Welcome to your new toy

Congratulations on getting your iPhone. Whether you bought it for yourself or you received it as a gift, you probably know that there is a whole new world of apps to enjoy. Indeed, browsing a store for obscure and popular titles is one of the best things about using a new smartphone.

To help you get acclimated to this brave new world, I put together the following list of what I think are the essential apps that iPhone owners should consider. I'm not going for obscure titles here, and you may not approve of everything I selected, but the idea is to get you started with the basic apps that will give your phone oodles of functionality besides making a call (that's still important, of course). Just remember that overdosing on apps can quickly become an expensive proposition. Fortunately, most of the tiles I picked are free or 99 cents, but I'd still advise going slow at first.

If you have a new Android device, check back in a couple of days when Jaymar Cabebe posts his list of the apps you need for a new Android tablet or phone.

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Flipboard (free)

I'm avoiding the usual social media apps like Facebook and Twitter since there's a good chance that you've already download them if you use those services. Flipboard, however, is a different story. It integrates all your social networking feeds into a slick magazinelike interface complete with large photos. That makes a great way to keep track of all your accounts at once with an awesome page-flipping action.
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Google Maps (free)

Your iPhone already comes with Apple Maps, but Google Maps is still the standard for mapping and navigation services. At present, it's more accurate, its points-of-interest database is more robust, and its turn-by-turn navigation has an edge. I also give it points for including Google Street View and complete transit directions. Yes, Apple Maps has the nifty flyover function with 3D buildings, but with Google you can get that in the separate Google Earth app.
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Pulse News (free)

Pulse News is one of the better news aggregation apps in the iTunes App Store. You can choose from a wide variety of news outlets and add them to a single feed for quick and convenient scanning. I also like that you can organize your feeds into distinct categories like tech, entertainment, or business.
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Cut the Rope (99 cents)

I'm not a huge gamer, but there have been a few titles that have occupied hours of my time. And of my favorites, Cut the Rope is the most addictive. Essentially, it's a physics-based puzzles where the goal is to maneuver a piece of candy into the mouth of a cute monster named Om Nom. The levels get increasingly complex as you go along, but you can pick the strategy very quickly and play for as little or as long as you'd like. That makes it perfect for people with short gaming attention spans.
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CNET (free)

If you enjoy CNET, and I hope you do, then why not download our dedicated app to get the latest reviews and news in one place? You'll see all of the content that you get on our site, including photos and videos, and you can read special features like CES coverage. We also have dedicated apps for CNET TV and CNET Reviews.
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Google Search (free)

Though you already can search the intertubes in your iPhone's Safari browser, you should download Google Search, as well. The app offers a clean layout for searches with the familiar Google logo on a white background as your home page. Across the bottom you have three buttons to access Google Apps, newly enhanced Voice Search, and Google Goggles, the feature that lets you snap a picture of something to find out more about it, related products, and other info. And Voice Search is much faster than Siri.
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Amazon Mobile (free)

If you're looking for one-stop shopping on your iPhone, Amazon's app more than does the job. You'll need a strong data or Wi-Fi connection to troll Amazon's vast database of merchandise, but if you do, you'll be be able to easily find anything you need that the retail giant can sell. Even better, if you like to comparison shop when browsing at the mall, you can use your handset's camera to scan the bar code or take a photo of the item. Then, once it locates your find, it will show you the listings and prices on Amazon's site.
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Open Table (free)

In all honesty I consider Open Table to be one of the most convenient services ever created. I don't have to call restaurants multiple restaurants when I'm trying to make a booking and I can easily discover new eateries or places I've never visited. Fortunately, Open Table's app takes that convenience and puts it on your phone. You can search by multiple filters (type of food, price range, etc.) and you can read menus and user reviews. What's more, the broad coverage in the United States and abroad makes it great for traveling.
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Snapseed (free)

Given the iPhone's quality camera, a photography app is a must for any owner. The list of great titles is long, but Snapseed is one of my top three. In addition to a huge selection of filters, you can crop your photos, add a frame, change the focus, and use a tilt-shift feature. The interface can be confusing at first, but this is a photo app for amateur and professional shutterbugs alike.
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Kayak (free)

I wouldn't have any trouble filling up this list with only travel- and aviation-related apps, but I imagine that few would find that very interesting. So while I'll use restraint here, I'd be remiss if I didn't recommend Kayak for your traveling needs. Naturally, you can book hotels, flights, and cars, but you also get plenty of useful tools for tracking a flight, organizing your trip agenda, researching airport information, and making a packing list. I'm not exaggerating when I say it has everything you need.
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YouTube (free)

Apple yanked YouTube integration off the iPhone with iOS 6, but we got this excellent app in return. It's a very worthy trade-off as the dedicated app is much improved over the old version with a well-thought-out interface and all the features you'd expect from the Web site. So go ahead, start watching this week's viral clip and see how much time you waste.
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Seafood Watch (free)

Besides being one of the best aquariums in the world, the Monterey Bay Aquarium offers the excellent Seafood Watch app. It delivers complete advice for choosing sustainable and environmentally friendly fish when eating out. You'll see the best choices, the good alternatives, and which fish you should avoid all together. Regional guides also ensure that you're getting specific information for your area.
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Shazam (free)

Shazam is perfect for identifying that song you hear on the radio, but have no idea who sings it. All you need to do is to point your phone at a speaker (you'll need an Internet connection for the app to do its work) and you should get the results in a few seconds. And now it even identifies TV shows in the same manner. Of course, it can't find everything, but it's a great tool for discovering new and popular tunes.
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Find my iPhone (free)

I also skipped most homegrown Apple apps like iMovie and iBooks as too obvious, but I had to make an exception for Find my iPhone. If you're prone to losing your phone, and even if you're not, it could be an essential tool for getting your device back. You'll need to sign in with your Apple ID and connect your handset to iCloud, but if it goes missing you'll be able to track it on a map (and get driving directions), play a sound, display a message for contacting you, remotely lock your device, or erase all the data on it. Of course, the process won't work if a thief turns your phone off, but Find my iPhone may just come in handy.
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Where's my water? (99 cents)

A physics game similar to Cut the Rope, Where's my water? charges you with funneling clean water to the bathtub of a fastidious little alligator named Swampy. You have to make the water pass through the correct pipes while digging paths through dirt and avoiding obstacles like acid and algae. This is another app that you can play when you have a moment to kill or when you're entertaining yourself on a long flight. Since the app comes comes from Disney there's an emphasis on cute, but the attention to detail is top-notch.
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Evernote (free)

Evernote is a great tool for organizing a busy life. You can take photos, write notes, prepare to-do lists, and record voice reminders. It then stores everything in one place for easy access when you need it. The interface received a nice redesign in the latest update, and you can sync your information across multiple devices, both iOS and Android.
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The Weather Channel (free)

Apple's native weather app is fine, but if you really want to be prepared for rain or shine get The Weather Channel, as well. Weather geeks will appreciate the full range of information such as the humidity level, the barometric pressure, and the visibility. You'll also be able to see a 10-day forecast, access severe weather alerts, and watch a local radar loop.
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Wikipanion (free)

One of the best things about smartphones is that they make so much information instantly accessible. So instead of waiting to get home to decide an argument over random facts, apps like Wikipanion let you settle the score right then and there. The app gives you full access to Wikipedia's database while displaying photos, audio clips, and charts. This third-party title also gives you more feature and fewer bugs then Wikimedia's homegrown app. The interface is dry, but the amazing design has never been Wikipedia's strength in the first place.
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Turboscan ($1.99)

Turboscan turns your iPhone into a portable scanner. Using the camera, you snap a picture of a document, a book or magazine page, a whiteboard, or receipts and save them as a PDF file. It has its quirks at times -- for example, it doesn't always detect the edges of a document very well -- but you can adjust the scanned area before you save.
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How to Cook Everything (free - $4.99)

How to Cook Everything is a great cooking app for both beginners and seasoned cooks alike, offering tons of recipes and even several techniques that help you learn to cook like a pro. Based on New York Times columnist Mark Bittman's best-selling cookbook, this app features an easy-to-use interface with big buttons for browsing recipes and learning kitchen basics.
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Pocket (free)

Formerly known as Read It Later, Pocket is a short-term bookmarking app that syncs across all of your devices. Now you can put lengthy articles or videos away and queue them up for reading and watching later, no matter where you are. Once items are saved, you can access them at any time across multiple devices and anything outside a video is automatically cached for offline access.
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You don't Know Jack! ($2.99)

Everybody needs a trivia app on their phone (how else can you pass the time in line?) and while there are many great titles available, You don't Know Jack! stands apart. Based on a popular computer game from the 1990s that later became a short-lived television show, it goes far beyond normal multiple choice questions. For example, in a "Jack Attack," you're given a clue and then you have to tap the screen each time something relating to both the clue and word on the screen floats by. It's great for groups and the questions can be delightfully bizarre (just see the screenshot above). Just be aware that it requires a data connection.
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