The Best iPhone and iPad Apps of 2010

We are mere weeks away from the end of the first decade in this new millennium. This year has been a big one for Apple’s multi-touch product line with the arrival of the iPad, iPhone 4 and iOS 4. Along with these new technologies has come a seemingly endless barrage of great apps that keep us coming back for more.

Today we’ll take a look at some of our favorite apps that were either introduced or popular throughout the year. Some of them made the list as a result of huge sales while others are an important piece of iOS history. A big thanks to all of our Twitter followers who submitted votes for their favorite apps! You’ll definitely see many of your submissions included below.

iPhone Apps

Angry Birds

Angry Birds

Angry Birds

It’s odd to me that I would top such an ambitious list with such a silly game, but where else could I possibly start? Angry Birds has taken the world by storm and garnered millions of downloads. It was an instant success with both hardcore and casual gamers and is quickly expanding to every gaming platform that will have it, mobile and otherwise.

The evil green pigs have stolen the eggs of the angry birds and your task is to hurl the birds and destroy the structures occupied by the pigs to get them back. If it sounds crazy, it is. It’s also more addicting than most things you’ll ever experience. If you haven’t yet jumped on the Angry Birds bandwagon, you need to. Try out the free lite version first and then move on to the full app.

Price: $0.99
iTunes Rating: 5/5 Stars
Developer: Rovio

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Angry Birds

Angry Birds

Foursquare and Gowalla

Foursquare and Gowalla

This was the year for location-based social networks. “Checking-in” at various places we visit made the Twitter-like jump from something that confused people to something that everyone is doing. Pioneers Foursquare and Gowalla, though very distinct from each other visually, approached the idea in almost identical fashions: follow friends and check-in as much as possible to earn rewards.

The idea was apparently so good that Facebook wanted to steal it and become the de-facto hub through which all check-in services would integrate.

Price: Free (both)
Foursquare iTunes Rating: 4/5 Stars
Gowalla iTunes Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Foursquare Developer: Foursquare
Gowalla Developer: Alamofire

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Foursquare and Gowalla

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iMovie

iMovie

The iPhone 4 launched with a much greater emphasis on both photography and videography. With two on-board cameras and stunning quality images and video not easily found on a phone, it was a natural jump for Apple to decide that you should be able to both shoot and edit movies right on your phone.

The app and even the concept is still in its infancy so editing movies on your iPhone isn’t the most time-efficient process in the world but the app still represents quite an impressive leap that will no doubt continue to push the bounds of mobile multimedia creation.

Price: $4.99
iTunes Rating: 3/5 Stars
Developer: Apple Inc.

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iMovie

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Hipstamatic and Instagram

Hipstamatic and Instagram

While we’re on the subject of those wonderful iPhone cameras, another category that is definitely worth mentioning is retro photography apps. The popularity of these apps have skyrocketed this year and you need only look at your Twitter and Facebook streams to prove it.

Hipstamatic and Instagram are two of the most popular apps in this category and they have two distinct strategies. Hipstamatic is $1.99 and allows you to combine different virtual lenses, flashes and films to create a ton of different combinations of effects. Instagram on the other hand, is free and focuses on single-tap effects that can quickly be applied and then shared with the Instagram network.

Both apps are a blast to play with and have really opened up the wonder of photography to a much larger audience.

Hipstamatic Price: $1.99
Instagram Price: Free
Hipstamatic iTunes Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Instagram iTunes Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Hipstamatic Developer: Synthetic Corp
Instagram Developer: Burbn, Inc.

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Hipstamatic and Instagram

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Skyfire Web Browser

Skyfire Web Browser

Flash and the iPhone, Apple has piously assured us on several occasions that the two shall never meet. A few intrepid developers decided to attack this problem head on this year by creating apps designed to cleverly work around the built-in limitation. Basically, the apps just render the Flash elements on their own servers and send them back to the user.

Skyfire is one of the more popular attempts at a Flash-enabled browser to date. The implementation is far from perfect. It doesn’t work on all Flash web elements, only video, and some popular sites like Hulu are blocked. However, it is an important development for iOS users who are sick of being the only people on the planet who pay hundreds of dollars for a smartphone that can’t run Flash.

Price: $2.99
iTunes Rating: 3/5 Stars
Developer: Skyfire Labs, Inc.

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Skyfire Web Browser

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Weet for Twitter

Weet for Twitter

No list of great iOS apps would be complete without a Twitter client, and I gave a lot of thought to which one it should be. This year was very interesting for Twitter app fans because Twitter made the completely unexpected move of acquiring the incredibly popular Tweetie app while changing the price to free and setting themselves up as a direct opponent to all of the amazing developers that are largely responsible for bringing the obscure service to fame.

Tweetie for iPhone was renamed “Twitter” and was upgraded to surpass the functionality of just about any other Twitter app on the market. Developers rallied nicely though and we’re now seeing the fruits of that spirited response.

The current fan favorite seems to be Weet, an attractive app that has all the charm that made us all fall in love with Tweetie. The interface is slick and simple to use, the feature set is powerful and the app integrates with lots of third party services that you actually use like CloudApp, Text Expander and Instapaper. Hats off to Craig Merchant for coming out of nowhere and creating an app that actually succeeded in winning some of the Tweetie fans over. There’s also an early Mac version that you should download and try.

Price: $0.99
iTunes Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Developer: Craig Merchant

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Weet for Twitter

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Instapaper and Read It Later

Instapaper and Read It Later

As you’ve probably noticed by now, there seems to be a trend with new and innovative services: there’s almost always two primary options. This holds true in the fast-growing market of services that let you quickly add an article or site to a list with the intention of reading it later.

These services weren’t born in 2010 but, like the location-based social networks above, they seem to have really boomed this year. iOS seems to be one of the most obvious places for this service to exist. As you’re scrolling through Weet, you’re likely to come across a dozen or more interesting links that you want to read/watch later, either on a desktop where they’re larger or simply when you have more time.

We received plenty of votes for both Instapaper and Read It Later so I decided to include them both. They are very similar in features so which app/service is better ultimately comes down to a matter of preference. Check them both out and see what you think!

Price: $4.99 (both)
Instapaper iTunes Rating: 5/5 Stars
Read It Later Pro iTunes Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Instapaper Developer: Marco Arment
Read It Later Pro Developer: Idea Shower

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Instapaper and Read It Later

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Cut the Rope

Cut the Rope

Chillingo is on a major winning streak. Not only are they the publishers behind Angry Birds above but they get another title on my list in the form of Cut the Rope, an instantly charming puzzle game that is simple in concept and devilishly addictive in its execution.

Each stage features a piece of candy dangling from one or more ropes. Your task is to slice the ropes and use the various tools, obstacles, etc. to feed the piece of candy to Om Nom the hungry monster. The illustrations and animations are just beautiful (try the iPad version for an even better visual experience) and the gameplay is ridiculously fun.

Price: $0.99
iTunes Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Developer: Chillingo

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Cut the Rope

iPad Apps

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Twitter

Twitter

Now, I lauded Weet above for being one of the best apps to actually take social network giant Twitter head on in their own turf. There are now plenty of iPhone apps that feel pretty close to the experience offered by Twitter’s own. However, this doesn’t seem to be true for Twitter for iPad.

Twitter for iPad was one of the first apps I downloaded onto my iPad and continues to be the one that I use the most. Not only does this app capture the desktop Twitter experience, in my opinion it surpasses it. The sliding panels interface is simply unbeatable for quickly getting a look at the things your friends are sharing without leaving your Twitter stream behind.

Say what you will about how great Twitterrific and other iPad Twitter clients are, I’ve tried them and still firmly believe that Twitter’s own client is simply the most innovative Twitter experience to date. The value is especially large for those looking for a free client that beautifully handles multiple accounts.

Price: Free
iTunes Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Developer: Twitter, Inc.

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Twitter

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iBooks

iBooks

One of the biggest selling points of the iPad has always been that it would blow the Kindle away as an e-reader on steroids. The key to this strategy is the iBooks app, which allows you to download and read a catalog of novels, non-fiction books, magazines and more.

In a recent article, I stated a few issues that I have with the iBooks app but in the end it definitely feels like the solution that is best integrated into the iPad experience, specifically when it comes to actually shopping for books (the Kindle and Nook iOS apps are forced to go through Safari for purchases).

Price: Free
iTunes Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Developer: Apple, Inc.

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iBooks

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Flipboard

Flipboard

Flipboard was one of the first apps to really wow us with the iPad experience. Granted, the fad has slightly died down since its release but it still remains one of the most beautiful ways to read the news, browse Twitter and check in on Facebook.

If you’ve never used it, the basic concept is that Flipboard takes all your favorite content, puts it in one place and turns it into an attractive, interactive magazine-like experience. The result is unarguably one of the most unique ways we’ve seen to interact with social media.

Price: Free
iTunes Rating: 5/5 Stars
Developer: Flipboard Inc.

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Flipboard

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Adobe Ideas

Adobe Ideas

Adobe Ideas isn’t the best drawing application on the iPad, nor is it the one that I use the most. However, I’m a picky graphic designer willing to pay upwards of $10-20 for a professional vector editor; not your typical customer.

Adobe Ideas is a solid and fun app that is perfect in its simplicity. It’s free, easy to use and is actually the most responsive drawing app I’ve used (little to no lag). I’ve listed it here because it’s one of those great apps that you should download as soon as you get an iPad and never delete. When you hand the device over to a friend to show it off, fire up Adobe Ideas and you’ll spend the next twenty minutes wondering how to get your iPad back.

Price: Free
iTunes Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Developer: Adobe Systems Incorporated

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Adobe Ideas

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Reeder

Reeder for iPad

When I asked people on Twitter to submit their favorite apps of 2010, Reeder came up time and time again. Design-conscious users simply love its simplicity and beauty.

The mild, slightly textured interface is super easy on the eyes and makes browsing, reading and sharing a truly enjoyable experience. If you like Reeder for iPad, you’ll be happy to know that the recently released beta of Reeder for Mac looks just as promising!

Price: $4.99
iTunes Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Developer: Silvio Rizzi

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Reeder

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OmniFocus

OmniFocus

Another great thing about the iPad is that it marked the beginning of iOS apps that looked and felt just as powerful as their desktop equivalents. One of the places we saw this first was in productivity apps.

The excellent but perhaps overpriced forerunners in this category are OmniFocus and Things. Both are awesome applications but since Cultured Code has take so incredibly long to implement cloud sync I chose OmniFocus to feature here. OmniFocus for iPad is attractive and impressively featured with support for things simply you don’t see in other apps like sub-tasks and location-based contexts with built-in maps (and of course, free cloud syncing).

Price: $39.99
iTunes Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Developer: The Omni Group

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OmniFocus

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Flud

Flud

So far, the majority of the iPad apps that we’ve featured are new and innovative readers. The iPad presents such a rich opportunity for these types of apps that they simply keep coming. Yet one more that I really enjoy using is Flud.

Flud is a bit like a cross between Reeder and Flipboard. Like Reeder, it has a stronger emphasis on RSS than Flipboard. However, like Flipboard, it has a really interesting node-based interface. In fact, it’s even far more efficient than Flipboard for sorting through lots and lots of content all at once.

Price:Free
iTunes Rating: 4/5 Stars
Developer: Flud

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Flud

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Evernote for iPad

Evernote for iPad

We’ve all owned and loved Evernote for years. Some people, like myself, keep their entire lives in this one amazing app and would be completely lost without it. The iPhone app took our Evernote information off of our desktops and put it where we really need it: everywhere else.

The iPad app continues this trend while providing a serious bump in design and aesthetics. Evernote for iPad is simply gorgeous and it really feels right at home on the bigger iPad screen (some of those big receipt PDFs aren’t really suited for iPhone viewing). You simply can’t beat the combination of applications and services that Evernote provides completely free of charge.

Price: Free
iTunes Rating: 3/5 Stars
Developer: Evernote

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Evernote for iPad

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Friendly for Facebook

Friendly for Facebook

The biggest gap in the iPad section of the App Store is the official Facebook iPad app. In case you haven’t heard, there isn’t one. Facebook is very focused on its mobile strategy, but Zuckerberg is quoted as saying that he doesn’t consider the iPad to be a mobile device. This is really a shame because the iPhone Facebook app, despite a rough history, is actually really good in its current implementation and an iPad-specific version would be amazing.

However, this gap has recently been filled with Friendly for Facebook, an excellent and free application that actually does a bang up job at providing a stellar Facebook iPad experience. I was fine with using the full Facebook website for a while but the Friendly app really has made Facebook much more accessible on the iPad and I won’t be going back any time soon.

My favorite feature here is the ability to load in multiple accounts and quickly switch between them, something not seen in almost any other Facebook client.

Price: Free
iTunes Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Developer: Oecoway Inc.

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Friendly for Facebook

What Are Your Favorites?

Listing the best apps of the entire year is a dangerous task. It’s likely to be highly controversial and is admittedly completely subjective. The apps above represent our top picks but there are still tons more to choose from. As one example, Dropbox is a fantastic application (one of my favorites) and though it wasn’t new in 2010, it definitely continues to get plenty of votes for the top spot (in the end I chose Evernote for iPad simply because the interface was a little nicer).

So this is where you get to chime in. Feel free to compose a rant about how much you hate my choices as long as you leave a few choices of your own! We want to hear all about the apps you’ve used most over the last year and why they stand out as the best.

The Best Mac and Web Apps of 2010

If you’re a fan of your Mac, or all the amazing new online apps that are hitting the interwebs (and let’s face it, who isn’t?), you may also like to take a look at the companion posts published across the AppStorm network. These include some seriously amazing software, and it’s a good way to quickly see what you might have missed over the course of the year.

Take a look at:

Thank you so much for reading AppStorm in 2010. We’re really excited about everything that 2011 has in store, and I hope you’ll take a minute to subscribe to the site if you haven’t already!


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  • http://techinch.com/ Matthew Guay

    You definitely hit some of the best; I love many of the apps you listed. Others I use regularly and really enjoy:

    - Express for WordPress – great way to post to a WordPress tumblog on the go, and really beautiful app + icon

    - Expenditure – simple and elegant way to keep up with your finances

    - PlainText – my favorite note app on iOS

    - Droplr – great + beautiful way to share pictures, notes, links, and more, plus it works on OS X + Windows, too

    - Billings – Nice way to do time tracking and invoicing, even if you don’t use Billings on a desktop

    - Trainyard – Great puzzle game, more brain-challenging than Angry Birds (though Angry Birds is still awesome :) )

    • http://techinch.com/ Matthew Guay

      Oh, and I almost forgot … Things. Seriously the best way to keep up with everything you need to do. Or for a simpler “todos and nothing else” app, TaskForce is a great + cheap option.

      • http://www.coroflot.com/joshuajohnson Joshua Johnson

        Things is mentioned, but I took it off the list because Cultured Code is dragging their feet on cloud sync. Users want it, the competition has it, they’ve promised it, it’s time to deliver!

      • http://techinch.com/ Matthew Guay

        Oh, I see … somehow I missed that Things was mentioned at all. And yes, it’s been way to long now – Cultured Code really needs to get cloud sync delivered :)

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  • http://www.lightboxhd.com Bullrider

    Hi greate Collection.
    But you definettely forgot LightboxHD.
    also greate Ipad App

  • http://www.theblacksmoke.com Tom Alday

    NotifyMe2 (iPad and iPhone) – Great little reminder app, look and design are gorgeous.

    Things (iPad and iPhone) – Perfect

    Feedler (iPad) – Tried Reeder but not a fan, Feedler is great

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  • Richard

    You say that iPhone users are “the only people on the planet who pay hundreds of dollars for a smartphone that can’t run Flash.” Seriously? Until a few months ago, NO smartphone ran Flash. Now it’s just a handful, and the experience sucks. Check your facts, please.

    • http://www.coroflot.com/joshuajohnson Joshua Johnson

      I’m prone to hyperbole, apologies if you understood it literally!

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  • Tuomas

    Just to make things clear, Chillingo is not the developer of Angry Birds, they have only published it. Angry Birds was created and is developed by a Finnish mobile software company Rovio Mobile (their website: http://www.rovio.com/)

    • http://www.coroflot.com/joshuajohnson Joshua Johnson

      Whoa, confusing! I didn’t even realize that Chillingo works with other developers to help make their games successful… thanks for pointing this out!

  • http://www.nixgrafix.com Nic

    Great article, have to say Evernote is my Number One so useful when you’re out an about !

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  • Shashi Velur

    This is a good list.

    I think @LifeTopix from @LightArrowInc (released last month) can replace EverNote and OmniFocus on this list (for iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch) for just $0.99!

  • http://meerzdaily.blogspot.com Meerz

    Great iPad collection. I love most of them.

  • http://www.diamondtin.com Tin

    There is a wrong link: Instapaper’s Marco Arment link to http://hipstamaticapp.com/ , this is wrong.

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  • Patricia

    I would have prefer Cut the Rope! But final is final. Another app that I would like to be included (but not) is Intuition (www.iconapps.com), this is a free and simple task management app that I find helpful in sorting schedules and tasks.

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  • http://www.ockels.nl Chriet Titulaer

    In fact iBooks has really failed in many countries due to licensing issues. In these countries users can only download Alice in Wonderland and The Art of War.

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  • JR

    Dropbox – great way to access those files on the cloud.

    Cam+ – IMO beats any cam app out there. Turns the stock camera into a powerhouse.

    Live Profile – Great messenger app, slick UI. More options than Ping.

    Netflix – nuff said.

    Pulse. – RSS reader with a smooth interface.

  • Silouane

    Chillingo isn’t the developper of Cut the Rope either. It’s a company created by two brothers named Zeptolab. They also made Parachute Ninja.

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  • http://howtojailbreakiphone4s.org/ Jailbreak iPhone 4S

    I am huge fan of AngryBirds. I have managed to win all the possible stars in this game. And I am a bit disappointed that there is lack of new levels to play. But otherwise it is one of the coolest games on PC and iOS

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    More and more seo companies are emerging nowadays. Client must choose the right one.

  • Larry

    I’ve been addicted to the new game “Dragon Terror” iPhone / iPad app with different games and challenging levels. Such a fun game and got TiPB Pick of the Week!

    “Smart Toddler School Pro++” app is an interactive and amusing way for preschoolers to learn letters, numbers, colors, shapes and counting. Sound effects and stars to teach are entertaining.

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