I’ve lamented on
the lack of third-party access to the iPhone, and now, with quite a few actual usage hours on my belt, my lament has become a plea: please, Apple, if you’re not going to do some of these things yourself, let third parties provide real solutions! Exactly what am I talking about? Well, here’s a list I’ve been building of the Top 10 Missing iPhone Apps. I think third parties could do a great job at providing some or all of these solutions. (If Apple wants to do it, that’d be great, too, but I’d really like someone to make them available, and sooner rather than later.)
So here, in increasing order of importance, are the 10 applications that I think would be a perfect fit with the iPhone and its current application suite:
- The Launcher: The Launcher is a small, always-running background task. It features a small customizable pop-up menu, and is activated by a triple-tap in a configurable corner of the screen. The menu can contain any 10 iPhone applications you like—everything from the phone to the stocks widget to the video section of your iPod. Its purpose is to give super fast access to your 10 most-used iPhone features. Instead of having to click/tap three or four times, you just pop up the menu and switch directly to your desired application.
- Speedy: Speedy is a simple application that’s always running, sitting in the background. When activated with a tap-drag-tap action on a blank section of the screen, Speedy pops up a small numeric keypad. Each digit on the 10-key has a contact name below it; press and hold a number for one second, and you’ll dial that person’s number.
- CamControl: Available only when the iPhone camera is running, CamControl gives you an iPhoto-like adjustment palette to correct for color, lighting, and other associated image oddities. I want this because I don’t want to sync every photo I take with the iPhone back to iPhoto, adjust it, then resync it back. Many photos fall into the “only keep on iPhone” category, but I’d like them to look as good as possible.
- Wallpaperizer: Wallpaperizer is an application that extends the iPhone’s limited wallpaper support. First, instead of being forced to use iPhoto to transfer wallpapers, you can do it directly via the Wallpaperizer interface. Second, you can specify a collection of wallpapers that will be randomly selected each time you turn the phone on, or receive a call. Finally, Wallpaperizer adds the ability to place an image (again, randomly cycled if you wish) behind the iPhone’s main screen. Not everyone likes solid black, Steve!
- Todoer: While the iPhone features a calendar, there’s no simple To Do application—something basic that can handle grocery lists, errand lists, etc. Todoer does all of that, and integrates with calendar in case you need to turn a to do into an event.
- iPhonews: iPhonews is a full-fledged RSS reader for the iPhone. While Safari can handle basic RSS tasks, it’s really not suited for tracking hundreds of feeds. I’d love to see something with most of the power of
NetNewsWire but with a simplified UI for the iPhone.
- VoiceCommander: VoiceCommander enables two essential voice-related features—voice dialing and voice notes. To voice dial, you press and hold the Home button for one second, then simply say the name of the contact you wish to dial. You can also create a list of 10 voice dial shortcuts with names of your own choosing. Voice notes are just what they sound like—you record a memo to yourself for later playback. Much easier and quicker than trying to activate Notes and type something out by hand.
- Bluetoothful: This application enables full Bluetooth support on the iPhone. Synching of all data, caller ID display on the Mac’s screen, and Address Book dialing via iPhone are all supported. In addition, the iPhone can be used as a data modem for a paired Mac.
- TypeIt4Me: This is the first real-world application on my list, but it’s an important one. On all my Macs, I rely on
TypeIt4Me (its competitor,
TextExpander, is also very good) to help save typing wear-and-tear. If you’ve ever received an e-mail from me about a duplicate hints submission on
Mac OS X Hints, for instance, well, the entire thing is written by TypeIt4Me. Basically, you create a shortcut, something like rrr for regards; -rob. , perhaps, and TypeIt4Me will then expand that abbreviation whenever it sees it, in any application. Such a thing on the iPhone would be most welcome, in everything from e-mail to notes to Safari’s Web forms.
- iChat: The second real-world application on my list is also my number one most-important program. Macworld ’s editorial team is distributed across multiple locations in multiple time zones. We use iChat a lot to keep in touch. On my Treo, an app called VeriChat served as a great AIM client. It ran in the background, and whenever a new IM arrived, VeriChat would interrupt whatever I was doing to let me know. I could then choose to respond, switch to chat, or ignore the message and keep doing what I was doing before. The iPhone really needs something like this, and badly. The Web-based applications are just no substitute for a real, well-integrated iChat application.
There are obviously more things that could go on this list—Terminal, Remote Mac Login, and video recording come to mind. However, if I had to pick just 10 as of today, these would be the 10 I’d most like to see—especially those last three! So if you’ve got an iPhone, what’s on your list today?