Gizmodo's 20 Essential iPhone Apps

It's been four months almost to the day since iPhone 2.0 came, and we've been hitting the App Store hard every week ever since to sift through what's new in iPhone App land. This week, we've decided to hold back for a second, take a breath, and compile a different kind of list: the apps that many of us on staff actually use on a regular basis. If you have a new iPhone or iTouch just waiting to be filled up, or you feel like you may be missing some essentials in your collection, this is the list for you.

Pageonce Personal Assistant: Combines myriad online accounts, from banking and investing to bill paying to airline frequent fliers. Rather than hit 15 different sites for your monthly bill pay/pain time, use this single app.

AOL Radio: Four letters: KCRW. AOL Radio pipes in the legendary LA station and for this we are thankful.

Fring: The only IM/messaing client you need. Covers Google Talk, AIM, Skype, MSN, Yahoo, ICQ, Twitter, plus VoIP calls over Wi-Fi if you're low on minutes at home or in the coffee shop.

Remote: One of the first apps we saw, and still among the best in terms of usefulness. If you use iTunes frequently at home and especially if you listen away from your desk via a stereo hookup or Airport Express, you need the Remote.

AirSharing: Our favourite file storage app—shoots files to the iPhone's flash memory via Wi-Fi for storage, transport, and easy retrieval.

Yelp: Taps into Yelp's community reviews to find good bars and restaurants based on your location. Essential for cities like San Francisco and New York where Yelp reviews are solid. When I'm out in the city and need a drink ASAP or the restaurant I was planning on going is too crowded/sucks, Yelp is what I reach for.

Routesy: Can't live in San Francisco without this app. I use it everyday to see when trains / buses are coming. Even if I am sitting at my computer I choose to look up the train / buss schedule via Routesy on my iPhone because it's just that much simpler.

City Transit: Ditto here for NYC. Even for locals, quick access to a subway map is always a good thing, plus constantly changing service outages are impossible to keep track of, without an app like this. And if you're feeling old-timey, a vintage MTA map is here too.

Pandora: Best internet radio app, hands down. Smartly auto-suggests music based on other artists you like. Both on the go and while at home. Streams well over EDGE and 3G. Free. What more could you ask for?

VNC Lite: View and fully control my computer from anywhere, as long as I am on the same network. So I can basically be at my computer without actually being at my computer...

PanoLab: Who knew multitouch is the perfect interface for stitching photos together into panoramas? It is. Plus if the photo you just took doesn't work, toss it out and take another one immediately. A paid version adds even more features.

Bloom: Generative, ambient music by Brian Eno. If I need to say more, it's also a mini-sequencer: Drop your finger on the liquidy pastel screen, play a note, make simple loops. Music For Airports that you can make yourself. In an airport, even.

Shazam: This just doesn't get old: hold your phone to the air to grab the song playing at the supermarket (or being hummed by your friend), and have it identified in a few seconds. We live in a privileged age.

Simplify Media
: Stream your home machine's iTunes library and those of up to 30 friends to your phone. This app lives up to its name. Forget worries of filling up 8GB, or even 16.

Galcon: It's Risk, but in space, and instead of six hours it takes two minutes and you don't have to be shitfaced to enjoy it.

i.TV: Provides you with an elegant TV guide, movie listings and showtimes, and Netflix queue management all in one app.

MotionX Poker: The dice rolling in MotionX Poker is one of the most accurate and painstakingly simulated dice physics engines ever built. And it shows. Not a substitute for real dice behind your neighbourhood bodega, but the closest thing possible.

Snow Reports: If you fait du ski/snowboard, Snow Reports will let you know when you should drop everything and head to Alpine Mountain for the weekend.

Google Earth: The same amazing Earth touring app found on the desktop, now spinnable via multi touch. Honestly if someone told me two years ago I would have a functional Google Earth app on my phone, I wouldn't have believed them. This is now.

Sketches: Brian likes this app because deep down, he's just a Japanese schoolgirl who wants to slap sticker graphics on photos of his dog. If you share this desire, Sketches: it's for you too.

Have an app you can't live without that didn't make our list? Awesome! Tell us in the comments so everyone can check it out. And for even more apps: see our previous weekly roundups here, and check out our original iPhone App Review Marathon. Have a good weekend everybody.

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