iPhone Apps (Review)

Okay – after a few weeks of using my iPhone 1st-gen with the iPhone 2.0 software, I have to say that I like it for the most part. There are still some glitches that annoy me, but overall it was a sound improvement. And the biggest part of that improvement was the ability to download applications to the iPhone. Previously, everything was a ‘web app’ – i.e. requiring access to the web to use it. Since I spend about half of my commute underground, that wasn’t really helpful; essentially, half of my trip I was left to play with Alarm, Calendar or Calc. Yippee!! But with downloadable apps, there are whole new worlds of possibilities.

Lists Lists

  • My Lists ($1.99) – the best of the bunch, although it still needs tweaks like lists more than 2 levels deep. Cleanest interface of the ones I’ve tried. No alarm feature, though. Rating:
  • Zenbe Lists (free) – List program with an online sync, which is a nice feature. But still not as nice as “My Lists”. Rating:
  • To-Do (free) – this was the first app available and the first one I downloaded. Basic to-do functionality, it took too many steps to enter anything so I deleted it. Rating:
  • I wish: there was a real time management/task app that tracked appointments the way that my treo did (Agendus). Heck, I wish that Remember The Milk would put out an app version…


  • Shazam (free) – A VERY cool app that lets you find out what song is playing. Simply hit the “tag” button when there’s music on, wait about 15 seconds and then it searches a database to return the artist, album and song, which you can then download from iTunes. It’s found the track about 85% of the time, although background noise can confuse it. Rating:
  • Box Office (free) – A great app that shows your local movie times on your phone. Very convenient if you’re out and want a quick list. Rating: update: this app has been removed from the App Store, although I’m not sure why
  • Pandora (free) – Lets you tap into Pandora Radio to get streaming music just like you would from their site. I haven’t used this too much but it’s a nice to have. Rating:
  • PhoneSabre (free) – A silly app that I just had to try. Wasn’t loud enough to be interesting, and it really was something you try, then delete. Rating:


  • Texas Hold’em ($4.99) – The best game app I’ve bought. Play poker at any number of locations with increasing difficulty and stakes. You can do 1st-person view (vertical) or 3rd-person view (horizontal). Great game with repeated playability, although it really sucks the juice from the phone. I would also love to see more levels released when you hit a certain level of winnings… Rating:
  • Aurora Feint: The Beginning (free) – A “Bejeweled”-like game with puzzles plus a character-based leveling aspect. As you gain resources (by doing the “Bejeweled” game), you can level up to new abilities, buy new magic, etc. via other games (vs. time or puzzle-based ones where you have to remove all jewels in a certain number of moves). At first, I wasn’t seeing the benefit of these and was getting bored, but an update added some new types of tools to the main game. I’m still not sure what all of them do, or the end point of the ‘character’ portion of the game, but it’s fun to play for a while. Another battery-sucker, though. Rating:
  • JirboBreak (free) – An adaptation of the breakout game of old, this one is pretty fun, but limited in the number of levels. Also, though it uses Arkanoid-like ‘add-ons’ (wide paddle, powerball, extra life), they are limited. And did I mention it was free? Rating:
  • Satori Sudoku ($1.99) – A version of Sudoku, one of 28 Sudoko apps (of varying costs). This was one of the first and has good gameplay if a little clunky at times. Rating:
  • Othello (free) – Pretty simple – it’s Othello/Reversi. Good game, easy to play — the computer is pretty good, too. Rating:
  • Pegs (free) – The classic game where you jump pegs to clear a triangular board. Simple, easy to learn, hard to master. Rating:
  • iPint (free) – A game as a vehicle to the real prize at the end. 3 levels of using the acceleromator to guide a pint of beer through an obstacle course to a friend’s waiting hand. The prize? A virtual beer on your iphone that uses the same acceleromator to swish the beer, take the level down when you drink (hold phone horizontal) and refill. The game is boring, the beer animation fun — for a bit, so now it’s deleted. This was a free version of the $2.99 iBeer which only included the beer simulation.rating:
  • Hangman (free) – Another classic, but the words on this one are too easy/boring. No way to change difficulty or add words. Deleted. Rating:


  • A Personal Assistant (free) – This was a great concept but it fell short. It had a list of common websites (Verizon, American Airlines, Gmail, etc.) where you could access your data with one click of the application. The downside – you have to trust the developer with your password to all of those sites. I didn’t see enough use for this to sign up and give out my passwords, so I deleted it — but those who are trusting enough might find this very useful. Rating:
  • Facebook (free) – I downloaded this, thinking it would make Facebook easier on the iPhone, and it does – marginally. The iphone version of Facebook (iphone.facebook.com) is probably just as easy to use and the functions very similar. Rating:


  • WritingPad (free) -This is a pretty cool tool that I haven’t been able to find enough use for. Instead of using the native iPhone keypad as developed, you can simply move your fingers across the keys in a linear path and it interprets the word you were trying to write. Then you can email the message to someone. The predictive text is great, even understanding when double letters should be placed in the word (you don’t have to ‘double-tap’), and it gives you a list of words you might have meant so that you won’t be left hanging on complicated words. Unfortunately, you can only email and you can only use your default email account. Rating:
  • WeatherBug (free) – A real-time weather app that shows you not only the weather for the day, but the coming days and even gives you access to radar. The interface is pretty nice and the radar is a great addition — although it’s one of those features that a 3G phone would really improve. Rating:

4 Responses to “iPhone Apps (Review)

  • I think you’re mistaken… Satori Sudoku has never been free.

  • Whoops – you’re right. That was $1.99, wasn’t it? Thanks for the correction.

  • one day, mark my words i will get one of these fancy pantsy phones and then i’ll have something smarter to say than this

  • Van – I hear the 1st-gen phones are getting cheaper…

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