Top Ten Must-Have Free iPhone Apps

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I love my iPhone 3G. It’s fun, it’s useful, and it continually amazes me that Apple was able to enter a market it previously had zero role in and instantly cause the rest of the industry to start playing catch-up. Anyone who who has one will tell you that the absolute best part about it is the variety of applications, or “apps”, that are available for it, both free and paid. Having used it for several months now, I’ve compiled a top ten list of free iPhone Apps that every single user should have. I attempted to organize them in order, but they’re all great in their own regard, so, without further ado and in no particular order:

  1. Urban Spoon & AroundMe
    I’m clumping these two together because although they are very different in many aspects, their basic purpose is the same: Help you find what you need nearby. Urban Spoon is obviously focused entirely on food and has everything from lowest rung fast food through five star restaurants. It can randomly offer you selections or allow you to scroll through options narrowed down by location, type, price, or whatever else. AroundMe, however, shows you a nice neat list of whatever is near you. Restaurants, banks, hospitals, bars, gas stations, the list goes on. Using the GPS, it will essentially offer you a radius of things nearby in whatever category you choose and has a very extensive list. If you’re ever in an unfamiliar area or just looking for something new, both of these are mandatory.
  2. The Weather Channel
    Sure, the iPhone comes with a basic weather app. The Weather Channel puts it to shame. In-depth current, hourly, 36 hour, and 10 day forecasts as well as radar, severe weather alerts, and even local weather video clips can be a true life-saver.
  3. Shazam
    You’re listening to the radio and a song comes on that you like. You’d download it or go buy the CD, but you’ve got no idea who sings it, what album it’s on, or even what it’s called. In comes Shazam. You’ve seen the commercials for it and it is exactly as awesome to use as it looks. Just open up the app, tap on “Tag Now” and you’ll know the artist, title, album, year, and (if available) the music video on YouTube. It even keeps track of what you’ve looked up in the past so you can remember it later. Excluding the iPod app itself, this is my favorite music-themed app available.
  4. ShopShop
    For some twisted reason, Apple has yet to see the iPhone as an ideal shopping list tool. Until the day that they do, though, ShopShop is filling in. There are dozens of different shopping list apps out there, some are free, most aren’t, but this was the one that really stood out to me. It’s basic, it’s easy to use, you can have multiple different lists at once, it keeps a memory of what you’ve typed in before, and it it makes trips to the grocery store a breeze.
  5. Sol Free Solitaire
    Offering six different variations of solitaire games, this is easily the best solitaire game available for the iPhone. It has a lot of great features, good statistics tracking and, of course, is free.
  6. Dictionary.com
    Install this and you can keep the Random House Unabridged Dictionary in your pocket. If that isn’t enough, it also contains Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus, keeps track of recent words you’ve searched for, and even offers you a “word of the day” to help expand your vocabulary. To top it all off, it downloads the entire database on to your phone, so you don’t need to be connected to a 3G or WiFi network for it to work.
  7. Flashlight
    Plain and simple, it opens up to a bright white empty screen to help you find stuff in the dark. Seems almost too obvious, but it works quite well. If white isn’t your color of choice, you swipe across the screen to easily change it to red, green, blue, black, or set your own custom color. I initially installed it more as a joke app, but I’ve found myself using it to find something at night more often than I ever imagined.
  8. Now Playing
    Read movie reviews, find nearby theaters, view show times sorted by theater or movie title, get info on upcoming movies, buy tickets if it’s available for your chosen theater, see all recent DVD releases, and even manage your Netflix account (if you have one). If there are any other features you could possibly want in a movie application, I can’t think if them.
  9. Amazon Mobile
    This is the ultimate shopping companion. Any time you’re at a store and looking to buy something that you think Amazon might carry, open this up and search for it. Even if you’d prefer to buy it in a good old fashioned brick and mortar store, this app will let you easily read reviews, see competitive pricing, and see comparable products. This free little app has helped me save money countless times and I’ve even dodged a few bullets from crappy items which I might have otherwise purchased.
  10. 9-Toolbox
    I couldn’t decide whether or not to list this one, because it’s only free for a limited time. It is, however, awesome. The second this was released, there were about four other apps that got immediately axed off my phone. This single app offers you quick and easy currency conversion, a “days until” calculator, a “days until” reminder, every holiday ever for just about any religion or country, an inclinometer, a loan calculator, a menstrual cycle calendar (less exciting for us guys, but I’m sure the ladies would find this useful), a tip calculator, and all types of unit conversion. With a list like that, how can you not install it while it’s still free?

Is this list the definitive collection? Certainly not. Do you love an app that you don’t see on this list? Please feel free to reply and tell me about it.

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