In this week's slightly more transparent app roundup: Malls, navigated! Instant messages, never ignored! Browser, bettered! Messaging, replaced! Hotel rooms, snagged! Photos, translated! Ghosts, faked! Blu-ray movies, supplemented! And more...
If you want to view this gallery as a list, click here
Point Inside: Fact: stepping foot in a suburban mall can drain your vitality in a matter of seconds. And though I don't think a deep disdain for the concept of indoor shopping complexes and what they've done to the very fabric of the American town was the driving inspiration behind Point Inside, they're definitely onto something: With hundreds of mall maps that look a lot like those big directory signs, this app gets you in and out of your local mall as quickly as possible, all for free. Could use a few hundred more maps—some of my old tweenage haunts weren't there—but if yours is listed, PI is great.
Agile Messenger: I've always been a little leery of Agile Messenger, since it's usually priced at around $10, up there with the likes of Beejive, and it's a little ugly—though the multi-account and push features are more than adequate. For a few weeks, though, it's just two dollars. And they've just added a new feature called "Walk and Type," which overlays your text over a live camera view, so you never have to take your eyes off you AIM conversations as you walk down the street. In theory. In practice, you will still die. Ranked for feature-bloat audacity, and shitty late night joke/newspaper cartoon potential.
Full Browser: As with every alternative browser in the App Store, Full Browser isn't really its own browser, since it's still using Mobile Safari's WebKit renderer. That said, FB's added features are worthwhile: the tabbing system, which is more traditional and desktop-like than Safari's, makes up for its rough looks with efficiency, in-app email makes life ever-so-slightly faster if you spend most of your time browsing, the favorite sites speed dial is a mite faster than using Safari's favorites, and inline text search is just, well, useful. A dollar.
WhatsApp: First, let's try this: WhatsApp is like BlackBerry Messenger for the iPhone. Cool, right? If that doesn't mean anything to you, it's like an instant messaging app, tied to your number—not a screen name or PIN or anything—that integrates with your contacts. If you have the app, your friend has the app, and you're both in each others' phonebooks, you're ready to go. Push notifications make this even more like BBM, in that you don't have to keep the app open. Free for now, so GO GO GO.
PicTranslator: Translates text from photos, from whatever language you want. I love it because it fits nicely with my vision of what smartphones should be doing for us in the next few years, and it seems to work pretty well most of the time. I don't love it because results are much, much better on the 3GS—you're basically limited to signage with the 3G and 2G, because they can't focus on small text—and because your $2 only gets you one language. Still though, extremely neat stuff, as long as you're aware of the limitations. And now you are, so!
PocketBlu/FoxPop: From Universal and Fox, respectively, these are the new Blu-ray companion apps. PocketBlu, available now but not really compatible with much yet, is like an enhanced remote control for compatible titles, making navigating various BD Live features a bit more intuitive. It'll also stream bonus content to your handset over Wi-Fi, which is pretty cool. FoxPop, which isn't quite out yet, does things a little differently: It's like a Popup Video feed that plays back trivia, photos, video, and other content to supplement the film. Bonus cool feature: it figures out where you are in the DVD or Blu-ray by listening to the soundtrack, and matching it to a timeline. Both should be coming soon to select releases.
Navigon Traffic: $90 for a navigation app is feeling more and more expensive by the day, and $20 for the new traffic function doesn't feel like a steal either. That said, there are no monthly fees after that initial charge, the traffic data is crowdsourced and rich, and Navigon is one of the best nav options out there. Worth your consideration, if not your dollars.
Priceline Negotiator: Priceline's main gimmick/selling point has always been its instant bid feature, and it's well-suited to the iPhone. Give it a location, make your hotel room bid, and you know if you've got it or not pretty much that second.
ARGH: I somehow missed this one in yesterday's augmented reality app roundup, so here goes. ARGH cheesily superimposes ghosts over your 3GS's camera view, as if there were actually there. Upon seeing ARGH, most of your friends will groan and tell you you've wasted your money. But! Your senile grandmother will be legitimately spooked, your pet dog will be mildly confused, and your little cousin will probably chuckle a little. Two dollars.
iVIP: This thing is basically I Am Rich, except it offers (some?) services, in the form of memberships to various clubs and societies. It sounds a bit like a scam (A Cineworld membership? Really?) and the concept is inherently deplorable, but in separating a special, horrible kind of rich person from their dollars, iVIP is doing the world a service. $1000, or $450 for the "Blue" version, which is blue.
This list is in no way definitive. If you've spotted a great app that hit the store this week, give us a heads up or, better yet, your firsthand impressions in the comments. And for even more apps: see our previous weekly roundups here, and check out our Favorite iPhone Apps Directory. Have a great weekend, everybody!