iPhone – Apps Worth Having

Following up on my mini-review of the iPhone, I thought I’d post a list of the apps that I’ve installed over the past week, and quick thoughts on each. IMO, it’s really the apps that set the device apart from other phones. Sure, the touch screen is nice and the accelerometer is cool, but it’s the apps that really make the iPhone unique.

In no particular order…

Note: links open up in iTunes. Unless I’ve missed it (and please let me know if i have), there doesn’t seem to be a web-based version of the app store for those of you who might not have iTunes installed.

  • Lightsaber Unleashed Cost: Free – Yes, I’m a big geeky geek and this was the first app I downloaded. What’s it do? It makes light saber noises as you swing your iPhone around. Yeah, that’s it. And it’s cool if you’re a geek. That is, until your 6 year old daughter wants to try and you stand there paralyzed with fear as she swings your shiny new iPhone about.
  • FacebookCost: Free For the longest time, I had not quite embraced the social networking phenomenon. I had a Facebook account, but rarely used it. Little by little, I got more followers. First co-workers. Then colleagues. Then old friends and people I went to school with. And yeah, I’m kinda hooked. The Facebook app is great for when you just really need your Facebook fix, but can’t get to a computer.
  • Shazam Cost: Free – This is the one. This is the app that a coworker showed me on his phone that made me go “whoa” in a very Keanu-Reevesy kind of way. Shazam recognizes music. Hold your iPhone up to a speaker (or just up in the air if the music is loud enough), and Shazam will tell you the name of the song. The artist. The album. Functional? Not Really. Impressive technology? Absolutely.
  • Pandora Cost: Free – If you haven’t checked out Pandora yet, do yourself a favor and go there now. We’ll wait. The Pandora app for the iPhone is every bit as impressive as Pandora itself. ’nuff said.
  • TwitterFon Cost: Free – See my post about Twitter and Twhirl for my thoughts on Twitter itself. TwitterFon puts the power of tweeting in your pocket (you decide if that’s a good thing).
  • SteadyCam Premium Cost: $0.99 – Out of the box, the iPhone produces some pretty shaky pictures. While the accelerometer is a cool piece of technology, it doesn’t help when trying to snap a picture. With SteadyCam, after you release the shutter, it waits for the phone to be still before actually taking the pic. For $0.99, it does help. Altho when you’re trying to snap a quick pic of the kids during that brief second where they’re not fighting with one another, it’s more of a hindrance. Still, worth the cost (there’s also a lite version that’s free, with fewer features).
  • Google Earth Cost: Free – Remember being blown away the first time you saw Google Earth in a browser window? Yeah, it’s like that.
  • Koi Pond Cost: $0.99 – Hard to describe this app and do it justice. Virtual koi pond, complete with koi and ambient noise (wind, frogs, birds, crickets). Individual sounds can be toggled on or off. as your finger glides across the iPhone screen, the water ripples and the koi scatter. Well worth the $0.99. It’s relaxing to look at/interact with, and one of those, “Look what my phone can do” type apps that won’t ever fail to impress. Check it out on YouTube.
  • iHandy Level Free Cost: Free – Makes use of the accelerometer technology in a way that’s actually functional.
  • NPR Mobile Cost: Free – Fairly self-explanatory. If you’re a fan of NPR, it’s a must-have.
  • MiniPiano Cost: Free – The lite version gives you one octave. One octave is all this app needs to keep my kids busy for hours. Bonus points for always being in tune.
  • iWant Cost: Free – Downloaded this app on New Year’s Day. We were at a park and wanted to grab a late lunch. iWant determines your location, then lets you search for nearby food, drinks, shopping, movies, etc. I was driving, so my wife was navigating the iPhone. She searched by cuisine, found a restaurant, clicked the name, was brought to a detail page that included a phone number. She tapped the phone number and it automatically dialed. We were both impressed by the functionality.
  • SnapTell Cost: Free – I was browsing the app store last night (for no particular reason other than I can’t seem to stop) and came across SnapTell. Using the built-in camera, SnapTell lets you take a picture of a book, CD, or video game cover. Once the picture is snapped, SnapTell tells you where you can buy the item online (and for how much), or which local stores carry the item (and the cost). It provides links to Google prices and reviews, Wikipedia, Barnes and Noble, ebay, and Yahoo. Like Shazam, really just impressive technology at work.

Going into week 2, those are the apps that I’ve got loaded up. Would love to hear from veteran iPhone users. Are there any that I’ve missed that you use? Any that I’ve mentioned might be done “better” by another app?