The year 2010 has gone really fast leaving me with the feeling that despite the increasing competition, the iOS platform is healthier than ever. The AppStore boasts of over 300,000 apps and games that make users rejoice, and sometimes cry, enjoying the widest selection of mobile software. Whether you are the lucky owner of a new iPhone/iPod Touch or just a seasoned iOS user, you might have missed some of the most groundbreaking apps released this year.
First of all, lets celebrate that in 2010 Apple has fixed many of the shortcomings of the AppStore: Reviewing times have been improved and developers don't have to wait months to see their app selling in the AppStore. Apple has also made clear its policy and published in the last year its guidelines to submit applications. Happy users will remember 2010 as the year without fart apps. Moreover, there have been some big changes with the big studios being acquired, such as Freeverse, ngmoco and publisher Chillingo, in moves that indicate the good 2011 prospects for the app world, at least for gaming. We have witnessed the freemium vs. premium divide widening even further and developers experimenting with iAds, cross-promotion and drop price wars. But the important thing to me is the creativity, originality and why not, promotional efforts to let customers know what app reaches the top. Here is my selection of the best iPhone apps of 2010.
Instagram by Brubn (Free)
Helped by the convulsion of the removal of Camera+, the photography section on the AppStore was shaken and a hole was created for the coolest camera app in town. Considering that Hipstamatic was released in December 2009, Instagram by Brubn won the spot with its filters and possibility to share pictures in social networks. WIth the millions of customers getting the first iPhone with two cameras, Instagram was an instant hit.
Skyfire Web Browser by Skyfire Labs (Paid)
The promise of supporting Flash content on the iPhone was enough to saturate Skyfire's servers and pull the app from the AppStore on the launch day. I can't help to criticise the final user experience, as this is just one step towards full integration with web standards. However, Skyfire deserves to make it to the list for convincing Apple that users want Flash on their iPhones.
Prizmo by Creaceed (Paid)
Porting popular Mac OS apps and web services to iOS has been a constant in the last year. Creaceed gave a twist to the AppStore's business card readers with this its OCR tool that converts the text of any picture into text format. Users still need to crop and correct some typos, but, garnished with exporting and voice reading, it is a clear demonstration of the power behind iOS.
Tango by TangoMe Inc (Free)
The advent of the sci-fi official video call feature with FaceTime highlighted its first and biggest limitation. The need for a solution on a 3G network to popularize its use. Fring and Qik brought video streaming but it was Tango, before the recent addition of Skype 3G video calls, which gave users freedom to videocall each other our of a WiFi network. It is a highly competitive market and hope other apps such as Viber work towards video calling.
iBooks by Apple (Free)
Apple's latest attempt to make money from us, the iBook Store, brought a solution for an endemic problem in iDevices: the absence of a native PDF reader. Thanks to the ability to import files from Mobile Safari directly, this has become my default app for storing PDFs on my iPhone, although I don't sync them nor buy/read books with it. I would like to think of it as Phill Ryu's Classics on steroids and love the fact that it has been updated with new features over the last months.
Dropbox by Dropbox (Free)
The missing Finder on iOS devices was technically launched in 2009, but it is such a popular and needed app that continued to be relevant in the last year. We will still hear rumours about free MobileMe accounts, but in the meantime, Dropbox will be the app of choice, not only for cloud storage, but to add files to the iPhone with a bit of sanity. The cross-platform integration makes this service an indispensable.
Pastebot by Tapbots (Paid)
Also launched in December 2009, I include it on the list because it was greatly benefit by one new feature in iOS4: multitasking. Pastebot enables users to copy content and paste it directly on their Macs… A simple but excellent idea that has made the iPhone an indispensable peripheral on my desk.
Credit to Jeff Broderick for that beautiful iPhone 4 image.