The 2010 App Gems Awards

7 best media & photo apps

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[This article is part of our 2010 App Gems Awards series, honoring the best apps of 2010.]

Reference App of the Year

IMDB Movies & TV (free)


  (read review)

IMDB Movies & TV has added a number of features in recent months, most notably entertainment news and the ability to rate movies and TV shows from within the app. But the most appealing thing about this mobile entertainment guide is still the thing that caught our eye when the app debuted shortly after the iPad’s arrival—its superlative design. IMDB presents information about movies and TV shows in a clear, easy-to-navigate manner. That’s as true on the iPhone as it is on the iPad, where IMDB makes special use of the larger screen and pop-up windows to help you easily find what actor appeared in what show. If more apps took their design cues from IMDB, the App Store would be a much more orderly place.—PHILIP MICHAELS

Best Multimedia Streamer

ZumoCast (free)

By Zecter

  (read review)

The iPad and iPhone are great for watching video and listening to music, but even they only have so much space for storing those media files. Enter Zecter’s ZumoCast, a universal app that lets you stream photos, audio, and video from your Mac to your iOS device. The app works with a piece of software you install on your computer, which can convert videos on the fly into an iOS-compatible format. You can also set up ZumoCast to give you access to your home documents and it’s all for the low, low price of free.—DAN MOREN

Best Mobile Video Editor

iMovie ($5)

By Apple

  (read review)

Several years ago, if someone told you that you could use your phone to shoot, edit, and publish HD video, you probably would have laughed. But it’s Apple who’s enjoying the last laugh—its iOS version of iMovie works with the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch to transform you into Martin Scorsese at a moment’s notice. Select a theme, skim through and trim clips, add photos and music, and export to your Camera Roll—all with a few taps of your finger. The app feels like a natural fit on Apple’s mobile devices, making a once-unimaginable task into just another iOS capability.—SERENITY CALDWELL

Drawing App of the Year

SketchBook Pro ($8)

By Autodesk

  (read review)

With its 1024 by 768 canvas, the luxurious SketchBook Pro for the iPad gives you all the space you need to fulfill your creative vision. Sporting the same paint engine as the powerful desktop version, the app comes complete with 75 customizable preset brushes, including pencils, pens, markers, natural media, photo brushes, nature and stamp brushes. SketchBook Pro makes great use of the iPad’s multitouch interface and offers the kind of features—support for up to six layers, blend modes, and a remarkable symmetric drawing feature that produces a mirror image of your strokes on one side of the canvas—that creative professionals demand.—JACKIE DOVE

Photo Effects App of the Year

Hipstamatic ($2)

By Synthetic

  (read review)

Lots of toy-camera apps for the iPhone let you tweak your photos after you’ve taken them. But Hipstamatic’s claim to fame is that applies its effects when you take the picture. The $2 app includes several lenses, films, and flashes that you can combine as you want or set randomly with a shake. After the app “develops” your photo, what you see is what you get. And what you get is very cool. You can also buy several $1 Hipstapaks from within the app, each of which adds additional items, or order prints so that you can get a lasting reminder of what a terrific photo this cleverly designed app produces.—JONATHAN SEFF

Photo-Sharing App of the Year

Instagram (free)

By Burbn

  (read review)

Photo apps are a dime a dozen, but it’s what you do with those resulting images that makes all the difference. Instagram hits the sweet spot by combining one-touch image editing and easy access to popular photo-sharing services. Take a photo or pick one from your existing library, apply one of the built-in filters (or leave the original as-is), save the one you like, and e-mail or share using the many built-in tools. This free app is dead-simple to use and gives an artsy option to amateurs like me.—CURT POFF

Geotagging App of the Year

Geotag Photos Pro ($4)

By TappyTaps

  (read review)

Geotagging your photos (so you know exactly where every photo you’ve shot was taken) is a pretty cool development in the photography world, which is why programs like iPhoto and Websites like Flickr support it. But here’s the problem: Few cameras come with GPS chips. The old solution to this problem was to buy a separate data logger and carry it with you on shoots. But why bother when you already have a device with a GPS sensor right in your pocket? Geotag Photos Pro turns your iPhone into a smart GPS data logger. Launch the app, make sure your phone and camera’s clocks are synced, and it’ll track your location while you’re on the go. (It runs in the background in iOS 4, so you can still use your phone for other tasks. And because it uses true GPS geolocation, it’ll work even if you’re in the middle of nowhere, away from a cell tower or Wi-Fi signal.) Once you’re done, the app uploads the data to a companion Website. After downloading your images to your Mac, you can use a free companion utility to apply your GPS data to your photos. (The app also lets you e-mail that data, so you can log your travels on Google Earth or any other service that supports GPS log data.)—JASON SNELL

[Continue on to read about our favorite games of 2010.]

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