by Tom Kaneshige

15 iPhone Apps That Changed Our World

Mar 15, 20137 mins
Consumer ElectronicsiPhoneMobile Apps

The first iPhone hit the market less than five years ago -- and shook up our world. Now iPhone sightings are everywhere, with Apple lovers listening to music, playing games and staring into tiny screens. The last holdouts are coming around and finally getting a smartphone. Most people feel lost without their iPhones. Can you live without these iPhone apps?


Text messaging has become the preferred way we communicate with friends, replacing the venerable telephone. Now we can reach out and be reached at all times – that is, as long as there’s battery life in our iPhone and we’re within range of a cell tower. Messages is the telephone of our time.

15 Best iPhone Apps for Newbies (2012)

15 Best iPhone Apps for Newbies


Maps, iPhone apps

We used to lean on our memory to get around, find places, and arrive on time. This didn’t work too well, so some of us carried fold out maps. No one uses printed maps anymore, at least no one with an iPhone. A maps app is core to our mobile lives. Sure, iPhone owners complained mightily that Apple Maps isn’t nearly as good as Google Maps. But the uproar just goes to show how much we rely on a maps app these days.

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News Apps

News Apps, iPhone aps

Whether you receive news alerts via the CNN app, AP app, New York Times app, or any other news-related app doesn’t really matter. The point is you receive these alerts on your iPhone as the news breaks and can chat with friends, colleagues, even strangers about news events. You don’t have to wait for the 5 o’clock news or tomorrow’s paper. You don’t even have to fire up your PC at home or work. You are one of the first to know what’s happening in the world.


Camera, iPhone aps

A high-quality camera on a smartphone is just brilliant. We now have a camera with us at all times that we can whip out and use in mere seconds. Really, who walks around with a standalone camera these days? We can capture images and video of special moments, on-the-scene news events, even documents. If you’re enjoying a particular wine and want to remember the brand, just tap your iPhone and take a picture of the label. Who knew a ubiquitous camera could be so helpful?

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Reminders, iPhone aps

We’ve all kicked ourselves for forgetting some menial task, such as pick up milk, shoot a text out to a friend, turn off the water sprinkler. The list goes on and on. With the iPhone’s Reminders app, you just don’t forget anymore. Once a task is put into Reminders, you can relax. No more worrying about remembering.

15 Best iPhone Apps for Newbies (2012)

15 Best iPhone Apps for Newbies

Google Translate

Google Translate, iPhone aps

One of the greatest, most under-valued iPhone apps is Google Translate. This app quite literally opens up our world. It expands our circle of people we can communicate with. It’s overlooked because we don’t use it often enough. But when you need it, the app is the most precious one on the iPhone. Another language translation app, Jibbigo, costs more but doesn’t require a wireless connection.


Music, iPhone aps

We all know how the iPod filled the gaps in our daily lives. We kill time riding trains or buses listening to our favorite songs. We’ve got playlists to put us in the right mood and mindset for, say, work or workouts. It’s a good bet you’ve listened to more music in the past decade than the rest of the decades put together. What would we do if we didn’t have music on our iPhone? Maybe play games (next slide, please).


Games, iPhone apps

Bored much? One of the most popular categories in the Apple App Store is games. From Infinity Blade to Angry Birds, gaming apps have become an obsession for many iPhone owners. You’d think such serious gamers would prefer the standalone PlayStation Vita or Nintendo 3DS for a better experience. Truth is, people don’t like to carry around multiple devices. The always-with-us, multi-use iPhone wins out again.

iTunes & App Store

iTunes & App Store

The iPhone has given people a powerful sense of instant gratification. You want something? You’re entitled to it right now. You’ve probably listened to a song on the radio, Pandora or on Youtube or identified a song on Shazam and decided that you must have it in your music library. Tap on iTunes and download it instantly. Maybe what you need is a certain app functionality. Tap on App Store and it will soon be yours. Waiting until you get home is for rookies.

15 Best iPhone Apps for Newbies (2012)

15 Best iPhone Apps for Newbies


Safari, iPhone aps

Having a lightning-fast browser that’s super easy to use has changed our lives. We can look up all sorts of information, find answers to pressing questions, read articles, watch videos. The wealth of human knowledge is at our fingertips on a device in our pockets. It’s hard to imagine a smartphone without a killer browser – or maybe not. Remember the WAP days?


Siri, iPhone aps

Apple’s voice-enabled artificial intelligence engine gets on this list because Siri started out as an app. It’s often criticized for failing to meet our expectations. Perhaps our expectations are too high. Siri is great in certain situations and when asked simple questions. Are the Golden State Warriors playing tonight? What’s the weather like in San Francisco? There will come a day when we won’t be able to recall not talking to a mobile device.


calendar, iPhone aps

Remember your portable paper-based Day Runner organizer and calendar? We carried it everywhere. Many of us switched to the handheld Palm Pilot, reinforcing the notion that a calendar only works when it’s mobile and always close to us. Then came the iPhone with its built-in Calendar app. Not only could it sync with the desktop calendar but alert us to meetings and other events. If you think you can live without it, just add up how many times you look at the Calendar app per day.

15 Best iPhone Apps for Newbies (2012)

15 Best iPhone Apps for Newbies

Banking Apps

banking, iPhone aps

Mobile banking apps are more than just a convenient way to pay bills and check balances. Some let you even deposit checks by capturing an image of the check via the camera or deposit money straight to a friend’s account. We’ve all been at a store or restaurant and suddenly realized we needed to transfer funds to cover the bill. Now we just whip out the iPhone and fire up the banking app. Before the iPhone, we would have to plead with the restaurant manager: “Can I run to the bank and come back to pay this bill?”

Facebook, Twitter

Facebook, Twitter, iPhone aps

Whether or not Facebook and Twitter have changed our lives is a good question. If they have, then there’s no question that the Facebook and Twitter apps on the iPhone have changed how we interact with the popular social networks. Checking status updates and Tweets isn’t confined to a certain hour in the day. We’re social creatures and check them constantly. That’s why social networks report that people are accessing them mostly through mobile apps.

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Passbook, iPhone aps

Let’s be clear: Apple’s Passbook app doesn’t change our world. It’s the promise of Passbook that puts this app on the list. Passbook is Apple’s first step to turn the iPhone into a mobile wallet. “By introducing Passbook with its couponing, rewards and other capabilities through the iPhone, Apple is laying the groundwork so they can introduce commerce capability,” J Schwan, CEO and founder of Solstice Mobile,told

If and when that happens, we indeed will not be able to live without it.