My five favorite iPhone apps of 2010

In a year packed with great stuff, these five apps stood out--for me, at least. And unlike every other "best of 2010" list you'll see, this one has no Angry Birds.

Bluefire Reader is a 2010 favorite because it lets you check out e-books from your library.
Bluefire Reader is a 2010 favorite because it lets you check out e-books from your library. Bluefire Productions

As someone who writes daily for iPhone Atlas, I look at a lot of apps. A lot of apps. I don't think a day goes by that I don't install a new one, if not two or three.

Needless to say, favorites emerge. Which apps made the cut this year? Though it was nearly impossible to whittle them down to just five, in the interests of brevity, I've done just that.

I'm not saying these are the best apps of the year; indeed, some date back to before 2010. They're simply the ones I use over and over, the ones I can't live without, and the ones that still manage to make my jaw hang open.

  1. Bluefire Reader My new favorite e-book reader is my new favorite for one simple reason: it lets you read books checked out from your "local" library--free of charge. As someone who continues to believe e-books are grossly overpriced, I'm elated to have this option.
  2. Find My iPhone Apple did the right thing this year, liberating this indispensable app from MobileMe and making it free. Use it to track, recover, or even remotely wipe your lost or stolen precious.
  3. Google Mobile Three words: voice-powered search. I run the app, hold my iPhone to my ear, and speak my search terms. The recognition and resulting search are remarkably fast and accurate; I'm still blown away every time. At the risk of gushing, this tool is just plain magical.
  4. Netflix  It took forever to get here, but the Netflix app was worth the wait. With it you can browse, search, and stream the service's entire Watch Instantly library. "Arrested Development" on demand. "The Big Lebowski" on demand. Is it wrong to want to marry an app?
  5. Word Lens Though barely a week old, and not something I'll use very often, Word Lens ranks as a favorite because it's the most amazing app I've seen this year. Point your iPhone's camera at a foreign-language sign, menu, book, or whatever, and Word Lens instantly overlays an English translation. I feel like we just got a lot closer to the future.

So what do you think? Good picks? Lame ones? Whatever your thoughts, head to the comments and list your five favorite apps of 2010. But keep it to five! It's tougher than you think.

 

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