Check our our 19 favorite free apps for the iPhone below, then tell us
what we missed and what apps you can’t live without. Leave your
thoughts in the comments, or tweet them at us to @JonAndrewT!
I am an App Store and iTunes junkie. I actually look forward to every Tuesday. This is the day that new media is released (books, CDs, DVDs and as it turns out, Apps).
iPhone real estate is at a premium and you want your most used apps on the main screen or just a few swipes away. Having purchased and/or downloaded hundreds of apps, it is interesting to see which ones get used, which ones stay and which ones get deleted to never to return.
In my opinion, the very best kept secret in the App Store is for an app made by Apple called Remote. I use this app literally every day.
What does Remote do?
Where do I begin?
Well, for starters, Remote allows you to control your iTunes library from your iPhone without the files being on your iPhone. So, for example, if you listen to music on your computer, if you are connected to the same Wi-Fi network, you can control the music from anywhere in your house, adjust the volume, create Playlists, use iTunes DJ, search through artists, albums, collections, music videos, Genius suggestions, Genius playlists, you name it.
But, let’s face it, you may not always want to listen to music on your computer or on the stereo in the living room. Sometimes, you want to sit outside or have music play in all of the rooms in the house. Conventional whole house audio systems aren’t cheap and once installed, they don’t offer a great deal of flexibility. After all, who wants to adjust everything on the wall in each room or have to roam the whole house trying to find the remote? Not me.
That’s why when the Sonos Mesh Network Whole House Audio Player came out, I began scheming to get one. (and, oh, by the way, in case you weren’t aware, the Sonos Player…….there’s an app for that). The Sonos Player connects to your Wi-Fi network and through a proprietary mesh network enables you to place speakers anywhere in your home and control them via a cool iPod Touch like remote control. Very cool. Not cheap and it has singular functionality (streaming music).
You can enable the same type system easily and inexpensively with a very little known feature that is enabled using the Remote app and an Apple AirPort Express Wireless Router.
Here’s how it works:
Through the Apple AirPort Utility Software, I can connect the two or extend the range of my wireless network. For my setup, they are connected.
The AirPort Express has the ability to stream AirTunes which is iTunes wirelessly over the air.
There is a port on the AirPort Express that enables you to connect it to a powered speaker like the ill fated Apple Hi-Fi (which I love despite its bad reviews and discontinuance) or the Bose SoundDock with one simple cord.
Once connected, using the Remote app, you can now stream music wirelessly to the speaker(s) and control it with a visual interface. This replicates the abilities of the Sonos system for a fraction of the cost. With this setup, you can have AirPort Expresses in any location within range of your wireless network with speakers connected to it. Through the Remote app, you can select which speakers are active and have sound.
It is fast, affordable and fun. I’ve used this setup for years at home and on vacation. It enables me to place speakers anywhere in range of an electrical wall outlet and stream music to them all controlled by my trusty iPhone running the Remote app.
Want a whole house audio system?
Simply buy additional AirPort Expresses and speakers and place them where you want them. You can control all of them with your iPhone and the Remote app.
Hacking your iPhone to run unofficial, third-party apps may seem unnecessary since Apple hosts its own App Store. But the corporation’s recently enforced prohibitions on some apps, such as the banning of Google Voice, are reviving the incentive for customers to jailbreak their iPhones once again.
Thanks to Cydia, an unauthorized app store open to jailbroken iPhones, consumers can still access some software that Apple won’t allow. Think free text-messaging and cheap international calls thanks to a Google Voice app that Apple banned. Or features that we can’t have yet, such as multimedia messaging and tethering. Here, we round up a list of the most compelling reasons to jailbreak your iPhone.
1. Google Voice
Apple recently rejected and banned Google Voice apps from its App Store. The apps would have augmented the search giant’s new voice service, which enables users to rely on a single phone number to ring all their phones, while also delivering the gift of free text messages, voicemail service and cheap international calls. The move stirred so much controversy that even the Federal Communications Commission is inquiring about the prohibition.
Thankfully in the Cydia store there’s GV Mobile, an unofficial Google Voice app. In light of Apple’s blanket ban of Google Voice apps, GV Mobile is the no. 1 reason to jailbreak your iPhone (if you weren’t one of the lucky few to grab a copy before Apple banned it). Overall the app is really sweet, despite having room to improve in terms of performance (connecting to Google’s server each time you launch the app can be a drag). Your contacts list is nicely integrated into the phone dialer and SMS sender; the overall UI is slick and cool. After a few minutes you’ll be sending free text messages, and maybe even dialing your relatives in Taiwan for once with cheap international VOIP calls. The best part? The app’s free.
2. Unrestricted 3G Privileges
AT&T iPhone owners pay $30 per month for “unlimited” 3G data access. But your access isn’t truly unlimited, thanks to restrictions that Apple imposed on some apps. SlingPlayer, an app that streams television from a Slingbox device, was crippled to work only on a Wi-Fi connection at the request of Apple and AT&T. And the Skype VOIP app only works on Wi-Fi, too, rendering it impractical.
This is where 3G Unrestrictor comes in handy. The $2 app enables jailbroken iPhone users to select any app that they wish to use over 3G, including Skype and SlingPlayer. Also, by default the App Store won’t let you download files larger than 10MB on the 3G network, and 3G Unrestrictor will remove that regulation, too. Free your apps and download away!
Apple promised the new iPhone 3.0 OS would deliver tethering, but AT&T customers have yet to see that promise fulfilled. AT&T promised tethering would arrive “late summer.” Well, we’re waiting, and it’s not here yet. Some iPhone 3.0 users have figured out a roundabout way to turn on tethering without hacking, but that solution is only temporary.
Guess what? There’s a tethering app in Cydia, too. It’s a $5 app called Tether. The steps on setting up tethering aren’t as simple as Apple’s, but hey, you don’t even have to pay a monthly fee to use the service. The app even includes a feature to set a data cap in case you’re worried about extra charges incurred on your account if AT&T catches you tethering. It’s a little rough around the edges thanks to the network setup taking a few minutes, but we still love it.
4. Overseas Travel
Need to travel? Your iPhone can only go so far thanks to its carrier-tied SIM card, unless you wish to receive bills up the nostril thanks to international roaming costs. Jailbreaking will actually enable you to follow a process to unlock your iPhone to work with other carriers’ SIM cards overseas.
5. Pissing off Apple
Whether you’re a developer who has a beef with Apple, or if you’re a consumer who’s pissed at Apple, or if you’re a kid whose puppy was run over by an employee of Apple, then you may want to exact revenge by jailbreaking your iPhone. That’s because Apple clearly doesn’t like it when users jailbreak their iPhones. The company claims the process is illegal, and goes as far as to say jailbreaking will crash cellphone towers. So far these are empty threats, although buyer beware: Future court decisions, laws or FCC regulations may put teeth into Apple’s claims.
6. Pissing off AT&T
Frustrated with AT&T’s brainless customer service, spotty network reception and passive-aggressive totalitarian rule over the App Store? Jailbreaking for any of the reasons above will piss off AT&T, mostly by enabling your applications to use its 3G network without restriction. Or, if you like, you can take your protest a step further and unlock your jailbroken phone, enabling it to work with with T-Mobile or any other GSM-based carrier. It’s not a tea party, it’s an AT&T party!