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Book Review: Best iPhone Apps: The Guide Discriminating Downloaders by Josh Clark

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“There's an app for that.”

Who knew that the above statement, prominently featured in iPhone ads, would become part of the lexicon? Ever since the iPhone's debut, related applications have exploded, claiming to help organize your life or just to have fun. Apple's App Store features an astounding range of programs — so many that the shopping experience can be overwhelming. O'Reilly Publishing helps navigate through this clutter in Best iPhone Apps: The Guide for Discriminating Downloaders, a must have for both new and experienced iPhone owners.

Author Josh Clark, who tested each of the apps included in the book, divides the programs into several categories: “At Work,” “On the Town,” “At Leisure,” “At Play,” “At Home,” “On the Road,” and “For Your Health.” Adding to the user-friendly quality is that each chapter is color-coded, allowing for easy and quick reference. Screen captures illustrate the capabilities of each program, letting readers make more informed choices.

Clark's conversational, casual writing style sustains interest and evokes occasional chuckles. His titles, such as “Best App for When You Can't Hold It” (which locates the closest public bathrooms), “Best Game for A God Complex” (the Sims) and “Best App for Robot Crooners.” He specializes in offbeat recommendations — if you've ever wanted to create music, meditate, or create a Zen garden, Best iPhone Apps can help — but he also lists practical programs for scheduling, finding flights, tracking travel expenses, and sending or receiving documents. Information on using Skype with an iPhone will particularly appeal to those wishing to stretch their minutes. Want to book a cab, locate the nearest ATM, or discover how to say “where is an ATM” in French? Clark has suggestions for all of those tasks, often listing “honorable mentions” for various categories. Costs vary, ranging from free to almost $20 per download.

Due to the rapidly growing numbers of apps — Clark estimates over 50,000 were available at the App Store as of the book's publication — obviously Best iPhone Apps may not contain the most up-to-date information. Readers may disagree with his picks, as some prefer one program's features over another. However, the guide serves as a starting point for iPhone owners in choosing appropriate apps, and draws attention to more obscure programs even advanced users may not be familiar with.

In the introduction, Clark states that “nearly every iPhone owner I know is paralyzed by the options in the App Store.” Through clear, vibrant graphics, a highly organized layout, and concise writing, Best iPhone Apps: The Guide for Discriminating Downloaders makes finding and selecting the best apps a painless, even entertaining, process.

Visit the Best iPhone Apps: The Guide for Discriminating Downloaders site to read excerpts and to vote for your favorite iPhone apps.

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About Kit O'Toole

  • Kit O’Toole

    Interesting, Al, thanks for pointing that out! MLB at Bat sounds like a useful–and inexpensive–app.

  • Al Sussman

    The newest iPhone software also works in the iPod Touch so, if you don’t want to put up with AT&T’s lousy coverage, you don’t have to get an iPhone to use these apps. Most of them are free or very inexpensive. The most expensive one I found was a $10 Major League Baseball At Bat app that gives you radio coverage of every game (both tems broadcasts) and free video of several games every week. So far, I’ve gotten around a dozen apps and they are very handy.