawa-centric apps on SavvyMom as well. I wanted to take a moment to […]

comment form:


Stay in touch

Me and my pet projects

Ottawa Bucket list

Subscribe via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • andrea tomkins: I'm glad you find it restful Bonnie! I didn't on that day. :)
  • Bonnie Upton: I have a true love of this place. I drive to and from Ottawa from the NewmArket area to visit my sister snd now my son who attended uOttawa and has c
  • Amy: That sounds fantastic! As with most travelling, parts are much more comfortable when you're telling them afterwards, but they make a good story.
  • andrea tomkins: If I had to pick, Grundy wins! :)
  • Shawn: What did u like more, Restoule or Grundy? Thank you Shawn
  • andrea tomkins: Yes! I've seen the boiling water method! I never really bothered with it because I am a lazy baker. :) It is worth finding a recipe that uses less ye
  • Amy: I made a no-knead version that didn't use a Dutch oven (I don't have one and didn't feel like investing in one just for that). You put a small contai

The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

If you'd like to contact me, please use this form. If you're so inclined, you can read more about me here. Thank you for visiting!


E-book alert!

Shopping Embargo e-book promo

My right hand is actually a camera

Connect with me at these places too!

Piper is on Instagram

On the nightstand

All hail the mighty Twitter