Ten Great iPhone Hobby Apps

Grilling. Bird watching. Shopping. Whatever your downtime passion, there's an app for that. Here's a look at ten intriguing options to help you recharge.

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Let's face it: we've been working hard at our jobs lately — that is, if we're lucky enough to still have jobs. Cool hobbies and fun pastimes can recharge our weary work batteries. Thankfully, the iPhone is the ultimate tool for balancing work and life and can help us get the most out of fleeting downtime.

It all started with the iconic iPod. Music lovers figured out that songs offer temporary respite from job stress. Here are nine more iPhone apps that take the work out of life.

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Confessions of a Golf Addict

Ironically, when stressed at work, many execs grab a bag of heavy iron clubs and head out to play the most stressful game in the world. Golfshot GPS can make the round a little easier by providing yardage distances, identifying parts of your game that need improvement, and tracking your score, stats and drives. This $30 app has only a few downsides, such as battery drain. If golf is your game, this app can make the round more enjoyable.

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A Classic Hobby: Reading

A Masterpiece Collection is your virtual iPhone book shelf. For only $1, you get dozens of great classic novels, from the Call of the Wild to A Tale of Two Cities to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The iPhone is fast emerging as a powerful e-reader with many apps available, such as Stanza, Kindle for iPhone and Barnes & Noble eReader.

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The Elusive Bird Stalker

Some 50 million people in the U.S. claim bird watching as their hobby, collectively spending hundreds of millions of dollars. My late uncle, a bird watcher, once traveled more than 300 miles for a chance at catching a glimpse of the rare California Condor. He surely would have spent $30 for iBird Explorer Pro, an iPhone app field guide for North America and Hawaii that includes searchable bird descriptions, pictures, maps, and even plays bird songs — the bald eagle sings "kleek-kik-ik-ik," which sounds much better on iBird Explorer.

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Cubicle Clone By Day, Grill Master on the Weekend

Whether you're grilling steaks or smoking baby back ribs, barbecue is one of the great American pastimes and has become a point of pride among self-proclaimed grill masters. Yet when food ends up tasting like cardboard, an entire day of leisure can be ruined. Don't let it happen! Weber's On the Grill helps you make the perfect rub and sauce, gives grilling times for a range of meats and vegetables, and provides pictures of a successful dish. Best of all, the iPhone lets you sneak peeks at instructions without anyone seeing you.

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Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

Nothing tackles work stress better than a workout, which releases endorphins while making you healthier. The hardest part, though, is getting started and doing it right. That's where iFitness comes in — the most popular healthcare and fitness app on the App Store. iFitness offers workout routines for weight loss, muscle building and strength building. There's even a business travel workout routine. You can log your workouts, as well as learn how to do exercises properly. Now hit the gym.

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Photographers at Play

Work often taxes the left brain while leaving the right brain to wallow. Many people use their downtime to flex the right brain with artistic endeavors such as photography. The iPhone is great for helping amateur photographers improve their art form, which has led to a photography-specific category in the App Store. One of the most fun apps, ColorSplash, lets you turn an existing photograph into a black-and-white one, and then splash color back into parts of the picture.

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Stressed Out? Jump on Your Bike

After a long work week, many folks in San Francisco hop on their bikes on a Friday afternoon. It's a big bike ride called Critical Mass. Biking is not just exercise, but a chance to be outdoors on the open road. Self sufficient. Going green. It's about as far from work as you can get in a matter of minutes — and, of course, the iPhone has an app for that. B.iCycle GPS, which costs $10, makes sure you don't get lost and tracks your distance, speed, hills climbed and even calories burned.

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Smart Snowboarders and Ski Bums

Most of us love the thrill of rippin flake and hitting a backside 180. Confused? Here's a snowboard jargon dictionary. But time off of work is rare, the ski lifts far away. So make sure you time it right. Ski & Snow Report, a free iPhone app, provides the latest ski reports of your favorite spots, showing base snow and new powder, weather forecasts and cams of runs. When you get there just avoid the jollyollie, you newbie poser.

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Don't Shop Till You Drop this Christmas

Shopping for Christmas presents isn't really a hobby. Most people hate wandering around the mall for hours, only to realize after they get home that they forgot to get a present for their brother-in-law's second cousin. It's work downtime not-so-well spent. So before you head to the mall, get Christmas Shopping List. This $1 iPhone app tracks individuals on your Christmas list, as well as budgets and gifts. It also shows your total budget, current spending and remaining dollars. The only thing it doesn't track is who's been naughty or nice.