With all due respect to Steve Jobs and co., sometimes, Apple’s inventions can be a pain in the iYou-know-what.
To wit, like the three million other easily-beguiled Americans who eagerly scooped the high-tech beauty up in its initial 30 days out, we happily spread-eagled our wallets at the first glimpse of the iPhone 3G’s stunning looks, scorching download speeds, built-in GPS and elegant, touch-sensitive interface.
But just between us fellow gadget lovers, let’s be honest. No matter how you attempt to justify that minimum $70 monthly billing and two-year contract, the truth’s staring us all right in the face. Obvious sex appeal aside, realize… There’s only so much tangible value to be had reading TMZ.com’s 387th daily update, browsing through your father-in-law’s X-rated e-mail forwards or torturing bystanders with the dulcet tones of Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings” while riding the downtown train.
Thankfully for those whose spouses are suddenly giving them the stinkeye in the wake of escalating gas prices and dwindling paychecks though, all hope’s not lost. Apart from enhanced productivity (faster YouTube video streaming means shorter coffee breaks, right?), instant justification for making the upgrade from that old StarTAC exists in the introduction of the App Store. An always-on digital marketplace that lets you wirelessly retrieve a plethora of free/commercial programs on-demand, the service not only offers limitless expansion by way of handy applications that extend the device’s everyday functionality. (Letting you, say, quickly locate a lost car, pull up movie showtimes or just find a decent greasy spoon at the end of a wild night.) It also proves an instant lifesaver, as anyone enjoying a six-hour layover desperate for a decent burger or a few minutes’ reprieve from the stress of delayed flights and lost baggage can attest.
As such, with over 60 million downloads and roughly $30 million in sales in its first month alone, public support for the service is, unsurprisingly, skyrocketing. But a word of wisdom to the savvy shopper: Don’t go tap-tap-tapping your way into Chapter 11 over faux koi ponds or accelerometer-powered beer drinking simulations just yet. With over 3000 individual applications to choose from since the service debuted in July – literally anyone can develop one for the platform for just $99 – in nearly as many categories (food, film, fitness, etc.), sorting the diamonds from the doo-doo can be a daunting task. Never mind the added confusion presented by countless third-party offerings, which also become available to iPhone owners once you “jailbreak” the device, or empower it to run homebrew software programs, as well.
Here, we catalogue ten of the finest gems hiding in the sea of schlock, each guaranteed to amuse, entertain and even provide something resembling true, practical functionality. At least, that is, until the next 100-odd, slightly feature-enhanced ‘upgrades’ roll off the assembly line roughly three seconds later, onto a touch-sensitive menu screen and, go figure, straight into your greedy little pocket.
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