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Hidden Gems: Keep An Eye On These Apps

by Ian
June 12, 2009

header We're at the end of an era. It's hard to believe we've only had the App Store, and iPhone OS 2.0, for a little less than a year. But, alas, the time of iPhone OS 2.0 is coming to a close. Phone OS 3.0 will hit next week. Soon we'll be able to install it on our iPhones and iTouches and we'll all begin exploring the updated offerings of the App Store. It has been a long time coming and I'm as anxious as you to see the promise of push notifications fulfilled as hundreds, if not thousands, of apps start to send out sounds, text updates and badges to your iPhone's home screen. In the meantime, I want to bring your attention to a couple apps you should keep an eye on as 3.0 hits. One has proven to be the best of breed in what will soon become an extremely competitive category and the other may become important if you get an iPhone 3G S. Later, we'll also take a look at a couple apps that will make you think about your place in the world.

BeejiveIM ($9.99)

beejiveA couple weeks ago I complained the iPhone still lacked a good RSS feed reader and a quality chat app. While I still stand by much of what I said, I have to give thanks to my commenters, Tony in particular, for bringing to my attention BeejiveIM. At least until next week BeejiveIM is easily the best instant messaging app on the iPhone. I initially didn't give this app a chance for a couple reasons. First, I assumed Beejive IM's method for getting around the absence of push notifications just wouldn't cut it. The app keeps you logged into all your accounts even when it's closed and will send you e-mails if you receive a message. To me it seemed like depending on e-mails to get notified about incoming messages just wouldn't cut it. I thought for sure there would be a delay between receiving a message and getting the e-mail and that would defeat the purpose of instant messaging. To my surprise the e-mails come in instantly if you're using a push e-mail account like I do. I should have expected a push-email account would. . . push my e-mails. I just didn't believe it would actually work. When you open the e-mail notification there's a button to instantly launch Beejive IM. In a week of testing Beejive IM the e-mail notifications came in fast enough to pop open the app and continue the conversation. Nobody had waited more than 30 seconds from when they sent their message. The other big reason I didn't give Beejive IM a chance is that it costs a whopping $10. When most other clients go for free or under $5, that price definitely gives one pause. A week from now we'll all have push notifications and the market will start to flood with push capable chat apps like Meebo, so this all will likely be a moot point. I wouldn't be surprised to see Beejive IM come down in price significantly. Then again, push notifications may become a "premium" feature that developers feel they can charge more for. So prices could go up. Still, keep an eye on this app over the next couple weeks. It's quick, it's slick, it lets you log into every major chat service at once and, best of all, it has a proven track record.

Pixelpipe (Free)

pixelpipeThis app alllow you to upload photos to a very long list of web services all at once. It became a must have for me when my phone was jailbroken because, with a little finagling, it also lets you upload videos. After using Cycorder to shoot video on a jailbroken device, Pixelpipe uploads the videos you've shot to many Web sites. I wanted my friends to see my videos on Facebook but I also wanted them on Youtube so I could view them on my iPhone using the Youtube app. So I used Pixelpipe to upload the videos to both Facebook and Youtube at the same time. The most recent update to the app brings OS 3.0 compatibility plus the ability to post text only updates to Blogger, Wordpress, Twitter, Facebook and MySpace. supported Now, all that said, my experience with Pixelpipe has not been smooth. I have not tested out even a fraction of the long list (check them out in the iTunes screenshot) of services Pixelpipe supports, but just to get Facebook and Youtube to work right required me to get permissions all set up correctly on the Pixelpipe Web site. In addition, sending status updates to Twitter and Facebook is glitchy too. However, I wouldn't be surprised to see Pixelpipe gain an enormous amount of popularity now that the iPhone 3G S shoots video. Apple has smartly built in the ability to upload videos to Mobile Me, Youtube or send them in an e-mail. But if I know iPhone users they're going to want more power than that. Pixelpipe could be the answer. Again, like Beejive IM, this is an app you need to keep an eye on as OS 3.0 arrives. I could see this becoming a must have app eventually.

DoGood (free)

picture-6DoGood is awesome concept I hope doesn't go unnoticed. The app gives you a daily good deed to accomplish. For example, "Be courteous while standing in line" was the deed a couple days ago. These are simple acts you can do and then share with others with ease. It features Twitter and Facebook Connect so you can seamlessly share the acts with your friends. You can post comments on the daily deed and keep track of how many you accomplish through the year. There's a cool statistics tab too so you can see how many people are participating. You can also suggest your own good deed. Just click on the email address in settings and it directs you to write an email.

Global Impact ($0.99) and Global Impact-Lite (Free)

photo-41 A sharp contrast from DoGood, this app is incredibly interesting and insanely disturbing. Global Impact gives a running tally of a variety of topics - oil consumed, population growth, death rates, SMS messages sent, etc. You have the option of looking at the year, month, day or the rates right now - you can click now and see how many babies are being born right this second. The numbers are so high and increase so quickly it seems like an exaggeration, but the app references reputable sources like the World Health Organization and World Almanac. The free version is definitely worth a look just to explore the numbers a little. The paid version includes more categories.

Mentioned apps

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