ZumoCast (Free): ZumoCast wasn’t the first live streaming app on the App Store, but it’s certainly the best (mostly due to the price). Simply install a small application on your home PC, tell it which folders to stream content from and link it up with your iPhone. Now, you can watch all your stored movies and TV shows, as well as listen to your iTunes music over your home network without having to sync that content directly to the device. Encoding and compressing is done live over the air and performance is superb (as long a your connection is solid). Consider this the precursor to Apple’s own AirPlay.
Soundhound ($4.99): Sure, Shazam gets all the recognition, but SoundHound is so much better. Not only can it recognize most songs playing from your speakers (with the exception of some obscure jazz and classical tracks), but SoundHound also incorporates the abilities to recognize a song that you hum, buy the song from iTunes and watch related YouTube videos. It’s like the developers took what Shazam did and made it a whole lot more awesome.
iTV (Free): Any developer can pull your local TV listings into an application – that’s nothing special. ITV, on the other hand, has gone leaps further in adding the ability to bookmarks specific channels and shows you watch regularly, so you never miss an episode of your favorite sitcom or procedural drama. TiVo owners get the added bonus of a built-in network remote and remote recording capabilities. If you own a television and an iPhone, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t also own iTV.
iHeart Radio (Free): Internet radio apps are all over the place, but don’t forget – regular FM radio still exists. When you need to listen to your local favorites, open the iHeart Radio app on your iPhone. Country, jazz, rock, pop – they’re all there from cities all over the country. And if you’re feeling particularly dangerous, you can “shake to shuffle” and enjoy a station at random. I’d love to see the looks on those death metal fans who shake into an all polka station.
Pandora (Free): Pandora is the “big daddy” of Internet radio. With the Pandora app on iPhone, users can log into their Pandora accounts from the desktop and gain access to their saved stations and bookmarked songs. Added multitasking support means you can listen all day while you surf the Web, write e-mails or catch up on the news without losing the beat. This app is a no brainer – if you listen to music, this needs to be the first app you download.
Flixster (Free): Accessing Moviefone from the road can be frustrating. You have to wait for the page to load, then you have to input your Zip code and scroll through a long list of theaters that aren’t any of the ones you go to before you finally get to yours. Flixster simplifies the process by letting you bookmark your favorite theaters for easier searching later on. When you want to buy tickets, Flixster whisks you away to the land of the Fandango where you can Complete the transaction without the need for a “real computer”. Other features include movie trailers and reviews, in case your friends don’t believe you that Mega Mutants from the New York Sewers is the next classic.
Netflix (Free): The ubiquitous disc-rental and streaming service first made its iOS debut on the iPad, but now it’s also available on the iPhone for instant (pint-size) viewing wherever you are. Access your instant queue, search the catalog and rack up those data charges like crazy. Hey, it’s worth it if you need to catch up on the final season of Heroes (don’t judge – that show got shafted by the writers’ strike and never recovered).
Guitar Toolkit ($9.99): Whether you’re a budding musician or a seasoned professional, the $10 Guitar Toolkit is a must-have. Included are a variety of tools and teaching aids to help you tune your ax, learn your chords and keep perfect time. Guitar Toolkit also comes with different tuning presets, such as drop-D and even a setting for bass guitar. The $9.99 price tag sounds like a lot, but remember: a tuner can set you back $30, a metronome $20 and a book of chords $10. Guitar Toolkit is a steal.
AOL Radio (Free): Yes, this is another Internet radio app, but this one doesn’t let you program your own stations based on your favorite songs or artists. AOL Radio comes with pre-programmed radio stations based around particular genres, like Funk and “Evening Jazz”, as well as specific artists, such as James Taylor (that channel will play nothing but James Taylor – it’s not a Pandora-esque station). The other benefit of the AOL Radio app is the array of live radio stations its able to pull in from all over the country – no FM tuner needed.
TWiT (Free): Leo Laporte’s TWiT (This Week in Tech) netcast channel is huge. Tech geeks and casual gadget nerds can both get enjoyment and an education out of the content provided by Leo and his cavalcade of Silicon Valley stars. The TWiT app provides access to the live video feed (over WiFi) and the audio feed (over WiFi or 3G), as well as previous episodes of all TWiT shows on demand. The station calendar and live chat rooms are also available whenever you want, so you’ll always know when your favorite show is on and when you can heckle Leo from behind a pseudonym.