40 Capsule Not-Quite-Reviews of my Current iPhone Applications

Bill Loguidice's picture

iPhone 3GiPhone 3GI thought I would do some quikie capsule not-quite-reviews of the applications on my iPhone and why I have them on there, including the games, since it's the only device I've really had time to use in the last few weeks. These will be examined in the order of how I have them placed on the menu, from left to right, top to bottom (apps I added in BOLD):

First screen:

Calendar - Default calendar application. This syncs well with two different versions of Outlook on my work and home computers, though I have to manually click "merge info" when I try to sync on the other computer through iTunes.

Contacts - Default contacts applications. This syncs well with two different versions of Outlook on my work and home computers, though I have to manually click "merge info" when I try to sync on the other computer through iTunes.

KeyNotes - Since the iPhone's built-in notepad application doesn't sync with the notes in Outlook, I need this application, which does a fine job syncing wirelessly on their server. Unfortunately, the desktop sync app is a bit annoying. I believe in the next iPhone OS update, it will finally have a default notepad app that syncs with Outlook. KeyNotes costs $9.99 a year for the service: http://www.mychapura.com/keynotes.php

Weather - Default weather application. This polls Yahoo's servers. I have Philadelphia, New York and Cupertino set up.

Recorder - One of the two major feature omissions in the current iteration of the iPhone besides the lack of video recording (which can't be corrected at this time) is the lack of voice recording (memos, not phone recording). This app is one of many available to correct that omission and does a fine job. Recorder presently costs $0.99: http://www.recordertheapp.com/

Camera - Default camera application. It works fine for a device with no flash or LED.

Photos - The default images folder for either photos taken with the camera or images synced from your main computer. Works just fine, as using your fingers to zoom in and out and move images is rather fun.

Maps - The default Google Maps application. It uses the built-in GPS technology to zoom into your present location whenever possible, and you can also use it to search for all kinds of destinations, like "Pizza" or "Jiffy Lube". It will take you there and track your progress, but it's not a true real-time GPS. I believe that functionality may be added in the next iPhone OS update.

Calculator - The default calculator application. It seems to be a standard, functional calculator. I haven't seen any advanced scientific or higher mathematical functionality, but then I wouldn't be able to make use of it anyway.

Clock - The default clock application. This includes World Clock, Alarm, Stopwatch and Timer. Useful stuff. Like all my previous cell phones, I use the iPhone as my primary alarm clock in the morning. This app is actually very feature rich and stable in comparison to what I've had on other phones.

MLB.com At Bat 2009 - What does a New York Mets do during baseball season when he lives in an area that broadcasts Phillies games? He either pays for an expensive MLB online account that allows him to watch or listen to games on his computer, pays a god-awful sum to his cable company to get the MLB season pass, or pays $9.99 for the season for this iPhone app, which gets the live audio for all the games and makes many other features available for the baseball fan right on the phone. I went with the phone option: http://mlb.mlb.com/mobile/iphone/

Facebook - This free app gives you full Facebook functionality right on your phone. Obviously I could use the built-in Safari browser to do the same thing, but this is more convenient and has a nifty photo to Facebook option.

Shazam - This is one of those unbelievably cool apps and it's completely free. Essentially once you run it, you let it listen to a few seconds of whatever music you're listening to in the real world and it will then use an algorithm to check a database to tell you what artist, song and album it's from. I only tested it on one song by putting it up to the radio in my car, but it got it 100% right. Obviously these types of applications can't be 100% perfect, but even getting it right 80%+ of the time would be amazing. Great, great stuff. It also gives you the option to verify it's accuracy by letting you listen to a snippet and then purchase it directly. http://www.shazam.com/music/web/pages/iphone.html

Google - This is another free app that basically consolidates all the Google goodness under one umbrella. There is Google functionality throughout the iPhone, this is just a quicker place to access it all.

App Store - This is another default application and gives you access to the iPhone app store from the phone. This is on my primary screen because you see a little note on the icon whenever there is a new app update. Yes, it is indeed a great thing when you don't have to check yourself for new versions of the apps on your phone. When there's a notice you click, verify and update, and wa-la, new version!

Flashlight - This is a free app that more or less tries to turn your phone into a flashlight. Unfortunately, without an LED by the camera portion, the only way to light the way is by turning the screen white and leaving it on. This generates SOME light, but not a lot. Still, it's better than nothing. The program does have various options including different colors and settings like flashing and what-not. http://johnhaney.com/flashlight/

On the bottom of the screen, permanently (meaning on all menu screens), are the following:
Phone - Standard phone dialing application.
Mail - Standard mail application (I default it to Gmail, which polls my real accounts).
Safari - Standard Web browser. Works well for a small screen browser and does give you most of the real Internet.
iPod - Standard iPod application, which gives you access to your music, podcasts, audibooks, etc. I LOVE getting various podcasts pushed to my phone for free via iTunes!

Second screen:

USA Today - This is the newest free app I added along with Google Earth. It's basically just a nice media rich news summary, which allows you to catch up on, well... news.

The Weather Channel - Another free app and at least the third app on the phone that right now that gives me the weather. I may rid myself of this at some point, but for now it's not bothering anything.

Urbanspoon - This is a free restaurant finder. It locks down on your present location and allows you to shake the phone to randomly pick a local restaurant. The database seems a bit limited, but it's still an interesting app to have.

Google Earth - I was debating about adding this free app, but decided to anyway. I'll see how much use I get out of this, but again, why not have it on there for free?

YouTube - Default YouTube app. This basically simplified the YouTube interface a bit for quicker access. Can't say I use it much.

iTunes - The standard on-phone iTunes app. The full functionality of the desktop app is not quite there, though you get more features when connected via wi-fi rather than 3G. (by the way, purchasing MP3's on Amazon is seamless with an app they have - they go straight into iTunes. Also, I upgraded all the music on my phone so it's 100% DRM free, so I can listen to it all on anything if I so chose.)

Pandora - A free app. I must admit to being a Pandora noob. It seems interesting though, though I'm just getting started on it. Essentially you put in an artist or whatever and it pushes free music to you, which becomes channels, so it's like "personalized" radio. Right now I just tested it with Cathy Dennis and Fiona Apple, two of my all-time favorites. It's now in my desktop browsers as well. http://www.pandora.com/on-the-iphone

BubbleWrap - A free game. Essentially you pop the bubble wrap bubbles as quickly as possible. It's supposed to be cathartic, but I don't like the frenetic pace. I'll have to play with this one a bit before passing final judgment. http://www.modojo.com/reviews/iphone/bubblewrap/20080721/638/

Tap Tap Revenge 2 - The free sequel to the free Tap Tap Revenge. I ran it quick, but I have to really understand the instructions to really play it. It's a bit like a Guitar Hero/Frequency type game. It seems like fun and there are some interesting band add-ons. http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/03/02/tap-tap-revenge-2-lands-tonight/

Flight Control - This is the game everyone is talking about and with good reason. It's absolutely one of those learn-to-play-in-seconds but difficult to master games. You essentially guide various aircraft to their respective landing strips with your finger, being careful to not let any of them crash into each other. Amazing fun and really only possible on the immediacy of a touch screen. It's also only .99 and an update with more aircraft and fields is promised. http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2009/04/flight-control-on-the-iphone-...

FS5 Hockey (Touch Hockey) - A free air hockey game. It's certainly fun and the price is right, but it does take a bit of time to load and sometimes your finger unavoidably obscures the action. http://www.apptism.com/apps/touch-hockey-fs5-free

Crazy Penguin Catapult - The first game I purchased (there's a free light version available). I already beat all the levels, though I still need to get perfects on the bonus boards. A rather unique and fun game, with action and puzzle elements. Highly, highly recommended, particularly at $2.99. I believe you can play it in your browser as well: http://www.addictinggames.com/crazypenguincatapult.html

Baseball '09 - This is a bit like MLB Power Pros for the Nintendo Wii, PS2 and DS, in looks. Supposedly this is the most feature reach arcade style baseball game/sim for the iPhone, but for my money, it falls a bit short. Of course, there's not much you can do on the iPhone in regards to sophisticated controls. I think an update or two will certainly improve this game, but for now it's at least playable and has lots of modes, including a home run derby. More feature-rich baseball titles are on the way, so this better hurry. By the way, this uses a virtual d-pad and buttons, which works reasonably well, though you obviously can't move and press buttons at the same time since it can't pick up multiple presses. $4.99. http://fingergaming.com/2008/12/baseball-superstars-2009-in-app-store-499/

iBowl - Another nice freebie game. It uses the accelerometer and tilt sensor to simulate bowling. Essentially you move the ball, press bowl, make your intended throwing motion with the whole phone (pretend it's the ball - though hold on tight!), let go of the bowl button, then see the results. It's not wholly accurate, but it works and it can be fun in that whole Wii Bowling kind of way. http://www.appsafari.com/games/7009/ibowl/

Adventure - A free homage to Atari's original Adventure game for the Atari 2600, with faithful visuals. The touch controls are a bit too touchy, but the game is impressive for what it's trying to be. http://peterhirschberg.blogspot.com/2008/11/adventure-for-iphone.html (Hey, check this out, Sierra's "Mystery House" has been ported to the iPhone: http://toucharcade.com/2009/03/12/1980-adventure-mystery-house-comes-to-... . Not for $5.99 and certainly not with having to type of the keyboard.)

2XL Supercross - Ah, Supercross, the game everyone seems to be wetting themselves over. At $7.99, it's fairly pricey for an iPhone game, but I had to see what all the fuss was about in regards to this dirt bike racing game. I read everything about this, including it having "PS3-level visuals". Hyperbole aside, it has impressive visuals for a handheld, coming very close to the quality of 3D available on the PSP, but definitely falling a bit short (it definitely far exceeds the Nintendo DS). I've been struggling a bit with the controls, so I really do need to spend more time. However, kudos for creating a truly professional-level game, I'm just not sure it has great gameplay as of yet. I can see how the fancy visuals would impress casual gamers though. http://iphone-game-reviews.com/2009/04/10/off-road-motorcycle-racer-2xl-...

Third (mostly empty) screen of four (which is empty):

Stocks - Standards stock app. I don't track my stocks daily, so it's not much interest to me, but it's a nice app.

Notes - Standard notes app. As mentioned earlier, this is replaced with KeyNotes on the first screen menu.

SMS Text - Standard SMS texting app. I don't text, nor do I have it in my plan (it's a la carte), so don't text me. I'm sure it works fine though and never say never.

Settings - The standard settings app, which allows you to adjust all kinds of things, including some other apps.

So, what's missing? I'm STILL waiting for the Slingbox application to come out so I can watch my home cable/DVR on my phone again. I'm still waiting for an XM Radio app so I can listen to my account on the phone if I so chose. I'd still like a video recording app just in case (it may be in iPhone OS 3.0, but it may not be for this generation of phone). Even with those current omissions, this is the greatest phone I've ever owned and right up there with one of the greatest devices! I'm curious what other treasures, both free and paid I'll uncover as time goes on? I'd love to hear some of your favorite apps as well!


Joined: 05/20/2006

If you want a scientific calculator, just turn it sideways.

Here are some of my favourites:
WeatherEye - Excellent weather app, for Canada only I think.

Byline - News reader that hooks up to your Google Reader account and lets you save items for offline viewing.

Wikipanion - A Wikipedia browser that is a bit easier & faster to use than Wikipedia's web site.

Nike + iPod - Just on my iPod touch. It records my daily walks with the aid of a wireless sensor that goes in/on my shoe. Then I go to the Nike web site and see how fast I walk, how far I go, if I'm improving, how close to my goals I am, etc. I also use a Facebook app that posts my walks, so if I start to slack off everyone knows!

TiVo Mobile - TiVo's web app (m.tivo.com) bookmarked on my home screen. Find shows & schedule recordings from anywhere.

Dictionary.com - Free dictionary and thesaurus that works offline. When you are online, you can listen to pronunciations.

eBay - easier than going to eBay's web site.

Amazon - mobile web site bookmarked on my home screen.

Enigmo - Fun little physics based game. Direct water droplets into buckets, or bounce lasers off mirrors into the targets. Works naturally well with a touch screen.

Mail & Calendar - I hooked up both of these to my GMail account. The calendar took a few steps to set up, but it works well. It syncs with Google's Exchange servers and all updates happen immediately.

In iPhone OS 3.0 when you search your mail, you can do "continue search on server" and it will find old messages that aren't even on your phone anymore.

Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Joined: 01/16/2006
My brother-in-law had some

My brother-in-law had some cool apps; not sure what they're called, but I had lots of fun with a drum machine and a musical keyboard.

Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Joined: 12/31/1969
Just added the free version

Just added the free version of classic, "Pocket Tanks". I'll see if it's worth springing for the free version. I also bought this: http://www.rifftrax.com/shorts/you-and-your-family for .99. Seems like they have a version included for every possible platform, including an iPhone friendly MP4. I have yet to try video on the thing, so this will be a first (not counting the nice intro video in the motocross game and Web videos).

Vintage Games book!
Xbox 360: billlog | Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

Mark Vergeer
Mark Vergeer's picture
Joined: 01/16/2006
Pandora US-only!

For our European/Non-US readers, the Pandora music app will NOT work outside of the US due to ridiculous copyright restrictions.

Xbox 360: Lactobacillus P | Wii: 8151 3435 8469 3138
Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

Joined: 05/20/2006
I've tried a couple radio

I've tried a couple radio apps that do work outside of the USA: SHOUTcast and WunderRadio. The latter can tune in almost any streaming audio and has a very good directory built in. It can suck your battery fast though.

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