10 Must-Have Apps for iPhone

| Free on iTunes

“At last
my love has come along
my lonely days over
and life is like a song”

At Last by Etta James

There should be millions of Verizon and current AT&T customers singing that song. On Tuesday, January 11, 2011, Verizon became the second carrier in the U.S. to offer Apple’s ubiquitous iPhone. Ever since the first iPhone went on sale back in 2007, many have groused about the exclusive deal AT&T had with Apple to carry the wünder-phone. That partnership, however, was a tepid, and often rocky affair as customer’s complaints about poor service persisted. AT&T did make some well publicized attempts at addressing those dropped calls and poor reception grievances, but in the end the company’s service was deemed the poorest in the land, as noted in a recent survey.

AT&T isn’t complaining though. In fact it’s likely laughing all the way to the stockholder’s meeting because this one device boosted its profits handsomely over the course of the partnership. It remains to be seen how much of an impact Verizon’s iPhone will have on AT&T. I’m hoping the impact will be significant.

I, for one, won’t be jumping ship. Yes, I’m tired of dropped calls, but I’m not so sure Verizon will give me better service. And if enough defectors …um…defect then those of us still on Ma Bell may enjoy slightly better service due to less loading. (It could happen!)

The other nice thing about having a second carrier is that now there could be some real service competition. We may start seeing some decent features and better prices. We’re already seeing an inkling of it; Verizon will let you use your iPhone as a mobile WiFi hotspot. iPhones have had this ability, but AT&T, in an attempt to milk iPhone users of every last dime, won’t allow it. Instead, they force you to buy a separate data service for each device you want to connect. Now there’s rumors that AT&T will start allowing this feature. I say bring it on, and about friggin time!

Regardless of who leaves or stays, one thing is for sure, there’ll be a bunch of new iPhone owners this time next month, and all of them will be looking for apps to fill there new gadgets with.

Last week I pointed out ten apps that any iPad owner would be proud to own and play with. This week I thought I’d do the same for iPhone users. True, many apps work well on either device, but my aim here is to show you some stuff that makes the most of your iPhone.

So, as Marvin Gaye might say, “Let’s get it on!”

Merriam-Webster Dictionary: Ok, you’re walking along, minding your own business, and a stranger comes up to you and says, “Anhedonia!” You’ll want to know whether to punch him, buy a plane ticket, or seek psychological help. In such instances, carrying around even a pocket size dictionary may not cut it, and you’ll be glad your iPhone is loaded the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

This dictionary is loaded with great features including cross-referenced words, Word of the Day, and (my personal favorite) the ability to search for words just by saying it. Very cool.

It’s ad supported, as many useful free apps are, but the ads aren’t horrible. A definite iPhone must-have.

Tap-Tap Revenge 4: Not long after the first iPhone hit the streets the first version of Tap-Tap Revenge hit the iPhone, and it was a huge hit. (Lots of hitting going on.) Similar to Guitar Hero in that you tap notes in time to hit tunes as they scroll across the screen, Tap-Tap Revenge took full advantage of the newfangled touch interface and proved that mobile gaming was not only good, but challenging, and it rocked.

Tap-Tap Revenge 4

This fourth iteration of the game is a bit cluttered, but it retains the challenge and fun of the first. It’s a perfect time waster and a great way to discover music.

Skype: I just have 4 words for why you should get Skype: video calls on 3G.

Skype

OK, that’s arguably five words, but if you want video calling, for free, on 3G, then you need Skype. True, the calls aren’t as smooth as FaceTime’s WiFi calls, but it works when no WiFi is about.

Skype also gives you free, texting and voice calls to other Skypers, and it can serve as a second phone line, especially if you are near a WiFi hotspot and want to save a bit on calls.

Get Skype.

Netflix: It’s kinda cool to be able to sit in an airport while waiting for your flight and watch an episode of Eureka on your iPhone. If you have a Netflix account and if the airport offers free WiFi (surprising how many don’t) then this is the app for you. If you don’t have a Netflix account you really should get one. For eight buck a month you can stream all the movies and TV shows you want on any device you own that supports Netflix.

Netflix

With a clean interface and the ability to pick up a movie where you left off, regardless of where and on what you were watching the movie before, Netflix app is worth every penny.

Wait! It’s free!

Stanza: There are plenty of eBook readers around, but few are as versatile as Stanza. It will let you read pretty much any eBook format that isn’t protected by Digital Rights Management (DRM), and the formats that it can’t read natively can be easily converted into formats it can read.

Stanza

And there are literally millions of eBooks available from many publishers that are inexpensive or (wait for it) FREE!

Stanza also lets you share the books you have between devices you own and with friends. Easy to get books, easy to use, and easy to own. What more could a body want?

BBC News: It’s the BBC! News! On your iPhone!

BBC NEWS

Top stories divided into categories that you can select. The photos and movies are top notch, the stories are (relatively) unbiased, and you can focus you reading on different areas around the world, places that are important to you.

Even cooler, you can listen to a live radio broadcast of the news, right on your phone. It’s really one of the best news apps around, and it should be on your iPhone.

Pandora: Yeah, even your grandma knows about Pandora, and that’s all the more reason to have it on your iPhone.

Pandora

For those of you who let granny surpass you in basic techno-knowledge; Pandora is an application that creates an endless playlist of music based on the style of music you want to hear.

Got a thing German Disco music? Find an artist or a tune in the genre and voilà, you’ve got an Internet station that just plays German Disco. You can refine the music being played by giving each tune a thumbs up or down.

Pandora is another must-have for any iPhone user.

Solitaire: Microsoft should be sued. Not for its aggressive marketing tactics, or for Windows Me, but for all of the time wasted in offices around the country since 1990 by employees playing Solitaire on PCs.

Solitaire

Solitaire is a great time waster that no computing platform should be without, and there’s a spiffy one available for your iPhone. This version plays very much like the PC hosted one. You can adjust many aspects of the game - 1 or 3 card flip, Vegas style, timed, so on. What I like is that small ads are only visible when you make those adjustments. The problem is that large video ad are shown when you deal a new hand. Thankfully, you can skip the ads.

Well, I guess someone has to pay for it so you don’y have to.

PS Express: Your new iPhone can take some great photos just as it is. I’m often amazed and impressed with the quality of the shots the camera on this phone produces without any adjustments whatsoever. There are times, however, when adjustments to the shots I’ve taken require a bit of tweaking to be the best they can be. That’s where PS Express comes in.

PS Express

This app gives you a lot more control by letting you crop, tint, adjust brightness, saturation, contrast, and a lot more. There are even filters built in to give your photo cool effects. You can then share your shots by uploading to your Photoshop Express or Facebook account.

If you shoot pix with your iPhone, and you will, then you need PS Express.

Evernote: Evernote is one of those apps that you think you’ll never use, then wind having you life depend on it.

Evernote

Got an idea on how to spice up your mom’s recipe for kumquat casserole while having your unmentionables waxed? Just fire up Evernote and jot down or voice your thoughts (sans screams). When you’re done the note is instantly and always available on any device that can display a browser or host an Evernote client. It’s just that simple.

You can upload photos, drawings, or combinations media, which can all be geotagged for your convenience. The account and client is free, regardless of platform, and you get upload 60MB of data per month. You can upgrade to a premium account if you need more features.

Grab Evernote before that next idea strikes.

And that’s ten. You might also take a look at The Weather Channel app, The New York Times, Dictionary.Com, Skobbler, and Mint. There are thousands free apps available, many, like the ones mentioned here, are worth having.

That’s a wrap for this week. Stop back next week for more free iOS stuff.

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7 Comments Leave Your Own

wab95

Vern:

Many thanks for the reminder about Stanza. I had intended to download this awhile back, but could not recall the app name.

Among freebies that I use quite regularly, I would suggest Instapaper for snagging web pages to read later. Among games, Chess, another freebie for those who play.

One other I consistently use, at US $0.99, is Calculator, which allows for both a simple (portrait) and a scientific (landscape) interface, simply by changing the orientation of the phone.

Agree about the Beeb (BBC), a great app. I agree with your term ‘relatively’ unbiased, regarding their coverage. I recently wrote to them about their consistently negative slant on Apple-related stories, which they do not do with others in the industry, including their announcing of every new or imagined product from MS, Google, Facebook, you name it. The following week, they had more than one tone-neutral Apple-related article in their tech section. No causal relationship suggested here, just an observation.

Vern Seward

Hi Wab95,
Instapaper is a great app and I highly recommend it.

There are at least 3 apps called “Calculator” which one did you mean? I currently use EZ-Digits calculator and highly recommend it for its tape readout, and automagic tax calculator.

As too BBC, I hadn’t noticed that they were biased against Apple. I guess everyone can’t be a fan. grin

Vern

rjackb

Vern,
Interesting that you chose the word “anhedonia” for your example for the dictionary app. I hope that you’re not experiencing depression. Personally, I use the American Heritage dictionary (the full version).

I would strongly recommend WeatherBug over the Weather Channel. I think that WeatherBug is a far better app.

Jack

wab95

There are at least 3 apps called ?Calculator? which one did you mean? I currently use EZ-Digits calculator and highly recommend it for its tape readout, and automagic tax calculator.

Now that you ask, I find that this app does not appear among the list of my added apps in iTunes, so I must assume that it is factory installed. For some reason, I had believed that there was no calculator app for the iPhone; perhaps I was thinking of the iPad (?).

Vern Seward

@rjackb: No, no depression here. Thanks. Anhedonia was picked because it’s a word few people know or use, and I only learned of it a short while ago, so it was fresh in my hedonistic mind. grin

On my iPad I have both Weather channel and Weather Bug, but on my iPhone I only carry the former. I picked it over Weather Bug because, at the time, Weather Bug was charging to get full weather alerts, which was silly. They may have changed since, so I’ll take another look.

@W95: Oh! THAT calculator app! grin Yeah, it’s a good app. Still needs tape read out. 99 cents gets you that and more with Ez-Digits. And Ez-Digits is universal, buy once, use on iPad and iPhone.

Vern

Georgia

I can’t live without my Sudoku (various) and wi-fi finder (JiWire) apps.

Jason

cool apps, how about the new Who’s Free app? There is nothing like it, it simply shows me which of my friends are free and I can contact them (http://bit.ly/htLQDW) it’s quite useful when at a big event like the super bowl!:)

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