It’s nice that, for now, Apple seems to be “okay” with allowing third-party applications to be installed on the iPhone (although now there seems to be some backtracking by Apple with a new statement that “software updates will most likely break” native apps). Despite this, the movement is growing, especially with the combined forces of Nullriver Software and PXL Package System. They have launched a new domain called apptapp.com which will host, supposedly, a new AppTapp Installer which will be open source. This combined effort will hopefully allow for better compatibility between applications and provide a consolidated source for applications and their associated repositories.
For those of you wanting to install applications, be sure that you use the correct installer. If you have recently updated your iTunes to 7.4.1, be sure you use the new installer version 3.x located here (older versions are listed there as well) so as to avoid the endless reboot using a lower version installer. There is also a Windows version (which I have not tried).
So, in no particular order, here are some applications that I have installed and played with and think are noteworthy enough for a BRIEF writeup (with screenshots).
ApolloIM was one of the first “great” apps to come out. It is an AOL Instant Messenger client that was built from the ground up. I wrote a write up of it a while ago (first one here) and it has come a long way (e.g., now has increased stability, vibrate/sounds, fixed bugs, wifi keep-alive, etc.). It seems that the development group has grown to 6 so with more resources, I expect this project to grow with leaps and bounds. They have been working with the Adium which is good to hear because Adium is the BEST IM software for the Mac out there. Also they seem to be working on using libpurple which will allow connectivity to other IM services (already they can sign on to AIM/MSN/Jabber).
Another IM client recently emerged but it seems like their group took a different approach. The UI seems to be “ported” from the SMS messenger built in to the iPhone, so it looks clean and more like the Mac’s iChat. My only concern with this one is that Apple may say that they copied stuff that they shouldn’t have when creating this app. The UI is great, complete with the SMS sounds and all. It does allow you to set a status as well. It, too, stays connected to the network when not active, I believe. I don’t like that you cannot save different AIM profiles (the way ApolloIM does). However, it could be a strong contender. I have only used their initial release so there isn’t too much more to add to this.
Based on the Springboard (e.g., dashboard) name, SummerBoard is a must-have application for managing all of your 3rd party apps on your main screen. It is frequently updated and actually quite powerful. You can add or remove apps to the view, rearrange them, put a different wallpaper under it and change the alpha transparency on it, put your 3rd party apps “below the fold” so that your screen looks like a stock iPhone, snap-scroll line to line with your apps and turn off the fourth row of apps. You need to be sure you install SBKb in order to do the re-arranging of applications. And yes, that is Gir as my wallpaper.
We all love Twitter, right (well, some of us do). Sure, there are lots of ways to view Tweets and such and lots of websites that do a good job of presenting and tweeting (two that I like are Hahlo and PocketTweets). Well there is also an iPhone app that lets you read tweets quite well. Unfortunately, the functionality seems to stop there, despite having the framework for doing much more. It pulls down your public timeline…but that is it. It hasn’t been updated in a while. It looks like there are buttons to let you update your status, do an @ tweet and maybe do a direct tweet but I haven’t figured those out yet (note the 3 “t”s at the bottom of the application). I would really like to get an update to this as it looks like it could be a great application.
This is the classic mindsweeper game. It’s got a simple, straightforward UI and is extremely addictive. Your “score” is based on time (either successfully clearing the minefield or successfully blowing yourself up). Not sure really what could be added to this. Maybe an explosion sound when you blow up or a cheer when you clear the field. Put an O where you think there is a mine and put an X to clear a square.
Everyone loves gambling games, right? This one has a great UI with some nice little nuances. I really like that you have to double tap to “hit” and “swipe” to stand. Almost feels like a real live game. This game, though, is incomplete. There is no way for insurance or splitting or doubling down. Also, it would be nice to know the final hand counts before you win/lose/tie. It’s hard to see what your or the dealer’s score was. With a couple of updates to this app, I might play it more than just 2 minutes.
In my opinion, this was a missing app from the iPhone. Sure you can use the “Notes” application but it isn’t really good for quick To-Do lists. This is where the MobileToDoList comes in. The version that I have lets you now set priorities and assign categories. It still seems to be a very early version (acknowledged by the developer), and it did crash on me when I was trying to get some screenshots. But, under the beta info window, there seem to be some good things coming including “preference view,” “edit/delete groups” and “rearrange todos.” The developer’s site also mentions “Sync with safari” which would be with published iCal files. I would think that this would probably be enhanced when Leopard comes out since it will have a Tasks option there. That would be a nice hook.
I think that any of these apps warrant some following. As new updates or new apps are added, I will do my best to quickly review and note out tips and pointers. If anyone has questions, feel free to drop a comment.
HTD says: Loving these third party applications! Keep them coming!