Top 10 Free iPhone apps

We round up some of the most useful free iPhone apps for you this week.

12 Jul 2010

Smartphones are becoming increasingly popular and a lot of that is down to the increased functionality and improved web-browsing experience, but probably the biggest step forward is the availability of apps. While smartphone apps themselves have been around for a long time, it wasn’t until Apple launched the App Store for the iPhone and iPod touch that they were readily available to everyone.

Prior to the App Store, installing apps on any smartphone wasn’t something for the faint-hearted, but especially so on the iPhone. It required a relatively complex procedure to ‘jailbreak’ the handset so that you could install additional apps. If the process went wrong, you could end up bricking your handset outside of Apple’s warranty terms. Jailbreaking is still popular today, but it’s not as necessary because there are more than 150,000 apps available in the App Store.

Due to the sheer number of apps, there’s inevitably a lot that are rubbish – thankfully nobody has made a Phantom Menace app, because that’d no doubt be as rubbish as the film was – and so we’ve selected our favourite apps from the store. We’ve focused exclusively on Free iPhone Apps here and have excluded apps like Facebook, Twitter, Skype and other similar apps as it makes little sense cluttering our list with apps that many of you already use. In the future, we’ll be looking at paid-for apps and games on iPhone, as well as extending the series to other smartphone platforms so stay tuned.

Apple Remote

Apple Remote iPhone app

Remote was Apple’s first iPhone app and it allows you to use your iPhone or iPod touch as a remote control.

The latest version allows you to use gestures when you’re controlling an Apple TV box, but if you’re using it to control iTunes on your PC or Mac, you’ll have to prod and poke your way around the interface. The good thing is that the interface is very intuitive like almost every Apple product, so this isn’t a massive issue.

To use it to control iTunes, you’ll need to plug your computer into a set of speakers and then open up iTunes. Once you’ve done this, start the Remote app and follow the simple instructions – in literally no time, you’ll be controlling iTunes playback from the comfort of your couch.

Amazon Mobile UK

Amazon Mobile UK iPhone app

If you’re a regular Amazon user, Amazon’s iPhone app might be right up your street as it makes the sometimes chaotic Amazon website incredibly simple to navigate while your’e out and about. Once you’ve logged into your account, Amazon’s personalisation tools make it very personal to your tastes.

It links seamlessly to the website too, meaning if you’ve planned to buy items on your desktop machine but got sidetracked, it will remember them. If you enable one click purchasing, items will be on their way to you in an instant.

What’s more, it has an interesting feature called Amazon Remembers which allows you to take a picture of an item and upload it to Amazon. These are then matched to items in the Amazon store by freelancers using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing program. Once a match has been found you’re alerted via email and, generally speaking, it only takes a few minutes. Sometimes, the matches aren’t perfect, but they do come very close.

Where this might be a problem is if you start using it while you’re out shopping in brick and mortars. The temptation to look up Amazon’s price for an item might agitate shop owners and you may end up getting thrown out.

Access to Amazon’s MP3 store is also missing, so don’t expect to be able to download DRM-free MP3s to your iPhone – only CDs come up in search results, which is presumably because Apple doesn’t want anyone competing with the iTunes store. We’re not too bothered about this because MP3s are often overpriced and lower-quality than the physical alternative.

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