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August 30, 2007
Native Apple iPhone Applications (and Customizing Your iPhone)

Playing around with my iPhone on my vacation, it now seems that the early hacks have evolved into a pair of fairly mature iPhone utility and management applications. There's also a newly flourishing group of 3rd party native applications that seem truly useful.

iBrickr (for Windows) and Funtastic (for Mac) are simple, very easy-to-use desktop applications that manage iPhone ring tones, native application finding (and auto-installation and updating) and more. The group of 3rd party native iPhone apps available is growing and being updated daily (literally). If you're interesting in exploring this stuff, iBrickr and iFuntastic are good starting points.

You can manage native iPhone application installation/uninstallation, access the iPhone Mac OS X file system directly, download and install/update native apps over the network from the phone itself, change and install custom ring tones, etc.

Here's a screen shot of my iPhone main screen with some of these native apps installed:

I was really tickled to be able to get my favorite ring tone, the Sesame Street Aliens back. :)

You can also keep updated as new versions of everything become available, you can get the Nintendo NES iPhone emulator (thousands of NES games are available), customize any of the iPhone sounds, organize and change the icons shown in the iPhone main "SpringBoard" application, get access to SFTP, SSH (to terminal into the device) IRC, and more. Apache, SQL Lite, Perl and Ruby have also been ported natively so far.

Here's an interesting little 2-way video conferencing sample app/mirror setup put together by a couple of students: http://macdaddyworld.com/?p=38

And here's one list of the currently downloadable 3rd party native iPhone apps available: http://pxl.ibrickr.com (".pxl" files are just zip files with a specific Mac OS X app bundled format). This list is expanding rapidly as developers now are able to use some of the standard Apple Mac OS X developer tools to build iPhone apps, apparently.

For a headset, I use the Jawbone bluetooth headset I mentioned previously, and I was pleased to discover it works very well AND the headset volume can be controlled from the iPhone directly (my Windows Mobile 5 SmartPhone didn't do this).

In my car, I have a Nav-TV iPod connection for charging and sending audio to the car's audio system, and a ProClip vehicle-specific iPod mount, and I must say that it's great to have Google Maps and real-time traffic in front of me. It's also a very nice touch to have the music playing through the car audio, then have a call come in, and have the iPhone courteously fade out the music so I can take the call, then fade back in the music when the call is done. Nice attention to detail by Apple there. Of course, since it is a wide-screen video iPod, I can rotate the screen sideways in the mount and play movies and videos over the car's audio system so my young son stays entertained on longer trips as well.

For even longer trips or airplane rides, you can also rip full-length DVD movies to the iPhone at double-play speed using several available utilities. I use the CucuSoft iPhone Video Converter Suite, but I understand there are now some free ones out there as well. You can fit about 6 full-length DVD movies plus a decent "to-go" playlist music collection onto the 8GB with plenty of room to spare.

I've also re-discovered the world of professional "podcasts" available now via iTunes, which has come a long way since I last checked, and now, video podcasts. My current selection includes CNN's Anderson Cooper's 360 Daily (full Video podcast), NPR's "On Point" with Tom Ashbrook, NPR's "Fresh Air", NPR's "Hourly News Summary", PRI's "The World: Technology", the "ColdFusion Weekly" (of course!), the "Apple Phone Show", NPR's "Business Story of the Day" and others.

Finally, there's an iPhone screenshot utility by Erica Sadun available here that can be useful. In additional to the main screen shot above, here are a few additional screenshots I created using this utility:

I'd love to hear from others what their experiences have been with the iPhone, what apps they'd like to see written for it, and any cool pointers to any other native iPhone apps or other relavent works going on out there for this device.

Now...back to vacation!



You can convert all sorts of video formats like MPEG, AVI, WMV and many more to iPhone format using the Cucusoft iPhone Video Converter software. I downloaded the free trial version through http://www.iphonevideoconverter.biz/. So far, it's getting the job done for me.

Hey man, how do you download apps to the iphone?

i found alot of your comments very helpful, i have not yet been able to convert any films that show in the same quality as the original d/l, they all seam to be blocky and squared, would it just be easier to d/l in mp4 format or is there a converter that can solve this? (i am using Jodix Free iPod Video Converter). any info would be much appreciated, thank you, *reaper*

great! sometimes i need a video converter to convert video to iphone on Mac OS X, then iSkysoft DVD to iPhone Suite for Mac helped me much.i found it at http://www.sharewarecheap.com/Video-Converters-category_Update_26_5.html