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A day before the highly anticipated release of iPhone 2.0, Apple's new online iPhone application store opened early for business yesterday morning.

However, despite the store's debut, it was pretty difficult to locate. I upgraded to iTunes 7.7, yet there was no link on the iTunes Store home page. Thanks to bloggers over at CNET, I found a way to access the  store here. But, without the release of the iPhone 2.0 software upgrade, applications couldn't be transferred or used on the "classic" iPhone just yet. This morning, after an hour-long process of the restoring the phone to factory settings (required for installation) and then finally installing the upgrade, it was well worth the wait.

Apple opened shop with a good selection of over 500 applications, 125 of which are free. The most popular free apps (according to the iTunes sidebar) include Facebook, MySpace, AIM and regular updates from the New York Times and Associated Press. Categories include games, business, and pocket language guides by Lonely Planet. There were also safety applications, including Light, which turns your iPhone into a full-on flashlight in case of an emergency. That one is free, and there are quite a few more that list personal health (i.e. blood type) and contact information if your phone is lost, starting at $0.99.

Of course, there are a few random apps that probably shouldn't have made it past Apple's selection crew, including a free application that enables your iPhone to dial with a rotary dialer or another one that turns numbers into words in case one is writing a check. Why one couldn’t remember how to spell out a number into a word, I'm not sure, but at least that one is free too.

The new Facebook application will probably hold my attention most of the time (or at least, more time than it should), and I can't wait to see what shows up in the store over the next few months. Which applications are you most looking forward to downloading?