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Jay's 10 favorite iPhone apps of 2009

After I put together my list of 10 awesome free Mac apps for 2009, a lot of folks asked me when the iPhone list was coming out. How about right now? Get ready, because I'm about to tell you how to spend those iTunes gift cards you got for Christmas. I've selected an eclectic little group of apps that includes games, productivity tools, chat and more, and it makes a great starter kit for anyone who's new to the iPhone. Advanced iPhone users might even discover a new gem or two.

Strap in and tap your App Store icon ... here's 2009 in iPhone apps:


[$2.99, App Store link]

It's been less than a week since I reviewed Pastebot, and I'm already wondering how I lived without it on my iPhone. This full-featured clipboard app makes copying and pasting snippets of text or images one heck of a lot easier. It also comes with basic editing capabilities - including photo filters - and lets you push photos to your Mac wirelessly. That's an awful lot of power for 3 bucks, and the app's design is great, too.

Tiltshift Generator

[$.99, App Store link]

The iPhone's built-in camera is pretty good, but by no means great. Tiltshift Generator can help you take some stunning photos in spite of the hardware, though. It mimics a toy-camera tilt-shift effect by blurring part of each photo and adding some vignetting. You can change the size, shape and positioning of the blur, and also adjust the colors and contrast of the photo. It makes even my amateurish photography skills look brilliant.

So, maybe you don't like tilt shift photos, but you want fine-tuned control over every aspect of the colors in your photos. You can get it for free with Mill Colour. The Mill is a high-profile UK-based visual effects studio, and the color controls this sweet little app puts in your pocket completely reflect that. There are several nice-looking preset effects, or you can adjust everything manually. Either way, your iPhone photos will come out looking their best.

Beejive IM

[$5.99 (on sale), App Store link]

This is my go-to app for mobile IM. Multiple chat services, push notifications, and plenty of options for customizing appearance make Beejive a winner. Currently on sale for $5.99 (down from $9.99) it's a bit of an investment, but it's well worth it for the amount of time I spend on this thing. Beejive just gets the user experience details right: the favorite contacts list and the landscape keyboard mode are both essential for serious mobile chat fanatics.

Tweetie 2

[$2.99, App Store link]

It was love at first tweet with this gorgeous, feature-packed little app. Sure, people got a little ticked off that it wasn't a free upgrade from Tweetie 1, but it's basically an all-new program. Kickass features include multiple account support, threaded DMs, lists and geotagging, a "nearby" search option, saved searches ... I could probably sit here all night detailing everything Tweetie 2 can do. If you check Twitter more than once a day, you should spring for this app.


[Free, App Store link]

Why spend a few hundred bucks on a separate device to read books when you've already got a perfectly good iPhone? Buying Kindle books to read with this free app is incredibly easy, and watching them zap instantly to your phone via Amazon's WhisperSync is definitely gratifying. Sure, the iPhone doesn't seem like it would offer an optimal reading experience, but I managed to read two or three novels on it during my subway commute this spring. I recommend setting Kindle to sepia mode for the most comfortable read.


[Free, App Store link]

When I first downloaded Bump, I didn't expect to use it much. Knocking two phones together to transfer contact info or photos sounds cool in theory, but in practice? Well, my field test speaks for itself. I've bumped with everyone from new colleagues to girls at bars to friends whose email addresses I had lost. Bump has two big selling points: it's fast and it's fun. If you show off Bump around other people who have iPhones, they'll probably download it on the spot.


[$2.99, App Store link]

My main criterion for a good iPhone game is speed. If I can have fun playing a game and a round lasts under two minutes, I'm happy. Canabalt offers the fast pace I demand from a mobile game, and the controls are so simple that you can play it with one hand tied behind your back. Literally. Running is automatic, and you can tap anywhere on the screen to jump. You control a running man, and your job is to jump over pits and obstacles to stay alive for as long as possible. Because the world of Canabalt is pretty treacherous, that's usually not very long.


[Free, App Store link]

Boxcar is the ultimate Swiss Army knife for push notifications. You can push Twitter replies and DMs, email, Facebook messages, and even RSS feeds right to your iPhone. Boxcar offers about a dozen different alerts sounds (most of them are annoying, sad to say, but a couple of them are better than the iPhone's default alert noises), and you can turn pop-ups and badging on or off. If you're using Boxcar with Twitter, you can also choose a Twitter client to open when you tap a Boxcar popup. The only downside to Boxcar is that it costs 99 cents for each additional service after the first one. I paid up, and I'm happy with the purchase. Hey, gotta have my alerts!


[$2.99, App Store link]

Reeder is great little RSS reader for Google Reader junkies. It's fast, visually-appealing, syncs up with Google Reader, and only costs a buck. You can do almost anything from Reeder that you can do from Google Reader's website, but Reeder just looks better on the iPhone. Check out Nik's glowing Download Squad review from earlier this year. That's what
convinced me to spend my hard-earned $3 on Reeder.

So, Download Squad readers, now you've seen my list. How about yours? What iPhone apps did you fall in love with in 2009? I still have iTunes cards burning a hole in my pocket, so show me what I missed by leaving a comment.

Tags: 2009, app store, AppStore, best, iphone, iphone apps, IphoneApps, top 10, Top10