23 March 2010 | Team Tamar

Twenty iPhone applications we really love

As a recent convert to the world of iPhone loveliness, I have found myself spending a lot of time reviewing and playing with iPhone applications. Being a bit of a social media nerd, I’m doubly intrigued by how people are using the iPhone’s capabilities to facilitate interactions – after all, an iPhone app is all fine and dandy, but if it’s not making the most of the phone’s internet connection at the very least, it seems like a bit of a #FAIL to me! So here’s my first top 20 iPhone app list – mainly based on my own experience, but with suggestions from other Tamar team members too! If you think we’re missing a great app from our list, please let me know in the comments!

shazam-iphone1. Shazam (FREE)

This iPhone-based version of the now well-established phone service is absolutely BRILLIANT for identifying those “it’s on the tip of my tongue” songs and pieces of music. I’ve only had it on my phone for a few days, but have already used it to identify a dozen songs. The best part is you don’t have to pay that pesky 50p charge per song that you do on the phone service – meaning I can use it as a tool to remind me of songs I want to buy when I hear them on the radio, even if I already knew the title.

2. Gowalla (FREE)

If you follow me on any of the social networks, or even on this blog, you’ll know that I’m a massive fan of both Gowalla and Foursquare, the location-based recommendation tools. Both are great for finding and sharing experiences with your friends and connections – though Gowalla just pips it for me, due to it’s beautiful UI. Recent additions to the app include the ability to share photos of your travels, as well as upgrades to all the classic features.

3. Sky+ Remote TV recording (FREE)

This one comes highly recommended from Tamar’s two most senior team members, Tanya and Neil – one of whom has been using it extensively to make sure she doesn’t miss any English TV while she’s on her 3-month trip to Cape Town! Whilst it relies on an already-innovative service, giving people the ability to set their TVR’s whilst away from home is a brilliant added-benefit, and definitely one that no Sky+ user should miss out on.

4. Google Earth (FREE)

One of Google’s finest creations is just as good on the iPhone as it is on a PC – making especially good use of the jazzy expanding-finger swoosh move that iPhone users love so much. The only criticism I’d level with this otherwise brilliant app is that you can’t (yet?) use Google Streetview – I suspect that might be stretching the app to the limits of it’s capabilities, for the moment at least. Come on Google, don’t let me down… ; )

facebook-iphone5. Facebook (FREE)

Another classic, souped-up and optimised for the iPhone. As a site, Facebook actually looks reasonably good on an iPhone safari browser, but the application gives you enough added-value to make it worth downloading. As well as push notifications (i.e. you can set it to pop up on your homescreen when certain actions are taken, messages received etc) it also makes uploading images straight from your phone much easier, as well as having the functionality to create nice short-cuts to commonly visited friends or pages.

6. Tube Exits (£0.59)

The first paid-for app to make the list, this one is probably aimed at a reasonably niche market – but one that myself and Neil Jackson are definitely part of. In a nutshell, this app tells you exactly the right spot to stand on a tube journey to make the walk to the exit as easy as possible. Some might say that’s lazy, but anyone who has experienced the mass-crush of commuters at rush hour will know how useful that can be. It also allows you to plan convoluted journeys around the network, telling you which stops to change at, as well as how long the journey will take. Perfect!

7. iGoTo the Farm (FREE)

I was introduced to this one by fellow Tamar-Dad Jeremy, who has had it for a while now – and it proved as much of a hit with my 21-month-old son as it did with his daughter. It’s not the most complicated premise, but that’s it’s beauty – it’s just an infinitely-scrolling farm scene, where all the animals make their animal noise when you tap them. My son caught on to how to work it scarily-quickly – though he does now refer to the iPhone as “Mine!” whenever he gets hold of it, so best to keep it on a high shelf…!

8. New Media Age (FREE) / 9. The Guardian (£2.39)

I’ve lumped these two because they both follow the same basic concept – to allow you to read your favourite publications on the move, straight from your iPhone. Both are very stylishly designed, and do exactly what you need them to do – though the Guardian’s paid-for status makes it a slightly harder-sell to individuals who can already access the Guardian’s website on their phone. But it makes content delivery so seamless, it’s worth considering.

flickr-iphone10. Flickr (FREE)

If you’re an amateur photographer like I am, you’ll probably have an account with Flickr or one of it’s equivalents. As somebody who uses Flickr almost every day, I find their iPhone app a very useful tool. It makes uploading content very easy, with the added ability to attach your current location to photos when you upload them – making the mapping of your photo collection even easier. It looks pretty snazzy too, for what that’s worth!

11. TVGuide.co.uk TV Guide (FREE)

Another freebie which show the functionality you can get, without actually paying for it. The basic version has a very good “Now and Next” screen which is perfect for armchair-based TV laziness, allowing you to tap on programs to see more detail. The Radio Times app, in contrast – which costs just under £3 – has some of the worst reviews I’ve seen on iTunes, proving that paying for an app doesn’t always guarantee quality!

12. National Trust (FREE)

If you’re a bit of an old-before-your-time family man like me, you probably welcome the odd trip to some of our countries beautiful National Trust properties. This free app makes finding a property near to you very easy – something which isn’t always quite so easy offline, especially if you’re no good at folding maps! It also gives you all the functionality you get on the website – property opening times, facilities etc etc.

13. Doodle Jump (£.0.59)

The only game to make it on to my list so far, Doodle Jump is far too addictive to miss out. The controls are the easiest thing I’ve seen outside of the Wii – all you have to do to control the jumping character is tilt the iPhone left and right. It might like simple and boring, but it’s actually incredibly addictive. Just don’t ask about my high score…

idaft-itunes14. iDaft 2 (FREE)

Coming from the “Completely pointless but utterly brilliant” school of app-building, this simple application allows you to recreate the Daft Punk song “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” with a 4×4 grid of sound clips, along with a button to allow you to turn the beat on and off. Simple! If you get REALLY good, you might be able to give THIS guy a run for his money… I’m not quite there yet…

15. IMDb (FREE)

As a bit of a film-buff, I regularly find myself watching movies or TV shows with my wife, both of us ocassionally chipping in with an “Isn’t that the woman from whatsisface?”. Until now, I headed straight for the PC to open up the trusty Internet Movie Database – but not any more! Now I can sit on the comfort of my sofa and browse the details of every single film ever made, with a few taps on my iPhone. I couldn’t do without it, quite frankly…

16. eBay (FREE) / 17. Amazon (FREE)

These two massive websites are a must for any online consumer – who would have thought that their combined mights could be squeezed in to a tiny iPhone-sized box? Well, they can! Both allow you to browse their complete catalogue, purchase / bid on live auctions straight from the phone, manage your accounts, leave feedback and all the other features you’re used to on these great websites. Well worth downloading if you’re a regular visitor to either.

18. TuneIn Radio (£1.19)

The premise of TuneIn radio is pretty simple – basically, any radio station that you can listen to online – in almost the entire world – can be accessed through TuneIn radio. For me, the most useful feature is being able to listen to DAB radio stations without having to dig out my (frankly not very impressive) DAB radio.

iPhoneBanner19. iBuzzWords (FREE)

Another slightly pointless but fun application, in the same vein as the iDaft app. Using iBuzzWords you can talk like a proper BS-er. Simply shake your iPhone and it will generate a technical-but-often-nonsense sentence, most of which wouldn’t sound out of place at any good networking event. The last one I got was “Modifying collaborative web services describes our flexible experience by engineering intuitive functionalities”. Genius!

20. Trainline (FREE)

One final iPhone-based version of an existing website, to make it on to this list I figure you’ve got to give me a reason to not simply use the website itself – and The Trainline doesn’t disappoint. From planning journeys to accessing 7-day timetables, this app puts the (admittedly rubbish) UK train network at your finger tips. And it’s free! Definitely a must-have if you regularly have to travel by train in the UK…

So, what did I miss?

Team Tamar