In my Hidden Gem App column I’ve delivered more than 70 apps in the last five months and tested countless more that never made the cut.
In that time we’ve gone through a site change from www.appleiphoneapps.com to www.appadvice.com and a complete redesign of our Web site, so I’m sure you’ve missed out on some if not most of my hidden gems columns. In any case, this is the column to start with or catch up on because I’m delivering to you today the best of the best.
For the record, here’s the list of every app appearing in hidden gems:
Sudoku Grab, GPush, Kayak, Simplify Music 2, Simplenote, Mover+ and Mover, Newsstand, Face The Music, Facehack, Dial Zero, Dictionary.com, vSNAX, Peephole, The Moron Test, Read It Later Pro and Read It Later Lite, Pocket Tanks Deluxe and Pocket Tanks Free, Cooliris, Blackjack Live, Flight Control, Leaf Trombone: World Stage, Touch Hockey: FS5, SportsTap, Textfree Unlimited, BeejiveIM, Occasions, Prowl, Bounce On, iReverse Speech, Todo, Evernote, Love Art: National Gallery, London, iCreated, Mapquest 4 Mobile, Howcast, Twinkle, Pixelpipe, DoGood, Global Impact, AppConnect, 1Password, UP, Toobz, Geek Test, Snatch, Scary Castles, THI Personal Trainer, Excuse Me, i.TV, Now Playing, TapDefense, Addictive Yawn Starter, HiCalc, HiCalc Lite, ContactGo, Magic Compass Trick, Epicurious, myWirelss Mobile on AT&T, GoSkyWatch Planetarium, Go SatWatch, PocketMeter, Fluid, Air America Radio, Yelp, Biplane, Ghost Sweep, Wundrbar, Wunder Radio, Chopper Lite, Have 2Eat, Have2Drink, Have2Snack, Have2P, Lux Touch and Lux DLX, iDracula and iDracula Lite, iGem and iGem Lite, Besiegement, Pano, Scrabble, Vocoder Lite.
I’ve tested and brought you these apps because there are so many in the App Store that it’s impossible for you to try them all out. I’ve considered it my job to do that for you and perhaps discover and bring to you a cool app you’ve never heard about. No small part of that has been with the help of the commenters who are in the same boat searching for cool apps to try. 9 times out of 10, if a commenter mentions it I’ll later try it out. Thank you guys and gals for all your help.
Looking back on this list I’m overcome by a huge realization. Not many of these apps have stayed on my phone. It’s just the nature of apps, I guess, that they don’t have a very long lifespan unless they’re absolutely awesome and the developers keep the updates coming.
I thought it time to give you the best apps I’ve discovered so far in this column. All are well tested and I vouch for them because I use many of them regularly. A couple caveats though. There still might be apps that fit your needs slightly better and there are also other apps not on this list that are great too. Hidden gems has always been about telling you about apps you might have missed and I doubt many have missed the Facebook app, for example.
While Google finally got on the bandwagon this week and joined the push email party with MobileMe and Yahoo, I still enjoy the pop-ups of GPush. With GPush you get a pop up with the sender and subject of the email the instant it hits your inbox. It has saved me a ton of time and brings email just that much closer to SMS.
Saved me literally hundreds of dollars looking for hotels to stay at. No brainer, get it.
I recommended Simplenote in hidden gems but I really should go back and revise because I didn’t realize NoteSpark existed at the time. A commenter pointed it out to me and I agree with him. John Gruber, who recommended Simplenote, can go suck it. NoteSpark features truly flawless syncing that holds up to very rigorous use. It also features great sharing features that let you optionally receive a push notification when someone makes a change to your note. People have been raving recently about another competitor, Awesome Note, and the app does sport a great look as well as the super cool ability to import and export individual Google Documents and notes into and out of the app.
Unfortunately, that just isn’t quite the perfect solution. That feature will be helpful in a pinch but flawless two-way syncing with Google Docs is really the way it should work. That’s the way NoteSpark works with its web app. In fact, the reason I like NoteSpark so much is it essentially brings the collaborative features of Google Docs to the iPhone.
Still the best image search on iPhone. A pleasure to use and fast.
It beat out SportsTap for best free score notification app because it has more customization. In a couple months though, who knows what app will be best.
Textfree Unlimited saved me from those terrible monthly text message fees. I praise them for it. Still, there is a very serious threat to Textfree Unlimited in the form of Google Voice and other competitors. I love Textfree, but Google Voice gives you a real number to use and hand out to people that rings all of your phone numbers. In addition to a ton of other great features, Google Voice also gives you unlimited text messages. Unfortunately for Textfree, lots of folks can’t figure out how to send a message to the Textfree Unlimited email address you get. Alas, Google Voice recently released the ability to forward SMS messages to gmail and reply to them from email.
I’m darn close to going Google Voice all the way, especially when combined with GPush, which provides a pop up of incoming email so it looks just like Textfree or Apple’s Messages app. It makes sense, really, to marry SMS to email and Google Voice is extremely close to pulling it off flawlessly. The day that happens will be the day text messages die.
I’m always available by chat all the time on any network. That’s the power of BeejiveIM.
Todo by Appigo
I know there are other task apps and people might fiercely defend Things or Toodledo or Remember The Milk. Still, Todo seems to me the most powerful while also lacking a “pro” account that needs a regular subscription. Instead, it can link to the free version of the Toodledo service. I’ll admit I haven’t fully tested the competitors, but I still like Todo.
Enter in all your important passwords, usernames, log ins, account numbers, identification numbers and lock it away with tight security. Never be caught without that important number again.
With push notifications now included you’ll never have to miss a show again. Though it does include Netflix integration, I personally think they’d be much better off coming up with some serious Hulu integration. How about a push notification when your Hulu queue is updated? Yeah, now that’s what I’m talking about. Get to it i.TV.
Movies by Flixster
I’ve gone back and forth between Now Playing and Movies, but the latter wins right now for the superior social networking features. I just love the ability to rate and review the movie I’ve just seen and share it on Facebook. I despise that the rating doesn’t come up immediately in my news feed and requires users to click through to Flixster, but I’m still happy that I can at least do this much.
Maintain and track your AT&T minutes and bill. Not an exciting app but much needed.
I have never gone to a restaurant recommended by Yelpers and been disappointed. I’ve been to at least two dozen places now and every one has been spot on with the recommendations. In fact, I never go anywhere new without checking Yelp first.
I’m still waiting for them to release a new weapons pack, but in the meantime I still have a soft spot in my heart for this wonderful game. It’s like iShoot but with a ton of varied weapons that is core to the gameplay. There’s a free version you can try out too.
Likely needs no introduction, but it’s either this or Peggle I come back to over and over again if I have a few minutes to kill.
Air hockey from one iPhone to another no matter where you are. Absolutely awesome. Comes in free and paid (linked in title) versions.
Still my favorite tower defense game. Probably not the best game to be introduced to tower defense. If you’re new to tower defense, go with Fieldrunners. Besiegement is for the person who loves Tower Defense and wants more.
So, let me have it in the comments. Are there apps you prefer to these? What apps should I look at in the future?