Free Iphone 2.1 Apps

November 12th, 2008

This summer the 2.0 version of iPhone software came out, and lots more apps with it. It had some problems, so I waited till 2.1 was released. Overall the OS doesn’t seem much different (some new features, but also new bugs and a bit slower running things, at least on my non-3G non-GPS original 16GB iphone). However, there are ton more apps in 2.x, which is why you should get it. None are as cool as the basic features of the iPhone – phone, internet, ipod, and maps – but the apps are definitely worth checking out. I tried to make my list practical and useful for today, avoiding apps that would be great if only something somewhere did something also as well.

2008/12 UPDATE:  I upgraded to 2.2 and its not much difference.  I do love the new voice search on the google app – best ever – including easter eggs. I’ve also slightly changed the list below from the original post.

So forget my old list of free iphone applications, here’s my new favorites, best ones first:

  1. Shazaam (MUSIC) – AWESOME. Ever heard music and wish you knew then name or artist? This app can listen and identify most any song in less than 20 seconds – from radio, your friend’s CD, or that one track on that hour dance mix you downloaded. Midomi is a similar app that tries to do more but needs to work on errors.
  2. Nuevasync (CALENDAR) – OK, Not an app, just awesome for those who use Google calendar. Using iPhone’s Microsoft Exchange support and the default calendar app, setup a instant 2-way auto sync with Google calendar. Changes made to Google calendar can be seen minutes or seconds later on the iPhone calendar app, no manual synchronizing required. Likewise, edits in iPhone calendar show up seconds later on your google calendar. How to setup Nuevasync.
  3. Google Mobile (SEARCH) – At first, I had mixed feelings with this one, mainly because its slow (you type 5 characters but it can take 3-10 seconds for them to appear, since the app starts to search for matches after 1 or 2 characters). However, it definitely saves time. In addition to being a shortcut to google results page on safari, its a shortcut to google maps, remembers previous searches, suggestions, and you can search iphone contacts. Google made a nice overview video. I love voice search in newer version.
  4. Movies (ENTERTAINMENT) – If you like the box office, going to theaters, or just getting info on movies, Get This. This would be my favorite app if I still went to the movies – they are just too expensive. Best feature is finding showtimes for theaters near you using iPhone’s location, as well as remembering your favorite theater.  But I also love watching the trailers, finding out the biggest box office hit, and connecting to IMDB. Showtimes is a similar app.
  5. Evernote (PRODUCTIVITY) – Ever wanted to record a voice memo? you know by talking not typing? Get this. Not only is this great for audio notes (up to 5 mins), but it also does picture (with text recognition ability) and text notes, rounding it off with a very advanced search. Picture notes are perfect for receipts, wine labels, or anything else with text that you’ll want to have later. Major problem is that it does not cache notes on the iphone – so if you are on an airplane or in a dead zone, you’re screwed. review.
  6. reQall (PRODUCTIVITY) – Similar to Evernote, it lets you write text notes and record audio notes (up to 30 secs), no pictures, but will translate audio to text (can take a few mins). ReQall focuses on organizing notes (almost to the point of confusion), but – here comes the best part – it stores notes on both iphone and the web! (it appears to have 2k limit on text note, about 30-40 lines). No more worries about dead zones, which makes this app better for me. Still, took me a few tries to figure out how to use it. Also see Zenbe below. review and quick-start guide.
  7. Facebook (SOCIAL) – Best interface to Facebook, I especially love the simple list of friends, news feeds, inbox, and update status.  Get this is you wanna give great facebook.
  8. UrbanSpoon (MAPS/FOOD) – Find restaurant near you. Very fun, fast, and easy (cities covered)
  9. Where (MAPS) – Brings up a map of where you are, then plots the closest starbucks, places from eventful, places with yelp ratings, gas stations, zipcar, local search, buddy beacon (like loopt) and more. I just wished their map zoom in/out/drag was as fast as google maps.  It also times out alot.
  10. Loopt (MAPS/SOCIAL) – If you have friends with iPhones and want to share your location with them, get this. It’s great when you’re out on the town. works with GPS and non-GPS iPhones
  11. Weatherbug (WEATHER) – More details than the default Weather app, including wind, chance of rain, and the ability to have more than one source for a city. For example, find highs/lows for SF downtown and the airport (which can vary by ten degrees).
  12. Stanza/eReader (BOOKS) – Both are good if you want to read books on your iPhone, nailing down the basics like easy access to books you’ve downloaded, turning pages while you’re reading, jumping to a certain chapter or page, searching for text, tweaking color/font. Both have tons of books, all the classics, but could impove ways to search for books. I like Stanza slightly better because… you don’t need a login, a few more settings to tweak, more books available even tho eReader has DRM (copy-protected) books and stanza does not. Check out stanza – review1, review2.
  13. ESPN Cameraman (FUN) – Picture game – find 5 differences between 2 similar pics, like that bar game “Photo Hunt”
  14. Brain Toot (FUN) – Simple but fun game that tests memory, eye coordination, thinking, etc.  Also check out Brain Blaze for more brain exercises.
  15. Aurora Feint (FUN) – Game similar to tetris or jewel quest.
  16. Klick (PICS) – Flickr app. Does a good job of allowing you to upload a new or old photo to flickr, giving it title, description, tags, and location/geocode info.  In addition to upload, you can view your recent sets, tags, recents from contacts, search, etc.

Below are ones I tried and kept, but don’t use very much

  1. Remote (MUSIC) – Apple’s way of controlling your computer’s iTunes from your iPhone. It’s great if your computer’s iTunes is less accessible than your iPhone, but when i’m listening to iTunes on my computer, my computer is more accessible.
  2. Banner Free (FUN) -Scroll a message LED style across your iPhone.
  3. Scribble (FUN) – Turn iPhone into a blank canvas and your finger into a pen and scribble. Or, instead of a blank canvas, scribble on top of a picture from your photo album. Kid Friendly.
  4. Tap Tap Revenge (FUN) – Simple game where you tap to the music, kinda fun with two players, but gets old.
  5. MazeFinger (FUN) – arcade style game, cool sounds and graphics, but simple and kinda boring.
  6. RJDJ Single (FUN) – plug in headphones, and RjDj will tweak what it hears for you. Make it fun to walk down the street. faq. The free version comes with only one scene, and it sux – it basically echos then environment, but even with headphones at full volume you can’t hear much. Paid version seems more interesting. youtube.
  7. NYTimes (NEWS) – read NY Times articles. Nice UI, I like browsing news categories, but crashes alot
  8. NetNewsWire (NEWS) – read RSS feeds on iPhone, including blogs and major news feeds. I prefer Google Reader on the PC.
  9. WritingPad (PRODUCTIVITY) – new way of typing. Instead of tapping each letter, you draw words, going from the first letter of the word on the key layout to the second to … the last. It works pretty well, but you can only use this interface to take notes, you can’t use it anywhere else. Why learn a new way to write when most of the time you have to write the old way?
  10. Jott (PRODUCTIVITY) – Once setup, it will turn 1 to 15 second audio memo into text and email it to you. Not always accurate, but accurate enough to make it great when you need to quickly jott stuff down when you’re driving or don’t want to type. I will prolly remove Jott since ReQall also translates audio to text, but reQall is also not always accurate (and slower at translating than jott), so I’m holding on to this for now.
  11. (MAPS/TRANSPORTATION) – bart/muni arrival predictions in SF, check out flash video on
  12. Trapster (MAPS/DRIVING) – alerts you to speed traps. Useful to locate speed traps on regular driving routes like a commute, but not something you would leave on while just driving around.
  13. Twinkle – Twitter for iPhone but with location – find out what people are doing within 5 miles of you. Cool in theory, but i barely twitter and know nobody in chicago. setup could improve.
  14. Shozu (PICS/SOCIAL) – shozu is the uber social app – talks to 50+ sites, sharing info back and forth.   If you spend lots of time updating various social sites, definitely check it out.  review. I don’t use it cuz it often has errors talking to flickr or facebook, my two most used apps.

Below are ones I tried and uninstalled.

  1. VoiceNotes (PRODUCTIVITY) – Just records audio notes, but had no timestamp. Evernote does and offers much more.
  2. Zenbe (PRODUCTIVITY) – Simple list manager – sync’s with web, which i love, but reQall does everything Zenbe does plus has voice to text translation. Sorry, you get the boot!
  3. Rember The Milk RTM (PRODUCTIVITY) – Another list manager, similar to reQall, and tho its free to download you got to pay to use some web service. You get the boot!
  4. YouNote (PRODUCTIVITY) – Similar to Evernote, but its not easy to backup notes or sync with the web. Dealbreaker for me. However, if you use notepad alot, this is a nice upgrade. review.
  5. Exposure (PICS) – another flickr app, Similar to Klick but no uploading. Free version has ads (Boo).  Latest version (November 2008) crashes alot when i try to login to flickr (I login to yahoo, authorize app on, then tap ‘done’ on iphone and Exposure crashes).

Need To Spend TIme On These

  • Pandora (MUSIC) – stream music
  • (MUSIC) – stream music
  • Fring (SOCIAL) – chat with friends on Google Talk, AIM, Skype, MSN, Twitter, etc. And make phonecalls for free using wifi/VOIP (prolly great if you travel internationally).
  • IM+ (SOCIAL) – another IM client
  • linkedin (SOCIAL) –

NON-FREE Noteworthy Apps

  • Air Sharing $5 (UTILITY) – Turn your iPhone into a wireless USB drive using wifi. Also a image/document viewer. I have this and have geek friends who love this.
  • Things $10 (PRODUCTIVITY) – list manager (Todo, etc)
  • Notebook $5 (PRODUCTIVITY) – todo list manager
  • Syncbook $4 (PRODUCTIVITY) – another note sync manager
  • Byline $4 – RSS Reader, syncs with Google Reader, better than NetNewsWire.