Saturday, December 27, 2008

iPhone 3G

Background - The decision making process
- If you read my blog at all you probably know I'm no apple lover. It's not that I exactly hate their products. I just don't like how apple does business (constant hardware upgrades and breaking backwards compatibility with accessories, expensive battery replacement policies, etc), the image they try to push so hard (I hate turtle necks. I don't even like long sleeved shirts much. I really don't go to Starbucks that often let alone sip lattes. :-), and the attitudes of some of their ummm lets say very loyal fans.
- Also, I probably have to admit I'm a bit biased. It's not like I love Microsoft or anything. I mean they do some things that really piss me off (though I'm getting more tolerant of vista). It just so happens I'm a windows developer so I use the PC and related technologies everyday so I'm comfortable with it. I'm a power user and a tinkerer. I'll usually take power, flexibility, and functionality over ease of use or flash/image.
- My gadget background comes from a long list of non-apple products: archos jukebox recorder 20 and later sandisk sansa e280 mp3 players with rockbox custom firmware, wife uses an HTC 8525 windows mobile 6 smart phone, my ipaq 4150 pocket pc, popcorn hour, dell laptops, etc.
- I'm also a very late adopter when it comes to the whole convergence thing with mobile electronics. My fear has always been that you drain the battery playing games, listening to music, or watching videos and then you can't make a phone call when you really need to or miss an important call. But it sure is hard to beat the convenience.
- I've been using my Sony Ericsson T637 for I think 4 yrs now. It was time for an upgrade. I was already on AT&T so I pretty much limited my choices to that carrier. I would have considered the google G1 except it's only on T-Mobile and their coverage is just way too small for my needs. I liked my wife's HTC 8525 enough. I looked at the replacement model, the Tilt, but backed off because of the video driver issues. I quietly waited for the next HTC phone while everybody was going crazy over the iPhone 3G. Finally the AT&T Fuze was released. I went to the at&t store and tried the fuze and iPhone back to back for at least an hour. Over two weeks I thought about it, did a ton of online research, and read reviews. This is a summary of my analysis:
iPhone dislikes:
- non user replaceable batter but this is becoming a bit less of a concern. At least on the 3G the battery is NOT soldered in (unlike the original iphone). So if you really wanted to you could take it apart and replace the battery yourself.
- no way to tether but I guess you can jailbreak
- I like keeping my phone in my front pocket, and I'm afraid it's a bit too big for that. I know it's thin and has that nice big screen but it also makes the length and width quite a bit bigger than the fuze.
- I hate itunes but I guess I would have to install it. (I hate hate hate quicktime, VLC FTW!!!)
- I don't like ipods in general for mp3 playback b/c I love rockbox so I probably won't use it much.
- no cut and paste
- If I plan to write native apps for it I need a mac (and please not a hackintosh) to run the iphone sdk on it. Otherwise I'm limited to web based apps.
- no microsdhc slot. memory is fixed though 16gb isn't bad.
- touch keyboard which I hear you get use to in about two weeks. Why do some apps not let you go horizontal and therefore get the bigger keyboard like notes?
- doesn't sync notes or tasks with outlook
- oh yeah and the built in note taking app kind of sucks

iPhone likes:
- really responsive
- best browsing experience ever in a hand held. They really nailed this. It's so much better than ie or opera with touchflo on the fuze. It's scary how good it is at zooming in on text and formatting/wrapping it so it's easy to read. I'm sure it's analyzing the html for frames, div's, tables, etc. Whatever it is doing, it's doing incredibly well.
- nice big screen, I bet transcoded videos would like nice on it.
- google maps runs better too
- it's already getting a lot of interesting games and apps. I almost look at it as another gaming platform.

Fuze dislikes:
- slow browsing, pretty much still sucks (ie and opera)
- a bit of a brick but pretty pocketable
- lacks some more of the interesting apps/games that are coming out on the iphone which of course will be exclusive to that platform.
- expensive
- touchflo gui can't compete
- no standard headphone jack, requires included adapter

Fuze likes:
- windows mobile which I'm already familiar with. I already have a set of apps I depend on.
- tons of free apps
- very customizable os, not as locked down.
- I can immediately code against the .net compact framework
- 640X480 screen. tiny but really crisp. talk about high pixel density
- a real keyboard which is tons better than the iphone touch screen one. I think the bit of extra thickness is worth it.
- microsdhc (16gb cards are out now)
- replaceable battery
- syncs everything with outlook
- no need to install itunes!

- I talked to friends about it. The ones who did have one loved it. My other co-workers and friends pretty much had an intervention when I told them I was considering getting an iPhone. There's quite a lot of Apple hate, a lot of it for very good valid reasons and some not quite as rational.
- So given all this background and still ending up with an iPhone is a pretty big step for me.

First Impressions
- So I've had the iPhone for only a week. So far it's been mostly positive. I picked up the 16gb black model.
- iTunes: All I can say is I hate it less now after using it for some time. I still hate how it's forces you to install quicktime. Running msconfig you can at least stop the qthelper from starting up. You need to keep the itunes background task for it to properly detect when the iphone is plugged in. The search is kind of wacky. I like the advance search ability to limit to just application but I like the list style display of results of the simple search. Syncing contacts and calendar with outlook is a snap. Notes on the other hand takes a bit more work (more on that later). Buying applications is very simple though and quite addicting and there are some really nice apps out there. I had some earlier bad experiences with itunes on older hardware but it seems to be pretty well behaved on my quad core server. I plan to mostly use iTunes to buy apps and sync my own content. The ability to check for app updates and download them all is quite handy. I have to admit subscribing to video podcasts and having them sync to my iPhone and being able to watch them anywhere is kind of convenient. Though if you want it to automatically grab new podcasts you'll need to keep itunes running in the tray which uses 117MB. Eh, it's why I wrote and continue to use rcFeedMe.
- Check out iTunes Library Updater. I briefly tried it out and it seems to work ok with iTunes 8. It allows you to sync the iTunes library with any directory you want. It also has command line support.
- I like this iTunes Lyrics Importer. Pretty slick to have the lyrics of a song show up on the iPhone while the song is playing.
- I still like this id3 tag editor for bulk changes.
- iphone also shows up in "my computer" as a device so you can click on it and get to your photos. The camera isn't all that great with no focus, macro, or flash. Here are some samples I took with pretty poor lighting using steadycam on the iphone :

- 320X480, text looks great, so do videos
- Capacitive Touchscreen with multi-touch really does a make a pretty big difference in usability.
- The built in speaker isn't half bad.
- I can't say a whole lot on how good of a phone the iPhone actually is since I haven't had that many calls on it yet. Voice quality seems fine. Not sure how reliable it is as far as dropped calls go.
- Visual voice mail is very nice and convenient.
- Google maps is pretty amazing with good gps support and real time traffic. You can have it plot turn by turn directions, and the gps seems to track your car pretty accurately in real time (tested this while the wife was driving on the freeway), but the directions are not spoken, and the directions don't seem to advance along with your current position in real time (you have to hit the next button). It's just missing like 10% of some critical functionality that would make it a fully fledged car navigation gps. As it is, it is already the killer app on the iphone. If it just had a bit more polish, it could replace yet another piece of mobile electronics.
- Email client: gmail support is great. Setting up was really easy with great imap support. Of course you could always just browse to gmail too but the built in mail client is pretty great. I just wish it had landscape mode for easier typing. Again, why do so few apps support landscape mode!!??!!?!
- Audio: I still love rockbox and directory/file based browsing vs tag based. Sound quality is good. You can flag any mp3 file as resumable and change the type to audio book in itunes (highlight files, get info) so it makes listening to audio books easier but doesn't even come close to rockbox's bookmark system. I'm going to stick with my Sansa e280 with rockbox for the bulk of my mp3 listening. Once you go rockbox there really is no substitute.

- Video: I used handbake to convert some DVD's to mp4 for the iphone. I just used the built in iphone profile and upped DRC to 1.5 for audio. Encoding on my quad core q6600 @ 2.9ghz takes around 13min. Quality is very good with a typical movie taking around 430MB of space. I like the ability to zoom in and crop out a bit off the sides but remove the black bars on the top and bottom by double tapping the screen. Seeking is pretty quick and it does resume where you left off on each individual video. It's no TCPMP but it's good enough for me.
- Like I said early I think the browser is the most amazing part. Reading blogs, forums, and most other sites just works really well. The only thing I wish it has is flash and silverlight support.
- My concerns about the pocketablility of the iphone is mostly a non issue. It fits pretty well, not too heavy, and isn't as obtrusive as I thought it would be.
- Custom Ring tones: It's pretty easy to take any mp3 and convert it into a ring tone. I did this in Vista 32bit. First you need something that can convert between audio formats. I personally like dbpoweramp. It works great and is nicely integrated into file explorer. First, convert your mp3 -> wav using dbpoweramp. Then, open it in audacity. Here you can make it louder if you want. What you really need to do is create a clip that is less than 30 seconds. Save your clip as .wav. Download this dbpoweramp codec (m4a). Convert your 30 sec wav file to m4a using dbpoweramp. Rename the extension from m4a to m4r. Drag your m4r file into itunes ringtones section. Sync your iphone. That's pretty much it. If you don't want to use dbpoweramp you can look at doing it with just itunes and audacity. I haven't researched it enough but you might want to start here.
- Custom Wallpaper: I use for the best results. Take your jpg and crop/resize until it is 320×480. Then, just sync the photo to your iphone. What is pretty crappy is it only shows up on the unlock screen. There doesn't seem to be a way to have it display all the time behind your icons without jailbreaking it.
- Network speeds: I used Speedtest on the iphone to run these tests. Of course these tests are also dependent on how loaded the test server is so you could get different results in the exact same location but at different times.
WiFi (my dsl is 6mbps/768kbps): 2304kbps/378kbps
3G: I tested in many locations with a range of around 600kbps - 1300kbps. Average is usually around 800kbps. Upstream is usually 200-300kbps.
Edge: I was once out in a small town with only edge and ran the speed test. I got around 180kbps/60kbps. I was amazed it still worked at all. But yeah edge is pretty slow.
Overall I'm satisfied with the network speeds. 3G definitely makes a difference.
- I've read it's a good idea to reboot your iphone once in a while especially after you've loaded a lot of new apps on it. Just hold down the sleep and home buttons for about 10 seconds until it reboots and you see the apple logo.
- The iphone does continue charging even if you completely turn off the phone (hold down sleep for several seconds, slide the red slider). Just plug in the charger while the iphone is on and then turn off the iphone.
- The bluetooth on the iphone paired just fine with the hands free on my Acura TL 2007 type-s. The import address book feature also works fine over bluetooth though it only imported 273 contacts which was the maximum size the car supports.
- Cool app that kind of lets you get directly to the storage of the iphone though it's a bit limited if your iphone isn't jailbroken
- Some sites that work well with iphone:
- Pressing sleep and home buttons at the same time for a short second will take a screenshot of whatever you see. It's quite a handy feature. The image will be in your camera roll.

Battery Life:
- Battery life seems pretty good. I did drain it to 20% one day when I played field runners for 5 hrs straight with another 2 hrs or so of just messing around with it.
- You can see here how to remove the battery.
- You might consider getting AppleCare. It doubles the warranty from 1 yr to 2 yrs and can be purchased at anytime during the first year. It does cover the battery so if you plan to keep your iphone for a while it might be worth it. It's $69 for appleCare and $79 for a battery replacement. I'm still thinking about it.
- I haven't noticed any serious battery issues with 2.2. It is suggested here that you completely quit out of safari by holding down the home button for several seconds until safari closes. The theory is safari is somehow holding on to connections or something. I personally haven't had to do this.


Most of the dust you see here is actually on the surface and not trapped underneath the film:

- Case: I picked the Griffin Elan Form. It's $17.50 at amazon but I picked it up locally at best buy for $30. I really like this case since it adds very little bulk, offers some protection with the hard plastic inner lining, and the outside is a nice leather texture which gives some needed grip when holding it. The only thing I didn't like was the screen protector. It's just a hard piece of plastic which looks bad. For the screen protector I went with the Power Support Anti-Glare Film Set which I picked up for $15 locally at the apple store (first time in an apple store, felt a bit odd and out of place there :-). Applying it was a bit tricky. Wash your hands very well. Use a lint free cloth and clean the iphone really really well. I did this in the bathroom and steamed it up by running the shower with hot water. This supposedly helps keep the dust out of the air. I had some problems aligning it. Use a couple of strips of scotch tape on the end of the film to lift and realign the film until it's just right. Unfortunately I still got around 4 small pieces of lint under the screen. Two are kind of noticeable but off to the side. As you roll down the film make sure there are no air bubbles. I found trying to push the air bubbles out doesn't work as well as re-lifting the film up and just rolling it down again and letting the static cling do its thing on keeping the air bubbles out. I put it on while the case was on. It will fit if you align it just right without touching any edges of the case. Some people found some cases would mess up the edges of the film. It didn't for me. If you align it right, you should be able to take the case on/off without issue. Overall it looks pretty good with no air bubbles and just a few minor strands of lint. The film gives it a bit of texture, really helps keep down the finger prints, doesn't feel any less responsive, and works much better in bright outside conditions.
- The other option instead of using a case is to go full body film coverage like invisible shield, best skins ever, or full body films. ilounge seems to like full body films the best. I've tried out invisible shield on my sansa and let me tell you. If you thought applying a static cling film was tough, these full body films with adhesive that you have to wet then bend around curves and such is even harder. Lets just say I'm pretty happy with my case + anti-glare screen protector that I have right now.
- Accessories: I picked up additional chargers, car chargers, sync cables, etc from ebay. I bought some from this seller and the items worked fine.

- I would prefer a few more hard buttons or even a full flip out keyboard but I guess it's ok. I still hate hate hate the touch keyboard. Even with the predictive feature it still mostly sucks compared to a real keyboard with that much needed tactile feedback. It's even worse since so few apps support the larger horizontal keyboard. I don't care what apple says but the vertical keyboard is pretty much broken or is designed for people with keebler elves sized hands.
- Unable to run unsigned apps or get full access to the OS without jail breaking kind of sucks. I've considered jail breaking but haven't yet since, well this is my phone first and foremost and it has to be stable and reliable. I'm going to see if I can live with the iPhone the way it is, and so far I think I'm ok with it as annoying as it can be sometimes.
- Oh and f*** you very much apple for changing how the iphone 3g charges compared to all your other products. Yeah all those chargers I got for my wife's nano plug right into the connector but don't do squat. Is there any reason why they did this except as an obvious money grab? Looks like somebody is making a charge converter.
- The way they lock down the video output forcing you to buy their ridiculously overpriced dock and cables is why I hate apple.
- The lack of cut and paste and true multitasking (or at least some sort of app that shows you what is running and memory usage) is quite frustrating. There are some crude and limited work arounds:
I haven't tried any of them yet.
- No Slingbox mobile player available. UPDATE: slingplayer for iphone demoed at ces 2009. It should be out in the first quarter.
- I hate how it's hard coded to 9 pages (16 icons each) of app icons. That means you have 144 icons + the 4 on the bottom for 148. There are some built in apps too which further reduced the amount of apps you can install. Hard coding this limit is pretty stupid. After only a week I only have 22 spaces left to install apps. If you try to install over the limit, they just don't show up on the iphone. They give you all this storage space and thousands of apps and then put this retarded hard limit in the GUI.
- No proper a2db BT profile support for listening to music in stereo over bluetooth headphones. What a waste of the built in bluetooth.
- - encrypted itunes library file and no ability to sync with anything other than itunes though people have hacked around it. Alternative ways to sync 3rd party application data.
- No MMS.

- To write native apps you need a mac to install the sdk on. The other approach is to write web apps. There are some nice frameworks out there to make your web app look and feel like a native app: - I've been messing with this one a bit and it seems to play nice with .net too.
Some more frameworks
some general tips on iphone web development
- Being a c# programmer I dread the thought of learning objective c.

A quick comparison to the Blackberry Storm:
- As an aside I tried my brother's new Blackberry Storm. Their take is a bit interesting. It's still a touch keyboard but you push down and the entire screen clicks in basically acting like a giant button (haptic feedback sure does sound a lot more fancy though). Sure, you get that click when you activate something but it's still not nearly as good as a real keypad where you can feel the individual keys. We had a bit of a phone off over Christmas. We both agreed the iPhone wins but the Storm has potential. The software just isn't there to really take advantage of all the hardware it has. It felt pretty clunky and sluggish (and this was after the firmware update). It handled video pretty well. Email support wasn't as good. He didn't really have any technically impressive 3d games installed so I couldn't really get a feel how gaming would be on it. Browsing didn't have the intelligent zooming/text formatting that the iPhone has. Their map kind of sucked, was sluggish, and doesn't even use the built in GPS. It seems like almost nothing supports the GPS on the Storm whereas it's very prevalent in most iPhone apps.

- One of the main reasons I went with the iphone is the selection of really useful and mostly free (or low cost) application and games not available on any other platform. Some of the free apps are ad supported. Too many apps require creating accounts. There are also reports of privacy concerns for some applications so just be careful.
Here are some sites that cover iphone apps without the need to install itunes:
I'll be linking to these sites instead of itunes directly since I pretty much hate sites that link to itunes when I didn't want or need to install itunes.

Must have:
- Speedtest (free) - great for testing your network bandwidth wherever you are.
- Darkroom (free) - (was steadycam) Uses the sensors on the iphone to wait until you are still before snapping a photo.
- Melodis Voice Dialer (free) - Uses your voice to find contacts and call them. It works really well.
- Say Where (free) - what voice dialer does for contacts this does for google maps. Just say what you are looking for or the address.
- Evernote (free) - Great note taking app. Sync with desktop, web, iphone. Mark the note as favorite on the iphone and it is stored locally for offline viewing. It installs an outlook add-on that lets you export all your outlook notes into evernote. You can take a photo and it will OCR it though this is a bit difficult without focus or macro mode on the iphone camera. You can take voice notes. The only thing missing on the iphone is the ability to take an ink note. Oh and again no horizontal keyboard support. WHY!!!???!!!! Really come on. Going horizontal should be supported across the board at the OS level. Another one to consider is YouNote which does have ink notes.
- Jott (free) - Record short 15 sec voice notes and it will transcribe them to text for you. It's pretty neat and works quite well though 15 sec is a bit short. I used it quite a bit while writing this review. I used jott to create little notes of things I wanted to add to the review.
- Voice Notes (free) - Record voice notes for an unlimited amount of time and sync with your pc over wifi. The desktop sync app is very small and just a single exe file. The files are in .caf format which play fine in quicktime. More info here.
- Flashlight (free)
- Stanza (free) - my favorite ebook reader. Can sync your own content from pc over wifi. The process is a bit clunky but it does work.
- Holy Bible (free) - One of the few versions that has NIV for free as long as you are online. You also have the option of purchasing NIV for off line viewing or downloading many of the free non-copyrighted translations.
- The Weather Channel (free) - Lots of info and even the feeds of local weather video.
- Twitterfon (free) - I like this better than Twitterific.
- AP Mobile News (free)
- Shazam (free) - Amazing ability to record a clip of any song you hear and figure out what song it is.
- midomi (free) - similar to shazam. I like how shazam vibrates when it is done recording the sample. Still testing. Not sure which app I like better.
- Bloomberg (free) - much better than the built in stock checker, you can enter holdings information, the detail view has a nice large graph when you go horizontal, built in related news
- To Do's (free) - task list
- EasyWriter (free) - Create/reply/forward emails using landscape keyboard for typing.

Worth a look:
- Scribble (free) - drawing app
- 1password (free) - securely store information. Can't sync with pc (only mac).
- Mocha VNC Lite (free) - It works but man things sure are tiny.
- Urbanspoon (free) - Restaurant picker.
- yelp (free) - Find business near you. More than just restaurants, lots of categories.
- Now Playing (free) - Nicely integrates rotten tomatoes, imdb, trailers, and reviews though online ticketing seems a bit limited.
- Google Mobile App (free) - Search google using your voice. Eh, doesn't work as well as it should.
- Google Earth (free)
- WootWatch (free) - supports all the woot and woot variant pages and even woot offs
- Amazon (free) - The amazon Remembers thing actually works! Take a picture of an item and it will try to figure out the product from analyzing the photo.
- eBay (free)
- IGN (free) - great for reading IGN reviews.
- i.TV (free) - TV listings, also you can manage your netflix queues.
- Joost (free) - More videos but requires wifi.
- a2Z Pro Unit Converter (free)
- Tanslator (free)
- Dictionaire (free)
- FreeSaurus (free) - thesaurus
- Wikipanion (free) - formats wikipedia really nicely
- YPmobile (free) - the real yellow pages.
- WiFinder (free) - find wifi hotspots
- Facebook (free) - It seems nice but I don't use facebook that much.
- a free level (free) - No calibration makes it a bit less useful
- Distance (free) - use the gps to measure distance
- Simplify Media ($4 now, use to be free) - Stream your music collection to your iphone. I'm a bit concerned with privacy issues but I might try this out.

Internet Radio: I tested all these on wifi and 3g and also to see if calls would get through.
- Pandora (free) - internet radio. Works well. I like this one.
- (free) - another good free one.
- AOL Radio (free) - pretty good selection, works pretty well except for one fatal flaw. It blocks all incoming calls and sends them right to voice mail. No other radio app I've tested exhibited this odd behavior. UPDATE: the incoming calls issue has been fixed now.
- Wunder Radio ($6) - Largest selection of channels with a lot of your local stations available. It's $6 but it's pretty darn impressive. I've only used it a short while but haven't run into any stability problems yet. It's better than having a fm tuner!
- Slacker Radio (free) - Saw this on loaded. Just tried it briefly. Seems to have a nice selection of stations. Calls get through just fine. I've tried all these radio apps and this is now my favorite. The sound quality is the best.

Time Wasters:
- Seadragon (free) - interesting photo demo
- Lightsaber (free) - the kids love it
- Bubble Wrap (free)
- PBJ Time (free) - Peanut Butter Jelly Time!
- Lie Detector (free)
- Magic 8 Ball (free)
- Turkey Hunt (free)
- Newton's Cradle (free) - who doesn't like the swinging metal balls
- freebird (free) - lighter, candle, glowstick
- zippo (free) - lots of lighters to choose from, can use the mic to try and blow it out.
- I Can Has Cheezburger - lolcats and lolz.

- Chopper ($1) - choplifterish, fun, nice graphics, good use of motion controls
- Fieldrunners ($5) - nice graphics, polished, tower defense, but in the end a bit limited. I was hooked for 5 hrs and then I was pretty much done with it.
- 7 Cities TD ($5) - probably the best tower defense game, looks great, deep.
- Tap Defense (free) - tower defense and it's free!
- Hero of Sparta ($10) - hack and slash, god of warish, 3d showcase (almost psp levels), framerate suffers, pretty good touch virtual control pad
- Moto Chaser ($1) - pretty nice 3d racer.
- Rolando ($10) - Locoroco ish, pretty nice touch, gesture, motion based controls. I need to spend more time with it to get a better impression.
- Dropship ($1) - 3d space shooter with retro vector style graphics. I need to spend more time with it to get a better impression.
- Texas Hold'em ($5) - developed by apple. I like the two modes (vertical vs horizontal) of play. I haven't really played enough yet to judge the AI.
- Galcon ($5) - Risk in space in 1 min rounds. Multiplayer over the internet is great! Give the free lite version a try to see if you like it.
- Enigmo ($2) - Interesting puzzle game with nice physics on the water.
- Touch Physics ($1) - Draw shapes and use physics to move the circle to the goal.
- Warfare Inc. ($5) - a real RTS game. I haven't had a chance to really dig in yet.
- The Plateau ($1) - Move orbs to untangle lines. Puzzles are procedurally generated. Definitely worth $1.
- Checkers (free)
- iChess (free) - long nag screen on startup.
- Morocco (free) - othello
- Sol Free Solitaire (free)
- 21 Pro (free) - ads are a bit annoying but a pretty complete blackjack game.
- Black Jack (free) - simple, fast, and clean
- Touch4 (free) - connect 4
- TanZen Lite (free) - pretty nice interface, no hint system
- Tangrams LE (free) - a bit more difficult to rotate pieces but has a nice hint system. Good for kids.
- Crazy Penguin Catapult Lite (free) - ok little diversion.
- Space Deadbeef (free) - horizontal shooter, great graphics, innovative control system (though some might hate it)
- Tap Tap Revenge (free) - I just couldn't get into this rhythm game, and I didn't like the motion control aspects.
- Cube (free) - interesting 3d shooter tech demo with pretty twitchy motion controls and bad framerate.
- JellyCar (free) - I've played this on XNA before, and it's pretty fun here too.
- Sudoku (free)
- Topple (free) - stacking game
- I Say Free (free) - simon
- Rogue (free) - @
- Crash Landing (free) - lunar lander this is NOT!
- Darts (free)
- iSlots (free) - Vegas slot machine
- Labyrinth LE (free) - motion controls work great, very fluid ball animation/movement. This one is my favorite. I might buy the full version.
- Marble Mash (free) - Ball doesn't move as smooth as Labyrinth.
- Mines (free) - Minesweeper
- Advent (free) - the original adventure text game
- Adventure (free) - atari 2600 adventure
- Frotz (free) - interactive fiction, includes many games including zork
- Whack the Groundhog Lite (free) - whack a mole
- Arora Feint The Beginning (free) - a bit like puzzle quest
- MotionX Poker Quest Lite (free) - poker dice game
- Paper Football Lite (free)
- Puzzle Loop (free) - zuma
- Reign of Swords (free) - turn based strategy, haven't played much yet
- Crystal Defenders Lite (free) - bad controls
- RhinoBall (free) - bolt, at least it's 3d
- PapiJump (free) - simplistic jumping platform game with tilt controls.

Highly recommended. I have to admit I'm impressed. I'm learning to live with the few annoyances but for the most part the good far out weighs the bad.

UPDATE: 12/30/08
- Hmmm I think I might have just discovered a very compelling reason to start listening to my podcasts on the iphone. I primarily listen to audio podcasts during my work commute. The problem with using a standalone player like my sansa is if somebody calls I pick it up over my hands free system in my car. This obviously cuts the audio from the aux input to the phone over bluetooth. Then, I have to quickly pause my mp3 player or I'll lose my place and miss some of the podcast. With the iphone the podcast is automatically paused when I answer the call with my car (car switches audio to bluetooth), then when I'm done and hang up, it just seamlessly continues my podcast right where it left off (car automatically cuts back to aux input). This obviously only works so well because my phone and mp3 player are the same device. Oh damn you convergence and your conveniences. Maybe I'll just use the sansa/rockbox for music in the office.
- So I've been playing around with dropbox some more. So you can basically do what simplify media does but with dropbox. If you put media in your dropbox folder like mp3's, m4v's (video), and jpg you can view all this through the safari browser on the iphone. When you click on a music or video file, quicktime launches and streams it nicely even over 3g. It's able to keep up just fine.

UPDATE: 4/24/09
Here is an update of apps that I'm running:

- Free Memory ($1) - nice way to free up memory and even displays your battery level as a percentage.
- Air Sharing ($5)- Great way to carry documents, pdf's, and other files with you. The viewer is quite nice and remembers where you left off in documents. It does a pretty impressive job rendering complex pdf's. You sync files over local wifi which is quick and easy to do (your iphone basically becomes a mini web server when running the app).
- Skype (free)- Feels very much like the native phone app. Chat works pretty well too. You can't host conference calls though but you can join them. Call quality is quite good.
- (free)- My favorite flash based desktop browser bandwidth test site now has a very nice free app.
- Kindle (free) - Hey it's kindle for iphone. The latest version of Stanza is still a far superior reader but hey this gets you access to hundreds of thousands of kindle books if you don't mind DRM ebooks. No text to speech and no periodicals support is a bit of a bummer. No store integration. You still need to use a browser to buy books.
- Rss Player ($1) - I picked this up when it was briefly free. The big draw is it lets you download podcasts that are over 10mb. It's ok to use in a pinch but I still sync the majority of my podcasts through itunes.
- Textfree Lite (free)- Pretty good way to send and receive text messages for free. Sending is always free and if the other person replies it is also free. If the other party initiates the texting then of course regular sms charges apply unless the other person is also using Textfree. The lite version limits you to 15 messages a day. It also supports email notifications. It all works pretty well. If it gets update with true push notification when iphone 3.0 comes it I might just buy the full app.
- Geocaching ($10)- The app to get if you are use The only thing is I can't figure out how to enter my own coordinates.
- SnapTel (free)- Snap a picture of any media (books, movies, music, games, etc) and it will identify it and give you links to prices and other information. It works quite well and is very forgiving on photo quality.
- iHandy Level (free)- a pretty good free level with calibration.
- Units (free)- I think I like this unit conversion app better.
- Speller (free)- a nice dictionary, spell checker

- geoDefenese ($4) - Picked this up back when it was $1. Tower defense with geometry wars graphics. This is probably my favorite TD game. It's tough but I finished all the levels.
- Sentinel ($5) - Another nice TD game with some nice graphics. Needs more maps.
- Elemental Monster TD ($4) - picked this up but haven't had a chance to play it yet
- Time Crisis Strike ($6) - I love the light gun game and this isn't half bad.
- Blue Defense ($2) - great simple shooter with geometry wars graphics. This is a great little game if you only have a few minutes. Simple and elegant.
- Blue Attack ($2) - didn't quite like this as much as defend.
- Rebel Onslaught ($1) - reminds me a bit of starfox. Graphics are pretty nice.
- Payback ($5) - GTA clone that I haven't played much yet.
- Centipede - a great iphone port. Controls are great!
- Fantastic Contraption ($5) - physics based puzzler that I played a bit on the pc before. I haven't had time to mess with the iphone version much yet.
- ExZeus ($5) - also came out on the wii as counter force. It's not a bad 3d on rails shooter. Think 3d space harrier with bots.
- Sneezies ($2) - Cute little time waster. Chain reaction game. My wife likes this one.
- iDracula ($3) - dual stick shooting top down. Nice graphics. Good controls. They nailed the dual analog touch sticks.
- Shooter - based on the movie. Picked it up on sale. Haven't messed with it much yet.
- Days of Thunder ($1) - not a bad racer with lots of smashing.
- Zen Bound ($5) - interesting relaxing wrap a string around different 3d objects puzzle game.
- Sky Force Reloaded ($3) - good vertical shmup.
- Oregon Trail - remake of a classic
- GI Joyride ($1) - very simple controls. Graphics are good but this one just didn't have enough to keep me interested.
- wolf3d ($5) - from idsoftware. Great controls, graphics. Classic fps comes to iphone in incredible form. MUST BUY!
- Galaxy On Fire ($6) - 3d space sim/shooter. Nice graphics. Lots of gameplay hours.
- Freeballin' ($1) - interesting pinball game.
- Belowscape ($1) - an average geometry wars clone but it's all I could find.
- Tetris - it's tetris. Picked it up after the price drop.
- Rogue Touch ($3) - Picked it up when it was $1. it's rouge with nice graphics and controls.
- UniWar ($1) - turn based, hex, advance wars, lots of multiplayer options including play by email.
- Underworlds ($5) - a true diablo clone with some nice graphics. Controls take some getting use to.
- AirCoaster 3D ($1) - 3d coaster sim (and I use sim lightly). Comes with an editor and the ability to share your coasters. Think no limits lite.
- Clearout (free) - nice head to head multiplayer game
- Lights off (free)- classic puzzle game. Try to toggle all the lights off.


The Angry Intern said...

Great review! I'll have to check out some of the apps you list, as a bunch of them I haven't seen yet.

Unknown said...

Thanks for all the links to AppBeacon. It seems you might have found our bookmarking feature useful.

Justin Noel

Anonymous said...

Great review. It's kind of buried, but the "grab" search in Midomi is the exact same functionality as Shazam but even better (faster, bigger library, works in more noisy environment).

The best app on the whole phone is Pandora.

ARogan said...

TAI, trying out apps sure is addicting.

JN, np, I really like the appBeacon site.

I'll go take a look at midomi. Thanks for the heads up.

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