one of the things that sets the iPhone apart from other phones is the iPhone Application store that runs both on the iPhone and through the iTunes desktop application. It's by far the easiest way of adding applications to a smartphone that I've seen yet. Though a lot of the applications are crap, the running joke is that half the applications are flashlights and tip calculators, there's some real quality there. Below I take a look at four iPhone apps that I've downloaded and one online web app for the iPhone. All five programs are free.
All of that and more after the jump.
- Name: Flickr
- Type: Photo software
Flickr [fkr] is the online photo gallery / storage application that I send pretty much all of my photos to. It acts both as a great backup in case something happens to my hard drive [jks] and as a way to exhibit my photos for the entire world wide web. A lot of the photos that you see posted along with individual blog entries around this site are actually hosted by Flickr.
Now there's a few different iPhone applications that you can buy through iTunes, and I've used a lot of those trying to find the perfect one, but Flickr's recently redesigned web interface for the iPhone is so good that it's likely to become my favorite way of handling Flickr on the phone.
- Name: Facebook
- Type: Social Networking
Facebook is the only application that I feel works better on the iPhone than on a regular computer. Stripped of all the cheesy Zombie Pokes, Sheep Throws and Super Fun Walls it reminded my that Facebook is actually a pretty useful tool for getting in touch with people who might not be easy to reach via traditional means like email or the telephone.
The application allows uploading pictures right to your account either from your iPhone's photo album or if you'd rather you can take a snap right on the phone using the 2 megapixel camera. It also uses Facebook's chat feature, letting you instant message back and forth between your online pals.
Facebook's iPhone program is the only way I use Facebook these days, and I can't imagine that changing.
- Name: Galcon Lite
- Type: Game
People keep saying that the iPhone is a great platform for games, and that it's going to give Sony's PlayStation Portable and the Nintendo DS a run for their money. So far what I've found is that the games that work best on the iPhone are board and card games that are not too different from the ones you'd find on any other cell phone. Sure the graphics of Apple's HoldEm app are awesome, as is the poker playing action, but at it's core poker is poker. Games like Monkey Ball that rely on the phone's accelerometer are frustrating at best.
Galcon Lite, there's a paid version with more levels and more features, is different. Controlled mostly through the iPhone's large touch screen it's perfect for the device, allowing you to move your virtual space fleet about by tapping and dragging your fingers across the screen. The various difficulty levels increase gradually, allowing new players to get their feet wet before the real struggle for control of the galaxy begins but at its hardest settings it's nearly impossible.
Finding out what time the newest blockbuster is playing down at your local theatre is one of the most basic things a cellphone can help you do. Back in the old school carphone days my family would always be calling Hotlines-2929 which amoungst other things offered up to date movie showtimes for all of the theatres in Kelowna. Once phones could get online sites like Tribute popped up offering show times made specifically for a phone's basic text only browser.
Still it was always kind of clunky. Tribute for example often made you scroll through a list of every theatre in Canada to get to the one you wanted, and that took time and focus on a tiny text only cellphone browser. Movies is by far the best option for figuring out what show to see. Using the iPhone's location hardware the program knows where you are and can display a list of theatres near you. This is one of the only things that doesn't work perfectly on the app, since it often shows theatres in Langely being closer to my downtown Vancouver apartment than theatres in downtown Vancouver. Thankfully the feature that lets you favorite theatres, keeping them at the top of your list, makes up for that since it lets me keep the Scotiabank Theatre and Tinsletown first and second.
Another nice feature is that if you don't know what a movie is about, the program will actually load a trailer for you to watch using the iPhone's Quicktime software.
The order of this list is fairly random, so if you've been holding out thinking that getting to the number one spot would get you the best application of the bunch, then I apologize. iFutbol is probably the app here that serves the smallest audiance, those people wanting to keep up to date on the fortunes of their favorite football (soccer) team. With nearly all the major national leagues represented (there's none missing as far as I can tell) and the international game covered as well it's a handy tool.
A little short of the flash and dazzle, everything is just as you see it rows and tables of numbers but it gets the job done.
Now of course there are more applications that I use regularly, but I'll try to write about those later. The ones that didn't make it on the list, but will soon generally tended to be too internet specific, RSS readers (NetNewsWire) or Twitter clients (Twitterrific) or they required more of an explanation than I was willing to give (AirSharing).
Still I could easily make a list of another five great free programs availble on Apple's iPhone Apps store. Easily. So easily that maybe I should just start right now...