On My Radar

On My Radar – Eight Apps for a Desert Island with WiFi by Anca Balaj from Spain

We have another brand new section here at TheAppWhisperer called ‘On My Radar’ and this time we are asking a selection of highly talented mobile photographers and artists, which apps they would take with them on a unique desert island, that has wifi! We want to know exactly what apps are really on their radar and why. As well as eight apps, we have also allowed each artist to select a book and a luxury object on this luxury journey. Kicking us off with our very first issue of this section, is non other than the uniquely talented Anca Balaj from Spain.

“First of all, I would like to thank Joanne for inviting me to participate in this initiative. This game has made me ask questions that I hadn’t thought about and maybe from now on my iPad will be much lighter of apps.

Then this is what would take me to a desert island that miraculously has wi-fi”.

©Anca Balaj


A Book

On a deserted island I have a clear idea of the book I would take: Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe. I read this book when I was 8 or 9 years old and it had a profound impact on me. With this book I understood the extent of human strength and I remember thinking that I would never stop reading. It was the book that made me a reader. After this book came hundreds of others, but I don’t think any of them were so decisive in forging my personality.

A Luxury Object

I would definitely take an iPad Pro with its Apple Pencil. That’s all I need to create, to stay focused, and to feed my mind. I’ve been in love with the iPad since it was released, but the arrival of the Apple Pencil has been the final step in not needing anything else, as will be seen below.

I wouldn’t be who I am without an iPad and I would not create what I’m creating without it. For me the iPad was a revolution as a creator, it has taken me to explore domains that I wouldn’t have explored otherwise and to overcome barriers that I didn’t even consider reaching.

My Eight Apps


Procreate is my favorite app over all other apps. I use it to draw, to make digital collage, to sketch and to create storyboards. If I had to choose just one app, I’m sure I’d choose Procreate. I’ve tried doing the same thing in other drawing or photo editing apps, but I find them terribly uncomfortable. In Procreate everything is in place, its minimalist interface does not distract from the essentials and I know it as good as the palm of my hand. It’s easier for me to know where a specific Procreate function is than the contents of my bedside table drawers.

I wish its creators would become nasty rich thanks to this app, because of how much it gives me every day.


If there was wi-fi on the island, I’d certainly take advantage of it in Safari. Since I was a child I have always been a knowledge devourer, not only do I read a lot, but I also like to learn about very different subjects. In the past all this was limited by the books in my environment, but since the Internet exists I can finally devour as much information as I want, on any subject. For me the Internet is like a giant library and I would no longer know how to live without it. It serves me to document myself, to access the works of other artists, to obtain resources and to learn.


I’ve been writing since I learned to write. For me it’s the solution to all problems, whatever they may be: if something goes wrong, the first thing to do is to write by hand. I write to get new ideas, to focus and define my goals, to motivate myself, to gain perspective on a specific topic, to get rid of fears… In the past I had many notebooks and pens, some of them very nice, some very expensive… I loved to start a new notebook every time I felt a new stage begin, so my house was full of unfinished notebooks and I felt like the worst tree killer in the world. I really wanted to stop killing them, I tried to get the same effect with typing on a keyboard, but there was no way, I always went back to my notebooks and pens. That changed when the Apple Pencil was released. I never needed a notebook again and now Noteshelf is the app that brings together all my writings.

Because I love beautiful notebooks, I usually customize them with covers made by myself. In each new notebook I put a representative cover of the images I’m working on at the moment, so I also have a visual representation of my own artistic evolution.


As a fiction writer, I also use the keyboard for typing. I started writing many years ago, at that time I used to write by hand, make corrections, also by hand, and only then did I copy the text by type, in one of those ancient Olivetti that we all know. When the first personal computers began to be seen, I remember that I wished I could work like this, without having to discard all the work on a page for having pressed the wrong key. Then came word processors and the temptation became irresistible. I’ve tried many word processors, but Pages is the friendliest and most pleasing to the eye.

Pages has become one of my favorite tools not only for writing (since it has the function of making notes on the text much more), but also for making the layouts of books. When it comes to books with a lot of images I still have to use the computer, but if there are not too many, Pages I like it much more, because it can be used on the iPad and has all the functions I need.

PDF Expert

It’s one of the apps I’ve taken the longest to acquire, but now it’s become indispensable. For my books, I usually leave the text prepared in Pages, with the blank space for the illustrations, and then continue working on the first composition sketches using Pdf Expert. I also find it useful to show the first tests to my illustrated storybook clients, who can better imagine what the final book will look like.


This app is also one of the indispensable ones. I currently have more books in digital version than print, and they are all coming with me everywhere. As my paper library dwindles, the digital library grows every day. You can’t go to a deserted island with just one book, so this app can save me from the need to read at any time.

In Kindle app I store books, but also magazines in pdf, like the wonderful “Living the photoartistic life” that fills my eyes with beauty and inspiration.


This app is admirable to me for two reasons. First, because it has no rival, there is no other app that does the same and its originality makes it essential. Second, because I consider it infinite, I believe that nobody in the world, nor its creator, knows everything that can be obtained with this app. For me this is very important, because I get bored of doing always the same thing and with this app I know for sure that I will discover something new whenever I want.

It was after seeing the wonderful work done by other artists in iColorama that I decided to enter the world of digital collage and photomanipulation.


This last app is a caprice, more than a necessity, it could be like my luxury app. When I met her I felt the same excitement as the day I saw the first iPad. As I’ve already told you, I started writing by hand and only afterwards began the immense task of typing the text. In those days I used to dream of an instrument that would turn my manuscripts into printed texts without so much effort. When I first started using the computer, I got used to typing fiction directly on the keyboard, but this form of writing causes important nuances to be lost. When I want to write from a deeper connection with my emotions, it is necessary to write by hand, sometimes I even have to use the left hand (I am right-handed) to help provoke this connection. This technique, using the non-dominant hand, does not work on a keyboard, for this reason I have sometimes had to return to the old habit of rewriting on the keyboard what I had already written by hand.

Nebo is a dream come true and that’s how I felt when I met her: I felt that the future I was dreaming of had already arrived.

These are the wonderful apps that I would take to an island if I had to leave today, but I’m sure that in a while other apps will appear just as wonderful and surprising as my favorites.

Again, thank you very much Joanne, for inviting me to participate in this section. It has been an excellent exercise of reflection on who I am, how I got here and where I’m going.


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One Comment

  • Carol Wiebe

    I am in awe, Anca, at how—in a few paragraphs—you have given us a virtual passport into the Balaj Kingdom. That magical place, despite being on a “desert island,” is one of such creativity and delight that I am absolutely captivated. Your powerfully evocative images will transport us there, again, anytime we care to visit, and for that I am a grateful traveller.