Some people like to have unique avatars for forums and instant messaging clients. I don't. My avatars usually end up being silly pictures of myself because I'm a shallow narcissist...and a bit lazy.
However, for those more creative than I, Persona [iTunes link] is a nice iPhone app in which to invest the price of a quarter-pounder. It allows the user to create a cartoon face by choosing from a variety of facial features. Hair style, eyes, nose, beard, and more are all up for grabs.
When you're done creating a mini-you (remember my personality issue described above), you can set it as the contact picture for any of your iPhone's contacts. You can also save your creation to the Camera Roll where you'll be able to export it via email or MMS (assuming you have the new 3.0 firmware and don't have AT&T), publish it to MobileMe, or use it as your wallpaper if you did a particularly good job. Once on your computer, you'll be able to use it as the avatar for that cute-cat-picture forum you visit eight times each day.
Persona is simple enough; in fact, perhaps too simple. The faces tend to look very similar as the options are quite limited for a dedicated app such as this. Also, what's going on behind my left shoulder? Every avatar I create is staring in that same direction!
Choosing from the available options isn't very intuitive. You choose the "parts" category and then pick the individual attribute, but no moving or resizing of the facial features is allowed. And very few accessories are presented, other than odd inclusion of a plethora of choices for nicotine deployment. (Note to self: see if the folks at Persona are sponsored in any way by Philip Morris.)
Overall, it's a nice idea for an app that will have moderate appeal to the forum crowds. I doubt you'll be using it again and again, though, because the app just doesn't offer much depth. But it's the user interface and lack of extensive options that tend to make the
$2.99 $.99 a bit hard to swallow.
[NOTE: Thanks to those readers that pointed out the incorrect price. The developer's web site showed $2.99 when I wrote this, however the iTunes store had it at $.99. I have talked with Alfonso Bozzelli, the app's author, and he is changing the site to reflect the correct price -- $.99.]