Seven Must-Have iPhone Apps

This post is a third in a series which outlines the iPhone applications that I find most useful. Check out “My Favorite iPhone Apps” (October 14, 2008) and “5 iPhone Apps That Rocked My World” (February 3, 2009) to see my previous recommendations.

CardStarcardstar My wallet is filled with membership cards, which is super annoying. It means that I either have to make sure to bring it out or risk not having a specific card (and getting the membership benefits). With Cardstar, you simply enter in the number on your membership card and it creats a scanable barcode, effectively allowing you to leave the clunky cards at home and ensuring that you’ll always have the informatin (and the discounts) with you.
My friends frequently ask me why I would share my whereabouts with the world (through Twitter, mostly). Now I have an answer: To unlock badges, become mayor and beat my friends at “nights out”.In Foursquare, I get “points” for checking in at different restaurants, bars, attractions, etc. Each Foursquare user starts out with just a “newbie” badge but things like 4 nights out in a row, checking in at three places in one night, checking in past 2am on a school night, will “unlock” other badges. I can “compete” with my friends (which can be added by scaning an address book, looking up someone by phone number, or finding Twitter friends who are using the service) to see who has the most check-ins or just as a way to see where they are.If you are a big going-out person and are maybe a tad competitive, you will be HOOKED on this app! (Add me on Foursquare!)
Photogene brings photo-editing capabilities to the iPhone. I snap and upload pictures (to Twitter, to Facebook, to Flickr, etc.) on the go all the time so I think this app is completely worth its $2.99 pricetag. I use it mostly for cropping my pictures, but it has many more capabilities like adding special effects, straightening tilted pictures and correctiong the color.
PPB (Photo Phonebook) This app is simple yet genius. Download up the app, create a user account and when someone calls you who you are Facebook friends with, their Facebook profile picture will come up. Did I mention it’s simple yet genius?
See a book (or CD or movie, for that matter) that you are interesting in buying but not ready to buy it at the moment and/or don’t want to overpay? Simply “snap” a picture of the cover and SnapTell will not only show you prices at other stores, but it will also save your query, effectively creating a wishlist on your iPhone that you can come back to later. For indecisive folks like me, this is great (or dangerous since it means I can put off making the decision)!
I was a big, big fan of Twitterfon — until TweetDeck came out with an iPhone app earlier this month. Anyone using Twitter who has a smartphone needs an app to Tweet on the go. Tweetdeck originated as a robust desktop application in which users can create “groups” of Twitter contacts, searches by keywords and otherwise segment Tweets. Using the iPhone app, users get all that functionality on their mobile phones and it syncs to a user’s desktop instance of the application.
Yelp is a phonebook, a map, and a guide book all in one. If I’m out somewhere and need to find the closest sushi restaurant, let’s say, Yelp will locate me and with a simple search provide me with nearby sushi restaurants, complete with reviews, addresses pinpointed on a map and phone numbers to call ahead. And after I’ve eaten, I can pull the app back out and write a review right then and there. In my opinion, its the reviews and other helpful information (like business hours) that helps Yelp trump other location-based restaurant/services apps like AroundMe and Urbanspoon.
DC Bonus: inauguration This app was created to help visitors navigate around DC for Barak Obama’s Presidential Inauguration. Five months later, it’s still installed on my phone. I use it primarily to find out which Metro station is closest and the upcoming train schedule (Do I have 2 or 20 minutes to catch the Red Line train to Glenmont?). I know other Metro apps do exist, but whether it’s laziness or an unwillingness to pay for an app when I already have one for free that will do the trick, I’m sticking with this one for now.
  • http://WebsiteURL Ben

    Oh good, IRL Achievements. Just what I needed.

  • michellemelton

    This is great!! Just downloaded foursquare and cardstar- thanks for the tip!

  • Jason Feather

    Great post – thanks for the heads up re umbrella today! Check out my fav apps at my blog Fav at mo is Artificial life which simulates the actions of real protazoa! Jas