Best iPhone Apps of 2011
When the iTunes App Store opened for business in 2001, smartphone users could only browse from a mere 1,000 applications. A little over 10 years later, there are more than half a million apps.
In 2011, we saw thousands of apps come and go through the iTunes App Store, and many were gems. From photography apps to mobile games, we’ve seen iPhones do some pretty amazing things thanks to the work of App Store developers. Here, The Recapp runs down the best of what 2011 had to offer. Check out our picks for the top 10 iPhone apps (the most useful, the handiest and the downright coolest) below.
To demonstrate just how great your iPhone really is, fire up this travel app for iPhone. Word Lens can make your device seem like magic to the uninitiated. Using your iPhone’s camera, the app translates words you see in the real world into another language on your device’s screen. You’ll need to buy the right language pack through an in-app purchase (of, gulp, $9.99)—like Spanish to English or English to French. Once you’ve made the purchase, you can watch as your phone translates signs and other words right on your screen. It’s great for traveling abroad, and in general, it makes you feel like the money you dropped on your iPhone was well spent. (Free for iPhone)
Twitter has been integrated into Apple’s iOS platform pretty deeply recently, but if you’re a serious fan of the social networking service, Tweetbot is the coolest way to get the most out of it. With a very cool, futuristic user interface, the Twitter client offers the ability to access multiple timelines and conversations, plus it features handy gesture controls and integration with other great apps like Instapaper (so you can save tweets to read later). You can also save drafts of Tweets and add things like locations, images, videos—all the cool stuff and more. ($2.99 for iPhone)
If you intend to use your iPhone for video photography, FiLMiC Pro is an app to have up your sleeve. It’s a veritable camera bag of useful items, giving you a lot more options than just HD and regular definition video to shoot. The video-editing app gives you control over frame rates and resolutions, separate shooting modes, framing guides, easy uploads to the Internet for a variety of social networks, and more to make filming with your iPhone feel more like filming with, you know, an actual camera. (2.99 for iPhone)
An imaginative puzzle game with a whimsical, cartoonish art style, World of Goo is all about building things. Each level of the game is populated with little living goo balls that you need to connect together to build structures. Each goo ball instantly creates support struts to neighboring ones,—allowing you to construct towers and bridges—in an attempt to get the rest of the goo balls to climb your structure and reach a pipe through which they can escape the level. Each World of Goo puzzle is challenging in its own right, and the entire game has a fun-but-haunting, cartoonish feel. ($2.99 for iPhone)
The European streaming-music sensation hit the U.S. in 2011, and with it came Spotify’s iPhone app. With a Wi-Fi or 3G Internet connection (as well as a subscription to the service), you can listen to just about anything, as much as you want, by streaming over the Internet. The music app also has a ton of social-networking integration, allowing you to make and share playlists and see the playlists of your Facebook friends who also use Spotify. That makes it a pretty phenomenal way to find new music, which you don’t have to pay for (beyond your monthly subscription) or sample—you can just listen away! It’s like having a personal radio station all the time, no matter where you are. (Free for Android and iPhone)
Everybody loves toy-camera apps for the iPhone, such as Hipstamatic and Instagram. Super 8, which is tied in with the J.J. Abrams/Steven Spielberg film of the same name, applies the vintage-camera aesthetic to video capturing on the iPhone. The video app is filled with filters that make your home video look old and worn, adding a lot of personality to what might otherwise be some very sterile-looking cell-phone footage. What’s even cooler is that Super 8 makes you feel like you’re using an old Super 8 camera, providing you with an interface that shows the sides of the camera and requiring you to swipe to change the film types and look through the viewfinder. It’s a lot of fun and trendy, too. (Free for iPhone)
The best game to hit the App Store has got to be Dead Space (in our opinion). It’s a survival horror title that’s gory, intense and claustrophobic all the way through. You play as an operative codenamed Vandal, tasked with sabotaging a massive space station orbiting the Saturn moon Titan. But everything goes awry as you realize your job has triggered the release of mutant monsters all over the station, and you have to fight your way out. The primary mechanic of this third-person action title is dismembering your enemies to kill them, and it gets a little bloody (so it’s not the best mobile game for kids, obviously). But it’s also the scariest game on the platform and contains some simply awesome production values. ($6.99 for iPhone)
Traveling is stressful. Hipmunk isn’t. That’s the best way to describe this minimalist travel app. Hipmunk Flight Search makes finding and booking flights extremely easy. It doesn’t just search for the cheapest flight, since there are tons of travel apps out there that can do that for you. Instead, it aggregates your choices by “agony,” a measure of just how painful that travel experience might be, by paying attention to price, layovers, length of travel and more. Plus, Hipmunk strips out all the noise from its user interface, leaving it looking a bit dull, but more importantly, really easy to navigate and use effectively. Hipmunk should be in every traveler’s app arsenal. (Free for Android and iPhone)
Microsoft’s Photosynth app has a lot going for it. First of all, it’s free. Second, it allows you to create huge panoramic photos with your iPhone, walking you through the process and making it super simple. Just hold up your phone and snap a photo, then move the view left or right to fill in the next portion of the view. Photosynth stitches all the photos together to make massive panoramas viewable within the app. Or, you can share the beauties on Facebook and Twitter to let other people see. You can create some really breathtaking 360-degree shots with Photosynth, and it won’t cost you a cent. (Free for iPhone)
Facebook’s replacement for SMS text messaging might just make you rethink your smartphone’s data plan, provided you have enough Facebook friends. It lets you chat and send messages directly with Facebook friends over a Wi-Fi or 3G Internet connection. That allows you to get in touch with just about anyone you are Facebook friends with or anyone who is found in your iPhone’s contacts list. What’s better is that the app’s messages require only a little bit of your data plan to send, saving you precious text messages, which can be much more expensive. And you get to leverage the power of the millions-strong Facebook community to get in touch with just about anyone. Talk about handy, Facebook Messenger has the potential to be a real money saver, or at least highly convenient. (Free for Android and iPhone)