As we already discussed, there is an entire industry dedicated to helping you and me discover new and exciting apps. Having said that, nothing replaces old-fashioned word of mouth. Meeting a friend who recommends you download an app will always be more effective than seeing that app recommended by another app or a service.
The following are 8 iPhone apps that will actually enhance your life in a way that a game cannot, no matter how much fun it is to fling birds at pigs:
1: 360 Panorama ($0.99)
There are various apps in the App Store that allow you to take a panorama photo. Microsoft even has its own iPhone app for this, PhotoSynth. 360 Panorama has to be the best designed, easiest to use, and most feature-rich panorama app out of the bunch. As soon as you open the app, you are presented with a grid, and 3 icons along the bottom for adding a photo from your library, snapping the photo, or configuring the settings. Then you take the picture, rotate the phone and begin to capture a 360 degree panoramic photo of what you are seeing.
You can then easily upload the photo to the site that is associated with the app and share the 360 degree photo across the Web. All in all, the app is very user friendly and the resulting photos are super impressive.
2: ToonPAINT ($1.99)
This app, out of the hundreds or thousands I have tried makes my top ten list in terms of apps that blew me away. The design of ToonPAINT is fantastic and the pictures that it creates are truly phenomenal. So what does it do? You can load a photo or take one with the camera, and the app turns the picture into a full fledged cartoon. You can then customize the look of the cartoon with colors and easily share it via email or the social Web. There are some extra enhancements that you can buy via an in-app purchase, but even without them, the app is sure to impress your friends and create superb cartoon-like photos.
3: QuickPix ($0.99)
I have followed the evolution of this app since it was first introduced into the App Store and it was awesome then, and it is awesome now. The basic premise is that due to the nature of a mobile device, you want the ability to snap a photo using your phone instantly. If the camera on your phone, in this case the iPhone, takes a few seconds to load the camera app, those seconds can be the difference between capturing an image and missing it.
QuickPix loads instantly and enables you to take a photo significantly faster than the iPhone camera. You can also capture images in burst mode, which works unbelievably fast on the iPhone and somehow, even faster on the iPad. There are many other features as well such as the ability to snap a photo right in the middle of a video, something that can come in handy.
4: FlyScreen (FREE)
Originally a wildly popular Android app, Flyscreen recently launched on the iPhone. The app offers an easy-to-read and pleasant-on-the-eyes user interface that enables you to add your favorite RSS feeds, or social networks such as Twitter and Facebook and read them on the go. Each feed has its own view similar to the “card” concept we have seen in other platforms such as WebOS or on the Playbook and you can share articles directly from within the app and fully customize the look and feel including premium themes.
In addition to the regular “reader” functionality, Flyscreen is the only app that not only lets you actively read your favorite content, it also has a “passive” reading mode that lets you dock your device and the app slowly streams your content onto the screen enabling you to click on articles that only really draw your attention.
5: doat (FREE)
This one is interesting. DoAT launched at the recent TechCrunch Disrupt event and has since seen some nice tech coverage. What the developers set out to do is revolutionize mobile search and while competing with giants like Google might be a huge challenge, DoAT seems to be doing a fantastic job so far. When you launch the mobile app, you can search for anything you would generally search via Google on Safari. DoAT then shows you results of Web apps for the query you entered.
For example, if you search for your name in DoAT, you can see results for you under different categories such as People, Internet, Reference, and others. As soon as you select the relevant category, you are presented with live dynamic results in the form of Web apps. So in our example, if you click People, the app will show you your Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Google results for your name, and others. If you had clicked Reference as a category, you might see any mention of your name on various sites such as Wikepedia, Answers.com, or others. The app might take you some time to get used to but it definitely offers a lot of value depending on your search query.
6: Boxcar (FREE or $4.99)
I think Boxcar might be a little more well known than the other apps here, but it is well worth a mention. Boxcar is the notification system that the iPhone is missing, at least until iOS5 is out to the public. However, even after iOS5 is out, Boxcar offers a lot of value that Apple will not offer. With boxcar, you can get notifications for so many services including Twitter, Facebook, Email, a specific Twitter search, an RSS feed, and so much more.
The app lets you customize the way you are notified and in the year and a half I have been using Boxcar, I have become increasingly dependent on the service and with the exception of a few cases, it never disappointed me and was always a reliable solution.
7: Silent Film Director ($0.99)
This app, like ToonPAINT, is pretty much guaranteed to blow you away. With Silent Film Director, you take a video either from your library or the video camera, choose your soundtrack and effect, and convert the video to an old-fashioned movie that kind of reminds of you of a Charlie Chaplin clip depending on the year you choose in the settings. There are tons of customization options in Silent Film Director and the design of the app is nothing short of stunning.
8: Onavo (FREE)
To end off with a bang, here is an app that you will use, love, and want to share with your friends. Onavo will save you serious money on your data plan and without you even knowing it is there. Basically, Onavo runs your Web traffic through their servers and basically shrinks your data. Onavo also enables you to see what apps are using the most data and how much of your plan you have used. This is great for users with limited data plans and it is even greater for people who travel a lot. It can save you serious money on roaming charges, which we all know are completely out of control.
There you have it, folks, 8 fantastic apps most of you have never heard of and will absolutely love. If you have others you can recommend, please leave them in the comments so others can benefit from them as well. You can also let me know what you think of these, find me on Twitter at @hilzfuld.
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