TECH: Best of the App Store – August 2009

Written by Ben Wagner on . Posted in Tech

After doing my two-part “Best of the App Store” piece last month, I received a lot of positive feedback via my Twitter page. I know that not everyone has iPhones (you should though, especially at $99 for the 3G) or iPod Touches, but I feel quite a large percentage of Rhombus readers do. So I’ve decided to turn the “Best of the App Store” into a monthly feature highlighting new apps or older apps that I’ve just now discovered.

  • TweetDeck (Free) — Last time, I raved about Twitterfon being a great free iPhone app and then received some feedback from some people who had problems with it. As soon as I posted the article, my Twitterfon app started going on the blitz as well and I was forced to consider alternatives. So far my favorite is TweetDeck. TweetDeck originated as a desktop Twitter app that features a unique columned interface. The best thing about the iPhone version is that it mimics this columned interface on the iPhone, as well as being a fast and fully featured Twitter client. TweetDeck does have its disadvantages though. For me, the lack of landscape mode in the browser is a huge turn-off. Also, I will often open TweetDeck and it will tell me there is no connectivity, yet it still loads the latest tweets. This is a nuisance more then anything and hopefully they can fix it with a small update. Even with these flaws, the unique interface TweetDeck uses keeps bringing me over all the other Twitter apps I’ve recently used.
  • F.A.S.T. ($0.99) — Fast is simply one of the coolest games I’ve seen on the iPhone and a great example of what the iPhone is capable of. The game is a combat flight simulator capable of placing you in the cockpit of 10 military aircraft and plunging you smack dab in the middle of mid-air dogfights. The accelorometer controls allow you to fly the plane by tilting the iPhone, giving you the sense that you are actually flying the plane. The game also features multi-player functionality over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, allowing you to dogfight against your friends. The graphics are quite impressive and, with over 30 missions to play, this game will literally keep you occupied in the danger zone for hours on end.
  • MyPhone+ for Facebook ($2.99) — This is one of those apps that you never realized you wanted or needed until you get it. This app takes all of the info in your address book and syncs it with your Facebook info. It takes the names of your contacts and looks for them amongst your Facebook friends, then it takes their profile picture and uses it as the contact picture in your iPhone address book. It also adds their emails, addresses and birthdays to your address book when available, allowing you to easily keep your address book updated with the most current info on all your contacts.
  • BeeJiveIM ($9.99) — This application falls into the category of something I’ve always wanted and, when I finally found it, I was giddy with excitement. Beejive is an instant messaging application that can do Aim, Google Talk, ICQ, Jabber, MSN, Myspace, Yahoo and Facebook chat. You can keep use all of your chat accounts right on your iPhone. The interface is simple, but effective and easy to use. The app also features landscape mode which is a huge plus allowing you to type a lot faster. However all of these pale in comparison to BeeJive’s best feature: BeeJive allows you to close the app and even turn off the phone, but it keeps your accounts open and logged in. Therefore you still show up as being available to all your contacts and, if they message you, the phone tells you with a push notification that appears similar to a text message. You can then open back up Beejive and chat away. For anyone addicted to communication like myself, this app is a dream come true: the ability to always be connected to my chats, even when I’m not physically at my computer or even using the chat application on my phone. So from now on when you see me on Facebook chat for 17 hours straight, just remember I’m always on — even when I’m not.

Ben Wagner is a tech correspondent for Rhombus Magazine and considers the time before the iPhone to be the Dark Ages. Give him some feedback about the apps by following him on Twitter @ben_wagner.

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