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Iphone apps, 2010 edition

by KO on November 17th, 2010

There are many iphone lists out there, almost as many as there are apps out there it seems sometimes! The Apple app store is humongous, and resembles a large flea market more than a mall, with mostly junk, a lot of repeats and extremely hard to find the good stuff. Just like a flea market though, there are some really useful, life enabling apps out there. And of course, the games!

My app philisophy: If an app does something useful for you, whether saving time, enhancing productivity or entertaining you, than get it. The price of an app is the last thing you should consider - it’s the value to you, the user, which is the most important. Apps are worth buying. Your iphone and your monthly bill for it is so much more than all the apps you’ll buy that it doesn’t matter what the app prices are.

The best way to figure out what smartphone app you need is not through someone else’s list, but to come up with a list of things which you wish you could do better, smarter, faster, smoother and more funner! Keep in mind that the people thinking up apps for your phone are more inventive, so there are a bunch of really useful things which your phone can do once enabled with the right app that you haven’t even thought of yet, and that makes other peoples lists interesting - to find out what all they’re doing.

So here goes the list of my fav apps, sorted by what they do for me:


Simplenoteapp is where all my notes and much of my writing lives.

I started of with Evernote, which does a lot more than just text, but it was slower and buggy, so I was looking for a simpler alternative. That was some time back, and it’s improved since then - so if you need to sync voice and photo as well as txt, than you need Evernote. It’s installed on my phone, but I haven’t used it for months.


I read a lot, and smartphones are a great enabler for this. There are four types of reading I do on my phone - articles, rss feeds, news and books, with different apps for each. Now these 4 things overlap - a rss reader delivers news and articles as well, but I’ve found the following works best for me:

Reading articles

Read it Later integtates with my web browser, and anytime I come across something I want to read, I just press the read it later button. This automagically syncs that article to iPhone as well as to all my computers, and saves a offline text and webview of that page.

Look at the graphic below - how awesome is that! All my reading is synced across all my devices, which means I end up reading a lot more articles than ever before. The only thing missing is a RIL app for the Kindle, which I think the  app author is also working on…

Instapaper is a worthy alternative. Both have free and paid versions, and if you  end up using either app than the paid versions are well worth the upgrade.

Reading books

Amazon’s Kindle is the app to go to for reading books. There is a version for every device, and whichever one you’re reading your book on, it syncs the position across all devices. Amazon has the best ebook library, but the other ebook stores are catching up, though Apple’s own iBooks remains overpriced with a tiny catalogue.

If you have a Kindle, than you need a smartphone with the Kindle app on it, for those times when you have a few minutes to kill and want to quickly read a bit more of your book without looking for your paper or electronic version.

Stanza is a good alternative, which has a nice built in search interface which enables downloading free books from various sources like Project Gutenberg, reading comics, buying books from other ebook sellers - a whole lot of stuff.

The News

Tbe New York Times has a great iPhone app, and is a great example of what a good newspaper app should be. It really does deliver the newspaper to your phone, so even if you’re not a fan of this particular paper, this is a good app to have as it works well.

Reading weblogs and rss feeds

Reeder is the best way I’ve found to read rss feeds. It integrates nicely with Google Reader, and has just about everything a iphone feed reader should have. If you don’t know what rss feeds or google reader is, than just ignore this app and move on… though the free Pulse app is a simpler alternative.

Super useful apps which I never knew I needed

Soulver - this is a cross b/w a calculator and a spreadsheet. The default iphone/android calc is good enough for the most basic calculations, but for anything more you need Soulver. This isn’t a calc, it’s something far more.

It’s quicker to use than a spreadsheet, and smarter and clearer than a traditional calculator… Soulver is the ultimate app for doing quick calculations and figuring stuff out on the iPhone.

The problem with apps like Soulver is that it’s iphone only - I am planning to switch over to Android, but it’s iphone only apps like this one which are stopping me.

Wolfram Alpha - this is amazing. Ask it a question, and it computes it. Think Star Trek.

Playing Games

Now this is a whole another kettle of fish, but in the guise of what a smartphone does well, it sure fits - it’s great at entertaining you!

Short, addictive, easy on the brain games

Angry Birds! Buy it. Straight Away. This is it, if you want a diversion, you need angry birds. I’m waiting on Angry Birds 2 now… it’s that good.

Flight Control - Simple, addictive, nice, but I got bored and never load it after the first few attempts. Angry birds made this obselete. To be fair, I don’t game much so I just needed one

These here games are more taxing:

Chess is wonderful on the iphone. I have tChess, which seems more than good enough. There are other good chess games as well but after months of playing I’m still happy with this one. I started of with the lite version, and after some months when I started beating it am shifting onto the pro version.

Reversi - I used to play this on a board many years ago, and it was nice to find it on the iphone.

Fieldrunners - A good tower defence game, interesting and fun for a while! But boring and repititive. It you like tower defence, this is one of the best of the type. If you don't know what tower defence is, don't bother.

Games which I bought and put on the phone becuase they seemed aweseome, and actually are awesome, but I've never played them, except to load them and marvel at how much my phone can do:

Worms - Wonderful on the pc, too small and complex on the iphone - should be great on the upad though.

The Secret of Monkey Island - One of my fav games on the PC, decades ago, and one of the best pc games ever made.  It still amazes me that I have this whole game in my pocket all the time - but after marveling at it for 5 minutes never looked at it again.

Civilizations Revolutions - This is a variant of my one of my fav old school games, Civilization. The iphone version is quite nice, but I've never going to actually play it - but if I need to kill a few hours it's there and waiting.

Wow, just plain wow

Shazam and Soundhound - both of these apps can listen to playing music and tell you the song - and save it for future reference, as well as find the music video, lyrics, singer information, and a whole bunch of other stuff. Months after I got this app, it's still amazing. I don't use it often, but anytime I hear a song I like, I fire it up and presto - now I have a list of of songs I really like! The older I get, the harder it is to find new music - and Shazam is by far the best way I've found.

Soundhound seems to be better, but back when I got my iphone, Shazam was the king, and I'm still using it.

Pocket Universe - this is the app I dreamed about as a kid. Point it at the night sky, and it tells you what you're looking at - how awesome is that!

This is a list in progress, but I'm pressing publish now... will add the rest of my apps later on ...

Yet more apps...

Google - useful, but searching on the default web browser does the job anyways...

The world factbook

From → Phones, Software

One Comment
  1. Nice list, Finally you have come up to see the Iphone apps, I thought you hated apple products :D

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