Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

More than a year after launch, there are 74,031 apps in the iPhone App store. Most of them are crap. Some of them aren't. Here are the 50 iPhone apps you actually need, all in one place.

Well, OK, if you count the overlapping apps—paid and free Twitter clients, neck-and-neck navigation apps, the jailbreakers—it's more like 56, but that's not the point, people: The point is, since the last time we corralled all the best of the best (barring our weekly roundups, of course), the iPhone and App Store have changed immeasurably. In the last nine months we saw the release of the 3GS and iPhone OS 3.0, Apple loosening its grip on what kinds of apps people are allowed to create, and hundreds of fresh developers making genuinely new, genuinely impressive stuff. It was time for an update, and a big one.
Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009
So, hit the "iPhone Apps" link on the left sidebar, just above Bestmodo (Note: It's split into two pages, so make sure to click through), or just scroll down—they're all here too. We've got the best games, messaging apps, eBook readers, dictionaries, productivity software and timewasters. We've got apps to keep you up on current events, to keep your daily music intake interesting, to keep you entertained on the train, and to keep you on the right interstate. These are the essential iPhone apps—a list that'll transform that shiny, boring brick you just bought into the device that everyone's always raving about.

What counts as an essential iPhone app changes all the time, and so should our guide: If we've missed anything huge, or you've got a much better suggestion for a particular type of app, let us know, or say so in the comments. We'll be updating this thing pretty frequently, and a million Gizmodo readers can do a better job at sorting through the app mess than a single Gizmodo editor. Enjoy!

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

AirSharing: Our favorite file storage app-shoots files to the iPhone's flash memory via Wi-Fi for storage, transport, and easy retrieval.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Amazon: Amazon's usually the first place I look during a fit of impulse buying, which their iPhone app now makes stupidly easy.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

AOL Radio: More free radio content than any actual radio could ever have. Tailored radio stations are great, sure, but old-fashioned programmed stations-AOL Radio's specialty-have their charms

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

BeejiveIM: Expensive? Sure. Totally essential for messaging hounds? Yup.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Bloom: Generative, ambient music by Brian Eno. If I need to say more, it's also a mini-sequencer: Drop your finger on the liquidy pastel screen, play a note, make simple loops. Music For Airports that you can make yourself. In an airport, even.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Brain Exercise with Dr. Kawashima: A lot of people buy Nintendo DSes for the sole purpose of having those Dr. Kawashima-approved brain-training games at hand. With this app, you get the exact same mind-juicing benefits for a few bucks, on hardware you already carry.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Brushes: If you've ever seen on of those spectacularly detailed "paintings" done on the iPhone, chances are it was created with this. This is fingerpainting in 2009.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

CameraBag: Image processing apps tend to be gimmicky, but CameraBag's got enough artistic effects and editing flexibility to make the crappiest iPhone camera photos look interesting at worst, and spectacular at best.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

ConvertBot: Plenty of apps can technically deal with unit conversions as well as ConvertBot can, but none of them have its fantastic, super-fast interface.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Epicurious: The only cooking app you really need. With its thousands of recipes, shopping list feature and meal suggestions, Epicurious will make you at least look like a passable cook.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Evernote: Obsessive documenters, take note(s): This is the only scribbling app you need.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Facebook: This was an essential app from the get-go, and it's been steadily evolving-like the site-for the last year. Version 3.0 was a total refresh, and supports nearly every one of Facebook's sprawling features, sometimes better than the site itself.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Fring: Every major instant message protocol, comfortably crowded under one (free!) roof. The addition of push notifications notched this one up from great to, uh, greaterer.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Frotz: Laugh all you want, jocks-us geeks know where it's at: text gaming. Bringing virtually every text-based game you've ever heard of to the iPhone gives the genre a whole new lease on life, and you the most prodigious time-waster imaginable.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Google Mobile: Google Mobile was a solid app (but not particularly essential)-and then came voice search.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Google Earth: The same amazing Earth touring app found on the desktop, now spinnable via multitouch. Honestly if someone told me two years ago I would have a functional Google Earth app on my phone, I wouldn't have believed them. This is now.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

i.TV: Once you've used a wonderful, full-featured TV guide app on your iPhone, reading one on paper-or even on your laptop-will feel stupid. iTV is that app. It also works as a remote for some TiVo boxes, with more DVRs to come.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

I Love Katamari: Mad genius designer Keita Takahashi left the series years ago, but Katamari is still among my favorite game franchises of all time (and I'm not alone), and it's a natural fit for the iPhone's tilt-controls.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Kindle: There are a pile of eBook readers for the iPhone, but only one connects to Amazon's book store, and more importantly, your Kindle library.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Last.fm: Creates free, effectively endless custom radio stations, streams them over 3G and learns more about your musical tastes with time. There is literally no downside to this app.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

MLB At Bat: Live streaming MLB games, every day, over 3G. That is all.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Motion X Poker Quest: Realistic dice physics meets ancient Egyptian gods in one of the more addicting iPhone games you'll see.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Mujik: Mujik is like Bloom in that it lets anyone make amazing music in the space of a few minutes. That's where the similarities end.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Navigon: Hey, so, have you heard your iPhone is also a really, truly good turn-by-turn navigation device? Because with the pricey-but-probably-worth-it Navigon, it is.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Ninjawords: An intelligently pared-down dictionary and thesaurus app, Ninjawords will make you feel and seem slightly less dumb. It works offline, too.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

NPR News: Comes with text news, offline reading and an endless (seriously!) supply of calming, androgynous voices, either live or on demand.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Newsstand: One of the only RSS readers that isn't slow, overcomplicated or missing something vital.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Pageonce Personal Assistant: Are you a fancy businessperson, with "accounts" and "subscriptions" and, uh, "dollars?" Personal Assistant sucks your scattered financial, travel and leisure concerns all into one simple, unscary interface.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

OpenTable: Actually talking to a maître d' on the phone: Out. Tapping your iPhone a few times to get a dinner reservation at a veritable assload of restaurants: In.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Pandora: Best internet radio app, hands down. Smartly auto-suggests music based on other artists you like. Both on the go and while at home. Streams well over EDGE and 3G. Free. What more could you ask for?

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

PanoLab: Who knew multitouch is the perfect interface for stitching photos together into panoramas? It is. Plus if the photo you just took doesn't work, toss it out and take another one immediately. A paid version adds even more features.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Prowl: Easily the most useful push app Apple's let through the gates, Prowl lets you forward any Growl notifications from your Mac or PC-everything from Mail to IM to Torrent downloads to Tweets-directly to your phone.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

QuickOffice: Gaping void in default iPhone functionality #123: Real document editing. Solution #123: QuickOffice

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Remote: One of the first apps we saw, and still among the best in terms of usefulness. If you use iTunes frequently at home and especially if you listen away from your desk via a stereo hookup or Airport Express, you need the Remote.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

RjDj: A totally unique music application that processes sound from your environment and replays it according to a set program, creating a trippy, always-evolving soundscape.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Run Pee: An app to tell you when the boring parts of movies are so you can go pee-or if you're feeling daring, more-without missing much. It's a brilliant concept, with unexpectedly good execution.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Shazam: This just doesn't get old: hold your phone to the air to grab the song playing at the supermarket (or being hummed by your friend), and have it identified in a few seconds. We live in a privileged age.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Simplify Media: Stream your home machine's iTunes library and those of up to 30 friends to your phone. This app lives up to its name. Forget worries of filling up 8GB, or even 16.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Skype: On 3G, it's perfect for Skype messaging and long distance texts; on Wi-Fi, it near-magically turns your iPhone into a VoIP handset.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Star Defense: Tower Defense games are one of the few genres that the iPhone excels at, and Star Defense, with an entirely fresh 3D take on the concept, multitouch, varied levels and multiplayer, is about as good as they get.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Slacker Radio: Yet another free, customizable radio app, but one that has a spectacularly huge music library, and that gives you fine control over the songs you hear.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

The Sims 3: An amazingly faithful adaptation of the 3D life simulator that you routinely ridicule others for playing, but secretly enjoy yourself, every night, with a bottle of extremely cheap wine.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

TomTom: If you're used to TomTom's standalone GPS units, their turn-by-turn navigation app will be a pleasant, familiar surprise. In some ways, it might even be better.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Tweetie: If you spend enough of your day on Twitter to consider paying for an app, Tweetie's multiple account support, uncluttered interface and impressively broad feature set is about as close to a desktop Tweeting experience as you'll get on the iPhone.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

TwitterFon: And if you're not willing to pay for a Twitter app-understandable!-TwitterFon isn't too shabby. It's super-fast and stupid-simple, so it'll do well by all but the most obnoxiously obsessed Twitterers.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

VLC Remote: One of the first apps we loved was the iTunes Remote-now, the Swiss army knife of media players VLC has one of its very own.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

VNC Lite: View and fully control my computer from anywhere, as long as I am on the same network. So I can basically be at my computer without actually being at my computer.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

WeatherBug: On the desktop, it's excessive. But on the iPhone, WeatherBug gives you much more-and much more useful-info than Apple's default app. And in the paid version, hyperlocal, data-driven weather nerdery abounds.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Wikipanion: Why even carry an iPhone if you can't use it to settle petty arguments about things that don't matter?

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Yelp: Yelp is built on the premise that people really, really love to review things, and that this bizarre impulse should be harnessed for good. With a massive database of food/drink/everything else reviews, easy navigation, inbuilt maps, and augmented reality, it's tops.

Jailbreak Apps

Before you dive into these, here's a quick guide for jailbreaking your phone.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Jailbreak: AdBlock: Blacklist obnoxious ads, just like you do on your PC.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Jailbreak: Cycorder: Not everyone can upgrade to an iPhone 3GS. Everyone can, however, record video.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Jailbreak: GV Mobile: Google's official Google Voice app may never see the light of day, so GV Mobile is the only way to get your all-in-one telephony fix on the iPhone.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Jailbreak: WinterBoard: If you've ever seen some guy on the internet proudly demonstrating his garishly skinned or themed iPhone, this is almost definitely what he was using. Note: It can be used for aesthetic good as well as evil.

Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: Fall 2009

Jailbreak: Veency: Like every other iPhone VNC app, except totally in reverse: It's a server.

[Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps]