Posted by: englishdubai | January 3, 2010

You hang up, no you hang up

A little while ago I dabbled into the world of iPhone.  Sadly it was a short lived affair as I brought a grey import and one bleary eyed morning I just pressed the update firmware button rendering my iPhone a worthless piece of iBrick. Shame really as I was getting to enjoy it.

Last October in a blitz of Twitter, Facebook and press excitement both Etisalat and Du officially released the iPhone 3GS into the UAE market. I admit to getting caught up in the buzz of it all and went on the day of released and grabbed one (probably a good job for my own sanity as they have been wildly popular and running out of stock on a regular basis).

First time around I was really intrigued with the powerful web and mail capabilities of the phone. This time however it is the apps that are king. I was sat in the pub last night and of the eight people there six had iPhones and the inevitable “app off” happened. To anyone new to the iPhone the sheer quantity of apps is simply overwhelming with about 100,000 available and counting. So here is my guide to getting started all are free unless stated:

Five Apps that should have come as standard:

1. Facebook – with 250 million people on facebook this would be the 6th largest country on the planet I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t have this installed on their iPhone

2. Google Earth – brilliantly implemented on iPhone with the gesture interaction perfectly complementing the app

3. Skype – a killer app for voice with the spread of wifi – I was amazed that it “just worked”

4. Tweetdeck – there are hosts of Twitter apps, I went for Tweetdeck for its easy to use interface (I can’t say the same thing about their PC client)

5. Google – the voice activated search is a gimmick but it provides a nice front end into the whole google suite of apps

Five News Apps:

1. Guardian (£2.39) – beautifully crafted and can be read offline. It is very clear a lot of effort went into producing this.

2. Telepgraph – not as good as the Guardian but I can see this becoming a paid for app soon

3. Sky News – good for a quick run down on breaking stories – go elsewhere for decent commentary

4. New York Times – using the same fonts from the paper – really well put together for that US spin on news

5. Al Jazeera (£1.79) – live english streaming of the rather good Al Jazeera news channel – really only suitable on a wifi link

Five Games you can pick up play for two minutes:

1. Paper Toss – chucking balls of paper into a bin has to be the top office past time ever? Anyway, now faithfully recreated with the addition of wind direction to be taking into account

2. Boggle (£0.59) – the classic seventies word hunt game that has been nicely brought to life on the iPhone – the shaking of the phone to scramble the letters is a lovely touch

3. Tap Tap Revenge 3 – like Guitar Hero – a rhythm game with multipliers for putting big score together. Easy to get finger ache with this one.

4. Harbor Master (£0.59) – There are a number of these type of games where you use your finger to draw paths for things to follow ending in juggling lots of planes, cars or in this case boats. This game drives me insane but it is strangely more-ish

5. Bejeweled 2 (£1.59) – The classic popcap game that most of the planet will have played at some point. Compelling to the point of addiction if you are not careful and certainly a must have if you have ever played this game in any other format

Five Games that are time sinks:

1. GeoDefense/GD Swarm (£0.99) – If you know what a Towers Defense game is  – look no further. A beautifully crafted game with excellent graphics/sound, well balanced levels and a sense of humour.

2. Scrabble (£1.99) – I play in a desperate attempt to improve my word power. Sadly, the iPhone regularly gives me a good beating at this

3. Texas Hold Em (£2.99) – Written by Apple themselves this is easily the best poker simulator on the iPhone. There are some nice animations but they can be switched off if you are looking for a quicker game

4.  Farm Frenzy (£0.59) – Brilliant value for a game that  will have you chasing after Geese, collecting eggs, watering the animals and lots of other tasks in this delightful resource management and strategy game. Will be an iPhone classic

5.  Dragon’s Lair – (£2.99) – I loved this game when it came out in the 80’s. At the time the use of real cell shaded cartoons was ground breaking for a video game. Now a near perfect replica can be had for the iPhone. The one problem this game had it was that it was rock hard – twenty seven years later it is still the same and can be infuriating.

Five useful apps:

1. Amazon UK – really great for quickly checking the price and or customer reviews of an item when I browsing one of Dubai’s mega malls

2. RedLaser (£0.99) – an ingenious app that uses the iPhone camera to take a picture of a barcode of an item, it then translates this into the number sequence and checks the best buy price from a number of websites. Comparative shopping at your finger tips. I am still amazed every time I see this work.

3. FeX/MyPhone+ (£0.99/£1.99) – Both of these apps allow syncing of your contacts and your facebook friends. The upshot being ou have correct spelling, a photo, their birthday and upcoming events all in your iPhone. Of the two Myphone+ has more configurable options but Apple should be ashamed as this functionality is built into Android.

4. eBay – I recently signed up for eBay (about 10 years too late) – this app is great for keeping an eye on auctions you are interested in. A bit cumbersome for browsing however.

5. Remote – I am not sure why apple did not pre-install this. Great little app to act as a remote control for iTunes libraries.

Five Great Reference Apps:

1. Wikipedia – the safari browser is amazing but this just speeds up the process a bit

2. Dictionary – same as above

3. Empire – (£2.69) – Every single Empire Movie review (9000 of them) that is searchable offline makes this a gem.

4. Shazam – Perfect for that moment in the pub “What is that song?”

5. Rightmove -Like most British people I am obsessed with UK house prices. Now if I ever need to know what the going rate for a three bed semi in Margate is, then the Rightmove app has the answer.

That is a long list but it goes to show just how much of a flexible platform the iPhone and indeed other smart phones are becoming. My prediction for 2010 is that we will see the advent of true mobile banking (not the horrendous things previously attempted) – but super slick banking apps with two factor authentication for security. This will allow me to shift my dirhams off shore while I enjoy a Mojito next to the pool. Perfect.


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