This is a short list of my 10 current personal faves in the iPhone apps store. I tried to pick apps that you might not know about, or that do unusual things–since at this point everybody already has a favorite Facebook, voice memo, Twitter, and burping app.
What are your favorite apps? Email us at [email protected] and we’ll do a future newsletter on readers’ faves.
I’ve been using these apps a few times a week, they’re not flashy but they fill a need.
Never forget your login info for your bank website, Google mail, the Wall Street Journal, or Amazon. It securely stores your login name and password to various websites. It also eliminates the need to manually type in the username and password when using your iPhone to log on to websites. You need only remember your Unlock Code and Master Password (but woe if you forget either one!) Works great on its own or syncs with 1Password for Mac, available for $39.95 from http://1password.com.
For those of you in NYC, or who come here often, this app is invaluable. It has maps of the subway for the 5 boroughs, the city bus routes for Manhattan, and the LIRR and Metro North lines. You can zoom in and out on all the maps using the pinch technique. And with the Locate button you can find the nearest subway station to your location, wherever you are. Plus it has all the latest subway service advisories.
3. CheckPlease Lite
Calculates the tip on any restaurant bill, and also easily splits the bill among multiple people. You can choose whether to tip on the tax or not, and you can choose what percentage to tip. And it can also round up the tip or the total. I keep forgetting I have this on my iPhone until we’ve already spent 20 minutes doing math in our heads after a dinner out.
These apps aren’t really restricted to business–I suppose you could call this the “getting stuff done” category.
This app allows you to take notes, but it also allows you upload and download notes from Google Docs. So I can have on the iPhone a list of my To Dos, and I can add items to the list in Google Docs or in iNote. (This also means I always have a backup online, in case my phone dies or is stolen, and I can access all my notes online.)
5. Melodis Voice Dialer
One of my biggest peeves about the iPhone is how long it takes to look up somebody’s phone number. With Voice Dialer, you just touch the screen and speak the name of the person you want to call, and that person’s contact entry pops right up. You can even have the app place the call for you, by saying “Call Ivan Drucker on mobile” (whereas saying “Ivan Drucker” simply brings up his entry.) You can even say “IvanExpert” and all contacts with that word will pop up.
WHEN YOU’RE BORED
Some of us aren’t crazy about games, which means we need something else to keep ourselves entertained on the subway or when waiting around. I like to read a lot, so here’s what I do when I’ve got a little free time.
Stanza allows you to download and read books on your iPhone. You can purchase any of 50,000 new books or you can choose from 50,000 free classics available through Project Gutenberg and other sources. In case I’m stuck on the subway without a magazine, I’ve already got My Man Jeeves by PG Wodehouse, Persuasion by Jane Austen, and the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, all ready to go (and all free, as they’re in the public domain).
7. Instapaper Free
Allows you to save web pages for reading later, when you’re offline, like on the subway. When you install it, it puts a “Read later” bookmark in your web browser (on your computer and/or your iPhone), and then anytime you click it, Instapaper saves that page for you. Great for those of us who do a lot of surfing.
COOL AND UNUSUAL
These are the apps that can’t be classified as truly useful, but they are beautifully designed and fun to use.
Designed by musician Brian Eno (with software designer Peter Chilvers), it allows you to create beautiful patterns and musical tones by tapping on the screen. Create your own ambient sounds, and choose your color scheme and loop speed. You can also have Bloom generate its own sounds and visuals. VERY relaxing. And can make anybody feel like an avant-garde musician.
Grow your own Bonsai tree right on your iPhone screen, in under a minute. Watch it grow, push the tree to force growth in a certain direction, shake the phone to make leaves fall, or rotate the bonsai to see it from numerous angles. It’s like Koi Pond but more elegant. You can even save your favorites.
Use your iPhone to take a picture of any text in a magazine, on a billboard, or on the web, and WhatTheFont will identify the font right on the spot. It’s not always completely accurate but it does usually give you a few fonts to choose from. Great for design geeks like me. It’s like Shazam for fonts!