Five great apps for the iPhone 4S

by Phil Hornshaw

It might not look much different from its predecessor, the iPhone 4, but Apple’s newly announced iPhone 4S has a lot of cool new stuff under the hood. It packs the dual-core A5 processor chip, an amped-up camera, and better antennas that allow for clearer calls and faster data speeds.

With the huge number of apps in the iTunes App Store, it’s easy to think of quite a few that could benefit greatly from the iPhone 4S’ new hardware. We’ve picked five that should make excellent use of all the power being shoe-horned into the iPhone 4S, and produce some great results.

iMovie ($4.99)

When Apple launched the iPad 2 back in March, it specifically mentioned the new iMovie iPad app as a perfect complement to the power that device packs. But there was already an iMovie app for iPhone; and now, with the A5 chip, the iPhone 4S matches the computing power of the iPad 2. That means it’s a good time to revisit Apple’s mobile movie editing suite, because the new hardware should provide better playback and faster speeds in the digital editing room, wherever you are.

Another thing: the iPhone 4S includes 1080p HD video capabilities with its new camera sensor, so not only should editing go better, but shooting video should be sharper than ever before. With its new hardware, the iPhone 4S could be a pretty respectable little camcorder; with iMovie, it could be even more.

Camera+ ($1.99)

Speaking of better cameras, the iPhone 4S packs an 8-megapixel sensor. That’s a whole lot of pixels saved with every snap of the shutter button, which means the raw image data for photos will be better than ever with the 4S. Camera+ can take those images and further improve them by providing a big boost in camera capabilities like filters, digital zoom, focus and other helpful features. It’s like turning your iPhone into a real camera and not just a smartphone taking point-and-shoot stills. Pair the power of the 4S’ built-in camera with the features of Camera+ and you can turn out some really great shots.

Honorable mention in the camera department is Hipstamatic, another photo-filtering app that received high praise as Apple’s Best iPhone App of 2010. Camera+ includes more features, but Hipstamatic is equally fun.

Netflix, Crackle, Hulu Plus (Free)

The iPhone plays host to a number of great streaming video apps. Netflix arguably leads the pack for subscribers, with a big library of TV shows and movies that you can stream over a Wi-Fi or 3G connection, but Hulu Plus is also pretty great, and Sony’s Crackle app is free. All of them will benefit from new stuff inside the iPhone 4S.

First off, video streaming apps like these and others, such as YouTube, should render videos faster and clearer with the help of the A5 chip. Apple boasted that the chip was twice as powerful as the A4 when it comes to video during its iPad 2 keynote, and that should mean a better viewing experience altogether. And if you’re willing to pay the data charges for streaming video over 3G (although if you’re a Sprint customer, you can get an unlimited data plan), the iPhone 4S will help you stream faster. Its speed-boosted antennas rival the speeds that other devices and their carriers claim could be considered 4G, Apple claims. Even if it’s not true 4G LTE speed, it should still be pretty fast, and that’s good for watching movies while waiting in line at the bank.

Skype (Free)

Carrying with it the capability for video chat using the iPhone 4S’ front-facing camera, expect the free Skype app to get a boost from the new device’s speedy 3G capabilities. The app already was capable of allowing iPhone users to connect with PC users and Mac users for free, and you could even make video calls over 3G or Wi-Fi for free as well (except for the data rates). But the calls were a bit ugly, especially over 3G, because that’s a lot of data to send over the air. The faster 3G capabilities of the iPhone 4S, and the A5 chip handling video, should make these video conferences work a lot better than they have in the past. Where Skype was decent before, with the 4S, they should be much more fun and satisfying.

Facebook (Free)

Apple’s update to its mobile operating system, iOS 5, will include some pretty deep integration with social networking service Twitter. But with the power of the iPhone 4S, you can do some serious sharing with Facebook’s iPhone app, as well. We already discussed the capabilities of the new camera: 1080p HD video and 8 megapixels for stills. Couple that with the speedier data transfers over 3G connections, and you can more easily upload videos and photos to your social network to share what you’re doing on the fly with your friends. And the speed benefit goes both ways: it’s easier to keep up to date on what’s going on with others with the iPhone 4S’ faster data transfer.

Deserving mentions in the data transfer category are apps like Yelp, which can be very useful while you’re out and about, as well. If you need vital information, such as whether the restaurant you’re about to enter is good or not, apps like these will dispatch the needed knowledge a lot quicker on the iPhone 4S.

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