50 Apps, 30 Minutes, Happy Journos

David Ho, executive mobile editor of The Wall Street Journal.
David Ho, executive mobile editor of The Wall Street Journal.
By Ernesto Rivera
ONA Newsroom


Media organizations need smart tools and apps to improve their quality of mobile delivery. Wall Street Journal Executive Mobile Editor David Ho highlighted his favorite hardware and software picks in Thursday’s, “50 Apps in 30 Minutes.”


Before Ho got into all the fun stuff, Ho preached his “mobile gospel” by the numbers:

  •  More than 7.2 billion mobile devices currently are in service —  more than the number  of people on Earth.
  • 60 percent of all U.S. digital time spent is on mobile, with most of it spent on apps.
  • 39 of the top 50 news websites had more traffic from mobile than desktop.
Ho’s point? High-quality mobile delivery is critical.


“There’s never been a technology this intimate, this personal,” Ho said. “So for those of us in the news business, it’s critical we get mobile right. When we send news to mobile, we are sending it into people’s lives in a very personal way.”


The problem, he said, is that news organizations lack experience on mobile. “A lot of people are talking about mobile but far fewer people actually understand it,” he said.


Ho offered 50 apps, a list curated from his personal experiences and recommendations from journalists all over the world, as a solution.


Here are  five favorites, plus Ho’s essential hardware list:




Price: $4.99
Android option: Cogi

AudioNote syncs your notes with recorded audio, allowing you to tap notes to move to that part of the audio quickly.



2. Dragon Dictation
Android option: Speech to Text
While perfect dictation software isn’t quite here yet, this app is a good step toward it.

Price: Free
Location-based communication app that lets you track other people. Originally intended for families, Ho says this comes in handy in the journalism world when you have a big group of reporters covering a large event. It’s also useful if journalists are in a dangerous location, and you want to monitor them.

Price: Free
Legal information for journalists reporting in the United States. This app was developed by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and it includes resources such as covering schools, covering cops and courts, and recording rights.

5. Document Scanner


Allows you to scan documents with your phone and translate them into text. There are many options available, including CamScanner and Doc Scan.



1. Wireless keyboard


Ho recommends Amazon Basics bluetooth with this keyboard, describing it as “a powerful combination to have. In a lot of ways you’ve killed your laptop.”


2. Toys for better photo and video/audio


 Lenses, microphones, iOgrapher and DxO One
 Ho recommends experimenting with these add-ons to get better-quality visuals from your smart phone.


3. External battery


 PowerGen Mobile Juice Pac


 Ho said he’s battle tested them under some really difficult conditions. Another plus is their ability to charge several devices simultaneously.


4. Phone grip


Ho said they improve quality by  steadying your hand when holding a large phone.


5. Braided charger cables


Ho recommends replacing flimsy smartphone cables with these tough braided cables.


Have your own essential app or hardware to add to this list? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter using #50apps.