Cool iPhone apps  JUL 10 2008

So, what are the cool must-have iPhone Apps? The iTunes Store lists the most popular ones but that's often not a good indicator. Obvious choices thus far: Twitterific (read and post to Twitter), Remote (control iTunes or Apple TV with your iPhone), and AppEngines' individual ebooks (like Pride and Prejudice). Let me know what your favorites are in the comments and I'll compile a list. Bonus points if you actually explain what the app does and why it's worth the effort.

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There are 46 reader comments

Thomas Edwards14 10 2008 1:14PM

Shazam has to be the best for those with a poor memory for the name of songs and artists. Hold your iPhone up to the speaker and it will identify the music! Normally this costs £1 ($2) via text, but it's free for now! Get it while you can.

Michael Condouris28 10 2008 1:28PM

Try World 9 by Nao Tokui - you turn it on and walk around, and you make mario noises with every bounce. Free.

Ryan Briggs29 10 2008 1:29PM

NewsNetWire for RSS reading that syncs to NNW on your mac.
Mobile News Network for AP news articles.
Bloomberg for well presented financial info and news.

All free.

Matt31 10 2008 1:31PM

I find myself using my iPhone as a temporary flashlight at times (like, coming home at night when I forgot to leave the porch light on and I can't see the doorknob), so the Light application will be very useful.

I haven't used it yet, but Urbanspoon looks like a great idea for deciding on a restaurant (especially for the indecisive types like me).

ktb34 10 2008 1:34PM

loopt looks really cool. from their description on itunes:

"loopt uses location technology to connect u to the world around u like never before. pinch, tap and drag an interactive map to find where ur friends are and what they r doing."

i can see this being cool here in nyc where lots of people walk around. just click this app and see if any of ur friends are browsing around soho, union square, or wherever u happen to be.

Tim Crowe36 10 2008 1:36PM

PhoneSaber. It turns your phone into a light saber. So much fun.

ryan41 10 2008 1:41PM

Where is the SSH client?

PJ Doland56 10 2008 1:56PM

I second the call for an ssh client. That's the one thing I really need.

jhn56 10 2008 1:56PM

, evernote.

Brian11 10 2008 2:11PM


oh and ssh.

Josh13 10 2008 2:13PM

If you live in NYC you should grab CityTransit ! It's a subway guide which has the real MTA maps and a station finder that uses the GPS to tell you where the nearest stops are. Plus it's just 3 bucks!

jkottke15 10 2008 2:15PM

Thirding the SSH client. I wonder if Apple won't allow such a thing for some reason? (Seems unlikely...I hope someone steps up with an app soon.)

Tops on my wish list is a very simple notes app that syncs with the web or an app on my machine. The gentleman above obviously likes Evernote but that looks like overkill.

wiley21 10 2008 2:21PM

I'm waiting for an ssh client, a midi controller (preferably with accelerometer as well as configurable onscreen buttons) and a app.

Derek K. Miller22 10 2008 2:22PM

Here's my list of a dozen or so programs that caught my eye, purely from the screenshots and descriptions.

jhn30 10 2008 2:30PM

Ok, Evernote. Evernote is a service which syncs a local library of notes and whatnot to a web service. So you can access them online anywhere, but also through a variety of well-designed clients.

There have been a lot of note-taking apps before (Yojimbo etc), but none of them really nailed syncing.

I had been just syncing an idisk of text files-- not ideal.

This is perfect for people who want to "live in text files"-- it does a lot more for plain text but it's the best way ever to just carry around a bunch of lists and reference docs.

It's basically just really well executed.

Now, has anyone played around with an ebook reader? I want a general front end that can locally store and nicely display Project Gutenberg and other public domain etexts, and that 99 cent an ebook thing is a freaking scam if I've ever seen one.

Jacob32 10 2008 2:32PM

Battle At Sea looks really well made and quite fun (if you are a fan of Battleship). It's $3.99 but looks worth it. Multiplayer, of course!

Here's the AppStore link.

Greg Schueler34 10 2008 2:34PM

I blogged a list of what seem like good free apps.

jhn58 10 2008 2:58PM

Also, jason, I wouldn't say that Evernote is really overkill UNLESS all you want is a non-sucky, basic replacement for Notes. It's not like Devonthink or anything. The search features and the handwriting recognition (which happens on a server when you sync, not locally) are all pretty basic to the idea of just taking and syncing notes.

In addition to the ebook reader of my dreams, I would like vim. Thank you.

judson 39 10 2008 3:39PM

Light and Alarm free. I have a Touch.

Matthew47 10 2008 3:47PM

FileMagnet is a killer app for me. I can't believe how useful the phone is now. There are other apps as well at the Magnet Apps site.

CeRo50 10 2008 3:50PM

Urbanspoon for sure. The slot machine like restaurant suggester (not official name) is awesome.

Colin50 10 2008 3:50PM

geezus, you want vim? I guess you could tap your way through that, but it's not very ambitious-

C'mon man, it supports multi-touch! Why not ask for emacs!

I wish someone would port Delicious Monster to the iphone- can you imagine how convenient that would be?? You could go through the aisles of Blockbuster, scan everything that looks interesting, and keep a running list of "things I mean to see eventually". Then maybe it checks cable listings and see when those movies are airing, and make a calendar entry? I'm a genius. Now quick, somebody go code that.

Daniel50 10 2008 3:50PM

I'm waiting for the MobileScrobbler to be available which, reportedly, should be soon. The neatest thing about it is that it "scrobbles" everything you hear to, keeping track of your tops and favs with some neat charts thrown in. I'm stoked for possible upgrades coming from beta.

Evernote will be sick for syncing notes. I'm sick of emailing stuff to myself :)

nick07 10 2008 4:07PM

G-Park looks like what I need nearly daily being the directional moron that I am. But I don't see it on the App store, only on Posimotion's website:

Nora12 10 2008 4:12PM

@ Colin - try out Pocketpedia for setting up media collections on your iPhone. It's a 1.0 release but we're working on the scanning for the future.

Paul M. Watson37 10 2008 4:37PM

Friend Book looks great, wirelessly share contacts between iPhones.

Mike Steinbaugh00 10 2008 5:00PM

I'm looking forward to Things. It's a GTD to do list manager.

Josh Mishell13 10 2008 5:13PM

A bunch of apps look cool, but I can't really decide if it's worth losing my jailbroken apps to install these new guys...

The apps I like on the jailbroken phone are Twinkle, uSirius (a Sirius internet streaming radio), Snapture, and VideoRecorder.

Are there similar apps like this on the AppStore? I'm on the fence about this whole upgrading thing right now.

Any thoughts?

Brett33 10 2008 5:33PM

Re: Shazam.

I just tried it out and I am absolutely in love. It identifies songs from ~10 seconds of audio input on the mic. Then it saves the results in an easy to navigate list.

Hear a song on the radio you want to buy later? Shazam it!

Michael08 10 2008 6:08PM

Shazam is great.

And so is the Jott app. Record voice messages, and a minute later they are turned into text. Really cool stuff.

I wish there was an app like the MLB one, but that covered all sports.

Josh Mishell27 10 2008 6:27PM

like an ESPN application? they should hop on that.

i could see tons of easy access to player stats, highlights, and a bunch of other things.


Jeff Croft36 10 2008 6:36PM

Michael and Josh:

Check out SportsTap. It's not perfect, but it's not bad, and it does cover all sports. Totally agree that ESPN needs to make an app.

Alex Mahan37 10 2008 7:37PM

The demo of the upcoming app looks really impressive: Preview on Vimeo

Stephen Glauser29 10 2008 9:29PM

I think Loopt is pretty much a must have for those who actually have other friends with iPhones, Blackberrys and the like. 3G tomorrow!

Josiah19 10 200811:19PM

To all the evernote fans it is already in the app store:

I went to check it out and their site has a giant iPhone app button:

Rufus03 11 2008 1:03PM

Here's my Day 1 list of free downloads I liked:
Cube Runner (I also paid for Monkey Ball which is cool too)
Google Reader
Epocrates Rx
NY Times

jhn39 11 2008 4:39PM

I paid for Nullsoft Tuner, Crosswords, Monkey Ball, Bomberman, Enigmo.

Free stuff is great, but you can play with it on your own time.

Lots still being added-- like I'd check back, and there is new stuff.

jon40 11 2008 5:40PM

definitely look up splashID, really useful app. Basically a secure database for all your login information.
Also highly recommended are splashdata's other apps, SplashMoney and SplashShopper, personal finance and list managers, respectively.

Ruben23 11 2008 7:23PM

AOL Radio! Comes with a ton of internet and terrestrial stations (the latter via CBS Radio). Quality is good and it works on 3G/EDGE/WiFi.

Hilarye47 11 2008 9:47PM

I'm totally excited about the travel Apps- as you can see from my newest blog post- the one I am going to try out this weekend is the Urbanspoon App. I love the idea of it being able to locate where you are via GPS and help identify restaurants close to you- but the part that's really cool is it's like a slot machine and you shake your phone to change options and pandora that will be cool to have

Michael S04 12 2008 3:04PM

Motion X Poker. Its a Poke dice game that uses the accelerometer to shake the dice. Great physics model and lots of incentives like new dice and higher wager tables. Beautiful design, simple to learn, and highly addictive.

Super Monkey Ball is pretty, but very hard to control.

Mindy McAdams26 13 2008 1:26AM

Tops on my wish list is a very simple notes app that syncs with the web or an app on my machine. The gentleman above obviously likes Evernote but that looks like overkill.

The Zenbe List app looks like this -- really simple and straight-up. Stored on the Web at

I tried it out and liked it.

jhn49 13 2008 1:49PM

Yikes, I apologize for recommending Evernote. IT STINKS.

No editing of notes from phone.

No offline access to notes, and no intention to ever add that feature. (You know, the whole point of having a native app in the first place.)

No ability to even READ notes on your phone in a legible way-- the text is tiny and doesn't reflow.

What a stinker. I am currently migrating all of my data from Evernote into (for little lists and such, you can view these easily through iPhone mail), and I intend to use Jott for mobile capture.

scott56 13 200811:56PM

urban spoon was totally innacurate in my area, made me not trust the app for travel so i removed it. It told me restraunts were close (less than 1 mile) that where a lot further than that, actually in another city all together sometimes.

I am in vancouver bc, maybe its better in the US.

Kris K51 14 2008 2:51PM

Here is an ebook version that is FREE

justin14 14 2008 4:14PM

pandora is awesome, i almost dont need my own Mp3s with that application

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.

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