iPhone: my first personal smartphone and the first 15 predictable free apps I downloaded

My first smartphone arrived at my door yesterday.

Considering it’s late 2011 and I report for a technology news site, you can be sure that I got a lot of crap for it being only my first. Of course, as I explained, in 2009 I was a struggling freelance writer so I had trouble enough affording my prepaid burner phone. Late that year, I joined a family plan with my sister to cut costs even more and took the basic level phone: a sturdy Samsung texting phone.

Only now, two years later, was my contract ready for an update. Considering I had already made my jump into the Apple world, I bought into the hype, and spent more than $300 on the iPhone 4s. Of course, because I cover technology, I already had a clear idea of what I would be doing with the device and had played with them for years — though that made my awe no less substantial as I played with mine.

Still, I quickly added a slew of free apps that seem to me to be the staples. Below, a list of the free apps I first added to my phone, and expectations for getting more crap:

  1. Twitter — Ask my colleagues about me texting them, to ask them to tweet something. I will never live that down.
  2. Facebook — Uh huh.
  3. Mint.com — I just joined the years-old financial planning and evaluation web applications and was curious to see if its app would offer any value.
  4. Philly.com — (Mostly) local news, a great way to check in on the day.
  5. NPR News — Love. It’s how I’ll check in on national news that I want to know.
  6. CNN — Though I’m not sure if I’ll use the app, I certainly appreciate the push alerts.
  7. Pandora — I’m scared of the data hogging music streaming app, but I know I’ll value it, especially because the Grooveshark app can only had be had with a hacked iPhone.
  8. Yelp — Yes, location-based decisions of bars and restaurants
  9. American Express — I’m not sure if I’ll use this, but for quick access to what my credit card is up to, I’ll give it a try.
  10. Instagram — Yes, I’m a sucker for those filters and sleek shots posted to social media.
  11. PNC Virtual Wallet — I have also been playing with a financial planning tool from my primary bank that could be seen as an eventual competitor to Mint. For now, I’ll use both, and try depositing checks simply through the iPhone app.
  12. AAA TripTik — Among other things, it pinpoints the cheapest gas in close proximity.
  13. QR Reader for iPhone — Ok, so I find these amusing.
  14. Onavo — The compression tool is meant to reduce your data usage, though despite the Wired coverage, the app is telling me it doesn’t support ‘my operator.’ I’ll keep it around for now.
  15. Verizon — To track data usage.
  16. Wikipedia — I end up there from time to time and like the chance to save the extra steps getting there.
  17. Netflix — There’s probably no need to stream movies or TV shows on my mobile device, but why not?
  18. *Google Contacts — It’s not an app, but I did use this and this post to sync my Google contacts with my Mac Address Book to then have all my contacts on my iPhone. Yay!
  19. iExplorer —  This app lets you use an iPhone or iPad in disk mode, like a flash drive.