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Best iPhone apps of 2011 (so far)

by David Lister

Despite what’s becoming overwhelmingly popular opinion, the iPhone is good for more than just games. Even as game after game litters the top of most app lists, search a little deeper and a number of entertaining – and useful – apps appear.

The best games of the first half of 2011 has already been covered, so now it’s time to uncover the best the App Store has to offer, sans games.

Super 8

Part of Paramount’s advertising campaign for the J.J. Abrams/Steven Spielberg film, Super 8 ($0.99) may be one of the most enjoyable and functional apps of all time. This camera emulator allows users to create their own Super 8-style movies on their iPhone, with a flurry of effects such as scratch overlays and shaky camera. Included are multiple lenses, from color to black-and-white to X-ray, as well as a neat projector mode for playback. Smaller add-ons include the option to add credits and title your films, all of which are stored in a personal library that allows you to email clips to friends or send to your computer. It’s nice enough having a video camera with your phone; apps like Super 8 make your camera as fun as it is functional.

Tiger Woods: My Swing

Even with all the scandal surrounding him and his plummet down the World Golf Rankings, Tiger Woods remains the biggest name in the sport. So while attaching the #17 player in the world’s name to an instructional app may not be appealing as the #1 player’s, Tiger Woods: My Swing ($9.99) remains the best app of its kind. Full of multimedia features, My Swing allows you to record your swing and then compare it side-by-side with Tiger, or overlay the proper lines to make sure you body is positioned and moving correctly. All videos are also saved to an online account. The more bashful golfers can examine Tiger’s swing, while the boastful ones can brag about their swing (or get advice and help) from an online community. While slightly pricey compared to normal apps this is still very reasonable for a golf app, not to mention one that pushes the boundaries of what an instructional app can be.

FL Studio Mobile

Formerly known as Fruity Loops, FL Studio is well known as an audio workstation for wanna-be and actual musicians alike. This June, the software made its way onto iOS devices in the form of FL Studio Mobile ($14.99), and like the PC-version, this app offers a tantalizing amount of depth and a friendly user interface. Among the many goodies included are well over 100 instruments, a configurable piano keyboard and, of course, the ability to save your gems and export them to a full version. As with all apps of this sort, customers should realize there are limitations that prevent it from being as complete as the PC version, though when compared to similar apps FL Studio Mobile clearly stands out above the rest. The price is another matter completely, as the $14.99 price tag is advertised as an introductory rate, so presumably that will jump up and there’s no lite version as of yet. But if you want a mobile music sequencer, then look no further.

Bill James Apps

The best baseball app every year is MLB.com At Bat, though the latest version doesn’t offer too much past versions haven’t as well. So in the spirit of mixing things up, Bill James Baseball IQ ($4.99) and Bill James Daily Match-Ups ($1.99) get the nod as the co-best baseball app of the first half of 2011. Like Fangraphs, Baseball IQ is sure to make stat geeks foam at the mouth with a ton of non-traditional stats such as hit location, batting zones and much, much more. There are a plethora of charts and player comparison features, all easily accessible in this user-friendly app. Daily Match-Ups doesn’t pack quite the statistical punch, but comes in at a cheaper price and has fancy features such as the very cool batter temperature tracker. Betweeen Baseball IQ and Daily Match-Ups there is a wealth of baseball information that’s difficult to find access to in general, let alone in the App Store.

iMuscle

Workout apps are seemingly a dime a dozen, so it’s nice when one stands out of a crowded pack. iMuscle ($1.99) does just that, an app with more than 450 exercises and stretches, the option to create custom workouts, not to mention general hints and tips. The real noteworthy aspect of this app are the 3D views, though, which can help target and identify areas would-be workout warriors want to improve. You can also search by muscle, and the app allows for multiple users. While often it appears that the appeal of apps is that they are simply new, iMuscle boasts smart features that both maximize the iPhone’s potential and your workout, meaning that this one likely has staying power.