My Top 10 iPhone apps

I always love reading a blog or a website that has the "Best iPhone Apps" or "Top 10 most useful apps for Photographers" etc. I almost always discover something new that I haven't tried yet. So, I decided to put my Top 10 Lists up here too for anyone who's searching for more fun or productive ways to challenge your computing device.

First of all, I'm a bit of a geek and an app whore. I LOVE learning all about a new application - every menu item, every feature, every hidden trick. I actually read the manuals too, cover to cover. I'm a sicko, I know. When I'm looking for a new program for something, I download and try everything I can get my hands on. When it comes to iPhone apps, I usually just buy it (great for the developers that you can't demo or return crappy programs!) and hope for the best. I guess at less then $2 for most apps, it's not that big a loss.

So I've done a lot of research when I pick a favorite. Usually I've tried just about every competing program too, and settled upon a favorite. Sometimes it's one little bitty feature that sets it apart but makes all the difference in use-ability.

Today, here is my list of iPhone apps. Next time I'll post my list of Mac programs. I'm not putting them in any particular order, cause that is too hard to decide which is THE best. So, here they are, in random order:

1) Things. This is a "To Do" list manager that is modeled after the Getting Things Done organizational system. Things has a matching desktop application that is very easy to use, with just the right amount of features. The iPhone Things allows super quick entry of new To Do's, creation of new Projects, which Todo's can be assigned within, and more. One of the best features is that it synchronizes with the desktop app perfectly - and absolutely idiot proof-ly. All you do is open Things on the desktop and open the iPhone app and they automatically sync. Couldn't be easier. It also syncs any scheduled Todo's perfectly with my iCal. My crazy life can now be kept somewhat in order. Simple and effective.

2) TwitterFon. For Twitter users, this is the best. I've tried ALL the others and this one comes out on top. Some things I like are that it has a clean and simple interface. Every other Twitter program I've tried is missing at least ONE key feature, but TwitterFon seems to have it all. It links all @replies to the original thread so you can see what the heck someone is talking about when they post a random twitter like "@kevinkubota that is so TRUE! I can't believe nobody else knew that!". It also connects all direct messages (DM's) in an ichat like conversation thread, making it work just like an instant message system. I can DELETE messages I've sent or seen easily and it has a powerful search feature that let's me quickly see, in one window, anything twittered about "Kevin Kubota", or "Kubota Actions" or "Kubota Dashboard" or "Cool shirts with Dragons on them".

3) FotoTimer. OK, so pretty much everyone has tried to take a photo of themselves with friends on an iPhone and cursed about trying to hit the Take Photo button accurately! FotoTimer adds a self-timer so you can hold it out at arms length and wait for the beep - or put it on a table and get back further. It's also great for taking photos in low light as you can trigger the timer, steady your hands, and let it snap. Has a neat time lapse feature too, although I've never used it.

4) Take A Note. This is a slick note taking app that allows for Photo notes, audio notes, text notes, and Drawing notes. It has one of the most beautiful interfaces I've seen on an iPhone app - kinda retro old notebook looking. You can search any of the notes easily and sync via wifi. One neat feature is the ability to email a note. I use this to post photos and notes of my Bloody Mary's to my Bloody Mary blog page automatically!

5) IM+ This is an all-in-one instant messenger app. It can pull you ichat, google, AIM, etc accounts into one place. It even has a cool feature where it can keep you logged in via their servers so you can close the app and still "look" like you are online to your friends. When they send you a message, it comes to you via an email. This works great if you are using a .mac email account with Push notification as the emails come to you instantly. I'll talk more about this in another future post.

6) TouchType. This is one of many "Landscape" mode email programs. These are nice if you write many (or even a few) emails on your iPhone as it's much easier and more accurate to type with a landscape keyboard. All the programs don't actually send the email, but they pass your text on to your normal email program. It's pretty easy. The thing that makes TouchType unique is that it can save Templates of your often used text which you can load with a button touch - saving you time in re-typing. It ALSO will post your text to your twitter account instead of email, if you want, which is really nice. I use the templates to setup a Direct Message address (for example: D kevinkubota) for my friends. Then I can tap a button to cycle through my addresses, add my message, and fire it off to twitter. Free SMS messages! It's faster than launching TwitterFon, finding the right person, choosing their profile, and starting a direct message.

7) DialPad. This is a replacement for the default phone dialer. It adds a quicker way to search for a contact. You have a regular keypad, but just start typing the letters of their names on the number keys - like a "dial by name" directory. As you type, the list of matching names appears and you can choose to call or SMS them. I have a major pet peeve with the built-in searching function on most of the iPhone apps (too hard to get to the search field and too many taps to get there) so this is a much more streamlined way to quickly find a contact.

8) OpenTable. If you like to eat out a lot, like I do (or HAVE to because you travel a lot) then OpenTable is a great tool. It's a web based service that keeps your personal information and allows you to search restaurants in any area and make the reservation all online. You get "Dining Points" too when you use the service which count towards free dinners and other niceties. It's all free, of course. Now, they have an iPhone app that is super easy to use and links to your online account.

9) SpeakEasy. A really clean and simple voice recorder. Great for quick "note to selfs", song ideas that hit you while taking a walk, or recording your kids laughter! You can create categories for your recordings too.

10) Line Rider. The iPhone is great for games, especially with the accelerometer that allows control by tilting your phone one way or another (there's a great game to test this mentioned below). Line Rider, however, is deceptively simple and addictive. It started as an online game and it quickly grew to be a cult classic. The premise is simple, you draw a line with your finger and when you are done a little stick figure guy on a sled will slide down your line with life-like physics modeling. You can create crazy roller coaster loops, jumps, speedy downhills, whatever your imagination gives you. It sounds silly, but I dare you to try it! Kids and grown kids alike love this one.

11) Google. This is a no-brainer, so it's not really in my top 10. Everyone needs Google and it should just come with the iPhone. I assume everyone will already have this on their iPhone as it's free and worth every penny :-) Has voice-recognition search too, which is great when you are driving or forget how to type.

I have some honorable mention apps too, that won't apply to everybody, but here they are in case you might need something of the sort:

1) MotionX GPS. For iPhone 3G users with built-in GPS, this is the best I've found so far. Nice interface and maps are free - although you need to have a data connection in order to view them (similar to google maps). Great for hiking or driving and making sure you don't get lost.

2) Tip. Again, for those that eat out with friends a lot and need to figure a tip and how to split a bill between everyone, this is the nicest looking app and easiest to use.

3) Aeroweather. Designed for Pilots, this gives decoded weather reports for all airports in the cleanest interface I've seen. I use this almost everyday to check before I plan to do a flying lesson.

4) Wings. Another game, but not really a game. It's a "flying" simulator that is more like what you "dream" flying would be like, rather than what actual flying is like. There is nothing to shoot, no place to go, and nobody to compete with. You just fly around. It's a really fun way to relax and see how cool the iPhone accelerometer really is. Four beautiful virtual worlds to explore. So cool, you just have to try it.

So that's it. Leave me a comment and let me know your favorites too! Next time I'll post my favorite Mac desktop apps - and believe me, I'm pretty biased there!