Thursday, October 2, 2008

My Favorite iPhone Apps

It's been officially 12 weeks since the iPhone 3G came out and my new smartphone has taken over my life.
No doubt one of the best things (and sometimes worst) about the iPhone is the relatively new Apple App Store. It is Steve Jobs' attempt to make every iPhone customizable depending on the user. To some degree, it has deterred jailbreakers. Unless you want to do video recording, home screen customizations and running programs in the background.
Still, you can find a lot of gems in the App Store for free or very little cash. We've all gone through the tip calculators, the lightsabers and the beer drinking apps. But, how many apps do we USE on a daily basis?
Here's some of the apps that I have been using a lot in the last few months:

AirMe/Exposure - One of the features of the iPhone 3G that I was dying to try out was the ability to geotag photos. That means every picture you take is embedded with a GPS location that can be put on a map. That's exactly what I did with my Flickr photoset Street Hiking On Oahu. If you click on the "Map" feature you will see exactly where each photo was taken. Each photo is also tagged with the current weather conditions. I use AirMe to take the photo which is automatically uploaded to my Flickr account. Then, I use Exposure to check if it is there. Exposure is also great at looking at the photos that have been taken near your current location and featured pictures from all over the world. There is an Exposure Premium but the only difference is the ads, and they don't bother me too much. Otherwise, both apps are free.

Facebook - Version 2.0 of this app just came out and it has really put it over the top as the best social networking app on the iPhone. You can do just about everything on this native app as you would on the web. The only things you don't have access to are third-party applications. I have been reconnecting with high school buddies on Facebook and this great iPhone app helps me to do that on the go. Free.

Twittelator Pro - Since getting the iPhone, I have also become a Twitter addict. I used to use Twitterfon but I didn't like the light blue motif (although that is very Twitter-ish) and it was pretty straightforward without added features. So, I decided to invest $4.99 into Twittelator Pro, a native Twitter app with features that aren't even on the Twitter website. My favorite feature is the thumbnails of uploaded pictures. Also, Twittelator just came out with a set of emoticons.

Asphalt 4 Elite Racing - To me, this is the BEST game hands down. The use of the accelerometer is phenomenal. The game is fast-paced and rarely misses a beat. Even though I'm done with the whole game, I keep playing it for the rush. It's also fun derailing your opponents. It's like a PS2 racing game on your iPhone. It is well worth the $9.99.

Distance Meter/iPump Total Body - A couple of iPhone apps have been encouraging me to exercise more and to lose weight. I have been walking long distances lately and I found a great app to track it. Distance Meter shows my total time, distance, speed and calories burned after each workout. I can then upload the stats to and have my route put on a map. Here's an example of one of my very long walks: Kalihi to Pearlridge. Distance Meter is $2.99 but you can also get Trailguru. It has very similar features and is free.

iPump Total Body is like having a personal trailer right there in the gym with you. A workout regiment is outlined with each exercise. There are great pictures and a written explanation, and if that's not enough there's a video with a narrator! The video is probably the best feature. When you're done with the exercise you can log it in the app. This also costs $2.99, which is cheaper than other similar apps which are not as good.

Here's some other worthy apps by genre:

  • Reference: Bible - Easy to read, lots of translations and can be used offline. Free.
  • Sports: MLB At Bat - Great live game features, lots of player/team stats and video highlights. But, it is subscription-based ($4.99 for half a season; $2.99 for postseason only) and will have to be bought again next year. It also never had team standings in the native app; it directed you to Still, sports iPhone apps have been disappointing to say the least and MLB At Bat has been the best effort by a professional league.
  • News: Associated Press Mobile News Network - Quick loading and easy to read with a lot of pictures and videos. Free.
  • Music: BeatMaker - A $200 drum machine becomes a $19.99 iPhone app.
  • Productivity: Air Sharing/Datacase - Use your iPhone like a hard drive with the ability to read your files. $6.99 each.

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