The iPhone alone is an amazing device. But it's the phenomenal App Store that's made the iPhone truly revolutionary, by giving thousands of independent developers the ability extend and transform the device with their creativity. Not even half a year old, the store has surpassed a milestone of 10,000 pieces of software available. Since the beginning, Wired.com has paid close attention to the gems that shine among the dross.
We've plucked out a list of 10 apps — from mapping software to musical instruments to games — that deserve applause for their quality, innovation and breakthrough achievements. Here they are — Jay Leno style — with our top pick at the very bottom.
A book reader that grabs free titles from public domains, Stanza has soared in popularity — making the iPhone a worthy competitor to Amazon's Kindle. And if those free books aren't enough, Stanza recently expanded to incorporate a store to purchase commercial titles. The app did a good job pleasing Wired.com's Charlie Sorrel, who modified his Moleskine notebook so he could embed his iPod touch in it. (That way, he could read e-books at the cafe while exuding an aura of pretentious artiness, instead of pretentious geekiness.) Download Stanza (Free)
You get used to typing on the iPhone after some time, but punching in addresses to look up directions is by far the biggest drag. DialDirections was the first to introduce speech-recognition capabilities to the iPhone with SayWhere, which translates users' speech into queries for Google Maps, Yelp, Traffic or Yellow Pages. It's a nifty app, especially for keeping drivers' eyes on the road rather than the iPhone's virtual keyboard. Download SayWhere (Free)
Twitter, a new form of micro-blogging, became more legitimate when it broke the news of the deadly Mumbai attacks. And Tweetie is the best app we've found to follow your Twitter friends. The app neatly separates Twitter feeds into categories, and the interface resembles the bubbly iChat interface that most of us have come to love. It even lets you search Twitter and save those searches for later. A must-have for Twitterholics. Download Tweetie ($3)
This app is so cool you can't have it anymore. Nullriver's NetShare, an application that turns your iPhone into a wireless modem, disappeared from the App Store shortly after its release. Later, we learned Apple banned the app because NetShare violated AT&T's terms of service agreement. So only a lucky few (including some Wired.com staff) got the benefits of unlimited iPhone tethering, which normally costs about $30 a month, for a one-time price of $10. Bummer!
Everyone's familiar with this scenario: You hear a really catchy, unfamiliar song on the radio and you have no idea what it's called. You hum it to yourself repeatedly and attempt to memorize the lyrics, only to forget it after slamming a few shots at the bar. Shazam will never leave you struggling to recollect these thoughts again: Hold the iPhone up to a speaker playing the unknown tune and the app will identify it — album, artist and song title — just like that. Download Shazam (Free)