iPhone apps mini-review

~ 11 July 2008 ~

An off-the-cuff review of apps I downloaded in iTunes yesterday. Ratings are based on usability and utility (or enjoyment).

  • Remote – Allows you to control your desktop computer’s iTunes via Bluetooth wi-fi. Can’t get the thing to work, and apparently I’m not the only one from all the discussion I’ve seen. Update: Finally got Remote working. This is awesome. Rating: 5 out of 5!
  • Band - Play and record instruments such as piano, drums, and guitar with multi-touch. Rating: 3.5 out of 5
  • PayPal – Nearly worthless. The only two things you can do are send payments and check your balance. How about being able to view and search history of payments? And why isn’t a mobile web app good enough to do all this? Rating: 1 out of 5
  • Twitterrific – So, this is the bomb on the desktop from what I’ve heard. I don’t know if the UI for the iPhone version is the same as that of the desktop, but I’m having a hard time figuring out how to use it; doesn’t seem very intuitive. I remain a fan of the simplicity in m.twitter.com but welcome being convinced otherwise. Rating: 3 out of 5
  • Starmap – Disclaimer: I’m a huge fan of constellations. I can point out about a dozen in the summer sky. Naturally, this app appeals to me. What’s interesting is everything looked dim when I first opened the app, until I realized it’s meant to be viewed in low-level light (duh, at night). View by constellation name, star name, and more. Rating: 4 out 5
  • Checkout SmartShop – This is an interesting one. Get pricing online and offline, reviews, and more by simply entering the barcode of nearly any product. This will no doubt come in handy when shopping around town, as I’ve already done this many times using amazon.mobi and the like. Only complaint is that it’d be much easier if I could snap a picture of the barcode and have the info pull up. Rating: 3.5 out of 5
  • Labyrinth – Old news for any of you with a jailbroken iPhone. My boys enjoy playing this one. I was surprised to see how responsive and sensitive the accelerometer is. Rating: 3.5 out of 5
  • BoxOffice – Showtimes for local movie theaters, rating scores from Rotten Tomatoes, and a few other things. Rotten Tomatoes desperately needs a mobile version of their site, and I was hoping this app would be a suitable substitute. Not the case, as it shows only number ratings and not critic reviews. Not bad, however, for an app that doesn’t cost anything. Rating: 3 out of 5

What’s on your iPhone?



Veer Veer: Visual Elements for Creatives.
Stock photography, type, and killer tees. Genuinely recommended by Authentic Boredom.

1   Jason ~ 11 July 2008

When did the software update come out, or did you get it before everyone else because you’re one of the special ones. I updated iTunes, but as far as phone software it tells me I am up to date - which is not 2.0.

2   nor ~ 11 July 2008

I love Remote! Works great for me. I can control my iTunes on my iMac from my bedroom to my office in the basement. I haven’t tried the other ones you mentioned, but will give them a try. I will have my own rating on my site. As always, thanks for sharing Cameron.


3   Neil ~ 11 July 2008

If you buy a new iPhone 3G it comes preloaded with version 2.0 software that gives you access to the App Store to download apps right away.

4   Brian Artka ~ 11 July 2008

Updated last night as well via the file.

The moto game is pretty cool, looks nice.

Steps is a nice little app too. Put the iphone in your pocket, walk around, it tracks the steps, distance and calories burned (based on your height and weight). Pretty simple, but nice. It worked fairly well.

5   Chris ~ 11 July 2008

I’ve had no issues with Remote. In fact, I’ve used it with ease to control both my Mac Pro and Apple TV. So, a quick run down of some of my favorites so far.

Trism, Very addictive. I must get the high score.
NYTimes, very nice to read the news with.
Starmap, agreed
Twitterific, the learning curve for someone that doesn’t use Twitterific on the desktop will level out after some regular use.

Stupid apps that are just fun:
Light by Erica Sadun (blank white app to turn your phone into a flashlight)
PhoneSaber (everyone should have a phone that doubles as a lightsabre in a pinch)
World 9 (just get it, launch, put phone in pocket, bounce around house)

6   Jon Evans ~ 11 July 2008

I don’t think Remote uses Bluetooth - or if it does, it’s optional. I just tested it on mine with Bluetooth switched off on my Mac. It uses WiFi I think.

Hopefully this info will point you towards a solution to your problem!

7   Michael Grinstead ~ 11 July 2008

Apparently the firewall might be blocking the remote app… http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=1593641&tstart=0 (5th post down)

8   John ~ 11 July 2008

I suggest to use Bryton Media Group’s iCode Reader for barcoding on the iPhone. This shiny little app will be available in the AppStore soon…

9   Jason ~ 11 July 2008

So if you don’t go out and buy the 3G phone the only way to get the software as of right now is running the beta from the SDK on 10.5? Personally GPS and doubling the speed isn’t worth it. I was on a sprint pcs phone before my iphone and surfing text based web from it wasn’t very fast and most of the time when I do anything on the web from my phone it is via WiFi. I’ll probably skip the second generation phone and get the 3rd generation in a year or hopefully 2.

10   Cameron Moll ~ 11 July 2008

@ Jason: This is the resource I used to download and install 2.0 yesterday.

@ Chris: PhoneSaber, nice find.

11   Scott Jehl ~ 11 July 2008

The app that’s impressed me the most so far is Shazam. It records a quick bit of any song that’s playing and tells you what it is. Incredible.
itunes url: http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=284993459&mt=8

12   Jakob Wells ~ 11 July 2008

If you have your firewall set to anything other than “Allow all incoming connections,” Remote won’t work.

13   Robert ~ 11 July 2008

Pandora released a client for the iPhone. Now you can listen to Pandora streams over Edge, 3G, or Wifi. I hook my iPhone up to an FM tuner so I can play the stream in my car. It’s cooler than regular radio.

14   Michael Critz ~ 11 July 2008

So far I use:

  1. Remote (both beautiful and useful)

  2. iCalorie (useful, but hideous)

  3. Facebook (neither useful or pretty)

15   Jason ~ 11 July 2008

I greatly appreciate the link.

16   Johnny Makkar ~ 11 July 2008

I am very happy with some apps and left unsatisfied with most of the ones I have checked out so far. Some quick notes:

- Your right paypal is worthless, I will probably uninstall it. I rarely use paypal anyway.

- I cannot believe they left out the mini-feed on the facebook app which was the main page on the iPhone site and the reason I checked it so often.

- AIM is pretty bad but I was expecting that. It doesn’t even seem like there is a way to sign out! I will continue using BeeJive.

- Also not crazy about Twitterific. Lots of scrolling and I cannot figure out the shortcut to go straight to the latest tweet.

- Super Monkey Ball is the only app I paid for so far out of the 13 I downloaded and it’s cool, but not sure yet whether it was worth the $10.

- Loopt is cool but nobody I know uses it yet.

- Bank of America did not even bother creating a richer app and it is exactly the same layout and design as their mobile website which I was very disappointed with.

Overall, definitely seems like some of the apps were rushed when they had the potential to be much better.

17   Sean Foushee ~ 11 July 2008

I’ve found Remote to be the most useful app so far, mainly because my Logitech Harmony remote is horrible controlling my AppleTV. Being able to quickly “flick” through my 160GB library gives my AppleTV a new lease on life, not to mention a more appropriate way of using AirTunes from my iMac upstairs through my AppleTV downstairs in the Living Room (before I had to go upstairs if I wanted to skip a song or change playlists… not pretty).

Other apps I’ve been using:

Facebook, some people don’t apparently like this one but I’ve found it far better to use than their full site. I like the ability to quickly change my status, check my inbox or post a message to a friend without having all of the extra garbage found on the main site.

I agree with you on Twitterific, not very intuitive.

NetNewsWire is excellent, and although I’m a NewsFire user I’m happy to finally be able to read my feeds on my iPhone in one centralized place.

Overall experience, post-activation headaches, is better than I expected and the updates to Mail are worth the price of admission.

18   Ed Eubanks ~ 12 July 2008

Like most, Remote is working fine for me— and what a great app!

I’m using AIM and Facebook, too— mostly satisfied. I don’t live in IMs, so having the ability to occasionally IM someone from my iPhone is nice. Facebook is a big improvement over the mobile version in terms of function, so that’s a plus. I like that they included chat, though I don’t use it a lot.

I tried NetNewsWire but went back to the mobile version of NewsGator. For one, it feels more familiar; NNW on iPhone didn’t work like NNW on my Mac, but unlike NewsGator either…

Jott is probably one of the new superstars for me. It’s a fairly plain interface (though I appreciate that they departed from a simple button or something lame like that), but it was enough for me to sign up for the online service. Very cool.

Evernote looks like it might be similar; I love that you can snap a pic with your iPhone-cam and it’ll become a (OCR-transcribed) note in Evernote.

Save Benjis looks promising, though I haven’t used it yet.

I’m disappointed with eReader, mostly because the e-texts are so pricy.

I’m stoked that we finally have a Contacts app unto itself. And People (whitepages) and YPmobile should be useful.

19   Tomatoes ~ 14 July 2008

Our iPhone app Tomatoes lets you quickly and easily search Rotten Tomatoes on the iPhone/iPod Touch.


20   Jeff ~ 14 July 2008

If you’re looking for a decent Twitter client, try out a program by Big Stone Phone (of which I am a founder) called Twittelator. It’s free (with no ads, just free).

21   Shane ~ 15 July 2008

A firend of mine just developed an iphone app that seems similar to the “Checkout Smart Shop”

His is called Save Benjis


22   webdesign hamburg ~ 09 August 2008

The hole iPhone thing is great, but not in Germany wiht German Telekom and it’s price policy

23   mynameisgoor ~ 15 August 2008

You are not right.

24   Julian Powers ~ 06 October 2008

1. Twinkle - Great twitter client
2. Weather Bug - Excellent Weather App
3. Wordpress Plug - Great for jotting blog notes
4. gFlash+ - good for studying, a bit crashy though
5. Movies - I like this better than Box Office
6. Currency - good if you travel alot
7. Last.fm - music is nice!
8. Wikipanion

1. mymilemarker.com
2. m.digg.com
3. m.flickr.com


Authentic Boredom is the platitudinous web home of Cameron Moll, designer, author, and speaker. More…

Come in, we're hiring

Full-time and freelance job opportunities. Post a job...

...view all jobs »


A selection of fine reading, available for a limited time only:

In Print

CSS Mastery CSS Mastery: Advanced Web Standard Solutions A solid round-up of indispensable CSS design techniques by Andy Budd, Simon Collison, and Cameron Moll.

Mobile Web Design Mobile Web Design A guide to publishing web content beyond the desktop. Tips, methodology, and resources. Now available.


Letterpress Posters Letterpress Posters The unassuming beauty of a freshly letterpressed print.

Wicked Worn That Wicked Worn Look. Techniques for that worn, aged, distressed look.

Mister Retro Mister Retro Machine Wash Filters Turn the dial to “Instaworn” with these filters.

Blinksale Blinksale Dive in and enjoy shamelessly easy invoicing from Firewheel Design.

Basecamp Basecamp My preferred web app for internal and client project collaboration.


HOW Conference HOW Conference Austin, June 24–27. Pentagram, Adobe, P&G, et al.

Web Design World Web Design World Seattle, July 20–22. Practical sessions on web design.

An Event Apart Stimulate Salt Lake City, September 2009. Entrepreneurship and design conference.

Feed Me
Articles: RSS
Linkage: RSS

Follow me: Twitter