Bolstered by arrival of the 3GS, launch of in-app purchasing and push notifications, the iPhone apps of 2009 have become richer and more robust experiences. Across 11 categories, we’ve selected the best apps of the year. In every category, each winner is an essential addition to your iPhone.
This is the ultimate roundup of essential apps for your iPhone from 2009.
Best Game: Rolando 2: Quest for the Golden Orchid
The sequel to 2008′s Rolando expands on the tilt ‘n’ swipe platforming action of the original. This time round, we’re brought an entire troupe of colorful Rolando characters to protect, alongside a tropical island inhabited by new baddies and a lost Rolando tribe. The artwork is gorgeous, the gameplay is excellent and, thanks to NGMoco’s Plus+ awards system, it’s got bags of replay value too.
Best Social & Communications App: Tweetie 2
Having formed his own development studio after working at the Cupertino campus, Loren Brichter has established himself as one of the premier App Store developers. Brichter’s skill is feeding his experience at Apple into his apps, Twitter client Tweetie 2 is an impressive showcase of his ability to distill a feature-rich experience into an app with a clear user interface. The app also rolls in a few unexpected new features including video tweeting, profile management and improved location-based searches.
Best Use of Push Notifications: Boxcar
Despite the arrival of push notifications on iPhone earlier this year, it’s still taking many developers time to implement these handy pop-up notifiers in their apps. There’s no push for most Twitter clients, no Facebook push and not even native email push from Apple. Boxcar is the missing push notifier for your favorite apps. The app includes push for Twitter, email, Facebook, RSS and even Growl.
Best News App: Byline
Under the hood, the app updates with the latest news in seconds, syncing happily with Google Reader. Unlike other news readers, while Byline is updating with the latest news, you’re able to keep browsing articles without suffering from any lag. It’s certainly not the most feature-rich news reader, but Byline brings together a clean interface with a robust RSS reader.
Best Use of Content: NFB Films
The National Film Board of Canada have brought a vast quantity of their video content to the iPhone, all of it wrapped in an easy-to-use free app. There are over a thousand videos available to browse, soak up and send to friends: from documentaries and animations to shorts and trailers for forthcoming releases.
Best Video App: ReelDirector
Apple may be stalling on bringing iMovie to the iPhone, but that’s nothing to worry about thanks to ReelDirector. With it’s powerful features, the app enables you to edit video footage into your own shorts before sending your latest amateur epic to your friends. In particular, the selection of high quality video transitions really add to the wow effect.
Best Photography App: Photoforge
Just like ReelDirector brings video editing to the iPhone, PhotoForge does the same for your photography. First-time users will be drawn to the impressive array of filters on offer, including Blur, Tilt Shift, Simulated HDR and Lomo. Once you’ve got to grips with the filters, there’s also a selection of Photoshop-style tools, including smudge, clone and brushes in a variety of shapes.
Best Sound App: I Am T-Pain
The year’s most over-used and perhaps abused audio-effect, the auto-tune, has landed on iPhone as Smule’s I Am T-Pain. The app essentially makes even the most cat-screechingly awful singer sound as perfectly tuned as Kanye West. Most importantly, you’ll need absolutely no musical ability to have fun with this brilliant sound toy.
Best Productivity Tool: NotifyMe
If you’re all about organization and productivity, NotifyMe will keep up-to-date with your task list. Thanks to a sleek user interface and ultra-fast startup time, there’s very little friction between you and the app, meaning you can be entering tasks and then getting back to work in moments. When it’s time to get a task done, the app will send you a push notification, plus there’s even a snooze option (perfect for habitual procrastinators).
Best Lifestyle App: Jamie Oliver’s 20 Minute Meals
Jamie Oliver brings cooking to the iPhone and true to his style, the entire app is friendly, fun and approachable. There are currently 55 delicious recipes in the app, each one can be whipped up in 20 minutes. To help you along the way, in addition to a range of quick kitchen tutorials recorded by Jamie himself, there’s an interactive shopping list tool and portion calculator.
Best Utility: Dropbox
The Dropbox service brought off-site backup to the masses. On the desktop, it runs in the background, securing your files and even letting you share them with friends, colleagues and clients with a couple of quick clicks. Although long-awaited, the iPhone app didn’t disappoint. You can browse your Dropbox using the app, plus share files and even save specific content to your iPhone for quick access.