Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps: The Best Of 2009

Each month, the best new iPhone apps - and some older ones - are considered for Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps Directory. Who will join? Who will live? Who will die? Here are the best of December, and of the entire year.

For the full directory of Gizmodo's Essential iPhone Apps for 2009, click here. Here are the best of the month, and what we've added to the directory:

December's Best Apps

Pastebot: You know how Microsoft Office's clipboard lets you keep track of everything you've copied and pasted on your PC? This is like that, for the iPhone. Except flashier, and with wireless syncing. Four dollars.

Ratio: Previously:

"When you know a ratio, you don't know a recipe, you know 1,000." Ruhlman's upcoming Ratio iPhone app looks like an excellent way to spread his theory of ratio-based cookery. Scared of sauce-making or baking? This is for you.

Six dollars.

Gorilla Cam: A shot timer, time lapse, rapid-shot mode and a bubble level: these are the things that you'd normally find in a paid camera app, but that you'll find for free in GorillaCam, presumably because it's good advertising for the company's flexible tripods, which you absolutely do not need to use it.

N.O.V.A: I was sceptical of this one, since it's $9 and iPhone FPSes are reliably terrible, and this one looked, at first glance, like a Halo ripoff. Well! Controls still rely heavily on touch overlays, but you know what? It works pretty well here. The graphics are borderline unbelievable, the app runs well, the multiplayer modes are actually good, and there's enough pure game here to last quite a few hours. This isn't just a great iPhone game, it's a milestone for the platform.

String Trio: Fake-play a violin, viola or cello by emulating bow strokes. With a large song selection and surprisingly precise movement recognition, this is part rhythm game, part learning tool. It's basically a theory-literate air guitar for the orchestra kids.

Autostitch: There are free panorama apps out there, and some of them work fairly well. This, though, is in a whole different category: you can stitch up to 20 photos together, for 20 megapixel panoramas. 20 megapixels. On an iPhone. High-res support is limited to the 3GS, but still. $2.49.

Ustream: Live video broadcasting from your iPhone, including from the 3G. Since it'll upload straight to Ustream, it's actually a serviceable, albeit web-based, substitute for a proper video recording app. Which reminds me: Why isn't there an official, proper video recording app for older iPhones? It's clearly possible, and this app, unlike Cycorder and the like, actually got approved. Anyway, free.

Essential App Directory Inductees

As you can see, it was a hell of a month in the App Store - we're adding a fair few of the month's best to the Essential Directory.

Pastebot, for giving the iPhone the clipboard it deserves, and coming so close to greatness (lack of backgrounding capabilities are the only thing holding it back, and not the dev's fault). $US3

N.O.V.A, for finally showing the world how to make a proper FPS on the iPhone. $US7.

Gorilla Cam, for offering most of the features of a paid camera app for free.

Ustream, for giving iPhone users live video streaming capabilities they can actually use, and for not neglecting older iPhones. Free.

And that's it! What counts as an essential iPhone app changes all the time, and so should our guide: If we've missed anything huge, or you've got a much better suggestion for a particular type of app, say so in the comments. We'll be updating this thing pretty frequently, and a million Gizmodo readers can do a better job at sorting through the app mess than a single Gizmodo editor. Enjoy!

Trending Stories Right Now