A spotlight on flashlight apps for the iPhone

With Hurricane Sandy set to pound the Eastern seaboard, now seems like the right time to look at some helpful flashlight apps for the iPhone.

Can't find a real flashlight? Try a virtual one.
Can't find a real flashlight? Try a virtual one. Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

iPhone owners bracing for possible power outages from the "storm of the century" can make sure a flashlight is handy by downloading a virtual one onto their devices.

No matter how much I try to prepare for an impending storm and loss of power, I can never seem to find a flashlight when I need one. That's why I always keep at least one flashlight app on my iPhone, which I'll certainly use if Sandy yanks my power today or tomorrow.

Flashlight apps work by tapping into the iPhone camera's LED flash, so the light is fairly bright. Most of these apps offer similar features. You can often vary the intensity and change from a constant light to one that blinks every few seconds. Most also support the iPad and iPod Touch.

Several of them cost 99 cents, but there are enough good free ones that you don't need to spend your pennies. However, many freebies do include ads, some of them rather annoying, so you may find it worth it to cough up the extra cash for an ad-free version.

You'll find a variety of flashlight apps at the App Store. Just run a search for "flashlight." For now, though, here's a quick look at five flashlight apps that can serve in a pinch when you can't track down a real one.

  • Best Flash Light! by RV AppStudios. This app lets you set a timer to turn off the light after a few minutes and create a strobe or SOS flash.
  • Flashlight by iHandy. This app also lets you switch to a strobe or SOS mode. A built-in compass is part of the package as well. You can upgrade to the pro version for 99 cents.
  • Flashlight by John Haney Software. This one offers brightness control and lets you vary the light from pff to on to strobe to SOS.
  • Flashlight by Rik. This is a nice, ad-free version with options to vary the intensity, set a strobe or SOS, and manually tap to create a light.
  • Flashlight! by Zentertain. Another free app, this one with a built-in compass and clock.

These apps naturally chew up battery power, so you wouldn't want to leave them running for hours at a stretch. But when used on and off, they can definitely help when the power is out.

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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