A Round-Up of Native iPhone Apps

by Devanshu Mehta Sep 20, 2007

One of the first things I did to my iPhone was install Installer.app. This allows me to install all kinds of third-party applications on the iPhone. Here are some that I have found interesting:

ApolloIM is on the verge of becoming as much of a fully functional IM client as you can expect for the iPhone. It currently only supports AIM, but they promise MSN, Jabber, and others soon, at which point it will find a place on my iPhone. I have tried it just for kicks (since AIM is not my preference) and the interface is pretty good. The Adium folks are helping out, which can only bring good things. Until then, I’m using the browser-only BeeJive, which is pretty good, but I don’t like my chat going through a 4th party (it already goes through a 3rd party).

This is the first iPhone native application that I installed. It’s not like I need to leave myself voice messages or that I like to hear the sound of my voice (some would disagree), but since it is non-trivial to write a long note to yourself on the iPhone, the VoiceNotes feature allows you to keep track of your thoughts without fat-fingered typing. I am, however, getting exceptionally good at the fat-fingered typing.

This has great potential. If you are not familiar with VNC applications in general, they are a cross-platform (Mac, Linux, Windows, iPhone) way of getting remote desktop access to your computer. That means you can control and view the GUI of your computer remotely over a network (such as the Internet), which is really helpful at times. Currently, VNSea allows you to remote desktop in to any machine that runs the VNC server, but there are issues with stability, scaling, and UI; I look forward to the day when this is more robust.

This one allows you to use your iPhone as a lightsaber. ‘Nuff said.

MobileMoney allows you to keep track of your expenses. It is as simple as it needs to be, since this is a device with limited input mechanisms and screen real estate, but at the same time provides the user with the ability to categorize expenses. I normally use GnuCash on my Mac—and dread the day that is ported to the iPhone—but I can see using MobileMoney while traveling to keep track of expenses.

MobileFinder is similar to Finder on the Mac, which is useful because there is no other simple way to browse your file system on the iPhone.

The weDict allows you to load dictionaries, encyclopedia, and more on to your iPhone. Currently, I have the Merriam Webster dictionary and the Concise Encyclopedia Brittanica. I wonder what my grandparents would have thought about that.

BSD Subsystem
The BSD Subsystem for the iPhone brings a lot of UNIX-ey goodness to the iPhone. This, on its own, may not be useful to most people but a lot of other native apps require the BSD Subsystem.

SSH on the iPhone is a great addition. For those unfamiliar, SSH is a protocol that allows you to securely log in to other machines on the command line. If you do choose to install this, remember to change your root password. By default, every iPhone has “dottie” as the root password. This means that if you install SSH without changing the password, then anyone on the same network as you can log in to your iPhone with root (think administrator) access. That is, the power to do anything to your phone. The command to do this is passwd.

In addition to these, you can install scripting languages such as Perl and Python. You can also try out a host of games, including a Nintendo Entertainment System emulator to play all the great games of my childhood. There are also file viewing (MobilePreview) and file sharing (SendFile, SendSong) applications. Of all the apps that I have tried so far, only BSD, VoiceNotes, MobileFinder, and weDict have found a permanent place. I will try the updated versions of some of the others from time to time. The list of native applications for the iPhone is only getting more interesting.

NOTE: If you are wondering where you can install these applications from, they will become available to you once you install Installer.app. The installer will show up on your iPhone with a list of available apps. Just tap and install.


  • Wonderful post! Very helpful for those of us that don’t have an iPod, but wonder what all this 3rd party software fuss is all about. It makes me want to run out and buy an iPhone…

    Darn you Verizon and your wonderful coverage and (horribly locked) phones!

    mitchell_pgh had this to say on Sep 20, 2007 Posts: 18
  • You can find zillions of iPhone applications (web and native) on AddFone. This is the site with more apps around.


    Hairy Potter had this to say on Sep 20, 2007 Posts: 1
  • Books.app is another great app. Reading Gutenberg e-books should be pretty doable on that gorgeous display.

    And there is always the fantastic http://textoniphone.com web-app, if Apple decides to shut out hacked native apps for good (which seems what’s looming on the horizon, unfortunately…)

    avocade had this to say on Sep 20, 2007 Posts: 1
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