Top 10 iPhone Apps We’d Like to See
In the early days of the App Store for the iPhone and iPhone 3G, there are some definite gems, like Pandora, NYTimes, and MLB.com At Bat. And the selection of games is outstanding, especially those that take advantage of both touch and motion control like Crash Bandicoot. On the other hand, there are also plenty of relatively useless programs. So far there are three applications that make it look like you’re drinking straight from the iPhone: iBeer, iMilk, and iPint. What would we like to see? Let’s count down the top 10–and don’t forget to let us know what’s on your wish list. 10. LoJack for iPhone One of the benefits of the iPhone 2.0 software is that enterprises can remotely wipe a device if it’s lost or stolen. So what about those of us who don’t have an IT department that’s got our back? Enter Absolute Software, whose LoJack for Laptops is easily the most popular service for tracking and recovering mobile PCs. With this app, which wouldn’t have an associated icon (we wouldn’t want to tip off the thief), you would be able to remotely delete sensitive information and help the authorities get your precious device back by leveraging the iPhone’s integrated GPS. It costs $39 a year for laptops, so $29 a year for the iPhone sounds about right. 9. Zagat to Go This one isn’t much of a stretch, especially given the fact that the app is already available for BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, and Palm for 30 bucks a year. The iPhone version would be better. In addition to listings for over 30,000 restaurants, bars, and other establishments, Zagat to Go for iPhone would be able to make recommendations based on your current location. And you would be able to download panoramic shots of establishments over 3G or Wi-Fi so you could get a feel for the ambiance. Tilting your device left or right or up or down would pan around the room. You could dial the eatery on the spot to make reservations or link directly to OpenTable to make them online via Safari. The reservation would automatically show up in your calendar, and you could then share that entry with others to invite them out. 8. Photoshop Mobile No one will argue that the iPhone 3G’s camera couldn’t be better, especially in low light. But I’ve been generally happy with the pictures it’s been taking. Images are generally clear, and the shutter speed is quite good for a camera phone, even though autofocus wouldn’t hurt. What I’d like to see are some honest-to-goodness photo editing tools combined with the ease of use of a Web-based tool like Photoshop Express. You could enhance photos in a flash with the Auto Correct option, as well as crop and re-size pics. Add in a nice fill light (to compensate for the lack of flash) and suddenly the iPhone is a legitimate stand-in for a traditional point-and-shoot. Maybe Adobe could add an MMS option while they’re at it. 7. Slacker Now don’t get me wrong. At the moment Pandora is the coolest app on the iPhone by far. In fact, I personally see no reason to buy a song from iTunes ever again—even if the audio cuts out once in a while. What Slacker would bring to the table is the ability to tweak your customized stations on the fly. On the Slacker Portable device you can only vote songs up or down. On the site you can tell Slacker to play newer or older tracks, more popular or more songs on the fringe, etc. This is the kind of versatility I’m looking for from an iPhone music app. It’s a small thing, but I also like being able to look up artist info on the Slacker Portable so I can learn more about them. This functionality could easily be ported. 6. Valpak Locator Two words. Scannable coupons. Today if you go to Valpak.com, you enter your zip code to bring coupons you can print. How quaint. The wireless version of this app would tap into the iPhone’s GPS and offer deals based on your location, whether you were looking to save on your next oil change or trip to the grocery store. At the point of sale, a coupon code on your iPhone would be scanned. Another company, Cellfire, offers a similar technology today but its mobile coupons aren’t location-aware and are largely limited to national chains like Quiznos and Hollywood Video. My suggestion: Valpak and Cellfire should tie the knot and get an iPhone app out the door pronto. 5. Meebo It’s only a matter of time…we hope. Meebo’s Web-based for the iPhone has allowed users to chat using multiple clients (AIM, MSN, Yahoo, Google Talk) for months. So why not come out with a proper native app so you can chat with all of your buddies? Meebo would carry over the feature we like about the mobile Safari version, including chat history and having the latest messages automatically appear at the top of the buddy list. I’d also like to see the ability to swap images using this app and maybe share your location when buddies are trying to find you. What you won’t get is an IM app that works in the background and notifies you to new messages while you do other things. The software for the iPhone and iPhone 3G simply doesn’t support this type of functionality. At least not for now. 4. Hulu Yeah, yeah, yeah. We know that this app would directly compete with iTunes, and that Hulu would have to encode its videos for QuickTime (at least until the iPhone supported Flash). But just the thought of watching many of our favorite shows for free on the go—the Daily Show, House, and Family Guy, to name a few–has us salivating. Bascially, we’d much rather be forced to sit through a quick ad before the video rolls than pay iTunes’ $1.99 a pop. Why doesn’t Apple offer ad-supported TV episode downloads? That would be okay, too. 3. Skype In its most recent financial results, AT&T stated that it continues to lose landline customers at an accelerated rate. So instead of fighting VoIP, AT&T should embrace the leader, allowing customers to get landline quality from their iPhones while they’re connected to their home or office Wi-Fi network. Such an offering would also encourage iPhone owners to frequent Starbucks and other hotspots now serviced by AT&T. While there would certainly be a risk of customers signing up for voice plans with less minutes, AT&T and Skype could work together to promote bundle plans for the home that are attractive to subscribers and palatable to AT&T—and give T-Mobile’s HotSpot @Home service a run for its money. In some ways AT&T doesn’t have a choice but to embrace VoIP so why not create buzz for the brand and put CallVantage out to pasture in one fell swoop? 2. BlackBerry Connect Before you write this wish list item off, bear in mind that this application is available for Windows Mobile and Symbian devices, which are also direct competitors to the iPhone on the hardware side. Sure, the iPhone offers push e-mail through Microsoft Exchange, and Yahoo and Gmail have worked fine for me and are a cinch to set up. But what’s with the 200-message limit and the inability to search your inbox? BlackBerry Connect would be an awesome paid-for app for those who swear by RIM’s reliability, security, and push support regardless of who hosts your e-mail. And it would be kind of nice to have BlackBerry’s little shortcuts built in, like typing a space for the “@” symbol when pressing the space bar and pressing P to pull up messages from a previous date. 1. iDash Express There was some debate immediately after the iPhone 3G’s launch as to whether its integrated GPS was powerful enough to enable the device for full-fledged navigation. On launch day, Apple’s VP of hardware marketing Greg Joswiak told me at the Fifth Ave. Apple Store that this report was false and promised that the iPhone GPS capabilities would “evolve.” TomTom announced in June that it already had its navigation app running on the iPhone, but I’m holding out hope for Dash Navigation to port its groundbreaking real-time traffic, Yahoo local search technology, Send2Car, and other goodies to the iPhone. Instead of waiting for a network of standalone GPS devices with cellular connectivity to proliferate across the U.S.–even at a nicely reduced price of $299–Dash would be wise to jump on the iPhone bandwagon now. The Garmin nuviphone would be DOA.