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Essential iPhone apps: Guide to the best iOS gifts for the holidays

Essential iPhone Apps
Santa's just hand-delivered you a brand-spanking new iPhone or iPod touch. You've ripped the wrapping paper off, charged it, and have been playing with it non-stop, but your home screen looks a bit bare. Well look no further: DLS has your back! We love all kinds of apps, but here are our essential, must-download apps for your new and shiny iDevice.


Instapaper for iPhone

If you're the kind of person who finds lots of interesting articles throughout your day, but doesn't necessarily have time to read them at that very moment, Instapaper is for you. More than simple webclipping, Instapaper allows you to save things for later using a one-click bookmarklet, presenting the clipped articles using a slick, minimalist app for your iDevice of choice. If that wasn't enough, Instapaper support is found all over the iOS app ecosystem, in Web apps like Google Reader, and even some desktop apps -- so wherever you find the next big story, Instapaper is just a click and sync away. The service is free, and the app is available in a feature-lite free or feature-full paid flavor.

Instapaper free [iTunes] – Free
Instapaper [iTunes] - $4.99


Reeder for iPhone

There are lots of RSS readers available in the App Store, but not all of them were born equal. Reeder is one of those apps that's simply a cut above the rest, and that's why it's one of our RSS readers of choice. With features like background feed syncing, sharing support, a slick interface, and Google Reader integration, there's a lot to like about Reeder. If you're serious about reading RSS feeds on your iDevice, then give Reeder a try.

Reeder for iPhone [iTunes] - $2.99
Reeder for iPad [iTunes] - $4.99


Twitter for iPhone

You can find Twitter on basically every device ever created at this point. Whether it's through a mobile browser, via SMS, or using an app, wherever you are, so is Twitter. The iPhone is no exception, and while there are literally tens of Twitter apps available, there's only one official app. It used to be the wildly popular Tweetie, and thankfully it's kept most of the good things that made Tweetie great, all for the wallet friendly price of free.

Twitter [iTunes] - Free


Facebook for iPhone

Talking of everywhere, that's basically Facebook's vision, and iPhone hasn't been left out. The Facebook app brings everything that you love or loathe about the ubiquitous social network onto your iPhone. You can stalk people, check into places, view photos, post status updates, use FB chat, and even confirm or deny friends, all from your 3.5-inch iDevice. If you use Facebook at all on the desktop, the Facebook iPhone app is a must.

Facebook [iTunes] - Free



Well if you haven't seen this one before, you haven't been paying attention. Instagram is a social photo sharing service with custom filters that lets you take interesting and unique photos, posting them to your photo stream as you go. You can follow your friends, comment on photos, and post your photos to Twitter, Facebook and Flickr. The free app is pretty popular at the moment and is still evolving, so why not give it a shot. Perhaps it will awaken the photographer in you.

Instagram [iTunes] - Free


Skype for iPhone

As the most popular of all VoIP services, Skype is a must have on your iDevice. You can talk with your friends over IM, make and receive VoIP calls, and even conference call, right from your pocket pal. The only thing missing is video calling, but considering it's free and will even work in the background, it's worth having on your device.

Skype [iTunes] - Free

Google Mobile

Google Mobile

You might think since you've got Spotlight and a Google search box in Safari on your iDevice you might not need a dedicated Google app. Don't be fooled, the Google Mobile app isn't just a glorified search box. Unlike Android, all of Google's search applications are bundled into one app. You've got Google Goggles, Voice search, suggest, and access to Web apps like Gmail, Calendar, and Docs. Google Mobile is worth downloading for the sheer novelty of being able to put the phone to your ear and say what you're searching for. Brilliant and yours for nothing.

Google Mobile [iTunes] - Free


Wikipedia for iPhone

The Wikipedia mobile experience through the browser is already pretty good, but the Wikipedia app for iOS adds bookmarks, history, and location-based points of interest, in a simple, small-screen optimized app. Although there are many Wikipedia apps for iOS, if you've ever wanted to browse Wikipedia on the go, this free app is a good place to start.

Wikipedia [iTunes] - Free



If you like to store files in the cloud and hold a Dropbox account, then the Dropbox app for iOS is an absolute must. If you're unfamiliar with Dropbox, it's a popular sync and cloud-storage service that gives you 2 GB of space for free, with paid accounts if you need more. Featuring local caching, a pretty comprehensive file viewer, and the ability to open files in other applications, the Dropbox app is a great way to get files to and from the desktop while out and about.

Dropbox [iTunes] - Free


IMDb for iPhone

Have you ever been watching a movie and wondered who the actor playing the third guy from the right is? Or wondered what's currently filming or in post-production? If that's you, then you need IMDb for the iPhone or iPad. Bringing the comprehensive movie and TV database to the palm of your hand, the IMDb app lets you browse or search by actor name, TV show or movie, or director. The information is presented in a slick and intuitive interface with trailers, clips, photos and trivia -- more information than you can shake a stick at.

IMDb [iTunes] - Free

eBay Mobile

eBay Mobile

Christmas might be upon us, but that doesn't mean the shopping stops – you've got to spend that Christmas money somehow, right? In steps the first in our must-have shopping apps for iOS: eBay Mobile. By bringing the world's largest auction site into the palm of your hand, eBay has made it extremely easy to search for, track, and buy a plethora of products. Using push notifications to keep you abreast of what's happening on watched auctions, you can make sure you're the highest bidder and win that auction for the elusive Steve Jobs action figure. Free and available in both iPad and iPhone flavors.

eBay Mobile [iTunes] – Free
eBay for iPad [iTunes] - Free

Amazon Mobile

Amazon Mobile

eBay's not the only online retailer to get in on the iOS app action -- Amazon has its own well developed shopping app. By combining barcode scanning, Amazon Remembers photo recognition, and access to a huge selection of products, Amazon Mobile truly provides a one-stop-shop right in the palm of your hand. You can even track your packages using the app, so if you ever frequent, then the Amazon iOS app is a no-brainer. Free and available as a universal app for both iPhone and iPad.

Amazon Mobile [iTunes] - Free



Who doesn't like a free app? From games to utilities, FreeAppADay does exactly what it says on the tin. The companion app for the iPhone allows you to browse the day's free iPhone apps, linking straight to the apps in the App Store for download. While the app itself isn't all that good of an experience, and there are multiple versions of it available, all doing the same thing, you can find some real gems for free every now and again. It's definitely worth checking out.

FreeAppADay [iTunes] - Free



Are your free app desires not sated by one source alone? Well roll up, roll up -- AppShopper has you covered. Cataloging all the apps that have just been released, updated, or have dropped in price, AppShopper brings you the deals as and when they happen. You can sort between paid and free apps, by app category, or by whether it's a new release, has been updated or just changed in price. Whatever happens on the App Store, AppShopper keeps you up to date.

AppShopper [iTunes] - Free

The App Store isn't just about apps though; there are lots and lots of games available ranging from simple yet addictive casual games, to console quality blockbusters. But for that we'll have to hand over to our sister site Joystiq and their comprehensive Holiday Buyer's Guide 2010.

Tags: Amazon, Apple, apps, AppShopper, BeejiveIM, cellphones,, Dropbox, eBay, Facebook, features, FreeAppADay, Google, hgg, iBooks, IMDb, Instagram, Instapaper, iOS, iPhone, iPod touch, IpodTouch, Kindle, productivity, Reeder, Skype, Twitter, utilities, Wikipedia