It's astounding that the pace of new apps only seems to be accelerating — and on track to reach 100,000 by the end of this year. I wonder if there's ever been anything like it. And of course it makes you wonder if all these people can make money. Recently there was a great article in The Guardian about the App Store — it's history, the goofy apps that have taken off (such as iFart), the wide range of apps, how free apps bring in money from advertising, how app development tends to foster creativity, the rising popularity of lifestyle apps and the relative decline of games, and the stumbling blocks that may hinder progress in the future. Highly recommended.
Following up on my discussion of the Where To? app, I wanted to mention Urbanspoon, a free app for finding nearby restaurants that appears to be quite popular. It uses GPS to find a restaurant near you. And you can filter the results according to price, type of food, and neighborhood. You can also access reviews of these establishments from newspapers, bloggers, and other diners.
Where To? is offering an introductory price of .99 until August 23, so this is a good opportunity for you to try this app. It uses the iPhone GPS to give you local information, such as the nearest steakhouse, bank, or movie theater. Version 2.0 was recently released and uses several of the new features available in iPhone 3.0, such as having a built-in map to display results right within the application. It has an appealing interface, as you can see from the image, that lets you quickly drill down to what you want without your having to do any typing.
Sometimes PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) seems a bit extreme. On the other hand, you really can't argue with the goal of this app. If you're shopping and you need to choose between a couple products, why not select the one that's cruelty-free? PETA's BNB app (Be Nice to Bunnies) is a cruelty-free guide that gives you instant access to a database of companies that do and companies that do no test their products on animals. Plus, 15 percent of every $1.99 download goes to further PETA's work in behalf of animals.
When I posted about the website 1448Apps.com, fellow blogger Elizabeth Christian commented and pointed me to PandoraBox, a free app that lets you do two things: 1) see all the new apps that have just been added — you don't need to go hunting through all 20 categoriesand 2) see all those apps that have just been reduced in price or made free. This is a great way to track those specials that vendors offer when they reduce the price of their app for one day.
The new MobileMe iDisk app is free, but of course it entails having a MobileMe account, which runs $99 per year. I like MobileMe, which automatically keeps my contacts in sync with my contacts on my computer. Add a new contact to my computer, and it's automatically there on my iPhone. I also recently began using MobileMe's iDisk, which lets you store files online, and combined with Apple's free Backup application, lets you automatically back up selected files and folders on your computer. Remote backup is crucial.
Since updating the iPhone OS is pretty automatic, you don't likely need to be reminded. But in case you haven't yet installed the latest update, you should. This great article in TidBITS explains what the vulnerability is and why it's essential that it be fixed. Otherwise the bad guys could exploit it and do bad things such as disable your phone, steal your data, make calls, and send text messages.
With some 65,000 apps, it's hard sometimes to find the ones that will meet your needs the best. And it's sometimes hard to sort through the App Store reviews to determine whether the app is worth your time and/or money. Two resources can help. One is the website 148Apps, which has just been selected by PC magazine as one of the top 100 websites, and will appear in the Undiscovered Tech category. This site has great reviews of apps, but also five very helpful Top 148 Apps lists: All time Top Apps, Free iPhone Apps, Free iPhone Games, Top Paid Apps, and Top Paid Games.
If you're out an about and want more information on a product or if you want to compare the online price with the store price, you can quickly and easily get that info using the Cyclops app. It uses your camera to snap the barcode and then returns the information from Amazon. And it's free. It got a lot of bad ratings, but that seems to be partly because people tried to use it incorrectly or on an older phone. For now it only works with the camera of the new iPhone 3GS.
David Pogue, you may know, writes great how-to books for computer users, including iPhone: The Missing Manual. The publisher, O'Reilly, has posted an article with Pogue's 10 best tips for iPhone 3.0 taken from this book. The tips are related to using the camera, macro mode, the map, voice memos, voice dialing, free text messaging, and more.