With all the hoopla over the iPhone 3G and its new hardware features such as built-in GPS and faster Internet speeds over AT&T¹s network, the real revolution with Apple¹s second-generation cell phone is the iTunes Application Store.
Now the mobile device can run programs made by third-party developers, and the capabilities are unlimited. From games to utilities to innocuous programs that turn the device into a faux flashlight or a virtual lightsaber, the iPhone now can do all kinds of functions akin to a smartphone.
There are more than 1,700 applications for the iPhone as of this writing, with more than 460 of them free. I¹ve put dozens on my phone to try out. Here¹s the best I¹ve fiddled with that are staying on my phone. Included is the price to download and own them.
AP Mobile News » This program from the Associated Press aggregates all of the wire service¹s stories and gives them to you by category. It also includes photos, video and local news. Free.
vSnax » Tired of watching YouTube videos of a cat licking from the toilet bowl? Try this video application that gathers daily videos from CBS News and G4TV, as well as movie trailers and celebrity news. The collection is rather guy-friendly with content from the likes of Ripe.tv and Gametrailers.com, but the videos are professionally produced and run off a great user interface. Free.
Munch » Thank the local developers of Avantar in Provo for this nifty application that searches for restaurants in your area based on where you are. Using the GPS finder, the program lists all the nearby eateries by type, or you can search by name. Then you can dial the restaurant with one touch. 99 cents.
OneTap Movies » There are several applications that give movie times, but this program, also from Avantar, has a slick interface and movie trailers to boot. It figures out where you are through the GPS and gives times to movies at the closest theaters. It lacks the ability to purchase tickets from the phone, and it¹s still a bit buggy at times, however. $1.99.
Midomi » It almost seems like magic how this program works. Put the phone¹s microphone up to a car radio while it¹s playing a song, or even just hum or sing the song, and Midomi give you the title. It also gives you the link to the song on iTunes and to a video of it on YouTube, though it¹s not always 100 percent accurate all the time. Great for those times when you hear the music but don¹t know what it is. Free.
Pandora Radio » Imagine your own personalized radio station. Type in the name of a favorite singer, song or composer, and Pandora starts streaming songs from that singer or songs similar to it based on the song¹s musical structure. Free.
AOL Radio » Tired of Utah radio? This application streams in the music signals from over 200 CBS radio stations around the country from more than 25 genres of music. Free.
Monkey Ball » The Sega rolling-monkey-in-a-ball game is ported to the iPhone in what has to be the most graphically amazing game for the device. Here is proof that games on Apple¹s portable actually can look better than anything on the Nintendo DS. $9.99.
Crash Kart » Video gaming¹s favorite bandicoot (a furry animal) comes to the iPhone in a Mario Kart-like driving game that again shows off the detailed graphics. A bit sluggish in framerate, though, hopefully it will be corrected in future versions.
Enigmo » The Macintosh game is ported to the phone in all its mind-bending glory. Drops of water have to flow from one jug to the other by way of Rube Goldberg-type contraptions. Best of all, levels made by users can be downloaded to the phone for more game play. $9.99.
Aurora Feint » A combination of a Bejeweled-type puzzle game with role-playing aspects, this unique mix is an addictive gem. Free.
Labyrinth » Remember the wooden box game in which you tilted the top and rolled the steel ball past the holes? Here¹s the virtual version that uses the phone¹s tilting accelerometer to great effect. Incredibly accurate. Lite version with 10 levels, Free. Full version with 500 levels, $6.99.