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My Top 5 iPhone Apps of 2008: A War of Attrition

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It was a long, drawn out, brutal affair. Finally, after many months, five apps have emerged victorious, and earned a long-term place on my iPhone’s home screen. There are a lot of apps that I’m initially impressed with, and which actually work really well, or have interesting features, but it takes something special for me to actually continue using one beyond an initial honeymoon period. A lot of the apps that meet this criteria end up helping me work, or distract me from work, but in a lasting way.

5 – [Free]

This one is sure to provoke cries of “What about Pandora?”, “Pandora FTW”, etc. The sad fact is that Pandora doesn’t work here in Canada. The site now only supports U.S. users, so we’re out of luck. But we still have, and despite the fact that some claim its recommendation engine isn’t nearly as effective, it works well enough that I can plug it in and forget it for an entire day of work, and still be guaranteed a short list of artists to look up, too.

4 – Movies [Free]

Ever since its acquisition by Flixster, this app quickly rose to prominence as my absolute favorite movie app, beating out both OneTap Movies and Showtimes. Movies isn’t buggy, works quickly, recognizes and supports online purchasing at Canadian theatres, and best of all, displays Rotten Tomatoes ratings ever since a recent update. I was concerned this feature would never make it into a Flixster owned app, but they’ve added it, perhaps aware that their own ratings are largely meaningless.

3 – Beejive IM [$12.99]

I still feel a little bruised from having paid $15 for something that really should, at this point, be natively offered in any smartphone. IM is a major means of communication, and a device that claims to be the ultimate communicator should support it, regardless of which protocol I want to use. Still, if I consider how often I use it, and how many headaches I’m saved because it stays logged in and doesn’t have any of the horrible bugs that plague Mobile Chat, it was well worth the hefty price tag. Plus it’s on sale for $12.99 right now.

2 – Remember The Milk [Free (with Pro RTM Account)]

It was a while before I decided to go with the renewable RTM Pro subscription over the Things software purchase. The deciding factor: since RTM is web-based, I can access it anywhere without the app, even if my iPhone is out of juice or, heaven forbid, lost. Plus I like RTM’s interface, fields, look and feel, and I can use it on Windows machines, since that still occasionally happens.

1 – Tweetie [$2.99]

Up until recently, this spot would’ve been split between two separate apps, and this would’ve been a top six instead of a top five. I used to use Twitterific for basic Twitter functionality, and Summizer for Twitter search and trend mapping. That was before our own Olly Farshi took an in-depth look at all the Twitter clients available for the iPhone and I realized that I could have my cake and eat it too with Tweetie. Before they updated their GUI with the “Simple” theme, I used it, but I didn’t altogether enjoy it. Now, though, I’m pleased as punch.

So there you have it, my Top 5 for the year. As you might’ve noticed, no games appeared on this list. That’s because any game I’ve ever played has been a temporary distraction, at best. Even the most addictive puzzle game only catches my attention for a few weeks. No, the real killer apps for the iPhone in my book are the ones that make my job easier, or help me enjoy my pastimes more fully.

What about you? What apps make your year-end cut?

9 Responses to “My Top 5 iPhone Apps of 2008: A War of Attrition”

  1. I wouldn’t include any RSS apps. I’ve got Byline, but it’s really not up to scratch yet. It still handles folders very poorly. I’ve tried NetNewsWire and it syncs great and the iPhone app is pretty good (though far from perfect), but their web interface is ugly and has nothing on Google Reader. So for the time being I use the iPhone-optimised Google Reader web interface.

  2. I strongly recommend Now Playing instead of Movies. I picked it up because the developer was posting on the Ars Technica forum and was taking suggestions into account. Anyway, it has integrated Rotten Tomatoes for a while now and does a whole lot of other stuff…and it’s free!