The creative use of the iPhone is, I find, stunning. Every day I receive press releases for apps that I just wouldn't expect. Two new apps that illustrate this are Retina and Eye Glasses. Retina ($.99) is for those who are color blind. You simply point the camera at something, such as an item of clothing in a store, and the app will show the item in the camera's preview mode and tell what color it is. Eye Glasses ($2.99) lets you use your iPhone to see tiny text or other hard-to-see details.
I was just looking at MacWorld's AppGuide
and was quite impressed. It's a database of most of the apps in the App Store. The site has reviewed a large number of apps, and for each of Apple’s 20 categories MacWorld lists the apps that it has given the top rating. An interesting facet of the site is that for each of Apple’s app categories, the site breaks that down into 20 subcategories (though at first it gets confusing, since it's easy to think that you looking at the main menu rather than a list of subcategories). The site lets you sort the apps in any category according to rating, user rating, price (low to high), and more. You can also view the apps that are on sale.
The new issue of iPhone Life came out last week, and you can read an exact digital replica in your web browser — for free. Just go to this page, enter your e-mail address, and click on the link in the e-mail that you'll receive. And if you like what you see, consider subscribing to the print version. This issue features the new iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3.0. And of course it has a couple articles by me, including one that tells you about some neat iTunes add-ons that let you clean up your iTunes information and automatically add cover art and lyrics. Plus an article about free apps from major websites such as Yahoo, Amazon, and CNN.
I really like the AP News and New York Times apps and now am going to give the CNN Mobile app a whirl. But unlike most other news apps, ya gotta pay $1.99 for this one. The Associated Press has an interesting article about this novel step by CNN. And the odd thing is, even though this is a paid app, it still has some advertising. Some of the reviews on iTunes trash it for this reason, but others say they're not obtrusive.
Apple announced today that 2 billion apps have now been downloaded from the App Store. And they said that the App Store now has 85,000 apps. This is amazing, since it was just a little more than a year ago that the App Store opened. The announcement also said that there are over 50 million iPhone and iPod touch customers worldwide and over 125,000 developers in their iPhone Developer Program. Some 30 million people have purchased iPhones and 20 million have purchased iPod touches. The App Store is available in 77 different countries. Apple has given us a device that people like and that meets their needs in a special way.
MacWorld has a great article on MMS — what you need to know about installing, enabling, and using MMS (multimedia messaging). It explains how to send images, location data, videos, and voice memos. And the article talks a bit about performance. An article on CNet says that some users have had problems sending messages and gives a fix. And while there had been concerns whether AT&T's network could handle the additional volume, AT&T is reported to have said that things have gone fairly smoothly.
App Genius, a new feature in iPhone 3.1, is a good way to find useful apps. Go to the App Store app on your iPhone or iPod touch (the latter will need to be connected to the Internet via WiFi), and click on the Genius tab at the top right. Once you’ve enabled this feature by following the onscreen prompts, it will then show your apps and for each one will recommend a similar app. Like iTunes, the Genius function works by pooling the preferences of all those using the Genius function. I have the AP News app on my device, and Genius detected that other users who have this app installed also have the Reuters app installed, so it suggested that.
Here's a novel idea. You can sign up at a new website, FuelMyApp.com, and get paid apps for free. In exchange, you agree to review the app on iTunes. Of course, you aren't obligated to give a positive review. The way it works is that you sign up on FuelMyApp.com and give your PayPal e-mail address and iTunes nickname. Then you select an app from the website and pay for it as normal. Once you've tried it, then you review it on iTunes. As soon as your review is published, FuelMyApp automatically credits your PayPal account for the amount you paid for the app.
AT&T's network has been in the news lately, with a lot of iPhone users venting about the quality of service. Of course, it depends on where you live. On Tuesday, CNet writer Elinor Mills posted an article about her problems with AT&T service on her iPhone in San Francisco. That set off a firestorm of comments from iPhone users around the country. Today she posted a followup article, summarizing the comments and listing the dozens of locations that people complained about.
It's great to see so many major publications creating apps for the iPhone. Nowadays it seems like every company feels as if it's necessary to have an iPhone app, just as it's necessary to have a website. Polar Mobile has been working hard creating apps for some top magazines, having recently released apps for Time, Sports Illustrated, and BusinessWeek — all free.