Networking

Getting started at the App Store

Perhaps you were fortunate enough this morning to find a brand spanking new iPhone or iPod touch under the tree. And doubtlessly, you demonstrated the appropriate level of gratitude to whichever friend/loved one/North Pole denizen was thoughtful enough to give you such a present. Now there's just one more bit of business before you pour that next cup of egg nog and start tapping away to your heart's content.

Just which apps should you put on your newly acquired mobile device? After all, with 100,000 or so mobile applications clamoring for your attention in the App Store, that pretty much rules out the process of trial-and-error.

I think I can be some assistance in helping new iPhone and iPod touch owners get their start with merrily downloading mobile apps. Since the App Store first opened its doors about a year-and-a-half ago, Macworld has published its share of iPhone app reviews, and I've edited nearly all of them. If I haven't used an app personally, I've talked to someone who has, which puts me in a pretty good position for making recommendations on which programs should be filling up your mobile device.

So where to start? You'd be well advised to peruse Macworld's App Gems Awards, which recognizes our 20 favorite apps of 2009. Opinions may vary, of course–Macworld readers certainly have their own thoughts on the best apps–but our list is a pretty good starting point.

That said, loading up an iPhone or an iPod touch is a pretty personalized task that depends heavily on your likes and goals. For example, as great a reference tool as iBird Explorer Plus may be–and we think it's one of the best ones out there–if you're not all that in to bird-watching, that's an app that won't serve you particularly well. (If you are into bird-watching, head directly to the App Store and download this comprehensive reference guide immediately.)

The first thing to consider when looking for apps to put on your newly obtained iPhone or iPod touch, then, is just what do you plan on using your device for? Is it a business tool? A communications device? Just a way to keep yourself amused and diverted when you're standing in line or stuck on an interminable commute? Or some combination of all those things? Once you've settled on that, it's easy to track down apps that will serve your purpose.

Productivity tools

The quickest of glances at the App Store's productivity category will reveal that Apple's online emporium is loaded down with list-makers and to-do managers. Macworld's reviewers were awfully fond of Todo, a pretty powerful task manager that doesn't require you to cite chapter and verse of the Getting Things Done playbook. We're also fans of Toodledo, which offers both flexibility and intuitive controls, and Things, which makes it easy to create to-dos and check them off as you complete them. If you're looking for a more specific kind of list manager, consider Groceries or Grocery Gadget, which both seek to make those trips to the store less aggravating.

A multitude of apps can make sure that wherever you go, your important files will follow. Both FileMagnet and Air Sharing can get files off your Mac and onto your mobile device with relative ease.

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