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Best of the worst: the App Store's hits and misses

We want to love you, iPhone apps -- we really, really do. Unfortunately for us, a lot of you are sucking pretty hard right now. Between the sluggish behavior, poorly implemented UIs / features, and lack of necessary services... well, let's just say it isn't pretty. Still, we can't say how much trouble is caused by the new firmware, and there are a few really bright beacons of light out there (we're hoping their numbers grow). We didn't try all 500+ applications (fitness? puhlease), but we did handle quite a few, and we've rounded up the best and worst that we've seen so far for your viewing pleasure. We'd love to hear from you too -- what apps are you loving or hating right now?

The best:


Apple mixes it up with the indie developers and turns in a responsive, intuitive and extensive interface for controlling iTunes remotely. Setup is a breeze -- though we weren't really expecting anything less from Apple -- and we're nerdy enough to sit two feet from our computer and choose songs via the iPhone. This app clearly benefited from the money, time and testing advantage Apple has over the "competition."

Ms. Pac Man

Good old school vibe, nice choice of control methods, and solid, professional feel. Game makers take note, you could learn something from one of the classics.

File Magnet

This one is kind of cool. It lets you upload PDFs, Office documents, pictures, movies, and audio files wirelessly to your phone to view or listen to. It requires Leopard and a separate uploader app, but it works seamlessly and does exactly what it claims to. We're hoping they add some basic editing functions here, or allow you to export to other apps that can.

Guitar Toolkit

If you're a guitar player, this has a handful of tools (tuner, metronome, etc.) that are actually useable and handsomely presented. Still, the plucked strings could be a bit louder if you're trying to use them to tune.


If you live in NYC, this service not only gives you a full MTA subway map and separate line guides, but also provides a location based stop-finder, and OTA updates of train trouble or service outages direct from the source. At $2.99, you probably can't afford not to have this in New York.


The free (and superior) alternative to Twitterrific. It may not be as handsome, but it's not hard on the eyes, and definitely gets the job done a lot smoother.

Bomberman Touch

It's got a badly translated plot, old-school graphics, and control that we can live with (though it's no Ms. Pac Man). Oh, and it's Bomberman.

Hold Button

This might be the single greatest "productivity" app ever coded.

The worst:


You're kidding us, right? This is the best chat we can get for one of the world's most advanced phones? Almost every instant messenger program that was available for jailbroken phones make this look like My First Coding Project. Buggy UI, annoying lack of mute, no icon message updates (or updates at all), and rapid fire message downloading when you reopen make this pure, unadulterated fail.


No ability to add or remove feeds, improper display of feed names and hierarchy, and no way to zoom out on large stories or pictures are just a few of the problems we have with this app. Back to the drawing board -- the competition isn't sleeping guys. Like a lot of free apps, it just feels like a sleazy way to tether you to an online service.


Well it looks nice -- but jumpy, sluggish performance make this a pain to use. Also, ads? It doesn't inspire us to pay for this, it inspires us to download Twittelator.


What's the point of an application that offers slightly less functionality than the iPhone site? The world may never know.


Okay, you're the world's greatest news source, right? So why can't your iPhone app load pictures or update properly, and why are you using our miniscule bandwidth to display ads? We don't know... do you?

Ebay Mobile

Look, we all need to shop on the go, right? But we don't all need to use an application that looks like its buttons were lazily stolen from Flash templates circa 1999. It's ugly, it's sloppy. It doesn't alert you to bidding wars or potential upsets. Get it away from us.

Almost, but not quite:

Super Monkey Ball

Touted as being the high-water-mark for the iPhone's graphics performance, Super Monkey Ball doesn't disappoint in that department. Controls are difficult (to say the least), and that can dip the fun-levels kind of low -- since you have to tilt the screen away from you to move the monkey, you sometimes miss the action altogether. Still it's a good time once you get the hang of it, though some of those kinks can be pretty maddening (no real pause?). Needs some tightening up, but still quite playable.

Mobile Flickr

Worth the cash if you're a Flickr addict, and mobile uploads are a joy, but a serious D- on presentation, and suffers from the buggy feel of so many of these apps.


We're loving the concept, and plan on tricking our friends into joining up into our own little Whrrl-based restaurant-reviewing mafia, but this is another app that needs (a lot) more time in the oven.