So, you have your iPhone. You have all your funky apps, from iBacon to Bump, from AP’s news app to Skype.
How about something useful? Something that helps you use your iPhone to its greatest potential?
a look at some apps that will let you make the most out of your iPhone
whether it’s your battery life, e-mail, texting or more.
There are, approximately, 8 gazillion applications that enable you to
see how much battery life you have left. It’s hard to say which is the
best, as they all do pretty much the same thing. Many are free, and
most of those have three stars; some are paid, and they range from
three to three and a half stars, for the most part, in average ratings.
So we chose to go with BatteryMagic, as it has both free and paid (BatteryMagicPro) versions, as the app has hundreds of ratings.
Many of the battery apps have both free and paid versions and most do the same thing.
BatteryMagic will tell you how much time you have left on your battery for:
- 3D Game Play
- Game Play
- Talk Time
- 3G Internet
- Wi-Fi Internet
- Video Playback
- Audio Playback
- Standby Time
- iPod Video Play Time
- iPod Audio Play Time
It’ll also tell you how much time it’ll take to full recharge your battery.
The pro version adds the ability to tell if you’ll be able to see a
full-length movie with the battery life you have, a notification when
your battery is fully charged, the ability to switch from 3-D to 2-D to
conserve battery life when you don’t need 3-D capability, plus skins to
customize the battery image with colors, images or patterns (like
Unlock screen notifications
Sometimes you need to check your to-do list or your reminders quickly
and don’t want the bother of unlocking your phone, navigating to the
app and opening it. iNotify
enables you to put certain notifications on your unlock screen so all
you have to do is wake up your phone to see what’s next on your list.
You can customize colors and even set up different wallpapers through
the app, for different to-do lists or goal-setting or other
notifications, changing them out as you’re done. Heck, you could put
your grocery list on there if you wanted. It’s 99 cents, too, so it
won’t break the bank.
has gotten a lot of thumbs up for having a whole bunch of utlity apps
in one: battery life, clinometer, currency converter (195 currencies),
date calculator, countdown/days until, flashlight with adjustable
brightness, holidays from 83 nations, loan calculator, periodic
calculator, price grab, random number generator, ruler, sale price
calculator, system info, tip calculator, 52-language translator and a
unit converter with 17 categories.
This month, the app is
supposed to add customizable themes, a calculator, a strobe and new
graphics to the flashlight, nine more languages to the translator,
holidays from 11 more countries, and a “secure wallet” app. December
should bring a dictionary.
This app has gotten more than 2,500
ratings and has a solid 3.5 average rating in the App Store. And right
now it’s 99 cents “for the holiday season,” though it’s usually $1.99.
The AirMousePro lets you convert your iPhone into a wireless mouse or trackpad.
It uses the phone’s built-in accelerometer to translate your hand
motions into mouse movements. The main uses it’s touted for are for
controlling your “home-theater PC” or for giving a presentation. Its
- Accelerometer based mouse
- Trackpad (full screen vertical and landscape modes)
- Media keys and Web keys
- Application notifications
- Remote keyboard with modifier, function and arrow keys
- Programmable hotkeys (can be set to run a program or keyboard combination)
- Scroll pad
- Multi-touch gestures (scroll & right click)
- Password protection
- Custom sensitivity settings
- Foreign-language keyboards
- Support for Bonjour or static IP
- No screen size limitation. Works with multiple monitors
Another app that has thousands of ratings, with a solid four stars for the current version. It costs $1.99 right now.
Many user complaints about the iPhone camera focus on the lack of a
flash, so if you’re not in good light, you’re outta luck.
There are a few apps that strive to fill this void:
Flash for Free,
a free app, has nine different flash effects and undo functions.
Basically, you take your photo, apply the app to it and brighten it. It
has more than 13,000 ratings and just two stars, but it seems that’s at
least in part due to a major bug in the previous iteration. It won’t
help if you took the photo at night, some remark in reviews, but if you
have a photo that needs to be lightened just a wee bit, for free, you
can’t beat the price.
Camera Flash and More
is a much newer app, with just slightly more than 50 ratings, but
averaging 4.5 stars. As the name implies, it adds flash to your photos
- and you can add it multiple times to increasingly brighten it. It
also allows you to darken photos if they’re overly bright. It also
allows you to convert your photos into black and white or sepia or give
it a metallic sheen. You can also invert the photo for funky effect if
you like. It’s 50 percent off right now, just 99 cents. The next
version will allow you to share your fixed-up photos with friends.
Another major complaint people have
about the iPhone camera is its lack of zoom. HD Camera attempts to
resolve that, with up to 4x digital zoom with real-time preview.
It’s $1.99, but only has 14 ratings, averaging 3.5 stars. The
developer’s website links to an unclaimed GoDaddy! page, so it’s
uncertain what kind of support there may be for this app, but it was
only just accepted into the app store last month. The developer also
has an app, Action Freeze, which enables the user to take a non-blurry
photo of a child or animal that’s constantly fidgeting. This app has
nearly 40 ratings and is averaging 4 stars.
is the iPhone app of the well-known website, allowing you to test the
speed on your ISP. This way, before you complain to your provider that
your wireless speed is for the birds, you can test it to make sure it’s
not just your phone or a momentary blip.
It’s been used a lot; a free app, it has a solid 3.5 stars after nearly 23,000 ratings.
C’mon, you know you would prefer if your messages or notes showed
actual emoticons instead of just the old-fashioned colon-dash-close
parens when you send a text message on your phone.
which does just that. Googly eyes, flowers, hearts, smileys and even a
smiley with a SARS-like mask on it. After nearly 3,000 ratings, it has
3.5 stars in the App Store (99 cents) and it works on Notes, SMS
texting, e-mail and other apps.
Let’s face it. AT&T doesn’t have the top 3G network around.
Fortunately, you don’t have to completely rely on the phone network to
use your iPhone, you can use a wireless connection.
WiFiFoFum scans for 802.11 networks and gives you a plethora of information about each it detects:
‚Ä¢ RSSI (signal strength, shown as a number or in an icon)
‚Ä¢ AP mode
‚Ä¢ Security mode
‚Ä¢ Available transmission rates
You can then connect to the network of your choice, provided it’s
unlocked or you have the password. And so you don’t have to go through
the same process every time to figure out where the best Wi-Fi networks
are, it allows you to create logs of access points. They can be viewed
on the iPhone’s maps app or you can send it by e-mail so you can access
the information from your laptop – you just paste the link in the
e-mail into Google Maps.
You can save passwords, and the main list is sorted by signal strength, so you can easily see which networks to try first.
For $2.99, the app has more than 500 ratings, averaging 3.5 stars.
It can be frustrating when your iPhone is sluggish or is crashing and
the first thing most people assume is that it’s AT&T’s fault. But
it isn’t always due to the not-best-3G network in the nation.
System Activity Monitor allows you to check your:
Runtime (RAM) memory usage
Storage (Disk) usage
All running processes
WiFi and Cellular IP addresses
- Battery level
The information will allow you to determine if you need to free up some
memory, force-quit some apps or get rid of some apps.
testimonial claims Apple Tech Support suggested the user get SAM to
help diagnose the problem he was having. It’s $2.99 and has 3.5 stars
after nearly 300 ratings.
What if all you want to know is how much memory you have left on your
iPhone? Whether you can download that Paper Toss game app everyone’s
been talking about?
The free Disc Space
app will tell you how much space you have in total (in case you can’t
remember if you sprang for the 8, 16 or 32 GB), how much is in use and
how much you have left. Nearly 1,000 ratings, averaging 4 stars.
It’s one thing if someone e-mails you a link to look at, another thing entirely if they e-mail you a Word file or a PDF.
A relatively new app, File Viewer
enables you to look at PDFs, Word docs, Excel spreadsheets and
PowerPoint presentations. It supports these file types for data, images
It has just 17 ratings, but is averaging 3.5 stars; it costs 99 cents.
There are a whole bunch of reasons you might want to have a text-to-speech app on your iPhone.
You might want to make it easier to get through a document or e-mail
someone sent you and you’re on a train or bus or in a car and reading
it is a little hard as you’re jostled around. NeoSpeech, the parent of
NeoJulie, offers TTS in several languages: English, Spanish, Korean,
Mandarin Chinese and Japanese, with both male and female voices.
Its iPhone app, NeoJulie, so far only offers the English-language TTS, with the “Julie” voice. With 30 ratings, it’s averaging 4 stars.
Speak It markets itself slightly differently.
“Have you ever wanted to prank call someone, but your voice gave you
away?” And they helpfully remind you to turn off your caller ID before
you call your friend to prank him or her. But it’s also billed as a way
to make announcements elegantly, by plugging the phone into a PA system.
It offers American and British male and female voices. With more than
430 ratings, it’s averaging 3.5 stars. More voices appears to be the
most requested change. It’ll run you $1.99.
Video Safe ($3.99) and Picture Safe
($1.99) promise to protect your videos and photos from prying eyes,
especially useful if you’ve uploaded your porn collection to your
You can import photos or videos into the app, or
shoot them directly from inside the app, which protects them with a
password. And to stop snoopers from digging deeper if they type in an
incorrect password, you can set it to send them to a “safe area,” with
a collection of “generic” images. It also enables users to quickly hide
any image or video from a passer-by’s view with a double tap.
The app also allows you to organize photos by subject matter, so it doesn’t just have to be used for … NSFW images.
Video Safe has nearly 3,000 ratings and Picture Safe more than 5,000 ratings and both average 4 stars
OK, this one’s not really practical, and most iPhone users probably
have never seen a rotary telephone in their own homes. But Rotary
Dialer allows you to use a virtual rotary dialer, complete with
It’s 99 cents, has multiple themes for various
looks, and has more than 2,000 ratings, averaging 3 stars. The main
complaints appear to be that it’s not authentic enough – i.e., it dials
too quickly. But can you imagine if it really took as long to dial as a
real rotary phone?
allows you to save pages and sites you want to look at but might not
have a chance until you’re out of 3GS or Wi-Fi range. Say, when you’re
on the subway or on an airplane (though that’s beginning to change).
Pages are saved without images and ads, so they load faster and don’t
use as much stored memory. It comes with full-screen browsing, hiding
the toolbar. It can be used as a regular browser, too, loading your
homepage immediately, but not storing any browsing history. You can
lock the rotation, too, so in case you accidentally fumble your phone,
the image on your screen doesn’t tumble over and over itself.
still has the Google search bar and allows you to e-mail a link to the
website and you can use the same gestures as Safari – open pinch or
double-tap to zoom, etc.
It has about 40 ratings, averaging 3
stars, though the newest version accounts for half the ratings and is
averaging 4 stars there. It’s 99 cents.
Sure, everyone says you can find everything in Google. But what if you
can’t? Or if you have specific sites you want to search for the same
type of content on?
allows you to move from one site’s search to another without having to
retype your query. It allows you to search for the same term on Google,
eBay, Amazon, Yahoo, Dictionary.com, Wikipedia, IMDb, YouTube, USPS,
FedEx, UPS, Twitter, Flickr, Allrecipies, WebMD and Urban Dictionary.
It’s a pretty new app, with just 9 ratings, but all but one of those were 5 stars. It’s 99 cents.
There are some people you probably find yourself e-mailing often. Mail
Quick! allows the user to, with one or two clicks, open an e-mail
template already addressed to a person on your favorites list.
Users can either choose one person they e-mail very often and just by
clicking on the app icon, an e-mail addressed to that person opens, or
they can enter multiple addresses in the app and tapping the icon gives
users a pop-up list you can choose from. You can preset additional CC:
recipients and subject lines.
It’s 99 cents, and relatively new.
With 15 ratings, it averages 4.5 stars; though there were a couple of
negative and average ratings, no one left a negative review, so it’s
not clear what their issues were.
If you manage several websites and travel a lot, you may need to check
in on the sites to make sure they’re running smoothly. Alternately, if
you’re just surfing your regular sites and are having trouble loading
them, you might want to figure out if it’s your service or the site
SiteStatus allows you to input whatever sites you want to monitor and it keeps an eye on their network status. It also allows you to:
- Refresh all sites with one click or a shake
- Give your sites easy to recognize nicknames
- View the HTTP status code and message
- Launch your sites on Safari
can monitor FTP, HTTP and HTTPS network protocols. It’s 99 cents and
has been around since may, though it doesn’t seem to have been
downloaded much, with just 5 ratings. Those ratings were mostly
positive, though, averaging 4.5 stars.
There are a ton of
utilities out there, some useful, some not. If you want some basics
that really going to provide bang for your buck, here are five
recommendations: AppBoxPro, Quicky Browser, File Viewing, WiFiFoFum and
SpeedTest. Those are probably the ones you’d use most in your
day-to-day life. Some of the others can be quite useful as well, such
as Flash for Free, and others are just for fun – iEmoticon, for
example, but if you had to choose the ones you’re most likely to use
and be glad you have on your iPhone, the five mentioned are probably
the best bets.