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Essential iPhone Apps – Part I

Posted by Lester Madden under iphone

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My iPhone is almost a week old so I thought it would be a good time to look at some of the applications I have installed that I consider to be essential.

Keeping in touch on the iPhone is so easy. I have switched my email accounts over to Google Mail which now also hosts my contacts and calendar. Synchronisation is easy and any changes in either location get reflected instantly. I’m not that keen on Google Mail as a client, I don’t like the way that it groups conversations together but it’s a small price to pay for the connectivity. Interesting email arrives on my iPhone 20 seconds before it appears in the Google web client.

I’m not much of a twitter person but I have installed SimplyTweet as my twitter client. The push notifications works really well and gives an alert whenever you get a mention or a direct message. SimplyTweet supports multiple accounts but it appears you only get an alert for the active account which is a bit of a shame. SimplyTweet costs £2.99 but they have a free version which you can try out.


rssviewerThere isn’t much choice when it comes to push RSS solutions, I found RSS Viewer from ZDNET Development that works pretty well. It has some negative reviews in the AppStore but I find it does the trick and for the bargain price of £1.19 it does everything I need. With RSS Viewer just type in the URL you want to subscribe to and it will find any RSS feeds, hit the subscribe button and when the feed is updated you get an alert to say the page has been updated. It’s a great way for keeping up to date with blogs. There a still a number of improvements that the developers are looking to make, for example creating categories of your feed and offline viewing so the app can only get better. In the meantime £1.19 is nothing so well worth a punt.

RSS Viewer


If you have a WordPress blog then the WordPress iPhone application is essential. It supports multiple blogs which is really useful if you have more than one account. You can create new blogs posts or pages as well as manage comments all directly from the phone. It’s pretty useful if you want to blog something on the go or filter out those annoying spam comments that creep in from time to time.


skyrecordI have tried applications in the past that offer remote record for Sky, but Sky made it too difficult with a complex setup you had to go though with the Sky remote. Fortunately they have sorted out those problems. The Sky+ app is free and looks just like the Sky+ TV guide you get on the box. They say to allow 30 minutes for the record request to arrive on the Sky box but I have found if I set record from my iPhone by the time I check it with the remote the instruction has been received. One criticism however is the performance for the Sky guide is pretty slow. Every time you page down it does a fetch to get the data so casual browsing around the guide soon gets annoying. So you may want to supplement the guide with one of the free guides that have a better response time. The guide from Acrossair is pretty good.



There is no shortage of tube maps in the AppStore. Some are free and if you just want a basic map then you have lots of choices. I opted for an application called Tube Deluxe which not only has a map and route planner for your journey, but Tube Deluxe also shows the status of the tube lines and includes a live departure board for all the underground stations so you can see how long you’ll have to wait once you get there, or whether or not you need to start runnings for that train. At £0.59 it’s another bargain.


redlaserI blogged about applications before that scan barcodes and how they can save you money while shopping. Red Laser is such an application for the iPhone. Whenever you are out shopping just point the camera at the products barcode and it will check the web to give you online prices. The range it covers is pretty good, I was out shopping and scanned a bag of GoCat dry cat food which I thought would be obscure, however it found a few online stores and gave me some alternative prices which was a real surprise. The range of online sources could do with expanding to cover more stores but scan before you buy is the motto.

Red Laser

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