Apple's new App Store for iPhone stuff is addictive

Some are useful. Many frivolous. A bunch will waste your time. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

My Seinfeldian statement has to do with the scores of programs available free or for sale at the App Store for iPhone and iPod Touch. It is the killer app many of us expected, even if the same cannot be said for every program in the joint.

Some programs address the iPhone's deficiencies — there are several audio recorders, for example. But I still haven't stumbled upon a program to let you shoot video via the iPhone's digital camera.

Bottom line: The App Store turns the iPhone into an important new computing platform. While the results are mostly good for consumers, there are things that will drive you a little batty.

It takes way longer (several minutes) to sync up your iPhone through iTunes. And in last week's iPhone review, I mentioned that I'd receive low-battery warnings toward the end of the workday. Because of the time I've spent on apps, those battery warnings come way too quickly.

Other drawbacks: You cannot listen to streaming music from Pandora or AOL Radio while browsing the Web or doing something else on the iPhone. And you cannot receive instant-message notifications unless you are inside an IM application such as AIM. Apple says "push" notification that would permit such background capabilities is coming in September.

Some apps remain buggy or slow. For example, Jott promises to turn your voice instructions into text to-do notes. But I couldn't set up the service on two iPhones. The silly iBeer application, which makes your device suds up like an overflowing cold one, takes so long to load you'd think the beer first had to be brewed inside the device.

Still, you can't help but have a good time bellying up to the bar at the App Store. Here's a look at 10 apps I like, with a bias toward entertainment:

•Pandora. You type a song or artist name, and Pandora creates an instant radio station inspired by your selection. The free iPhone version works the same as it does on PCs and Macs, right down to letting you fine-tune stations by indicating whether you like the music being played.

You can also buy songs you hear on Pandora through iTunes, if available. I especially enjoyed Pandora in my car, after hooking up the iPhone through an auxiliary jack in the vehicle. A power adapter to preserve the battery is recommended.

Imperfections: It takes a long time to go from one track to another. And I experienced hiccups and dropouts in service when network coverage was iffy.

•AOL Radio. The same good news/bad news scenarios apply to AOL Radio: It's great with coverage, frustrating otherwise. AOL's own Internet radio stations are currently available only via Wi-Fi. But you can access more than 150 CBS Radio stations across the USA and India, letting a New Yorker, say, listen to a station in Chicago. You can also take advantage of the iPhone's location-based capabilities to find stations in your neck of the woods.

•Super Monkey Ball Sega's $9.99 game was among the first to be featured by Apple and with good reason. It makes fine use of the iPhone's "accelerometer" motion sensor. The object is to steer a little monkey trapped in a clear ball across a series of obstacle courses. It's not easy: The accelerometer is really sensitive.

•MooCowMusic Band. This enjoyable program lets you play a virtual on-screen piano, bass, drum set and other instruments on the multitouch display. Keys are animated when you press them, and you can record your compositions. But at $9.99, it strikes me as a bit overpriced.

•Etch A Sketch. Freeze Tag's $4.99 version of the classic children's toy lets you draw on the iPhone's multitouch display with your fingers or on-screen knobs. It has authentic sound effects and lets you wipe out what's on the screen by shaking the phone, just like a real Etch A Sketch. Promised soon: a "tilt-to-draw" mode that will let you draw with the accelerometer.

•Connected Flow's Exposure. The marketing spiel is "Flickr in your pocket." And that's just what this free app delivers. You can look at your own Flickr photos, those of friends, or use location services to find pics from folks nearby.

•Urbanspoon. Tired of the same old restaurants? Urbanspoon can help you pick an eatery at random, based on your location or another city. The screen resembles a slot machine with three spinning wheels. One represents neighborhood, the second a food type (steakhouse, sushi, etc.), a third, price. Shake the iPhone, and the wheels spin, landing on a random place to eat. You can access a restaurant's phone number, address and sometimes reviews. You can "lock" a wheel to stick to a price range or given neighborhood.

•Midomi Mobile. You know the old joke about humming a few bars and faking it? Here, you start humming a song to have this addictive program try to recognize it. Midomi recognized my hums of Fly Me to the Moon and As Time Goes By. It didn't get it right all the time. With a match, you can hear samples from the singers, jump to YouTube videos or buy the track in iTunes. You can also hear how other people hummed or performed the same material.

•Shazam. Ever wish you knew the name of a song you hear in the car or a club? Another free music-searching application, Shazam, can help. Hold your iPhone up as a song is playing, and Shazam will attempt to tag it, usually in less than 20 seconds. Shazam correctly recognized Patsy Cline's I Fall to Pieces, Joan Osborne's version of What Becomes of the Brokenhearted and John Lennon's #9 Dream. It missed a few obscure tracks and some opera. In some cases, you can buy an identified track in iTunes. Sorry, no humming.

•Remote. This aptly named app from Apple turns the iPhone into a handy remote control you can use with Apple TV and iTunes on your PC or Mac. You control all the usual functions (play, skip, shuffle, etc.) and view album art on your iPhone or iPod Touch. Remote works with Wi-Fi so you can control iTunes from another room in your house.