Consider the iPhone Installer application a virtual gateway to a litany of third-party applications for your iPhone that are downloadable via Edge or WiFi. Installer is not endorsed by Apple, so to use it, you'll have to “jailbreak” your iPhone – a process that frees it from the software restrictions baked in by the folks in Cupertino. Rest assured, jailbreaking an iPhone is a hack that your grandma could perform without a sweat, and unlike earlier hacks, you can always restore your iPhone if anything goes wrong. No one likes to leave Apple's good graces, but the payoff is no less than access to the best iPhone apps out there. LifeHacker has an excellent guide to jailbreaking and setting up Installer.

IntelliScreen is one of the few iPhone applications that will make your device more like a Windows Mobile phone. It fills the blank “Slide to Unlock” home screen with a dashboard of useful information like new messages, weather, e-mail, or Safari feeds, and it's customizable. It requires jailbreaking and Installer.

iToner is a clever little ringtone application that costs $15 and requires no hacking whatsoever. It allows users to drag and drop their favorite MP3s into the iPhone as ringtones, circumventing Apple's limited selection of $0.99 ringtones at the iTunes Music Store.

There are a few web apps that allow you to tweet on Twitter with your iPhone, but Hahlo is widely recognized as one of the most stable and elegant of the bunch. Just point your Safari browser to Hahlo.com to start tweeting.

If you've ever wished you could access your desktop computer from your iPhone, now you can. VNSea has a stable graphical interface that allows you to dig into your PC's hard drive with little trouble. All subsequent releases of the software gets better and better.

Of all the websites that have birthed iPhone-specific versions, Facebook's is one of the best on the Web. It's not quite as capable as the full-fledged site – you can't browse the friends of friends, or access Groups, for example – but its interface is clean, snappy and perfect for most daily Facebook activity.

Another one of the Installer app's all-star applications is ContraSense, a car racing game that uses your iPhone's internal accelerometer to enable you to steer by tilting the iPhone left or right. Be warned: it's fun, but it ain't easy.

While Videora isn't exactly an iPhone application, it's still terrific for getting more video media on your device. The application allows you to use your computer to convert video files, YouTube videos, movies and DVDs into iPhone format and load them for viewing. Unfortunately it's Windows-only, but if you're a PC user it's worth a look.

Another boon for iPhones jailbroken with Installer: MobileScrobber, an application that allows users to listen to Last.fm and use the familiar “love” or “ban” buttons. Choices are saved and beamed to Last.fm accounts over Edge or WiFi.

There isn't much that Apple forgot when they made the iPhone's basic applications, but the ability to record voice notes is one glaring omission. Enter VNotes, which allows you to record and save voice memos on your iPhone. You can listen to voice notes, e-mail them or send them to voicemail.

Much like Apple's Time Machine for OS X, this third-party backup app allows the iPhone to keep multiple states of each application on record, so that if anything goes amuck you can restore that application to its prior state. Your backups are sent via e-mail to your home machine, so that you have a duplicate record of everything that goes on the device: phone logs, text messages, maps, notes, stocks and lots more.

This handy web app allows you to get the scoop on any listed domestic phone line: name, city, state, and more. You can even order background checks and more detailed reports if you're so inclined. Simply point your iPhone's browser to Spontaneous.mobi to check it out.

If it's photo-sharing you're into, then check out SmugMug's iPhone site. While you can't upload to your account, you can browse, search by user or image, or keyword. If you're already a SmugMug user, just tack the suffix “/iphone” onto the web address of your online gallery when you look it up on Safari, and you're ready to roll.

Tok Tok is a nifty little web application that allows you to translate words or phrases between English, Chinese, Japanese, English, French, Dutch, German, Italian, Spanish, Arabic, and Polish. Because Tok Tok is built with Google's AJAX API, the application loads and operates smoothly and snappily.

On your home computer, deviantART would be your first stop if you were looking to tap into the heartbeat of the contemporary art scene. Well, on the iPhone, it's no different. With access to over 1600 categories of art, films and literature, the deviantART web application is powerful and offers users an ideal visual experience.

Heartbroken gamers rejoice: your iPhone at last has access to your favorite Ninendo classics like Mario, Metroid, PunchOut and Zelda. While this isn't the simplest program to add games to, performance of the on-screen buttons is pretty good. Besides seeing an NES game on your iPhone's screen is just plain cool.

Another great application available through Installer, StreetFlow allows users to rate and review restaurants by neighborhood in their favorite city, or read other users' reviews on the go. It includes phone numbers and addresses of each reviewed restaurant, as well as a bit of information about the users who posted the review. The latter function lets you add any given user as a friend so that you can follow their recommendations.

The iPhone's mail application is pretty good, but it's missing some key features. One of the most salient: search. With a web application called QuickSearch, you can rapidly search your Gmail account, or several other sites like Wikipedia and MySpace. Because QuickSearch is a simple text page, it loads quickly, eliminating the need to wait for a larger homepage to load simply to do a search.

18 Must-Have iPhone Apps

Consider the iPhone Installer application a virtual gateway to a litany of third-party applications for your iPhone that are downloadable via Edge or WiFi. Installer is not endorsed by Apple, so to use it, you'll have to “jailbreak” your iPhone – a process that frees it from the software restrictions baked in by the folks in Cupertino. Rest assured, jailbreaking an iPhone is a hack that your grandma could perform without a sweat, and unlike earlier hacks, you can always restore your iPhone if anything goes wrong. No one likes to leave Apple's good graces, but the payoff is no less than access to the best iPhone apps out there. LifeHacker has an excellent guide to jailbreaking and setting up Installer.

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1 Comments

  • C J

    This isn't exactly an iPhone "app" and I've noticed the same goes for quite a few of these recommendations.