Top 5 iPhone Applications (from the App Store)
This is simply a list of my top 5 favorite iPhone apps. Now, I’ve used a lot of iPhone apps, both free and paid, but with that said, I couldn’t have possibly tried them all. So if you see this list and you find it odd that I prefer app X to app Y, leave a comment, maybe I am not aware of app Y! These are in no particular order, but I will list them in trendy count-down style so I can build a false sense of suspense :-P
#5 – WiFi Touchpad – $2.99
This app is a god send! I have a PC in my living room connected to my entertainment center, and this app allows me to easily ditch the keyboard / mouse combo. Not only does it function as a very low latency laptop-style touchpad pointing device, but it also features:
- Landscape touchpad, great for wide screen TVs
- Landscape keyboard. Although a little cramped, it is very cool that it offers most all the keys you would need for interfacing with your computer.
- A mode that allows you to type all of the text you want right on the iPhone (using the familiar iPhone keypad) and then send it to your computer all at once. This is useful if your just typing text for an email or IM or whatever, even a web address.
- Can work with multiple iPhones / computer systems.
- The receiver app is VERY small and unobtrusive. It doesn’t run at boot by default, so toss a shortcut in your startup folder!
- Works on Mac or PC (although I have only used it with a PC)
Oddly, some comments knock this app for having a lag between touch pad movement and when it responds on the screen. Being a musician who fools around with lots of MIDI I know latency when I encounter it, and the latency (lag) with this app is very small! It feels just as, or damn close, to the responsiveness of any laptop touchpad. If it lags for you it is likely your network that is the problem.
My only complaint is that double-taps on the pad (without using the actual button) takes some getting used to, as the taps have to be timed fairly consistently, but this happens naturally after you use it for a bit.
I also tried VLC Remote, but I could not get it to work. WiFi TouchPad required no additional configuration on my network. Just install the iPhone app, and then the receiver app on your computer and your in business! Zero configuration hassle!
#4 – Beejive IM – $15.99
Okay, I must admit, I don’t like the idea of paying $16 for an iPhone app… but this app is well made and I believe it’s well worth the money. Now, if you’ve tried other IM applications on the iPhone you know the dilemma here; no 3rd party apps on the iPhone can run in the background (without jailbreaking), so how does one receive messages when the app isn’t running in the foreground? Answer: YOU DONT. This app gets around that by keeping you connected on their servers for a length of time you can specify, and when you get an IM while the app is not open you will instead receive an email (if you configured this) that lets you launch the app and check your messages. This sounds a bit hokey, but in practice it is very satisfactory.
I signed up for a new yahoo email account specifically for this app to use so that I know any message in this account is a new IM or network notification, or something from Beejive. Yahoo also supports Push technology, so it’s pretty much instant. So far i’m still not getting any spam in my inbox, so this is working out well :-)
Other than that it is a very well designed IM application that supports most all major IM networks (AIM, Yahoo, Google, MSN, MySpace, ICQ…). Now, I have had some issues with myspace support, but luckily I don’t use it regularly and just tried it for the heck of it, but you may want to consider this if you are a fan of MySpace IM.
If you need to be able to receive IMs while your doing other things this is the only thing close to an elegant solution that I have found, so it get my vote for best IM app despite the relatively hefty price tag!
#3 Tweetie – $2.99
Ok, I have finally seen the light with Twitter. I have to appologize for ever beleiving Twinkle was up to par and I am now quite happy that those annoying youngins’ drove me away from that app [see update below].
Tweetie is just a pleasure to use. It really makes Twitter everything that it should be! I love being able to save my searches. For example, I have a search for ‘#php’, one for ‘#iphone #app’, another for ‘#iphone #dev’, etc. I also love how Tweetie incorporates Instapaper. If you don’t know about Instapaper (I didn’t) it is one of those things that is so simple it can easily be written off as useless. All it does is let you save a list of things you want to read later. Kind of like book marks, but if you’ve tried to do this with your bookmarks you know how quickly it can all get out of hand! Once you save something to instapaper you can retrieve the articles later from any device with a browser. This is a very useful tool that I use many times daily.
It also has the ability to find other users in your area, but somehow this feature doesn’t seem as exciting to me as I thought it was with Twinkle (but this is only due to me just now ‘getting’ the whole Twitter thing I think).
I could go on and on about Tweetie, but basically every feature it has is useful and nothing seems to be fluff. Tweetie is an iPhone app and a Twitter app that was done right!
#2 – ShapeWriter Free – FREE
This app is one you grow to love. But once you learn it you will love it! In concept this is similar to the Notes app that comes bundled with your iPhone, but with one huge difference; you ‘type’ not by hitting keys, but simply by ‘sliding’ a thumb from letter to letter to spell the words. The software is smart enough to know either exactly what you were trying to spell or it will display a small group of selections that will most likely contain the word you intended to spell. And worst case, you can still peck at the keys. The beauty of this app is that after a while you can write out sentences with one thumb much faster than you can with two thumbs in the traditional maner. This is the fastest way I have found to get spur of the moment thoughts and whatnot on to the iPhone before you loose it! If you have ever tried to jot down a complex idea on your phone in the traditional way, you know that you quickly find yourself thinking more about typing on on the damn little keyboard than concentrating on what your writing about! And, yes, I even prefer this to a landscape keyboard. Try it and give it a chance, ShapeWriter will probably become one of your most used apps!
#1 – WinAdmin – $11.99
Okay, I know… I know… another app on the list that’s over $10 bucks! The good news here is that, unlike Beejive, there are cheaper and free alternatives that seem work equally well (maybe even better). I believe one free alternative is called RDP Lite. I just happen to like this one, but it may have something to do with the fact that I’ve already invested $12 bucks in it, ha!
What this app does is allow you to connect remotely to your Windows PC (maybe other platforms that support RDP?) and you can do anything you would normally do on your computer, but… remotely! There are some limitations, like watching a video, which works in theory but really bogs down and practically locks up the connection (atleast in my experience).
You can use this app to (read: Things I’ve done with):
- Check on torrents your downloading at home, and make sure Peer Guardian hasn’t crashed again ;-)
- Do some lite PhotoShop work for a website, then upload the graphic to the server
- Reboot or fix something on a Windows server without making a trip to the office
- Fix the parents PC without a trip across town (or country, whatever the case)
- Pull up docs and other info that are stored on a home or work PC when your out and about
- Impress your friends by telling them you put Windows on your iPhone! :-P
- Countless other uses… use your imagination!
Okay, there you have it, my Top 5 iPhone Apps! If you have any objections to my choices please comment and I’ll seriously consider revising this list if there an app that does basically the same thing as one of these, but better.
Stay tuned! I am going to follow this up with a Top 5 iPhone Apps Worth Jail-breaking For… or something to that effect.