An app like DataVault Password Manager is essential, not just for securely storing the usernames and passwords you use on various Web sites, but also for providing ready access to things like credit card numbers, PINs, Social Security numbers, frequent flier numbers, and so on. Why choose this password manager over the dozens of others in the App Store? Simple: it has a desktop counterpart, one that keeps your passwords in sync and makes them available when you're at your PC.
The iPhone's Safari browser has a Google search bar built right in, so why bother with a separate app? Three words: voice-powered search. Just hold the phone to your head, say your search terms ("How do magnets work?"), then let your jaw drop as the app instantly produces spooky-accurate Google search results. Once you start using this, you'll wonder how you ever got along without it (kind of like Google itself). While you're at it, check the equally miraculous Google Translate.
The cure for overstuffed wallets and overcrowded key rings, Key Ring creates electronic replicas of all your loyalty, membership, reward, and other cards. Just type in (or even scan!) their bar codes, enter their names, and you're done. When you need a card, tap to bring it up, then flash the bar code at the scanner. The app even finds coupons for dozens of grocery-store chains.
Lots of apps can turn your iPhone into a GPS navigation system. Most of them cost at least $30, if not $50 or $60. MapQuest 4 Mobile provides turn-by-turn driving directions for a total cost of nothing. Granted, it's not as feature-packed as other nav apps, but it'll get you where you're going--and it's a great way to test the iPhone-as-GPS waters.
Lots of apps (such as Kindle and Kobo) let you read e-books on your iPhone, but only OverDrive lets you check them out and download them directly from your public library--free of charge. Setup's a bit of a hassle, but once it's done, it's done. And before you pooh-pooh the idea of reading on a smallish screen, at least give it a try. There's something really nice about always having a good book in your pocket.
Suppose you're at a bookstore, about to plunk down some hard-earned cash on Laura Hillenbrand's incredible World War II bio "Unbroken." But then you wonder: is this the best price? Find out fast with Pic2shop, which scans product bar codes and quickly pulls up prices from thousands of online stores. It can also help you find inventory at local stores, and even local libraries.
PlayOn is an Internet-TV service that slings shows from your Windows PC to your game console, various media center boxes, and, now, your iPhone. Its impressive, unparalleled channel lineup includes Hulu (the free, nonpremium version), Amazon VOD, CBS, Comedy Central, ESPN.com and ESPN3, PBS Kids, CNN, and MLB.tv (which requires a subscription). The app itself is pretty stark, but it works--and it's amazing.
Apple's AirPrint technology is, for the moment, fairly limited. Print Magic connects via Wi-Fi to any printer on your network or any shared printer on your Mac, allowing you to print text, Web pages, photos, and, if you're willing to spend a couple bucks extra, PDFs. Want to make sure it works with your printer(s) before buying? Grab the free Printer Test for Print Magic app.
If you run, you must try RunKeeper. Tapping your iPhone's GPS, the app tracks your pace, distance, route, and other stats, then uploads everything to a Web site where you can review your progress. You can listen to music along the way, interrupted only by audio updates of your status, and even snap geotagged photos. RunKeeper Pro used to cost $10, but now it's free! It's equally good for bikers and walkers, too.
Need help entertaining the kids during long car rides, interminable waits in the doctor's office, and other sanity-testing situations? Tales2Go serves up more than 1,300 children's audiobooks, everything from "American Girl" to "Encyclopedia Brown" to "Diary of a Wimpy Kid." Just pay a flat subscription rate ($2.99 per month or $24.99 for a year) for unlimited streaming. It's a must-have app for parents of toddlers, tweens, and even teens. You can try it free for 30 days.