It’s unusual for an iPhone app to cost more than few bucks, but with hundreds of thousands of apps available, and the convenience of iTunes billing, it’s easy to sink a fortune. Thankfully, some developers have found a way to cover that cost with advertising, others belong to the open source software movement, and some are even motivated by the kindness of their hearts. That last one may not be true. In any case, read on to discover the best, free iphone apps, whether you’re cheap, broke, or both.
Stitcher Radio (Free, Stitcher, Inc.) While it’s not clear who or what a “stitcher” is, this app makes listening to podcasts on your iPhone or iPod Touch easier than ever. In the default iPod app, podcasts must first be downloaded through iTunes individually or by subscription. This means loads of tedious searching, waiting, and syncing. Stitcher Radio bypasses all that by allowing the user to stream the podcast directly, just like a YouTube video. Add to this great features like live-streaming radio, and Stitcher Radio gives iTunes a run for its money, all without costing a dime.
VLC (Free, Applidium) VLC for Windows and Mac has no shortage of followers, and with good reason: this media player will play just about any type of file you throw at it, and it’s free of ads, free to download, and totally open source. Now, Applidium has ported VLC to the iPhone, and it does not disappoint. While other apps can only play native.mp4 media files, VLC for iPhone will tackle.avi,.mkv, and countless others you may not have even heard of. VLC for iPhone is naturally free to download, but be sure to get your copy fast, as rumor has it that its days in the App Store are numbered.
Movies by Flixter – with Rotten Tomatoes (Free, Flixter) Going to the movies is expensive enough already. The cost of movie tickets is skyrocketing, and a small soda at your average theater is likely to cost more than your first car. At least Flixter lets us find movies for free, and it does a great job of it. Flixter will tell you the release dates of films, show you their trailers, and use the iPhone’s built-in GPS to help you find the closest theater. It will even link you to film reviews from Rotten Tomatoes, to make sure you won’t spend all that movie theater money on another critical lemon.
Dragon Dictation (Free, Nuance Communications) Dragon Dictation is an app that has to be tried to be believed. Dragon is a speech-to-text app that, believe it or not, actually works. Simply fire up the app, hit the dictate button, and start dictating. Dragon Dictation not only serves up a fast and near-error-free transcription, but if any mistakes were made then editing is a breeze. Users can export the text to the native SMS or e-mail apps, or even to Twitter. With so many people choosing to text and drive at the same time, Dragon Dictation has the capacity to actually save lives.
StumbleUpon! (Free, StumbleUpon) Web savvy iPhone enthusiasts will likely recognize this app from the online content discovery service of the same name. StumbleUpon! the website (and browser add-on) are widely regarded as the best, most effective time-wasters on the internet. After you register your free account, hitting the “Stumble” button will serve up a random website that is sure to pique your interest. Hit Stumble again, and you get another one. And on and on. The iPhone version is exactly the same, but portable. In other words: procrastinators beware.