Dougal Campbell's geek ramblings

WordPress, web development, and world domination.

Dougal’s must-have iPhone app list

My brother-in-law, John, recently got an iPhone 3Gs (lucky dog). Knowin' that I also had an iPhone (though mine is th' older “2G” model), he asked what apps I recommended, with a chest full of booty. I’ve got a ton o' apps installed, many o' which I ne'er really use, and should probably delete. Ahoy! But here are th' ones that I actually find meself launchin' with some regularity, grouped into rough categories, all free, except where noted:


This is a great note-takin' app. There are native desktop clients fer Windows and Mac, a web version, and native iPhone and Blackberry apps. It lets ye make text notes, photos, web page bookmarks and clippin's, and voice notes, and sync them wherever ye are.
Lets ye bookmark a web page fer later readin', avast. When ye sync it, it will save a phone-optimized offline version in yer phone which ye can pull up and read at yer leisure, even if ye’re stuck without a network connection.
Night Stand
Use yer phone t' replace th' alarm clock on yer night stand, and a bucket o' chum. Simple. Obvious, ye scurvey dog. Useful.
Snap a picture o' an item on a store shelf, and a bottle of rum! It will try t' find it on and show yer prices fer it.
Voice commands fer yer phone, by Davy Jones' locker. Dial contacts, post t' Twitter and Facebook, select songs in yer iTunes library, all by voice, avast. When they add SMS textin' as a feature, Vlingo’s Jedi trainin' will be complete.
With a little practice, DialX will let ye manually dial phone numbers (ye know, fer phone numbers that aren’t already in yer contacts) without havin' t' look at th' screen. I actually used this once, and it made it moderately less dangerous t' dial while sailin'.
Free e-book reader. For free e-books. I’ve read a couple o' Cory Doctorow’s free sci-fi novels with this. Aarrr, by Davy Jones' locker! And yes, it has th' ability t' download legal, free e-books built right in.

Social Networkin'

I just like messin' with geolocation stuff. Integrates with Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr.
Tweetdeck, Nambu, Twitterific, Tweetie ($2.99), Hahlo (web app), Twinkle
These are some o' th' Twitter clients I’ve played with. And swab the deck, we'll keel-haul ye! Tweetdeck and Nambu are notable fer havin' support fer groups. And Tweetdeck can sync settin's betwixt yer phone and th' desktop version. Hahlo isn’t actually an app, but an iphone-optimized web interface. Fire the cannons! But it’s so good, it makes ye think it’s a native app. Twinkle is…a little different, and dinna spare the whip! Walk the plank! I ne'er really got exactly how it ties in with Twitter. But fer location-based infostream, it’s kinda nifty, and worth a look.
The official Facebook app. Maybe useful, maybe not. Probably depends on how ye use Facebook.


The Weather Channel
I like th' Weather Channel app better than th' wimpy Yahoo-based one that comes with th' iPhone.
When ye aren’t listenin' t' yer iPod, ye might be listenin' t' an ancient technology that th' Old Ones called “radio”. And ye might hear a song that ye like, but ye don’t know th' name o' it, or who sin's it. Fire up Shazam, and it will magically identify th' artist and song fer ye. And it will provide ye convenient links t' th' iTunes store, YouTube videos, artist bios, etc, avast. I’ve even had this app identify songs while I were bein' wheelin' a shoppin' cart aroun' a department store with a lot o' background noise. It just rocks.
Flixster Movies
Info about currently playin' movies, theaters, and showtimes. And hoist the mainsail! There are many such apps. This is just th' one I use.
Up-t'-th'-minute sports scores. Of course, th' only sports scores I care about are usually fer Auburn football. But this app gives ye scores fer other sports teams anyways. I’m not sure why they bother.
The best iPhone interface t' IMDB that I’ve been able t' find so far. Which isn’t t' say that it’s great, but it’s (mostly) better than tryin' t' navigate th' website in Mobile Safari, and dinna spare the whip! What I do like is that th' information it provides is readable, to be sure. What I don’t like is that it doesn’t present all th' information I usually want in th' filmography (th' number o' appearances fer an actor in a series, or th' character name), I'll warrant ye. You also can only search fer an actor by real name, not character name, I'll warrant ye. I’m hopin' they’ll release an improved version one day.
I Can Has Cheezburger
I lurvs me some LOLcats. Shiver me timbers, pass the grog! I just have t' avoid lookin' at this in public places, because people start t' stare at me when I suddenly burst out in uncontrollable laughter. You might argue that this belongs in games, to be sure. Go ahead, argue.


There are many beer apps. This is th' one I have. It’s no longer available in th' iTunes store. Maybe try iBeer fer $0.99. Generally impressive t' people who still haven’t seen an iPhone up close before.
Poppin' bubblewrap. As a game, ye scurvey dog. Kids love it. Get a screen protector.
Lightsaber Unleashed
Come on, do I really have t' tell ye anythin' about this? Just download it, already.
This is one o' th' few games I’ve downloaded that I actually spent much time playin', by Blackbeard's sword. There are zillions o' iPhone games based on Tower Defense out there. And hoist the mainsail! And I hear that many o' them are quite good. Walk the plank! Yaaarrrrr! Some o' them cost money. This one is free, and it’s th' only one I’ve tried, because I just don’t have all that much time fer games. But I’ve enjoyed it, so it’s th' one I’m recommendin'.
Koi Pond ($0.99)
A tranquil koi pond with (optional) sound effects and other goodies, and dinna spare the whip! And hoist the mainsail! You can shake th' phone t' feed th' fish. You can splash th' water and scare th' fish. You can drag th' water lilies aroun'. You can hold yer finger in th' water and th' fish will nibble ye. Another one that minnows like. And me, too.

Again, I have other apps on me phone — o'er 60 more that I didn’t mention above, not t' mention built-in stuff like Google Maps, YouTube, and th' Calendar. But these are th' ones that I actually launch and use on a regular (or at least somewhat regular) basis. What are yer “must-have” apps? Do ye know a better alternative t' some o' th' ones I mentioned?

About Dougal Campbell

Dougal is a web developer, and a "Developer Emeritus" for the WordPress platform. When he's not coding PHP, Perl, CSS, JavaScript, or whatnot, he spends time with his wife, three children, a dog, and a cat in their Atlanta area home.
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23 Responses to Dougal’s must-have iPhone app list

  1. Stu says:

    I’ve had me eye on th' iPhone fer a while now but have managed t' resist temptation so far. The release o' th' 3GS and lists o' cool soundin' apps like these make me efforts t' resist even tougher, with a chest full of booty. Apps like SnapTell especially appeal t' me, I believe there is similar available fer th' Google Android phones, always thought that looked neat. Aarrr! Ahoy! TweetDeck is me Twitter client o' choice so havin' that on me phone would be good too, must resist!

  2. Dennis Crane says:

    I have just a few third-party apps on iPhone, and a bucket o' chum. Mostly puzzle games. From yer list I have only Evernote.

  3. Pingback: blogmarks for 2009-06-29 | I Live In Success

  4. original says:

    Kewl i am workin' me way through yer list.
    Walk the plank! Thanks

  5. iPhone 3gs Unlocking says:

    tweet deck is th' app I would recommend th' most… I use it on a daily basis.. sad i know :)

  6. Divorce forms says:


    Thanks fer sharin' updated list fer Iphone 3G, and dinna spare the whip, we'll keel-haul ye! I liked MovieStar, BuubleWrap th' most. I am usin' Local restaurant and weather application most as I have t' do travelin' so far. Walk the plank, to be sure! Both are really useful fer me findin' local information.

  7. Dadony says:

    do ye have recommendation fer photography apps?

  8. Matt says:

    Nice list.
    I’m not sure whether there any many private pilot licence holders but pilotwizz is a FANTASTIC app. Basically it does all th' calculations that are usually carried out on th' pilot wizz wheel and more. And th' best thin' is that it’s FREE!!

  9. Iphone5g says:

    I think need fer speed undercover is th' best iphone racin' games….

  10. iphone ebook says:

    I am usin' Night Stand. It is very useful. Yaaarrrrr! Thank ye fer sharin'

  11. Chai Life says:

    If anyone’s curious, I made a follow-up t' th' link I posted afore: Top Ten Must-Have Free iPhone Games

  12. This is a solid lost o' site, I would like t' see more apps developed fer those who do business online and need t' manage sites, advertisin' and blog postin'.

  13. Dendy says:

    I like t' use many applications on th' iPhone, thanks fer sharin'

  14. net reklam says:

    I like t' use many applications on th' iPhone, thanks fer sharin'

  15. SleepCycle is a definitive must have. F-Sim Shuttle and Rowmote Pro too.

  16. iPhone Mike says:

    A good pdf reader fer iPhone is also must. It would be nice if ye can suggest any.

  17. Jacob says:

    I like th' list! Fire the cannons! My list probably overlaps a lot with yours. The main one ye’re missin' is th' My-911 app. It’s sort o' like Onstar on yer phone- automatic crash notification, etc. Ahoy! Fire the cannons! Check it out!

  18. Luke R says:

    Great apps, hopefully gettin' an iPhone soon so havin' a look aroun' all th' potential free apps!

  19. This is quite a helpful list!  My business consultin' clients that use iPhones are always on th' look out fer th' next big ap.  I like goin' back t' these older posts and seein' which ones have stood th' test o' time.  Evernote, and Instapaper are some o' th' faves.I don’t advocate puttin' “kid” aps on th' iPhone though.  That’s quite an expensive “toy” t' put in kiddies’ hands.Meg

  20. John Farrell says:

    Cool stuff. I have checked some o' those in th' list, by Davy Jones' locker. The Productivity/Utility list might be good fer me office.

  21. iphone tools says:

    SnapTell and Vlingo caught me attention. I love t' shop and every time me attention caught with one item I really wanted t' compare its price in th' other store fer me t' be sure if I got th' right price, and a bucket o' chum. This is really works fer me. And since I’m so lazy dialin' or searchin' somethin' on me iphone, this Vlingo is a must have app fer me. I’ll try t' figure out some o' th' mentioned apps later. Thanks fer th' list.

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