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admin July 8th, 2009

Written by: Ian Grayson

The iPhone is arguably the sexiest mobile device right now. With its curvy case and slick, touch-screen interface, it has captured the imagination of users in more than 80 countries. More than 17 million have been sold worldwide
in the last few years, redefining what people expect from their mobile phone.

And while it packs a vast array of built-in features (think email, web browser, camera and GPS), what gets the most
attention is the fact that you can easily install programs onto it. In the same way you install extra software on your PC or Mac, you can choose from a mind-boggling number of applications – known as ‘apps’ – designed specifically for the iPhone.

Apple has grouped all the apps together in its iTunes App Store and, according to the company, there are more than 35,000 now available, with new ones added weekly. If there’s something you would like your iPhone to do, chances are someone has already written an app to do it.

One billion apps have been downloaded since the iTunes App Store opened a year ago. Here are some of our favourites.

STAYING PRODUCTIVE

Many of the apps for the iPhone have been designed in order to help you become more efficient. You may soon begin to wonder how you coped without them!

:: TrafficAU

Constantly late for work meetings because of traffic? This app helps you avoid jams by providing live traffic information. Rather than relying on radio reports, you can have all major road accidents, slow-moving traffic spots and major roadworks displayed as a list or plotted on an electronic map on your iPhone. The information is relayed to a control centre and then out to your phone. TrafficAU costs $3.99 for access for 12 months.

:: Spend Lite

If you’re hopeless with money, this app helps you get your personal finances in order. Spend Lite lets you set up your
own categories and then allocate budget amounts to them. By categorising each purchase you make in your iPhone during the day, you can see at a glance exactlywhere you’re overspending. It’s ideal for anyone looking for a computerised budgeting tool but who doesn’t need all the fancy functions of some of the larger programs. All data can be downloaded from the iPhone to a PC or Mac and viewed as a spreadsheet for further analysis. Worried about the cost? Don’t be – Spend Lite is free.

:: Vlingo speech recognition

Don’t enjoy tapping the keys of the virtual on-screen keyboard? Then this is the app for you. Vlingo is sophisticated
speech recognition service that automates many of the iPhone’s functions. Rather than typing a long-winded search query into Google or Yahoo, simply speak into the phone and the app does the rest of the work for you. You can also use it to dial numbers in your address book or update your Twitter or Facebook status, all without putting a finger
on the keyboard. Best of all, the Vlingo app is free.

THE CLEVER – AND FUNNY – STUFF

There are heaps of apps to help you pack more into your leisure hours.

:: Midomi

This app is one in the ‘How did they do that?’ category. It’s designed for when you have a song stuck in your head but
can’t remember what it’s called. Hum or sing a few bars into your iPhone or hold it up to the radio, and it identifies the song and points you to where it can be downloaded. The makers say their app has more than 17 million songs, so chances are yours will be there. Have a go – it’s free and addictive.

:: Cow Toss

This one’s in the ‘odd’ category but that has only fuelled its popularity. It makes use of the iPhone’s touch-screen by letting you ‘flick’ a virtual cow in order to toss it away into a 3D space and watch it fly around – and that’s it. If it sounds silly, that’s because it is. But it hasn’t stopped thousands of people paying the $1.19 to toss their own cows. It takes all sorts.

:: Guitar Toolkit

If you fancy yourself as the next Carlos Santana, this app will help you get the most from your instrument. It helps
you chromatically tune your acoustic or electric guitar strings by using the iPhone’s microphone to pick up the note – and showing you how far off key it is. Then the app displays a chord library containing more than 260 chord maps to help with the fingering, as well as an adjustable metronome to keep you in time. Before you know it, you’ll be cranking out hints like a professional. It costs $12.99.

LIVING IT APP

The exploding popularity of iPhone software apps has led to the creation of a new wave of wealthy programmers. While most apps sell for less than a dollar, if sales climb into the thousands, you will be making big bucks.

Nathan Sinnott, Chief Executive Officer at Australian software developer and iPhone app specialists Newpath WEB,
says the key to developing successful apps is to keep them nice and simple.

“Large, complicated applications are not in demand, “he says, “Users are looking for simple, familiar applications that address basic needs.” Sinnott points out that apps which make developers lots of money are to-do lists and mobile versions of popular websites.

Another lucrative niche is games, which is why Apple’s iTunes Apps Store is bulging with them. While they can be hit
and miss, those that capture the imagination of users can quickly earn their makers large sums. And don’t let the fact that you’re not a Silicon Valley-based geek stop you because people of all ages from all over the world have created their own apps. Australia’s own Robert Murray is responsible for the highly successful Flight Control app, which sells for $1.19 and has reportedly made Murray’s Melbourne-based company hundreds of thousands of dollars since its release. So, it’s easy really – simply come up with on idea, develop an iPhone apps and watch your bank balance grow.

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