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SoundHound (CNET 100: iPhone Apps)

I'm big on using my iPhone as a tool, so my most-used apps bow more to the tune of practical immediacy than sheer entertainment (though as you'll see, this isn't always true). Just so with this music ID app.

Shazam may have the fame and the fizzy, theatrical name, but in my books, SoundHound has the extra features to push it ahead, especially the free version. SoundHound gives you four ways to request information on an unidentified song you hear playing. It returns not just tune and artist information, but in many cases, lyrics, which has traditionally been a premium feature in itself.

Price: Free; $4.99 (premium)

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Photoshop.com (CNET 100: iPhone Apps)

Even with its tightly engineered Retina Display, pictures taken on the iPhone 4 could always use a little help. That goes doubly for the iPhone 3G and 3GS, which sport weaker cameras than the iPhone 4's 5 megapixel upgrade. What can I say? Sometimes you just want extra sharpness or a sepia tint.

You get all that and then some with the intuitive Photoshop.com. It has one of the best photo-editing interfaces I've seen. It doesn't hurt that you can also edit photos from your Photoshop.com account online if you've got one, and upload camera photos to that vault as well. Sure, a few more tools top our wish list (like red eye removal and rotating,) but for a free app, it produces satisfying edits with very little hassle.

Price: Free

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Epicurious (CNET 100: iPhone Apps)

I almost enjoy cooking food as much as I love eating it--I'm just not always the best at planning ahead. Thankfully, Epicurious has saved me on more than one occasion while brainstorming which concoction to master while I'm en route to the store, and serving up a breakdown of ingredients to buy once you've saved a recipe to your shopping list.

Price: Free

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Movies/Flixster (CNET 100: iPhone Apps)

Movies by Flixter may not be the absolutely most attractive movie lookup app for iPhone (Movies Now is much more stylish when it comes to aesthetics), but it's one of the most comprehensive. When it's crunch time, that's really all that matters.

It's got the usual features like film and theater listings, streaming preview videos, and ratings. In addition, you're able to add your own ratings, and--here's the clincher--it lets you start buying tickets from the app. Some recent additions also helpfully integrate other services like Yelp (another invaluable app I didn't have the space to include) and Bing to find you restaurants and nightlife nearby the theater. Beat that, Movies Now.

Price: Free

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Dictionary.com (CNET 100: iPhone Apps)

Editors are often word nerds, and I'm no exception. Reference apps like Dictionary.com don't usually quicken one's heartbeat, but for those of us whose bread is buttered on the strength of our vocabulary and prose, proper spellings, accurate definitions, and apt synonyms just another essential nutrient in the daily diet.

If I were really ambitious, I'd also sign up for the Word of the Day in English and Spanish (is it cool to admit I already get a different digest?)

Price: Free

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Photo by: Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Hulu Plus (CNET 100: iPhone Apps)

We've been waiting for a mobile version of Hulu's streaming TV service since the dawn of Hulu itself, but now that it's arrived for iPhone and iPad, the mood has turned from anticipation to disappointment. Search the App Store for Hulu Plus and you'll be bowled over in negative reviews. Why? Most of the displeasure comes from the service's price, a $10 per month subscription.

While there are certainly flaws, being able to watch whole seasons of Hulu Plus has already distracted me through many a workout, commute, and sleepless night--so long as the Wi-Fi or network connection are strong.

Catch my video review for the Hulu lowdown.

Price: $10 per month

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Kayak (CNET 100: iPhone Apps)

If you've ever tried getting a quote on a flight or tracking an incoming flight from your iPhone browser, you can commiserate with me that trying to navigate an unoptimized site from a small screen is a pain in the arse.

Kayak, on the other hand, makes it possible to conduct some quick travel research from just about anywhere. This is a tightly designed app that nevertheless packs in filters without overcrowding the screen, and while you can't book flights from it online, you can call the airline agent to book travel, or quickly link to the airline's Web site. In my opinion, Kayak's iPhone app also happens to be a hundred times more convenient to use than its online counterpart.

Price: Free

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Top Shelf Drinks (CNET 100: iPhone Apps)

Take me to the bar (in moderation, of course,) and more often than not I'm staring at it indecisively for longer than most bartenders feel is prudent. So, nu, some of us need a little more inspiration in the mixology department. Top Shelf Drinks is a nice little app for supplying that extra zing, and yes, I admit that I've held it up to the bar during a libation consult to place my order. As with other apps of its type, you can save favorites, add your own brews, and browse by category (Cocktails, Classics) and ingredients (orange juice).

Price: $1.99

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Beejive IM (CNET 100: iPhone Apps)

Beejive IM may be one of the priciest IM apps in the App Store, but it's also my personal favorite. The multinetwork chat app is graphically rich, and has one of the most seamless approaches I've seen to handling multiple open chat windows. Push notification, file transfers that include photos you can take on the fly, and the ability to customize the app earn Beejive its claim as the best iPhone chat experience to date.

Price: $9.99

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Firefox Home (CNET 100: iPhone Apps)

I'll admit that I'm cheating just a bit by adding the brand-new Firefox Home to my list of top-ten iPhone apps, since it just arrived in the App Store. It's an important addition, though, that's already come in handy.

Rather than presenting a browser for Apple's disapproval, Mozilla created a syncing app that hooks into Firefox Sync for browsers. Rather than have to search Safari for a Web site you looked up from the desktop, or e-mail yourself a link if you know you'll want to revisit a site from your iPhone, you can snap open Firefox Home and search your history, browsers, and the tabs you had open on Firefox the last time you synced.

Price: free

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Photo by: Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

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