Until recently, your iPhone could do all sorts of everyday stuff like make phone calls, surf the web, play MP3s and take pictures. But now that the Apple App Store has launched, the device’s capabilities are endless. Your phone can now make strange noises when you tap it, find a restaurant when you shake it or pause a CD from across the room.
Here’s our list of eight cool things your iPhone 2.0 can do for you. All of the apps we’ve highlighted are available in the App Store, and many of them are free. We’ve excluded games (check Game|Life) and e-books (boring!) from the list. The links we’ve provided are to the web pages for the apps themselves, not the App Store pages — not everyone has an iPhone and iTunes 7.7, and we don’t want to exclude anyone. Besides, you know how to use a search box, right?
Photo: Jim Merithew/Wired
Why just listen to music on your iPhone? Start your own jazz combo with MooCowMusic’s Band ($10). The app comes pre-loaded with a guitar, bass, drum kit, keys and a metronome. It also has a tiny recording studio that lets you assemble tracks through overdubbing. Or, you can keep things simple with Drummer ($5), which turns your iPhone into a virtual drum kit (yes, there’s a cowbell).
Guitarists have several options for guitar tuners, the best of which is Guitar Toolkit ($10). It has a handsome-looking tuner with pre-sets for common tunings, a chord library and a metronome. There are also OmniTuner ($5) and TyroTuner ($3) which have fewer features.
DJs shouldn’t feel left out — Tap The Beat is a free BPM counter to help you perfect your beatmatching skills. And the budding Aphex Twins out there can spend hours melting faces with the iPhone version of the pink noise waveform generator SignalSuite ($10).
Reminders are a camera click or voice message away with the iPhone. Jott, a free download, takes your voice messages and stores them as to-do entries in a sortable list. When you’re done, cross the items off the list with a satisfying swipe of your finger. Similarly, Evernote (also free) converts any written material you capture with the iPhone’s camera — business cards, signs, notes on napkins — to text. The photo-notes can be dated, tagged and searched. Evernote also synchronizes with your online account, ensuring you can search and find any note from your past.
The apps SpeakEasy ($5) and Voice Record ($1) work just like a voice recorder would, capturing conversations or dictations directly on the device. SpeakEasy proves it’s worth the extra four bucks by allowing you to attach pictures and by handling phone call interruptions gracefully. Voicenotes is a basic, free alternative.
ReQall, another freebie, looks for words in your voice recordings to use as reminders later. It jarrs your memory via voicemail, text message, IM, e-mail or calendar alert.
There’s also (finally) a native to-do list for the iPhone, the able and free ToDo by Erica Sadun.
Find Your Keys
The free application Light is super-simple — it turns your iPhone or iPod’s screen into a flashlight by generating a bright white screen. For the webapp version, try vFlashlight. There’s also the $1 app Quicklight which essentially does the same thing, but lets you change the color of the light. If you really want to waste your money, you could throw some extra bones at iBlackout: same functionality, but $3.
Find a Restaurant
Stop arguing and choose a place to eat already. The iPhone is location aware, so finding nearby restaurants is as simple as a local search. With the free app UrbanSpoon installed, shake your iPhone and it will randomly display a nearby eatery in its “slot machine” interface. If you don’t like the results, shake again. The local search and review service Yelp also has a free app that mirrors the features of the popular site.
Point your iPhone in any direction within WhereTo’s ($3) circular interface. The application pings the phone’s GPS to find nearby restaurants, pubs, auto repair shops, hospitals, shopping centers and airports.
Post Pocket-Sized Notes
There are three great apps for micro-blogging iPhone owners. Icon Factory brings its popular Twitterrific client to the device in two flavors, an ad-supported free version and an ad-free premium version ($10). The free Twittelator from Stone Design is a full-featured Twitter client with GPS-enabled mapping tools built in. There’s even an emergency button you can click to send a tweet with your current location — helpful if you’re the victim of a hit and run or an international kidnapping plot.
The more verbose bloggers will want to check out TypePad, the free, official iPhone client which connects to your TypePad blog for posting on the go.
Do you Tumbl? Then check out iView, a free app for browsing and re-blogging all of the images posted by others in your Tumblr dashboard. It also has a browser for finding new images on Ffffound. Or maybe you’ll be won over by Clowdy, the social photoblogging service that lets you post photos from your camera or from your photo library. There’s a free client in the App Store.
Listen to the Radio
Why fill up the iPhone’s 8GB or 16GB storage with MP3s when you can listen to tunes online? Nullriver’s Tuner ($5) streams up to 500 internet radio stations. Or, feed a band you like to Pandora (a free download), and the service’s recommendation engine will generate a custom playlist suited to your tastes and start streaming right back to you for free.
Bargain hunters will love Checkout Smartshop ($5). The software turns your iPhone’s camera into a barcode scanner. Snap a pic of any UPC and the app will find the best deal online instantly. Shop owners who claim to “match any price” will hate it. It pulls up reviews, too, for on-the-spot purchase decisions.
PayPal has built a free iPhone application that lets you send money to your friends with a few taps of the screen. It’s great for iPhone-enabled Craigslist purchases — hook up online, meet up in meatspace to check out the merchandise, then seal the deal electronically on the spot.
Make Enemies and Annoy People
Know any whiners? That guy in engineering who constantly complains about how he can’t cut and paste text on his iPhone? Show him how little you care with Tiny Violin, a free app that plays the sounds of crocodile tears on a virtual viola.
Turn your iPhone into a big, glowing sign with Shout It ($4). It’s like the multi-touch equivalent of typing everything in all caps. Awesome.
Unleash the power of The Force with PhoneSaber, the free app that makes your phone whoosh, ving and beezzhou like a genuine light saber. You will feel like a Jedi, but you will look like an idiot.
Oh, and did we mention SignalSuite can generate dozens of ear-piercing sine waves? And that your iPhone has an audio-out jack? Go nuts.
Webmonkey Associate Editor Scott Loganbill contributed (mightily) to this article.