Star Apps: Engadget's Tim Stevens

Engadget Editor-in-Chief Tim Stevens shares his favorite apps, mobile-software-development trends, and his guiltiest pleasure.

Founded in 2004, award-winning tech blog Engadget has brought a lot of shiny and new aspirational gadgets and software into the light through the years. Tim Stevens--named "the nicest guy in tech" by "Fortune" magazine--has acted as the blog's editor-in-chief since 2011. Tim was gracious enough to share some of his latest and greatest software finds--for work and play--with readers.

Engadget Editor in Chief, Tim Stevens (Credit: Tim Stevens)

What are your top five apps and why?
1. Gmail: I'd be lost without this app. There are some mail apps that are a little better, but none integrate with labels, filters, and multiple accounts like the default.
2. FlightTrack Pro: This app (and its widget) keep me up to date on everywhere I'm going. It often knows about flight delays and cancellations before the people at the airport do. Thanks to it, I've been able to call and get rescheduled on another flight before anyone else even knew they were going to miss their connection. Well worth the Pro upgrade for TripIt integration. Which brings me to...
3. TripIt: It's so great to have everything in one spot, to know that when I get to the airport I have my car rental information there and--with a few taps--I can get directions to my hotel. Very helpful.
4. EzPDFReaderPro: I use this for signing PDFs on my Note II, constantly.
5. Hill Climb Racing: It's such a simple game, but addictive.

Do you have a preference between iOS and Android apps?
I've spent a good amount of time on both and I was very, very close to buying an iPhone 5. But when I spent some time with the Note II, I knew it was for me. I needed the battery life, I enjoy the big screen, and I really like having the stylus.

Do you remember the first app you ever downloaded? What made you choose that particular one?
Oh boy, it was an alternative browser for Windows Phone way back in the day that handled remote rendering to allow Flash and speed up processing. The name eludes me at the moment, sadly...

Do you use any apps to help you in your professional life? Which ones and how do they help you?
Most of my favorite apps are productivity related and most are travel related since I'm constantly on the road. I also use Google Drive for access to documents on the go from my phone, but I'm continually disappointed by how terrible the Android app is. I can't believe Google hasn't turned it into a proper mobile office suite yet.

If you were stranded on a desert island, and could only use one app, which would it be and why?
I'm coming up blank! Most of the ones I would select require a data connection to be truly useful for the long-term (like Spotify), and if I had a data connection I would of course be sending an e-mail and requesting a helicopter pickup!

Which social media app is your favorite for getting initiatives out and why?
Twitter remains most powerful when it comes to exposure, but the Google+ mobile experience is far better. That's my favorite. I use the Facebook app a bunch to see what my friends are up to, but even with the recent updates I'm not particularly fond of it. It's often slow to load images and updates.

Which apps do you use to distract yourself on a long flight? Any guilty pleasures?
Hill Climb Racing is my guilty pleasure. I was turned on to it by a friend on Twitter and I've played it far too much, usually when I have five minutes to kill on a train, here or there. Beyond that, I don't often have time to distract myself on flights as I'm typically trying to get caught up on e-mails, as I am now!

Is there an app that you think is one to watch?
Why, the Engadget App, of course!

Are there any interesting trends that you're noticing in app development?
Greater and better positional awareness (via GPS) plus social interaction are making apps today a lot more interesting than they were just a few years ago.

If you could invent your own fantasy app (any category and no restrictions), what would it be?
An ultimate reporter's notebook for the Samsung Note series that records audio in sync with what you're writing with the stylus. So, I could take notes during an interview, and later, when I'm looking at those notes, tap on a particular note and hear the audio that was recorded when I wrote it. There's an app, S-PEN Voice, attempting to do this now, but it needs some work before it's exactly what I'm looking for.

About Joshua Rotter

Joshua Rotter is a copy editor for and covers iOS.