2010 has been an incredibly busy year for the App Store. Thousands of new apps were released, several of which caught our eye and provided amazing utility, entertainment, and a fair share of pure delight. We’ve compiled a list of the most unique and ground-breaking apps in 2010 to close out the year that saw the release of the magical iPad, the svelte iPhone 4, and the camera-laden fourth-generation iPod touch.
For the iPhone/iPod touch
Despite the number of apps in the App Store, true innovation in an app to do something that’s never been done before is rare. Developer essency impressed us with its Awareness! app that lets you listen to your music and still hear what’s going on around you at the same time, using the iPhone’s mic to “listen” for noises above a defined threshold and pipe it through your headphones. We reviewed Awareness! and found it to do exactly as it promises.
Though developer tap tap tap has seen its share of controversy this year with its flagship Camera+ app removed from the App Store by Apple over a prohibited hidden feature, Camera+ recently returned to the App Store and is better than ever. With some tools to help you capture better pictures plus several scene and color effects and borders to edit captured images, it’s one of our favorite alternate camera apps for the iPhone.
The iPhone 4 finally brought the ability to make video calls a reality with its front-facing camera but Apple’s Facetime technology limits users to Wi-Fi only. Tango was the first app to enable video calls over 3G and to users with the older iPhone 3GS as well. Fourth-generation iPod touch users can also use Tango to make video calls when connected to a Wi-Fi network. Going even further, Tango is also available for the Android OS, making cross-platform video calls between iOS and Android devices possible too.
For the iPad
If you have a laptop or desktop computer with a small display and an iPad, Avatron’s Air Display lets you use the iPad as a secondary monitor to get your computing groove on. We took a look at Air Display when it was released and found it to be a snap to set up and use. Initially only compatible with Macs, Air Display gained Windows compatibility a couple of months ago.
With its large multi-touch display and multimedia capabilities, the iPad has the potential to be the ideal device to support the evolution of traditional print media like magazines and newspapers. Wired Magazine was the first to put out an app featuring its magazine with embedded multimedia content. While it’s a bit pricey at $3.99 per issue compared to the cost of the print version with a subscription, Wired Magazine on the iPad is a slick preview of what the digital future may hold.
iOS 4.2 brought several new features to the iPad and provided even more tools for developers to use to create apps. Algoriddim, the maker of the djay application for the Mac, took advantage of some of the new audio features in iOS 4.2, releasing djay, a full-featured djaying app with virtual turntables and some incredible mixing and transitioning features. Putting together a traditional DJ equipment set-up can be costly and cumbersome and the ability to be able to mix jams and rule the party with an iPad and djay instead is amazing.
For the iPhone/iPod touch and iPad
One of the most talked-about limitations of iOS is its inability to display Flash content on the web. To get around this limitation, a small California start-up developed Skyfire, which will find and convert Flash video on web pages and convert it to a format viewable on the iPhone or iPad. While it’s not compatible with every single site out there, we found that it works well enough to make it a worthy purchase and can eliminate those little blue Flash error boxes you’d otherwise see on some sites.
While we normally leave iOS game coverage to the experts at our sister site, TouchArcade.com, we can’t help but mention Fruit Ninja as a stand-out casual game in 2010. In Fruit Ninja, which is available for both the iPhone and iPad, your goal is to slice as much virtual fruit tossed into the air as possible, often while avoiding bombs (in Arcade or Classic mode) or the fruit reserved for your opponent (in online multiplayer mode). It may sound a little silly but it’s incredibly fun and addictive and deserves a spot on our list.
We’d be remiss in not mentioning our own app that debuted just a few months ago. As a universal app, it will be at home on an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad and offers you quick access to the most popular apps in the App Store plus it lets you know via push notifications about updates to apps you own or on your Wish List. The official AppShopper app is free and ad-supported (ads can be removed with a $.99 in-app purchase). Free importer applications for Macintosh and Windows computers are also available to help update your free AppShopper.com account – see this blog post for more information about the importer.
Happy New Year to all of our readers!