They say you can tell a lot about a man by his apps.
Apple has opened up a wonderful can of worms by welcoming the development of anyone with time, skill, and innovation enough to program new applications for their iPhone and iPod touch. And just as they did with iTunes, they're acting as a gatekeeper between the producer and the user, and taking their share of every transaction (30%) while watching their hardware sales skyrocket.
It's an ingenious way to sell hardware: Make software, or in this case supervise the transfer of open development to the consumer, and everyone and their brother will want the manufactured device that it runs on.
The best part of this whole personal computing revolution is the idea of customization. Every user is different, and Apple has made it possible for everyone to enjoy their iPhone in their own way. Check out the list below and see where you fit in.
Modeled after my actual Dad, this user is frugal and practical. The Dad tends to download free applications that enhance his quality of life without breaking the bank.
If this is you, you'll want to check out:
Where - Using your location, this helps find the cheapest gas prices and the closest Starbucks among other features.
Units Converter - For all those times you need to convert footpounds to newtonmeters.
Security for People and Computers - This practical ebook on being safe is perfect for the paranoid on the go.
If you don't speak Spanish, this is urbanspeak for player, lady's man, or ladycandy. In Spanish, playa means "beach" which does not allow for any kind of pun in our situation. The Playa is characterized by the need to communicate with as many potential ladies as possible, and to always know their location, so as to minimize the burn a Playa feels from an accidental sighting.
Loopt - This social-networking tool links up your friends' locations with what's going on and where they're headed. The ultimate in stalking, uh, watching fellow users.
MMS - Send sexy pix of yourself accompanying text with an MMS app, something Apple should have included in the original phone's software set.
Sweetheart - Allows you to place an icon on your home screen that dials your lady with one push of the button. The Playa may need to continually change this number depending on which honey is numero uno, but it's a nice touch when you're putting the mack down.
This archetype is obsessed with getting the most out of their music phone. Not only is the iPod portion of their phone packed to capacity with the hippest tuneage, but they've got the best of all the music apps that help them create, listen, and share the love. Think Moby meets Chuck Klosterman.
Pandora - What started as a web program utilizing the music genome project, Pandora has finally gone mobile. It creates personalized radio stations that, through feedback, cater to your tastes over time. It is maybe the best music app available and it's free.
Shazam - The second best music app, this lets you identify songs by simply holding it up to hear the music. You can also tag the song for future reference and buy it through handy iTunes links.
Beatmaker - This costly app is worth every penny if you're interested in creating original music through looping and drum pad integration. It is a tricked-out music companion program that can kill some serious time. See it in action.
MixMeister - For every douche that wants to be part of a culture not their own, this app lets you can scratch "authentic vinyl scratch sounds" like a douche.
Karajan - The more hardcore of this music-loving subset will use Karajan to help learn about pitch, scales, chords, and other technical music theory fodder.
The Party Girl
The Party Girl is an all-about-town, socialite for the new generation. She has to be at every party and every event, and she has to look her best. Think Paris Hilton meets Paris Hilton.
Hook up with:
Twitteriffic - All the joy of Twitter, but at the most mobile and immediate place possible, your purse.
Whrrl - Whrrl is Loopt on steroids as it allows you to do everything Loopt can do, but also link locations and activities through your Twitter and Facebook accounts, making it even more fabulous.
I Am Rich - This app is no more, but when it was up for a couple days back in early August, you would have been able to show your opulence by displaying a single red gem on your iPhone's display. It was the max price an app could be at $999.99 and it was purchased 8 times before its unceremonious and explanation-free removal by Apple.
Hating everything about every game currently available for the iPhone is this user's modus operandi. This clan is largely skeptical about the prospects of the iPhone delivering good gaming beyond Sudoku. Currently, the only hope for the iPhone's bleak gaming future is that John Carmack of id [Doom, Quake, etc.] is saying he really wants to develop a game for motion-sensitive touchscreen interface.
Gamers might want to ping:
Knights Run - The perfect thinking man's puzzle game, you have merely one knight's piece from chess and you have to touch each space only once making "knight"-like maneuvers.
Blackjack - Uh, it's Blackjack.
Jirbo - This company has a fair amount of classics available like Break, which is basically your Arkanoid, Marble Mash (Marble Madness), and an arcade multipack. They make good games and they make 'em cheap.
Super Monkey Ball - The highest selling game, some people dig this app that makes use of the phone's accelerometer while other's, G4's Kevin Pereira included, think it's not worth the $10 price tag.
This user is all about the fun apps that bring smiles to everyone around them. They bust the phone out to get the giggles rolling and to remind them that life is really about having fun and forgetting your worries.
Facemelter - Allows you to import and manipulate photos by pinching and dragging directly on the touchscreen, or you can just use photos taken by the phone.
PhoneSaber - Once upon a time, there was an app that allowed you the power of wielding a light saber complete with sounds and everything. This app is no longer available and no one seems to know why. Here it is in action.
iBeer - iBeer is that silly app you've seen doofus' using that looks like a full beer. When tilted, the liquid appears to drain out of the top and, presumably, into your gaping maw. So funny I forgot to have laughened!
LOLCats - This little funbug crawls Flickr and searches for any pictures tagged "LOLCat." You simply fire it up and are able to browse the quickly tiresome world of broken language kittenspeak for hours upon hours.
freebird - This is just a video image of a lighter or if you're feeling frisky, it becomes a static glow stick or candle image.
Lick My Phone - You used to be able to show a puppy dog licking the inside of your screen clean. This app, however, seems to have gone the way of 'I Am Rich' and 'PhoneSaber.' It is regretfully no longer available. You're welcome.
Everything completely unlocked and jailbroken, this law-breaker has customized their phone to the hilt according to their own programming, abiding by no Apple updates or AT&T plans, they are selling out soft and firmware updates for the chance to save probably $10 on their monthly phone bill and be the only one with totally awesome satanic icons.
Thinking for yourself
You may find you don't fit neatly into any of these categories. It wouldn't be right for Ty Colfax by way of G4 to marginalize you and put you in a neat little box with a convenient and pithy label. That's what is so great about all this app business. It's you and it's your phone. Finally, the user is able to pick the functions of one of their most used daily device and simplify/complicate their lives to their own liking. Today is truly a good day.
Honestly, this article barely scratches the surface. Take some time to browse the always changing app store. There's tons of games, distractions, and practical applications that will improve your life or impress the opposite sex, which lets face it are really the same thing. Customize yourself, lest you blend in with the rest of the herd only to be slaughtered before you even notice it's happening.