Most things in life don’t come for free. But the following half-dozen Apple iPhoneapplications are exceptions to the rule. Each of these free downloads will greatly enhance both your iPhone and mobile Internet experiences…and the price sure is right.
This week, my recommendations include both a mobile news and sports aggregator, an on-device TV guide, a satellite mapping program, a voice over IP (VoIP) calling app and an Internet radio service. My personal favorite: the sports app, SportsTap, found on page two.
The AP Mobile News Network for iPhone
One of the most valuable Apple iPhone features: It can instantly gather and present news and information in a format that suits your personal tastes and needs. Along with the free Associated Press (AP) Mobile News Network app, the iPhone is truly a news delivery machine.
“The most comprehensive news offering available for the iPhone,” according to Apple, the AP Mobile News Network lets iPhone owners browse a variety of news types, including top news, local, U.S., tech, showbiz, sports, world and elections information from greater than 700 “trusted sources,” according to the AP–many of which come along with include images or graphics.
Since AP Mobile News Network for iPhone is customizable, you can pick whatever content you want displayed on screen and hide what you don’t. You can also save specific stories and share them with friends via e-mail or SMS text. The free download is also available for BlackBerry smartphones, and the AP says it’s working on a Mobile News Network app for additional devices, though no specific details are available quite yet.
Fring: Free VoIP, Chat for iPhone
Fring lets you import contacts and buddy lists from all of the most popular IM services–including MSN Messenger, ICQ, AIM, Google Talk and Yahoo–and then place free calls to other Fring users, or Fringsters, as well as make calls via Skype, Skype-Out or the SIP provider of their choice.
Fring Keypad on iPhone
Mobile VoIP software such as Fring can be particularly valuable to folks who travel internationally, or who often place calls between countries, due to the potential cost savings. Placing international calls to other Fring users or via Skype can eliminate or significantly reduce the costs associated with such communications.
Fring is also an IM application, so iPhone owners can use it to chat with their various contacts from all of the above mentioned services. And Fring also incorporates the base features of popular micro-blogging-service Twitter, so you can monitor your feeds while using the app. (BlackBerry users interested in mobile VoIP applications will want to check out Truphone.)
SportsTap: The Free iPhone Sports App
You can find countless ways to stay on top of sports scores, schedules, standings and related information, but none more simple and efficient than the free SportsTap iPhone app. SportsTap gives iPhone owners access to news, standings, season stats and leaders, team and TV schedules and more, for MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, NCAA, AFL, PGA, NASCAR, Formula One, IndyCar, English Premier League, UEFA Leagues and MLS.
SportsTap is remarkably easy to navigate, making it painless to switch back and forth between sports. So you can, say, keep tabs on both the Boston Red Sox and Celtics games with just a few clicks.
And because you can view all current games for specific sports on one screen, it’s easy to track all of the league games on a given day. The scores screens don’t automatically refresh, but a tiny button in the bottom right corner of the display lets you quickly update pages whenever you see fit.
SportsTap also has a LocalTap function that provides information on “local” games within 50-, 100- or 200-miles of your current location. One complaint: The app doesn’t appear to have any sort of play-by-play features.
i.TV for iPhone: The Only TV Guide You Need
Most modern digital cable or satellite television offerings have their own built-in guides or menus, making channel surfing simple. That’s all fine and good until you find yourself watching a television sans menu, in a hotel, at a restaurant or in a bar.
The free i.TV application for Apple iPhone works very much like your cable or satellite TV’s menu channel, except it’s portable and can be customized for any location in the United States or Canada. Switching TV listings/locales is as simple as typing in a new zip code and selecting the appropriate TV service, i.e., Comcast, Verizon, etc.