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Posted 8 March 2009
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I’m always surfing Apple’s AppStore looking for new (and useful) apps for my trusty iPhone. I have to say that I haven’t been terribly impressed with the current offerings at the AppStore, and I’m sure a lot of that has to do with the steep learning curve of developing a decent app. Not to mention Apple’s insistence on disabling key features that cripple the iPhone’s usability (but that one’s been beaten to death already, so I won’t go there).

Regardless, my iPhone has become an indispensable part of my daily productivity, and I am constantly on the lookout for apps to help me in some way. Out of the thousands of apps, however, there are only a handful that I have truly find to be useful (or enjoyable) to me. I have downloaded dozens upon dozens of apps – only to be frustrated by their limitations, or lack of features and poor usability. Most have been immediately deleted, some have survived. Among them are the following:



Tweetie Tweetie

This is my favorite Twitter app. For the longest time, I was using the free TwitterFon, which I liked a lot. But after trying Tweetie, I really liked the extended feature set (search mainly). The interface is nice and polished and functions very well.

Things Things

There are more to-do apps for the iPhone than there are iPhones it seems, and it took me a long time to land on one that I truly liked. Cultured Code’s Things fit the bill, but not without some behavior modification on my part. Things is based on David Allen’s GTD (Getting Things Done) system – a flexible to-do system to which I’m still having trouble adhering to. Regardless, it is already one of my most indispensable apps. Though I do wish it would sync with the “cloud” – a feature they promise is coming soon.

Ambiance Ambiance

This little gem has come in handy more times than I ever dreamed it would. It’s a nicely designed app that does one thing and it does it well. It plays ambient sounds. It has lulled me to sleep while traveling without fail – and even at home I have turned to its soothing sounds for better sleep. The newest version is a big departure from the “classic” app, but it adds some great functionality like an alarm, and downloadable sounds. Love it.

Shazam Shazam

One of the two music-related apps I have (besides the built-in iPod app) is Shazam. An incredible piece of software that takes a short sampling of whatever tune is playing on the radio/tv/etc. and in a short while, tells you exactly what song it is, who sings it, and where to get it. The magic behind this app is a big mystery to me, but however it does it, it has worked every time I’ve put it to the test!

Pandora Pandora

If you’re anything like me, you have gigs and gigs of music on your iPhone, and yet, you find yourself craving something different. Well, if you haven’t already, grab Pandora! Tell it what song you want to hear, and it automagically creates a playlist of similar tunes for you. I have discovered a bunch of new music using this app, which is both a blessing and a curse – since it means I have to buy it.

Showtimes Showtimes

Surely you have been roaming about when all of a sudden you get the brilliant idea to catch a flick. Bust open Showtimes and let it locate the nearest theaters to you, then check out what’s playing. Not sure what the movie is? Watch the trailer right on the app. Now just cross your fingers that the movie doesn’t suck.

USA Today USA Today

I’m not exactly a news junky, but I do like knowing what goes on in the world. Though I do it many times a day, I find it cumbersome to open up my browser and type out www.cnn.com. USA Today’s news app was well thought out, well executed, and nice to look at. I do wish it were easier to access even more stories, but it does its job exceptionally well.

Groups Groups

One of my most hated apps on the iPhone is Mail. It was a poorly thought out application with so many limitations it just makes me cringe every time I try to use it. In fact, I’m positive that if Apple were to fix its email and calendar programs to make them more business-friendly, they would make an even worthier contender to the Blackberry. Regardless, one of the lacking features in Mail is the ability to email your address book’s groups. (Currently, you have to enter each group member’s address separately). Enter Groups, a nice little app that allows you to manage your contacts and groups right on the iPhone. Timesaver galore!

1Password 1Password

In this digital age, I have so many username/password combos you’d think I actually have important stuff I’m trying to protect! Unfortunately, in order to navigate the many web services out there, you need some security, and therefore, you need to remember all these u/p combos. Save yourself the headache and grab a copy of 1Password for your mac, then sync it with your 1Password for the iPhone, and never worry about what fake email you signed up to that service for.

Feeds Feeds

I have long felt the same way Khoi Vinh feels about RSS readers. I have gone through reader after reader and have finally landed on Google Reader, it being the least offensive to me – but still pretty bad in my opinion. In order to keep up with the many subscriptions I go through daily, I needed an app that would sync with my Reader account. Feeds was the best one I could find, and though there are many things I’d like to see changed in it, it sure beats having to go to the Google App (which I don’t care for in case you didn’t notice).

Deep-Green Deep Green

I’m not a gamer, and I’m especially not an iPhone gamer. But I do have some games on my iPhone, mainly because I find their use of interfaces intriguing – and I like to test them out. (When I say some, I mean about 5). Among them is my favorite Chess game – Deep Green. Beautifully designed, and no crazy bells and whistles. Just plain ol’ chess – and a chess engine that kicks my trash EVERY stinkin’ time! Wish it had some time of online multi-player mode – but then again, I think getting beat by my phone is enough humiliation each day.

Scriptures Scriptures

This one is a life-saver for me (no pun intended). It is a full library of LDS works including General Conferences, Manuals, and Scriptures with cross-linking and highlighting capabilities. A bit pricey, but worth every penny! Now if they could just come up with a better looking startup screen and icon. Ugh.

Other apps that I use regularly but did not include in my review here are:
Facebook, Amazon, Tip Star, Urbanspoon, Scrabble, and most recently Kindle. Anything else I should be looking at?

3 Responses to “Favorite iPhone Apps”

  1. Productivity, Motivation, and Personal Development Links - 8th March 2009 - DIGTD - Making You More Productive Says:


    [...] fourth link is a nice list of Top iPhone Apps from the Molanphy Blog. I am posting this link as I read the short review of Ambience and then went ahead and bought [...]

  2. katie felten Says:


    This is a great list and I have downloaded several of your recommended Apps

  3. Greg Says:


    Great list David, thanks! One more day until my iphone comes in the mail… :)