Google Earth (free)*
Integrated with geo-located Wikipedia entries and photos from Panoramia, Google Earth ties viewing perspective to the phone's tilt.
Travelocity TravelTools (free)
Security wait times, gates and baggage areas, and flight delays updated in real time? We're there.
Turn the phone sideways for an immediate, detailed stock chart. Monitor leading and lagging firms or a hypercustomized portfolio.
A top app despite the hefty price tag, BeeJive merges all major chat platforms and lets you send email, images, voice clips, and PDFs, all directly from chat.
Store your bank and credit-card info without fear of losing your phone, thanks to 256-bit encryption.
A modern spin on a handheld classic. Tilt the iPhone to navigate a silver ball through a maze — without letting it fall into any holes.
Employing the iPhone's accelerometer and GPS, this restaurant finder generates listings with a flick of the wrist.
Navigate the NYC subway with a GPS-enabled station finder, maps, and real-time service updates. In San Francisco, try Routesy.
A smooth stream over EDGE and 3G, it smartly introduces users to new music by crafting custom radio stations based on their favorite artists.
Makes social networking 3-D by tracking your friends' physical location through GPS.
Take Craigslist to the streets with the Stuff Nearby feature, which filters personals and for-sale items that are within walking distance.
NPR Mobile (free)
This unofficial app lets you skip piecemeal podcasts and stream local NPR stations.
Blow into the microphone and tap against virtual flute valves to turn your iPhone into a player — and then eavesdrop on melodies by more than 700,000 users.
Superclean interface facilitates drive-by Twittering, while deep-dive functionality lets you search, juggle multiple accounts, and track trends.
Cor.Kz Wine Info ($4.99)
Up your oenophile cred with this reference of 800,000 reviews of 585,000 wines.
A slick image editor that supplements basics (crop, level) with amusing perks like thought bubbles and heat-map shading.
Spore Origins ($4.99)
Based on the multiplatform game by Sims creator Will Wright, this app for "evolving" organisms has spawned several fan sites.
Generate gift ideas — and a list of nearby Target stores that have the items in stock — with this slot-machine-like app.
Store ideas — text, geo-tagged photos, or voice memos — as they happen and easily search them later with cloud-based syncing.
An Apple Worldwide Developer's Conference winner, Enigmo is a 3-D puzzle that challenges players to direct a stream of water using drums, wedges, sponges, and trampolines.
Hold the phone's mic near an audio source (even if it's your humming mouth) and Midomi will identify the song and artist.
iFood Assistant ($0.99)
Rarely is a brand able to serve ads and charge for an app, but Kraft's 7,000 recipes and instructional videos make it the fifth most-popular lifestyle app.
Effortlessly enter new tasks. Click-to-call (or email or surf) directly from app. Share tasks. Sync to desktop managers. Done, done, done, and done.
Price check! Punch in a product name or bar code and get the lowest price from hundreds of e-tailers, including Best Buy, Target, and Wal-Mart.
Track your cash flow with this to-go version of the popular money-management service. Lose your phone? Mint.com offers a kill switch to keep out prying eyes.
Get this app to access PDF, Office, and RTF docs, and stop grousing about the clunkiness of email attachments on the BlackBerry.
Alert other drivers when you spot a speed trap with a tap of your phone, and, in turn, get alerts when you're approaching a waiting radar gun.
Maximizes phone's battery life with a "semi-sleep" mode, without blocking incoming calls and texts.
Instantly translates 40-plus languages, including within emails and texts, using four different software options.
BlackBerry's best mobile RSS reader also keeps you up-to-the-minute on weather, flights, podcasts, and Facebook.
Basic but essential, the former Berry411 is a deep resource, even providing driving directions.
This mash-up of social networking and mapping lets you stalk your friends in real time, commenting by text or photo.
Voice-powered software — built with IBM core speech-recognition tech — translates your dulcet tones into text so you can dial, email, text, and update statuses on Twitter and Facebook, hands-free.
Talk about comparison shopping: More than 1 million people have tapped this app's GPS-filtered database of 450 million products at 270,000 locations.
Post audio, video, text, and photos instantly to 30 social sites, such as Blogger, Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter, and read and respond to comments.
Zagat To Go ($30/year)‡
More than 30,000 restaurant ratings make it useful. The ability to search by GPS, add reservations to your calendar, and click-to-call makes it awesome.
This GPS-enabled app automatically adjusts phone settings based on location, such as switching your ringer to vibrate as you enter the office or theater.
Stop waving your arm in vain. This app points you to the nearest taxi stand and delivers a list of local cab companies to call.
Estimate your daily carbon output by keeping this GPS-tied app running in your phone's background.
Use your phone as a remote: Stream music from your computer, control movies, and more.
NOKIA, SONY, SAMSUNG, PALM & MOTOROLA
SlingPlayer Mobile ($29.99)*
Tap into your home TV to channel surf, watch your DVR, and schedule future recordings.
WorldMate Live (free)*
View multiple time zones, weather forecasts, maps, and flight updates by simply entering your itinerary.
Combines Skype, AIM, Twitter, Facebook, and Last.fm into one easy-to-use app.
Pocket Express (free)‡ *
Purchase movie tickets, reverse look-up phone numbers, and more.
*Also available on BlackBerry. ‡Also available on iPhone.
A version of this article appeared in the May 2009 issue of Fast Company magazine.