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We're starting to get the feeling that anyone with $99 in the bank and a computer can apply—and without too much difficulty be accepted—to Apple's iPhone Developer Program. To pick up on this yourself, you need only check out the free apps section of the App Store, which houses 200-plus titles in all different categories, from games to productivity to utilities to entertainment.
After whiling away a solid workday (and a few evenings), scouring the free apps area and downloading like mad, we feel uniquely qualified to present our Top 20 Free iPhone Apps list. To qualify for the list, it must:
- Be remarkably bizarre, pointless, or random
- Provide a unique or incredibly useful function
- Make us laugh, or provide instant, short-term amusement of the kind necessary or desirable while waiting in line at the DMV or doctor's office
- Cost nothing (duh)
- Be less than 1MB in size
And now…Here's the list:
Verdict: Totally pointless but just the ticket when you need to fill 45 seconds until the stoplight changes (as a pedestrian, not a driver, people!) or until the next train comes.
A piece of bubble wrap appears onscreen and you pop as many bubbles as you can (without doubling up) in 45 seconds. We just wish you could pop multiple bubbles at once by sliding a finger across the screen the way you can do with bubble wrap in real life.
Poppin' good fun!
Developer: Warner Bros. Technical Operations
Verdict: Totally pointless entertainment
Drawn in by the image of Heath Ledger as the Joker in The Dark Knight, we couldn't resist installing this app, which is blatant marketing from Warner Bros. Studios. All the app does is allow you to impose a graffiti-like Joker face, or the scrawled words "Ha Ha Ha," or "Why So Serious?" on top of photos you snap on your iPhone. Once you do that, you can email the image to fellow batfans.
Barack's no Joker...(photo taken of a page from Rolling Stone magazine hanging in the Mac|Life office space.)
Developer: Maverick Software
Verdict: Totally pointless entertainment, and a must-have for SNL fans
If you're familiar with Tiny Violin (99 cents), you'll like More Cowbell—whose only purpose is to play the now-famous "I gotta Have More Cowbell!" line from the April 8, 2000, SNL skit featuring Christopher Walken as music producer Bruce Dickinson. After you tap once to hear the line, subsequent taps produce the "dink "dink" "dink" sounds of a cowbell.
Come on baby, Don't Fear the Reaper. Just give him more cowbell.
Verdict: Totally random but educational
Math geeks and aspiring math geeks—this app is for you. Mandelbrot is an interactive Mandelbrot set, a visual representation of a cset of points in the comlex plane.
It might bring on psychiatry flashbacks, but Mandelbrot's inkblot-like images are actually mathematical forms.
The sole purpose of this app is to time how long you can keep your finger on a button on the screen. Yeah, it's pretty dumb, but there's something oddly satisfying about beating your colleagues' times—kind of like winning a thumb war or a staring contest.
I can hold on longer than you can!
Developer: Shazam Entertainment
Verdict: Useful and entertaining
For a free app, Shazam has awesome return on investment—it easily recognized "My Bloody Valentine." Even when we just held up one headphone so it could "hear."
Prepare to be impressed by it's song-recognizing abilities.
Developer: Sodasnap Inc.
Verdict: Totally entertaining way to amuse yourself on vacation or in prime people-watching spots
Emailing snaps of random street scenes, wacky people, or cool stuff from your iPhone is one thing. Turning them into e-postcards with SodaSnap Instant Postcards lets you also say ":Wish you were here" with more than just a text-only email message.
We hope you put it to more exciting use than we did.
Developer: Joshua Minor
Verdict: Totally pointless, but gets extra points for the fact that it actually works to dial a phone number
You might wonder, "why does this app exist?" and so did we, but like many other apps on this list, it offers a minute or two of amusement for zero money down.
This is the number to dial if you wanna leave a message for Mac|Life (extension 622).
Verdict: Totally pointless but totally cute
Longtime Mac users will recognize this talking, singing happy face with an incongruous Spanish accent. With Jared on your iPhone, you won't miss your Mac…and we know from experience that Jared's really good at cheering up the under 2 set when they accidentally bump their noggin and need something to distract them.
Who's's yellow and round and loves to sing happy songs? Jared!
10. Yes|No Free
Developer: Masayuki Akamatsu
Verdict: Totally pointless but useful if you don't have a coin to toss
Not as detailed in its responses as a Magic Eight Ball, Yes|No Free offers up a simple "Yes" or "No" when you tap the screen. It effectively turns your iPhone into the most expensive quarter in the world.
Should we adopt a labradoodle?