Best iPhone Apps of 2010

Dec 29, 2010

There are now close to 400,000 apps for the iPhone, with hundreds of new releases coming out everyday. So what were the best iPhone apps released in 2010? While this is a hard list to whittle down, we showcase our favorites here – by category – for your downloading enjoyment. And don’t forget to check […]

There are now close to 400,000 apps for the iPhone, with hundreds of new releases coming out everyday. So what were the best iPhone apps released in 2010? While this is a hard list to whittle down, we showcase our favorites here – by category – for your downloading enjoyment. And don’t forget to check out our list of the best iPhone games to come out this year.


Word Lens (Free, with in-app purchases of $4.99 per language pack)

This might be the best use of augmented reality ever conceived on the iPhone. Word Lens turns the screen of your device into an instant translator as you pass the camera over words. Right now, the app supports English to Spanish and back again, and each language pack runs for about $5.


Groupon (Free)

In 130 cities across the country, you can become a member of Groupon, the group-buying service that allows users to vote on deals from area merchants. If enough people sign on for a deal, everyone gets a coupon to use the service with a big price cut. You can also use the app to generate your Groupon coupons, cutting out the need for any printing when you head out to get your deals.


Netflix (Free)

Finally, Netflix subscribers have a definitive app for browsing their queues, grabbing and saving new movies, and learning what’s available to view instantly and what has to be ordered on DVD. And while all of that is really cool and useful, the best part of the app is that you can stream movies and TV shows from your Watch Instantly queue right to your phone. When it works, it can be truly awesome.

Related: New iPhone? Download these apps first

Related: Best iPhone games of 2010


FreeAppADay, Daily App Dream, Game Giveaway, Game Channel (Free)

All these apps are great, but they all do basically the same thing: show you apps that are free, and let you download them. Mostly these apps focus on games, but if you’re looking for a funnel for new stuff that you don’t have to pay for, grab all these and check out what they have to offer. They’re all updated daily, which means you can gobble up great free apps just about as quickly as you can download them.

Skyfire Web Browser ($2.99)

An alternative to the native Safari browser that has one advantage over everything else out there on the iPhone: Skyfire can play Flash videos on websites. Skyfire’s a decent browsing experience otherwise, but just the ability to access Flash websites on your iOS device opens up a big hunk of the Internet.


DropBox (Free)

Cloud-syncing from your mobile device is super-easy with DropBox. Download software onto your computer and you can put files into a desktop folder that sends them out to your free server space. Hit the app on your iPhone and you can access everything you put into the folder on your computer. You can also send files — like photos and music — back the same way. It’s extremely convenient for keeping your work with you in your pocket.

Epic Win! ($2.99)

There are productivity apps by the thousands in the App Store, but EpicWin is easily the most fun and most inventive. The app keeps track of what you have to do on your to-do list and uses reminder alarms to keep you informed, but each time you check off an item, EpicWin awards you experience points. Like a video game, it adds a dimension of fun and incentive to otherwise boring tasks. The app has a hilarious art style to boot.

Find My iPhone (Free)

Apple’s free device location app was only just broken free of the company’s MobileMe service with the release of iOS 4.2, but there’s no other app as useful if your iPhone should become lost or stolen. Find My iPhone uses your GPS to locate your device if it’s misplaced (or if it falls into enemy hands). You can lock or wipe it remotely to protect your information.

Social Networking

Twitter (Free)

The company behind the pioneering micro-blogging and social networking service purchased Tweetie, another great Twitter app, and turned it into a streamlined and elegant Twitter client for the iPhone. If you want to more or less replicate the experience of Twitter on a desktop computer, this is the app you’re looking for. It’s very well organized into different tabs, and simple to use.

TweetDeck (Free)

There’s a bit of a battle between Twitter and TweetDeck users, but both are great little apps. TweetDeck is good for those of us who use the Twitter client back on their desktops. You can sync all your desktop columns (plus multiple Twitter accounts) from your other TweetDeck account, replicating the organization and depth you’re used to, but on a small screen.


Read It Later Pro ($2.99)

One of the most useful apps for the iPhone is Read It Later, which lets you save articles you’re reading on your desktop and pull them up later to finish them on the go. One of the greatest things about having a smartphone in your pocket is the ability to read all those Internet articles you didn’t have time for while you were at your computer. This tool is the best of the countless tools that allow you to do this.


Kindle (Free)’s Kindle e-reader is a great solution for reading books without having to carry them around. Kindle’s iPhone app is just as great, if a little limited by the device’s small screen. Basically, you turn your iPhone into an e-reader and can access lots of different books. It’s not an ideal way to read whole books, but like Read It Later, Kindle makes it easy to do a little reading when you need to kill some time.


Hipstamatic ($1.99)

This was pinged as Apple’s iPhone app of the year because Hipstamatic is a photography app that offers a lot of stuff the other seemingly millions of photo apps in the App Store just don’t. This includes using different “flashes” and “lenses” to take photos that look stylized or aged. Hipstamatic makes for some very cool shots, processing images you’d think your iPhone wouldn’t be capable of creating.

Instagram (Free)

This photo-sharing social networking service has seen tons of growth and has lots of users. Instagram offers a great way to keep in touch with friends and show them what you’re up to, and what you’re seeing while you do it. With links to Facebook, Twitter and other services, plus the ability to add filters to your photos for different visual effects, the app basically turns you into a mobile photographer, documenting life to share with others.


Price Check (Free)

This year, Amazon dropped its barcode scanner app called Price Check. The app is free and great for taking out on shopping trips, especially if you have Amazon Mobile to go with it. Find items you might want to buy, then shoot the bar code with your iPhone’s camera and price compare with what’s available on Amazon. It’s easy, free, and saves you money. Talk about a perfect app!

Related: Best free iPhone apps of all time

Related: Best paid iPhone apps of all time


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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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