Released earlier this year, AccuWeather also has a solid range of features. It automatically determines your location and offers an array of weather forecasts and other information. Features include animated radar and satellite info, 5-day local forecasts, hour-by-hour forecasts, weather videos, health weather indices (air quality, a flu index, etc.), graphs that show the probability of severe weather over the next eight hours, and weather alarms.
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This one is also on the top 20 list of free apps. The Weather Channel is rich with features, including location-based conditions and forecasts, in-motion radar maps, traffic cams (for selected areas), weather alerts, video forecasts, and the ability to customize the features and store your favorite locations.
This iPhone app makes it easy to access the hugely popular Pandora Internet radio site. Once installed, open the app and create a Pandora account. (If you’ve already created an account on your desktop computer, you can log into it via your iPhone.) Then, simply tell Pandora your favorite song, recording artist, or composer. Pandora scans its database for similar music, based on a wide variety of attributes identified by the Music Genome Project (pandora.com/corporate/mgp). It uses this information to create a personalized “station” based on your favorite song.
Google Earth is the second title on the list of all-time top 20 free apps. Like the desktop version, this app uses satellite and aerial imagery to let you explore the Earth. It also offers information about particular locations, including panoramic pictures and Wikipedia articles, giving you an idea of what those locations look like and offering more info about them.
As I’m writing this, Apple is hosting a countdown to the 1 billionth download from the App Store. In honor of the occasion, they have posted a list of the all-time top 20 paid apps and free apps. At the top of the free apps list is Facebook, which was released early on in July of 2008 and currently has thousands of enthusiastic reviews. You can use it to chat, view photos, monitor your friends’ status updates, and upload photos to your Facebook account.
Skype is the most popular application available for making free computer-to-computer phone calls. It also offers very low-cost calling plans that let you make calls from your computer to landlines and mobile phones. It also has great instant messaging and file-transfer features.
One of the big surprises of the past couple years has been the popularity of Amazon’s Kindle eBook reader. Serious readers love it, but at around $350 it’s a bit pricey. So I was thrilled when in early March Amazon released a free iPhone app that lets you read any of the 240,000 titles you purchase from the Kindle eBook store.
This app lets you access the Shortcovers Web site and build your own digital library by choosing from thousands of bestselling books, chapters, news and magazine articles, short stories, blog posts, and more.
Phanfare is another photo-sharing Web site that lets you store your photos and videos online, and access them wherever you are. Their Photon app lets you take photos with your iPhone and upload them wirelessly to your Phanfare account. You can create albums, add captions, write album descriptions, and share your photos and videos with friends and family.
The SnapMyLife app for the iPhone lets you take pictures and share them with family or friends via the SnapMyLife photo site. You can share your day in photos, keep up with friends or family, or check out someone’s life on the other side of the world. Post a photo, comment on pictures, or make a “friends” list of people whose pictures you like. New features are added frequently—check it out!