Every year brings new Apps breakthroughs for our trusty iPhones, and 2011 is looking set to be no exception. In this list of promising Apps for 2011, I’ve gone for a variety of games, utilities and just outright brilliant Apps that will enhance your relationship with your phone in various ways.
Photo-altering app that has effectively become an image-based social network
Spearheading the recent social networking trend of sharing images rather than words is Instagram. This app allows you to take photos, enhance them with a series of effects, and seamlessly share them on social networking sites.
What makes Instagram stand out from other photo-sharing apps is that it has effectively become a social network unto itself. You can build up a network of friends and contacts whose photos you appreciate within the app itself, making it a pure image-based social network.
Instagram is great for those wanting to (literally) share their visions with the world and track down people with similar outlooks. Instagram is certain to continue growing throughout 2011 as the relative anonymity of photo-sharing is proving to be a popular digital pastime.
A deep but accessible astronomy iphone app
Ok, so not everyone is interested in astronomy, but for those who are then this is a beautiful app to get lost in. Whether you just want to do some star-gazing, travel through time, or look at Meteor showers in deep space, Star Walk has it all.
The great thing about this app is that it is accessible to astronomy beginners while also being useful for those specialised in the field. The Telrad feature allows you to measure angular distances between stars (not that I understand astronomy enough to know the purpose of this), and there is a considerable catalogue detailing objects in both deep and shallow space. All of this presented through an intuitive and sleek interface that never distances you too much from the wonders of space.
Star Walk received design awards in both 2009 and 2010. Its regular updates should ensure that it remains the most comprehensive, visually pleasing and enjoyable astronomy app to indulge in throughout 2011.
3. Schedulicity – By Schedulicity Inc
For the uninitiated, Schedulicity is a web-based service that allows individuals and small businesses to manage their appointments and schedules online.
Now, the popular service has found its way to smartphones and tablet devices, allowing appointments to be managed from the palm of your hand. Edit client accounts, receive appointment reminders and organise you calendar whenever you like! Of course, this could spawn a generation of workaholics who, having their business in the palms of their hands, obsess over their schedules every waking moment of the day, but it certainly makes businesses more manageable. Everything you do in the mobile version will, of course, be streamlined with your web-based account.
Already recognised as an important trend in streamlining business operations and customer services, Schedulicity looks likely to catch on as an integral aspect of managing small businesses.
4. Blackstar – By Spacetime Studios,Release Date: Q2 2011, Price TBC
From the makers of Pocket Legends, Blackstar is likely to be the next big thing for iPhone MMOs
While a Massively Multiplayer Online game a.k.a. MMO is certainly not a must-have App for everyone, there certainly is a niche crowd of geeks who’ll be drooling over this one.
Blackstar is the successor to the popular iPhone MMO Pocket Legends. However, while that was based on a world of elves and pixies, Blackstar takes place in a conflict-filled 41st Century.
Few details have been disclosed so far, except that the developers are promising that it will not be ‘content-light’ and that it will support just about every relevant technology out there (EDGE, 3G, Wi-Fi, 4G). It’s safe to assume that this will address the various issues raised with its fantasy predecessor, and reel in the sci-fi-geek masses.
Will Kindle succeed on the iPhone?
So the Amazon’s digital-book-reading App has been around for a while, but 2011 will be a crucial year in finding out whether it will catch on on Apple’s devices. Its case will not be helped by the recent revelation that Apple have forbidden Amazon from providing web links for purchasing their books.
Politics aside, the Kindle App is probably the best book-reader App out there. It allows you to synchronise all your e-books between devices, meaning that as long as you have a device, you always have access to your books; stick in the mud that I am, I don’t see how carrying an actual book around is such a burden, but then this whole e-book craze seems to be catching on quite nicely so I’m obviously just wrong in my cynicism.
One of the most intense horror games has arrived on the iPhone
Most gaming enthusiasts will know that Dead Space is probably the most terrifying game to play on the big consoles. Naturally, this fear is hard to translate to the small iPhone screen, but that doesn’t stop it from being EA’s best mobile offering to date.
Dead Space looks and plays brilliantly, utilising the minimal interface of its big console counterparts. There is a plethora of brutal weapons, varied scenery, and the gameplay utilises the touch-screen very smoothly.
At £3.99, Dead Space can be considered one of the more pricey iPhone games, but with a 5-hour storyline and some intense action sequences its price tag (which, let’s be honest, isn’t that high anyway) is perfectly justified.
7. CoPilot Live 9 Release date: Q2 2011, Price TBC
The social-network-friendly GPS App
A relatively unexpensive Sat Nav App for the Facebook generation. The latest version of CoPilot is set to feature an overhauled interface and provides multiple routes to your selected destinations.
Aside from these functional upgrades, CoPilot 9 will also feature an integrated Bing search engine made for tracking local businesses and services. And for those hopelessly addicted to the trivial activity of letting the whole world know where you are through Facebook Places, this App will feed your habit by letting you post updates to Places in real-time; after all, everyone wants to know when you’re stuck in rush-hour traffic in London, don’t they?
Other unique features include the option to save the exact location of your car, driving directions to ‘geotagged’ pictures taken by your smartphone, and a walking mode which helps you navigate cities on foot. Yes, CoPilot is making our dependency on our own sense of navigation a thing of the past.
Bear Essentials is a functional and substantial app for those interested in their own survival
People often say that their iPhone is a ‘lifesaving’ device, helping you find your way from A to B, work out train times and general assistance with other such urban activities. But with Bear Grylls’ heavily branded ‘Bear Essentials’, your iPhone can save your life more literally.
In the admittedly unlikely case that you find yourself in a Bear Grylls-like scenario of being stranded up a mountain or in a jungle, or shipwrecked on a desert island, this App gives essential advice in surviving these situations.
As well as offering videos and interactive diagrams, there is a whole wealth of extremely useful survival information for you to refer to. At the end of each section you look through, there is also a quiz to test your survival knowledge; granted, you won’t be quizzing yourself while hunting for snakes and making camp-fires using flints and sticks, but it’s good to be prepared. Essential for the more adventurous iPhone owner.
Hipstamatic allows you to choose from plenty of vintage looks for your photos
Retro is always ‘in’, so it seems natural that an App would come along that lets you take photos with a distinctly retro make-over. Hipstamatic is an extremely fun App that allows you to take photos using various lens, flash and film types to give your photos that Analog feel.
Such is the popularity of this App that it even has its own ‘Hipstamart’, where you can purchase further flashes, films and lenses for your omnipotent analog camera. There is even a monthly competition where the community votes on the best ‘HipstaPrints’, giving you the chance to win ‘fabulous’ prizes.
The fact that Hipstamatic has managed to create a community around itself and even have its own store for additional content suggests that the ball has only just got rolling on this one, and it will be interesting to see how it develops throughout 2011.
10. The Shadow Sun – By Ossian, Release Date: Q2 2011
The Shadow Sun looks tear-jerkingly beautiful
While the iPhone has slowly established itself as a worthy gaming platform, it still lacks an immersive, epic RPG experience. Initially, it was thought that this was due to the technical limitations of the iphone, but The Shadow Sun looks should put that theory to bed.
The Shadow Sun promises in-depth character development, a varied game world and, as you can see, beautiful graphics of the sort rarely seen on the iPhone. Your choices affect the story, the gameplay is fast-paced, and you can even take on party members. In other words, this isn’t the ‘Lite’ RPG experience iPhone users have come to accept, but the full-on thing.
Ossian have delayed The Shadow Sun until Spring 2011, suggesting that they are striving for perfection with this ambitious project. Could this be the RPG that iPhone gamers have long been waiting for?