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My 10 favorite iPhone apps of 2009

I've made my list and checked it 10 times: These are the apps that really made my year. And half of them are freebies. Don't forget to nominate your 2009 favorites.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read

This year may have been a disaster economy-wise, but app-wise it was awesome.

I mean, consider just a sampling of what 2009 brought us: a wealth of GPS apps (most of them quite good), some way-cool barcode-scanning apps, voice-morphing, auto-tuning (still not sure what that is), and, lest we forget, bobble-head politicians--(OK, maybe that wasn't so much awesome as weird).

The Kindle app brings nearly all the e-book goodness of the real thing to your iPhone--and in color.

With that in mind, I've rounded up the 10 apps that made my year more fun, more productive, and just plain better. I'm not calling these the "best" apps of 2009; they're merely my favorites. (And I'm not including games, as I think that category deserves a list of its own--stay tuned for that.)

1. Dragon Dictation Barely a week old, this app does a shockingly good job turning dictated words into clipboard-ready text. Even more amazing: it's free.

2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas Another newcomer, "Grinch" brings Dr. Seuss to the iPhone in high style. Parents will love it as much as kids.

3. Kindle Anyone who knows me knows I love reading e-books on my iPhone, and the free Kindle app ties to Amazon's currently unmatched e-book store. A few taps and I'm reading free sample chapters or complete novels. (Note to Amazon: It's time to add bookstore browsing to the app.)

4. Public Radio App Though you can get most of the same functionality from the free NPR News, Public Radio App raises the bar with streaming-audio features like pause/rewind and a wake-up-to-public-radio alarm clock. Well worth $2.99.

5. Regator As in "aggregator." This app brings you the cream of the blogosphere crop and segregates it into categories for easier perusal. It's a must-have app for blog readers, and a freebie to boot.

Regator culls some of the Web's best blogs for easy reading on your iPhone.

6. RunKeeper Pro How did I ever run without RunKeeper? For my money it's way better than Apple's Nike+, and the new 2.0 version raises the bar even higher.

7. Simplify Music 2 Can't fit your entire music library on your iPhone? No problem: this app streams it from your PC. It's a little pricey at $7.99, but downright essential for space-challenged music lovers.

8. Slacker Speaking of music, when I get tired of my own library, I switch to Slacker. It's like Pandora, but with more features and, to my ears, a lot more music in my custom-station playlists. Hard to believe it's free.

9. Traffic Forget pricey GPS apps. Traffic (free) provides both real-time and "predictive" traffic updates, meaning if you're already stuck in a jam, it tells you approximately how long you'll be there.

10. WiFiPhoto Far and away the fastest, easiest way to get photos off your iPhone and onto any Wi-Fi-connected computer. Best 99 cents I've spent this year, I reckon.

OK, your turn: What apps really made your year? Hit the comments and share your favorites.