There is no doubt that Apple introduced an industry game-changer when it announced the release of the iPhone and the iPod Touch in 2007. The unique touchscreen interface alone elicits awe and delight to all who come in contact with it (no pun intended). Both devices have the capability to connect to the world wide web via wi-fi and play music and video. But Apple did not stop there. They created a whole new market making both devices capable of running applications that can perform a myriad of functionalities. And the Cupertino-based company handed the job of creating apps over to developers with the advent of the Apple App store. Now developers from all over the world can produce applications and have them sold in the app store at a price of their choosing (including for free).
The app store is a sucess and iPhone and iPod Touch users all over the world have downloaded hundreds of apps. The great thing about the whole deal is how nice the free apps are. There are some awesome developers creating some amazing apps and pricing them at $0.00. I want to tell you about three free apps that will greatly enhance your Touch or iPhone experience. If you are new to these devices or new to their applications, then hopefully this tutorial will get you started on using some of the great programs available for your device.
The Weather Channel
The iPhone and iPod Touch come with preloaded apps from Apple including the Safari browser, a Mail client, a calculator and of course a weather app supported by Yahoo. The weather app is snappy and slick and it gives you the temperatures for the next few days. It will also use a symbol to indicate whether or not it will rain “today”. But for heavy travelers this may not be enough. The Weather Channel offers a free app that gives you the same information and more.
The default weather app that comes loaded on iPod Touch and iPhone does not give you anymore details about the weather on any given day other than the high and low temperatures. It also does not indicate the exact percentage of rain for today and does not give you the chance of rain for future days at all. However the Weather Channel app gives you detailed information for the current day as well as any of the next ten days. It features a percentage of rain, high and low temperature, and a detailed forecast for the next 36 hours which is useful to travelers and those on vacation.
Downloading and setting up this application is a breeze. You can download the app by searching for “The Weather Channel” using the app store on your device (remember that you must have wi-fi or EDGE connectivity). You can also download the app through iTunes using the iTunes app store. Simply click on Applications in your iTunes sidebar and select the link to the store in the bottom right-hand corner. Search for “The Weather Channel” and click “Get App” to download.
The first time you launch the application on your device. You will need to do a simple set-up. Basically this includes entering the ZIP code or name of the area you would like to have weather reports on. You can do multiple cities so if you travel this will be a useful feature. So try out the Weather Channel app and get more detailed weather reports than the stock weather application. And best of all it’s free!
Twitter has become an absolute phenomenon and has allowed people to give their friends up-to-the-minute updates on their lives, thoughts, and goings-on. With the new capability to have your Twitter updates also update your Facebook status, you can now kill two birds with one stone. And now there’s an iPhone/Touch app for Twitter so you do not have to be tied to your computer to do Twitter updates. The app is called Twitterific. There is a premium, ad-free version that you must pay for however Twitterific also is available in a free version with small, unintrusive ads. You will never even notice them.
Download Twitterific either on your device or through iTunes. Once you have it running you will be asked to enter your Twitter username and password. This is a one-time deal so do not have to enter it everytime you launch Twitterific. Immediately you will see an updated list of all of your tweets and the tweets of those you follow on Twitter. In order to post a tweet, touch the speech bubble icon at the bottom of the screen and the keyboard will be revealed. Type your message and select “Send”. Twitterific will then send your tweet off to be posted. Touch the refresh symbol at the bottom to refresh the screen and then you will see your new tweet if you scroll to the top. You can also respond to another friend’s tweet by selecting their tweet and touching the speech bubble. The keyboard and text field will appear. Then simply touch the speech bubble again and your will see the “@” appear with your friend’s username. Type your message and click “Send” and your reply will be posted for all to see.
If you want to see more information about a particular friend you are following, then select one of their tweets and then touch the profile icon at the bottom of the screen (second from the right). To return to the list of tweets just touch the List View button.
One downfall to Twitterific is that you can only do tweets. In order to begin following your friends you still have to log into your account with a computer. But for a free app that allows you to keep your friends up to date and to stay current with them, Twitterific is a perfect fit.
How about an entertainment app? If you have never used Pandora, it is a free internet-radio service that you can sign up for and use to create your own customized radio stations. Pandora is based on the music genome project which seeks to categorize songs based on musical elements such as tempo, style, beat, etc. Pandora harnesses this power whereby users can create stations and “seed” those stations with any song or artist and then that station will then begin playing music based on that seed. As songs play the user can give each song a thumbs up or thumbs down thus giving Pandora a better picture of the musical tastes of the listener making the station smarter and better able to play music that the user enjoys most. There is no limit to the stations a user is able to create.
If you have used Pandora on your computer and have enjoyed it then you will enjoy using it on your iPhone or iPod Touch. Keep in mind that internet connectivity via wi-fi or EDGE is required for this to work. Once you download the free app, launch it and enter your Pandora username and password. Immediately you will see your created stations assuming you have created some. You can begin listening to these stations or create new ones right on your device. When you give songs thumbs up or thumbs down or when you create new stations on your mobile device, the same information is shared with Pandora as if you had done it on your computer. This is so that if you go back to using Pandora on your computer you will see all of the changes that you have made on your device.
The Pandora app is perfect for listeners who want to enjoy Pandora at work or on the go (assuming you work or travel where wi-fi or EDGE connectivity is available). For those who have home wireless networks, this can be great for listening to music on Pandora while doing tasks around the house or working out at home. And again, Pandora is absolutely free to download to your iPhone or iPod Touch.
I hope this tutorial has given you a new or renewed interest in the applications that are offered on the Apple app store and then you will begin to explore the great life-improving programs that are available absolutely free. Good luck!