iPhone 2.0 Apps - my thoughts so far

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So after all the drama yesterday, I did get to play a bit the App Store. Here are my impressions, and a tip or two, so far.

The first issue I ran into was syncing. No matter what I did, I could not get apps downloaded in iTunes to sync over to the iPhone. However - when I downloaded via the iPhone and it was an app I had synced before, the iPhone recognized I had already bought the app and asked if I wanted to get it again. So far though I've yet to be able to go from iTunes to iPhone.

The number one issue I ran into was figuring out how in the heck to download! You would think that would be obvious, but for me, it wasn't obvious at all. To download an app from the App Store, you click on it's price. I haven't purchased any apps yet, I just got free ones, and I had to click once on the word "FREE". When I clicked that, it switched to "INSTALL". You click that again and the app will begin the install process. This took me - I kid you not - at least an hour to figure out. Am I the only one who was confused by that?

The app selection so far is just what you would expect - a mix. Some apps are really pretty. Some apps are pretty ugly. It's exactly what you see in the shareware world. Apps do have ratings so hopefully this will help weed out the better apps from the crap, but in general, you don't know what you will get.

I also had a problem with app launching. I had two apps that refused to run. Clicking on them gave some generic error. But wait - a minute or two after this happened to me, I ran the New York Times app (which had run fine earloer) and it caused my iPhone to restart. When the iPhone came back, I tried the two 'bad' apps and now they worked perfectly. Something to consider if you run across an app that won't run. Don't delete it right away. Try restarting.

So what apps am I playing with?

  • NYTimes - I love news, what can I say.
  • Remote - Ok, I downloaded this, but I probably won't use it. I'm almost always sitting right in front of my iTunes. The only other place I do music is via my XBox 360.
  • Pandora - This is freaking cool, and I love the web site, but, I typically listen to music at my desktop, not my iPhone. The main media I use on my iPhone is video, and even that is only for airplanes. That being said - if I could maybe stream Pandora via some iPod speakers (going to try it a bit later), that could be cool.
  • Twitterfic - I know I said I wouldn't twitter, but now I'm a bit addicted. ;)
  • WeatherBug - Good weather application, although the satellite coverage is weird. It gives you the entire planet, not a local scan. The camera feature was interesting. Apparently someone programmed web cam locations based on your location, and you can see what the web cams are seeing. Unfortunately they didn't have any for Lafayette. (I'll have to try to contact the app creators since I know there are a few traffic/weather cams in town.)
  • PhoneSaber - Really, did you think I wouldn't download this?
  • AIM - Slick app, does what it says, but what I really want is Adium on my iPhone.
  • NetNewsWire - I'm a bit "anti-RSS reader", but I gave this one a try. For some reason, it won't download the feeds I set up for my account when I used the desktop app.
  • Cube Runner - A free, and cool, game. All you do is tilt your iPhone to the left and right to slide your, runner I guess, through blocks. Fun as heck for such a simple premise. I found myself leaning into the curves.
  • LifeGame - It just does the old Life simulator. Super simple, but addictive.
  • Morocco - An Othello clone.
  • TapTap - This one could be good. It's basically Guitar Hero for the iPhone. It works well, but the music selection is a bit slim. If it could work with the MP3s on my iPhone, it would be killer.
  • Google - I'm a bit unsure about this one. It mainly just seems to be a shortcut to various Google services.
  • PayPal - Downloaded but not used it yet. I don't see much need to send money to folks via the iPhone, but I would like to check my account from time to time.
  • VoiceNotes - A tool to let you record voice messages. Already come in handy a few times. There are a bunch of these in the App Store, but this seemed to be one of the few free ones. It gets the job done.

So all I need now is a good RPG. I know Square is working on one, but it's partially based on the music you play, which again will kinda not work well for me. I'd love to see someone port the old Rogue game to the iPhone.

Those of you who (hopefully) got 2.0 installed - what apps are you playing with? Anyone actually bought a game yet? I'm notoriously cheap so I haven't made that plunge yet.

One last note - I'm still a bit miffed that you can't edit the content on your iPhone from more then one source. Let me explain why. Before I fly, I put a few movies on my iPhone. But if I don't have enough room, I'm screwed. I'd love to put a movie on the iPhone for the way up, then use my laptop to remove it and add a new one. But since my desktop is my primary "sync" spot, I can't. Why? Music you buy is already DRMed, so it's not like I could give folks illegal copies of my music. I've seen software that will read from the iPhone but nothing so far that will let me write back to it. I mean a non-Jail Breaked phone. "Technophile" or not I'm not going to risk bricking a multi-hundred dollar piece of hardware.

Raymond Camden's Picture

About Raymond Camden

Raymond is a senior developer evangelist for Adobe. He focuses on document services, JavaScript, and enterprise cat demos. If you like this article, please consider visiting my Amazon Wishlist or donating via PayPal to show your support. You can even buy me a coffee!

Lafayette, LA https://www.raymondcamden.com

Archived Comments

Comment 1 by Darrell posted on 7/13/2008 at 1:37 AM

Ray,

Thanks for the review. I've been hoping that Apple would allow Flash to be installed just to get Pandora. Now that Pandora's on it I'm going to get one. Is there a monthly fee for it?

To move stuff to your laptop you may want to try out ipod Access from Findley Designs: http://www.findleydesigns.c.... The site says it works with iphone. I've been using it on my ipod video for some time now without any problems.

Comment 2 by Dave posted on 7/13/2008 at 1:57 AM

hey Rey, this isn't an app store app but one I bought the other day for the iphone and i frickin love it! http://www.nakahara-informa...

Basically it lets you browse your home computers from your iphone and see, get or have files emailed. I went to the bank yesterday to open a new biz account and forgot my biz ein # which is on an external drive at home but no problem... just browsed to it on phone.

Comment 3 by rob posted on 7/13/2008 at 2:14 AM

Enigmo is a fun game, not free though. I also bought Super Monkey Ball which is fun to a point and then it gets impossible (at least for me). AOL radio is another good free one. I also bought Band which is kinda fun if you are musically inclined (but not as cool as it could be).

Most of the rest of the stuff I use you already mentioned.

By the way, you have the check box for sync applications check in iTunes right? On the Application tab? That might be your syncing problem - I didn't have that checked at first.

Comment 4 by Mike Rankin posted on 7/13/2008 at 2:57 AM

If you're looking for something like adium, check out something called BeeJive. I am using that on a 1.0 iPhone. It won't work across edge, so I'm hoping that the 2.0 version will take advantage of the greater data speeds when WiFi isn't available.

Comment 5 by Raymond Camden posted on 7/13/2008 at 7:03 AM

@Darrel: I may not have been clear. I don't want to move files from the iPhone to my laptop. I want to delete files from the iPhone and add to it - from my non-primary machine, ie, my laptop. I've contacted FindleyDesigns since their products seems to only be one way.

@rob: Yep, I had the checkbox on. As I said, it seemed to "kinda" work, cuz when I added an app that I had added via iTunes, the iPhone kinda knew I had already had it.

Comment 6 by Timothy Farrar posted on 7/13/2008 at 7:18 AM

Ray,
If your blogged that well regularly, you could quit your day job :)

Comment 7 by Doug Hughes posted on 7/13/2008 at 2:57 PM

Ray,

Last Friday I upgraded my iphone to the 2.0 OS and went crazy in the app store. I actually only had two problems:

1) After downloading the iphone 2.0 software the upgrade installed but wouldn't re-activate my phone. That was annoying. It pretty much made it an emergency-only phone for a while. A few hours later it was able to do the activation and I started playing in the app store.

2) One of the games I bought, Supermonkey ball, I think, wouldn't download on day one. It started, made it about half way through and then popped up a message saying I'd have to try again later from itunes. I tried several times on Friday but never got the app to download. On Saturday it worked just fine and I was able to sync the app to the iphone.

The apps I bought (or downloaded) in no particular order:

- Trism (not free). A puzzle game where you match colors and tilt your phone to play. It's quite interesting, but it may be just a hair over rated.

- Tetris (not free). I'm a tetris fiend. I didn't expect the iphone version to be so damned cool, but it is. The first time I used a finger gesture to move a shape I realized just how cool it is. That, and there's a variant on the game which is cool.

- Bejeweled 2 (not free). I'm not sure why I bought this. I'm kinda embarrassed. But, the game is good and I enjoy it. It's pretty much identical to the PC version.

- Enigmo (not free). I know a lot of people like this game. I thought I would as it reminded me of The Incredible Machine from when I was a kid. However, I'm not so thrilled by it. It's really hard for me to move the pieces around to where they need to be. My fingers are just too fat for this game.

- Morocco (free). I haven't played this yet, but that's for the suggestion.

- Super Monkey ball (not free). I really thought this would be a cool game, but it's not (yet). It's way to freakin' hard to move your monkey around. The reviews on the app store are spot on with this game. Read them before you buy.

- Pandora (free). Now this is one cool app! My laptop has all my music and is in a different location from my living room with my stereo and my garage with my tools. Now being able to listen to pandora in these locations should just rock!

- Light (free). A flashlight, what else can you ask for. You know what gets me? There are at least two pay-for competitors. Exact same features. How sad!

- Phonesaber (free). Love it. Makes my son jealous when I play with it.

- Jared (free). Takes me back to Macromedia Director 5. If you used it and know of the Easter eggs in it you just may understand. That, and it makes me think of Jared Rypka-Hauer now.

- Moo (free). Makes the iphone moo when you shake it. Now, honestly, who can say no to this?

So that's what I've downloaded. I'm looking forward to seeing what new apps we get in the next year. I'd like to see more nice productivity applications, but all things in good time.

Comment 8 by Jonas posted on 7/13/2008 at 7:03 PM

Hi Ray,

In terms of figuring out how to install things - that is a little bit strange the first time, but if you have "bought" a free song of the week in iTunes Music Store it is the same procedure - you click (or tap) on the "Free" icon. iPhone requires one more tap, true.

Apart from that, my upgrade went smooth, so willbuy the new iPhone in a bout two weeks methinks, when O2 in UK has sorted their silly system.

So far, downloaded the following free apps:

- Pangea VR - mighty impressive panorama images on your iPhone - just how smooth it tilts and all... wow!

- Remote - works sooo nice on iTunes, on the AppleTV I think gthey need another little patch. Was a bit buggy at first.

- these free basic phrase books for Spanish and French - never knwo when you might find them handy

- Bloomberg - VERY cool!!

- Shazam - you hear a song you like, launch Shazam - 30 Seconds later you know what artist and track it is and you can even, surprise, surprise, go straight to the iTunes Music Store to buy it - very sleek app

What's really amazing is how fast the app store is expanding... this will dominate the mobile world within 6-12 months methinks. Nokia bought Symbian too late, the Symbian Alliance or Microsoft can't keep up.

Love the iPhone App Store concept, and the dev tools from Apple are simply awesome.

(Btw: me.com seems to have caught up with its initial glitches now too!)

Jonas

Comment 9 by Craig posted on 7/14/2008 at 4:46 AM

Ray,

So far the apps have been downloading and working well. I bought three applications so far, amongst some free downloads.

Birdie, cuz I'm a golf nut and it's freaking awesome for any golfers out there. In fact, I already created a course online, downloaded it to the iPhone and played/scored it. Very fun but, sadly, $20.

I also got Tetris and, as mentioned above, it is awesome.

The other one I bought is Fuel Gauge. I haven't had a chance to use it yet (no fillups since I downloaded it Friday).

Phone Saber cracks me up and drives my two dogs bat sh$t crazy, which just cracks me up.

Too fun...

Comment 10 by JC posted on 7/14/2008 at 8:03 PM

Super Monkey Ball seems fun, but it's hard.. I pretty much die within 3 levels every time, but I haven't played much with it yet. Bejeweled 2 I played a good bit... it's as addictive as the original, but louder, prettier, and faster.

The two big apps for me are the same two I used constantly when I had a jailbroken iphone... the "flashlight" that just turns your screen white; and Voice Notes. Simple, but very handy.

Beyond that, Yes/No Free is pretty fun. Just ask your phone a question and click the button for a random yes/no response. Had fun playing with that with the ladyfriend over the weekend.

Midomi was fun to play with, even if it only guessed the right song about 1/3 of the time. Epocrates was pretty neat, too,