Tag Archives: iphone

Awesome iPhone App Roundup

Since I’ve owned an iPhone now for about 6 months I’ve discovered many cool and useful apps.  Here are a few of my favorites that do cool or unique things for a cell phone:

MLB At Bat 2010 – $14.99 – This app is a great companion to the MLB.TV subscription which I purchased this year.  It allows me to stream video or audio of any game that isn’t blacked out to my phone.  So far it has been mostly novelty, but did come in handy recently when out to dinner, we could watch the Twins game at our table instead of the Red Sox or Yankees who dominate most TVs at bars and restaurants here.  I can’t get over how cool it is to be able to watch baseball on my phone over 3G with crystal clear video.

Air Video – $2.99 – With Air Video you can stream videos on demand from your home computer to your iPhone without the need to convert them first and download them to the iPhone.  In order to do so, you just install a small server application on your computer and tell it where to look for video.  Then fire up the iPhone app and connect to your home PC over WiFi or 3G over the internet and you can browse any video you have shared and stream it directly to your phone.  If you spend a lot of time converting video for use on your iPhone, this app will complete eliminate this step, saving you lots of time converting and saving videos to your iPhone. How cool is that?

Geocaching – $9.99 – If you know me well, you know I enjoy geocaching.  This app gives me a direct link to the data stored on the geocaching.com servers, including cache locations on a map, cache descriptions, hints, previous logs, pretty much everything that comes in handy when geocaching.  I still use my Garmin handheld GPSr for dedicated geocaching trips, but many times I also have my iPhone out, using it to learn more about the cache to help me find it.  Also it comes in handy for impromptu geocaching, such as when we were at the mall this past weekend and I got a notification that there were two new caches at the mall, so we paused our shopping and were the first to find both of them.

Foursquare – Free – Foursquare is a unique location based app that lets you check in to places you visit and see where your friends are checked in. Also you can see tips left by other users when you check into locations, so you can know whether to try the clam pizza or not.  Also, if you check in more times than anyone else in a couple month span, you can become mayor of that location, which at participating business can provide you with special discounts or free food.  Unfortunately not many of my friends use this yet, nor do many business in New Haven provide deals for Mayors, but I’m hoping one day this will really catch fire and my mayorships will pay off.

MyTown – Free – Like Foursquare, the main idea of this game is to check into the places you visit in your town.  Once you check in, you are able to buy that place of business and add it to your “town”.  When other users visit places you own, you can collect rent from them, which allows you to upgrade and buy more venues that you visit.  It is fun building up your town and seeing which places are more popular than others, providing more rent.  This location based app feels more like a game than Foursquare, but lacks the social aspects that Foursquare provides.  Since most of my friends don’t use either of these apps, I get the most entertainment out of MyTown over Foursquare because of the emphasis on game play over the social benefits of the game.

Glympse – Free – I just recently downloaded this app and haven’t used it much, but it gives you the ability to send a friend a link that shows where you are on a map on their computer.  If you leave the application open on the iPhone, it will show your friend where you are traveling, how fast you are going, etc… I think this will be handy for me so I can let Maggie know where I go when I take off geocaching so she can find me if she ever needs to.

Golf Logix – 24hr Free Trial, $39.95 yearly membership – Since golf season has recently started, I decided to try to find some apps to help my golf game.  This one is handy because it shows you distances to the green, and various other locations (bunker, water, 150 yard layup, etc..) for each hole as you play it.  I used the free trial on my most recent golf outing, and can see how this would be a very handy and inexpensive range finder.  We’ll see if I decide to fork out for the subscription service or not.  Still I think this is a great use of the GPS technology provided by the iPhone 3GS.

Mocha VNC Lite – Free – If you’re a geek like me you’re probably familiar with what VNC is.  It basically allows you to connect to your computer from any other computer and use it like you were sitting in front of it.  This application does the same, only on the small screen of the iPhone.  It works surprisingly well, although I don’t use it very often, I still think it’s cool to be able to do such a thing from my phone.

Target – Free – If you’re a frequent Target shopper like me, this app will come in handy.  It lets you select your local store and search for a product and returns the price and aisle location so you can quickly find it.  Also, they just added a bar code scanner function, so you can scan the bar code to find the price of an item while in the store or at home.

Pandora Radio – Free – Streaming music even over 3G connections, ’nuff said!  Comes in handy while working out when I’ve tired of my MP3 library.

IMDB (Internet Movie Database) – Free – Maggie and I use this application very often, when we want to figure out who the actor is in a show or movie we’re watching, and what other shows they’ve been on.

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Learn One Thing: iPhone 3GS oleophobic screen

I recently bought an iPhone 3GS and if you’re not familiar with it, it basically relies on the whole screen as an input device (typing, touching to select programs, dialing numbers).  There are no buttons.  This means that it’s easy to leave fingerprints on the touch-screen, especially if you’re fingers are greasy from sweat, etc…  Despite this fact, I noticed that as I let the phone sit for a period of time, all of the finger prints/smudges disappeared or evaporated.  I had a feeling there was some technology involved here, as it looked like a typical glass screen, but didn’t hold finger prints like one.  Today I decided to learn how this is possible, and found that the iPhone screen is coated with a special oleophobic polymer, a plastic that human skin oil doesn’t adhere to very well.

Gizmodo, a gadget blog, enlisted Bill Nye the Science Guy to explain how it works:

The Applers were able to do this by bonding this oleophobic polymer to glass. The polymer is an organic (from organisms) compound, carbon-based. The glass is nominally inorganic, silicon-based… solid rock. The trick is getting the one to stick to the other. Although it is nominally proprietary, this is probably done with a third molecule that sticks to silicon on one side and to carbon-based polymers on the other side. Chemical engineers get it to stay stuck by inducing compounds to diffuse or “inter-penetrate” into the polymer. The intermediate chemical is a “silane,” a molecule that has silicon and alkanes (chains of carbon atoms).

Pretty neat huh?  I can’t imagine how dirty and smudged the iPhone 3GS screen would be without this technology.  I wonder if the new Droid phone (a new iPhone competitor) or any other touch screen phones have this same technology?  If they don’t they’re at a serious disadvantage to the iPhone 3GS!

New Toy

In the two plus years since the iPhone came out I’ve read a lot about how great it is as a smart phone and about how cool the free and/or relatively inexpensive apps that you can load it up with are.  During this time, I’ve watched as the better and faster versions of the phone came out which improved on many of the pit falls of the early versions (ex: 3G network, video, lack of copy and paste).  Finally, from what I’ve read, it sounds like the latest version (3GS) is a polished product, and lucky for me, my two-year contract with Sprint was up in September, so this past weekend I took the plunge and bought an iPhone 3GS!

iPhone 3GS

iPhone 3GS

Even though I’ve only had it a couple days, I’ve already loaded it up with a bunch of free apps, mostly just to try them out.  Some of them are complete versions and are really fun, others are just sample versions of the paid applications, many of which are between $.99 and $9.99.  A couple of my favorites so far are:

Tap Tap Revenge 2 – similar to Guitar Hero

Shazam – listens to a song playing (for example on the radio) and finds the title, artist and other cool information about it.

Google Earth – Satellite views of earth in the palm of your hand.

Safari – The built in web browser from Apple, lets you surf any website just like at your computer.  Great zoom functions

I haven’t purchased any applications yet, but I’m sure I will when I find something worth while.  I’ve downloaded many more apps that are cool in a useful sort of way, such as Facebook, The Weather Channel, Twitterific, and some location based applications that utilize the GPS functionality.  I really think the location based apps have potential to be the coolest and I hope they really take off in the next couple years.  I’m also interested in seeing what comes out in the Augmented Reality area, which is just starting to pop up.

If I find any more cool apps for the iPhone, I will let you know.  I’m sure there are many more out there.  If you have any favorites, let me know in the comments.