Top 10 iPhone apps of all time

First off let me start by saying that this post is completely biased as these are MY favorite apps of all time.  It would help if I told you a little about myself so that the chosen apps will make sense.  I’m a web designer, dispatcher, blog author, musician, vegetarian, father, and Dungeon Master/RPG nerd.  For a skill set as strange and diverse as mine I require certain apps to help me keep my chaotic life in clean, concise order.  I will refrain from including apps such as Cydia since if you’re actually getting full use of your iPhone you already know what Cydia is.  If you have never heard of Cydia then you need to unlock the full potential of your device and follow one of our articles on how to Unlock iOS 4.2.1.  So, without further adieu…

My top 10 iPhone apps of all time


Dnd Scribe is an app designed for Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 players to keep track of their characters on a virtual character sheet.  I don’t usually play D&D, but I DM a game at least once every couple weeks.  As a DM, I use this app quite often to keep track of NPCs who travel with the party.  We have two such party members and both use arcane spells.  It is a boon to have character sheets full of skills and spells to reference in addition to running all the monsters, traps, maps, and plot of a story I am narrating.  Therefore by entering all the skills and spells into DnD Scribe I am able to swiftly run these NPCs.  Even leveling up is a simple process and I don’t even need to reference the books.

Using this app you can run a character solely from your iPhone.  The virtual character sheet contains everything the regular character sheet has and will even let you level up, roll your hp, and select from feats available at your newly obtained level.  If you are a D&D 3.5 player or DM I highly recommend this tool which will cost you only a couple bucks and save you hours of work.

#9: FourTrack – $10.00 – Buy Now!

I went to recording engineering school and have both been recorded in a band and worked recording others in some very professional studios in both Washington State and New York City.  Although most crave the crisp, clean digital audio that is heard on most mainstream radio I have always loved the DIY old school home four track.  When I saw that I could get that old four track on my iPhone I was ecstatic.  I use the audio recorder that comes pre-installed on iphone to record simple guitar parts as ideas for new songs, but this app gives me the capability of recording a rhythm guitar part, lead guitar, vocals, and hand drums so that I have a nearly complete song to show my band at our rehearsals.  For any musician this is an invaluable tool that will allow you to quickly lay down your song ideas.  I have three complaints- first sometimes the app freezes up or hiccups on iPhone 3G, second it would be cool to have a QuickMix/Email function to send a song to friends, and finally it would be handy if you could download free software off their website to do mix-downs on the computer so you could really fine tune the mix if you decide you want to use it for an actual product you will be selling.  There is also a device you can purchase from this company to plug a 1/4″ adapter straight into the iPhone, I could find this use VERY handy especially for live sound situations.

#8: Tabletop Initiative Tracker – FREE! – Download Now!

This is the simplistic, easy to use interface I have been searching for.  Easily enter a characters name and move him/her where you want them on the list.  Click one button to rotate through the list and use the various icons for things like status effects or to determine who is being targeted by the enemy.  The best feature is that it is simple and won’t distract me from running a battle.  Combat in D&D and all RPGs for that matter usually requires the DM/GM to be quite attentive so anything distracting me hinders the game.  This app is FREE and if you have an iPhone or iPad I suggest downloading it and trying it out as they have it available for either device.  It comes standard as part of the Dungeon Master Toolkit which will be described below at number 7 on this list.

#7: Dungeon Master Toolkit – $12.99 – Buy Now!

A hefty price for an iPhone/iPad app, but this app contains many software programs built together into a kit to assist Dungeon Masters with smoothly running their games. The tabletop initiative tracker listed above is also included in the app! The DM Toolkit app is like the Swiss army knife of gaming tools, check out all the great things this app can accomplish for you!

– Modify traps, treasures, gear, characters, monsters, and more from your handheld device.
– Use Dice Box, Crib Sheets, Scratch Pad, and Initiative Tracker tools, all without leaving the app!
– Content Generation. Randomly generate stats, skills, classes, physical characteristics, monsters, and more with ease as you play.
– Universal Applicability. Download additional game templates to support more RPG systems, or create your own templates for specific and niche RPGs–with these powerful tools, DM Toolkit can be easily modified to support any RPG!
– Easily reference and cross-reference your data to build encounters and dungeons, as well as outfit player characters.
– Keep notes, add pictures, and completely customize your resources.
– Preloaded with DnD 4th Edition templates, for quick startup.
– Template system allows users to add new and original game systems to the app.
– Download free templates for additional game systems, or download free libraries of user-created content to expand your existing games*.
– Export your creations to share them with other DM Toolkit users from around the world!
– Universal application runs on the iPhone, iPod touch, AND iPad.

Here’s a short youtube video of the app in action:

What else do you need?  Imagination is the only thing I can think of.  No more hauling books with you and fumbling through pages to find stats and random treasure.  This will smooth out your game and leave more time for the reason you get together- playing!

#6: Mindnode – $5.99 – Buy Now!

This app is for both the iPhone and iPad although I must admit I use it more often on my iPad.  With Mindnode you can easily lay out a “mind map” which can help with brainstorming D&D game ideas, working on new ideas for a novel, planning your future, or any number of creative ventures.  I sometimes open it just to throw some ideas in there and let them spawn into bigger and better ideas which split off in a hundred directions.

The price of this app is $5.99 which is a bit more than I would normally pay for something this simple, but I REALLY like the feature of emailing my Mindmap when I’m done and having it appear in a nice high resolution format which is colorful, crisp, and professional.  I have emailed ideas to clients straight from the app many times.  If you like to brainstorm and need something to record that storm for future use, than this app is for you!

#5: Netflix – FREE! – Download Now!

If you are still watching regular TV with all the annoying commercials the first thing you should do is pick up your wireless keyboard and dial  If you’ve already done that and are a subscriber you can download the Netflix app for iPhone & iPad and start streaming movies and documentaries right away!  I love having this on hand for those times when my wife decides she wants to look around the department store for the perfect pair of high heels or when I’m waiting for an eternity at the dentist or doctor office.  You’ll want to keep a pair of headphones or earbuds handy so you don’t bother anyone around you.  Also, if you didn’t sign up for unlimited data back when it was offered with your plan you’ll now be subject to possible charges if you go over your data transfer limit so check with your phone company before you go crazy watching hours of food documentaries or old episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

#4: Pandora – FREE! – Download Now!

Some of the best apps are free and Pandora is no exception.  When Pandora first came out I had been waiting for a simple website that would stream audio for a long time.  It seemed so archaic to carry tapes and CDs around and even back in the early 90’s I was telling my friends that soon we would all have small hard drives with all our data located on them along with our music.  Pandora takes it one step further and allows you to listen to your favorite artists anywhere an internet connection is available.

When I work on creative projects for my new RPG website I listen to violin pieces or Baroque, exercise to Operation Ivy or the Suicide Machines, cook while enjoying old school jazz, and relax to meditation music.  I don’t dig the monthly limits and the ads can be repetitive, but this app is free as is the service.  You can subscribe with a monthly service charge to eliminate the ads and listening limit.  If you don’t have this app get it now!

#3: Facebook – FREE! – Download Now!

Whether you love it or hate it, it’s here to stay.  Facebook did what Myspace could not- provided a stable environment for friends to share their personal information and allow a company hosting the server space to reap all the rewards!  Although I am strongly against the monster that facebook has become, there’s no denying that if I delete my account I will not be able to stay connected with everything going on in my social circle.  My life is so busy that without having a means of touching base with my friends and family I probably wouldn’t have the time to let them know how I’m doing and connect/make plans as often.  Facebook for the iPhone or iPad is fairly easy to use except the iPad version sucks since Mark Sucker-bird won’t build a larger and higher res app for iPad because he says “it’s not mobile”, that’s weird I take mine to D&D games all the time and it’s so small it takes up less space than the D&D 3.5 PHB.

#2: Google Voice – FREE! – Download Now!

I signed up for the beta of Google Voice a few years ago and was finally accepted about a year ago.  The best thing about Google Voice is the ability to text for free to any of your friends.  I find that the Google Text program in voice works smoother than the iPhone version of texting.  iPhone always tries to auto-correct and loads slowly then freezes up, etc.  Google Voice is always fluid and smooth and I’m done sending my text in a few seconds.  When you get a response with PUSH NOTIFICATIONS it comes in just like a regular text.  Why pay for texting when you have the ability to do it for free?  Reduce your plan expenses with Google Voice.

#1: PDAnet – FREE! – Unlock your iPhone and get it for free, learn how here!

You need to have your phone jailbroken/unlocked to get this one.  If you don’t then you are missing out on the best features of the iPhone.  If you don’t know how read the NERD TREK article on how to Unlock iOS 4.2.1 here.

PDAnet lets you use your iPhone as a WIFI hot spot so anyone can get on your 3G connection to surf the net or alternatively you can tether your iPhone to a laptop or any USB enabled device for a tethered 3G internet connection.  You don’t have to pay any stupid fees or have AT&T perform any service on your device.  You click it to open and select your option and BANG! you’re online!

I have used this many times and in each situation I had no way to get online but desperately needed a real connection for my laptop or iPad.  In fact, I bought the WIFI only iPad because it’s cheaper and I just use my iPhone for a hotspot while on the road so I can always use my iPad without a cellular fee.  There is always a path to freedom no matter how many doors they lock and how many rules they throw at you.

Enjoy your free tethered internet!  🙂

So there you have it, you may not agree with my list but I hope you found at least 1 useful app you have not heard of that will be of use to you.  Sharing the knowledge is like sharing the wealth, so enjoy- and please take the time to “LIKE” in our Facebook sidebar on the top right of this page.

Do you have a top 10 list?  Please comment below, it’s easy to read but show your support by commenting and be a part of the nerd community we are forging online.  The more knowledge we share the better educated and stronger we will be as a whole.

Take in mind that these are my favorite iPhone apps, the iPad is a different story entirely and I will get to that on another post in the near future.


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About Jonathan G. Nelson

Jonathan G. Nelson is the editor-in-chief and owner of NERD TREK. He is also owner/publisher at AAW Games /, a tabletop gaming company based in Snoqualmie, WA. Connect with Jonathan via Facebook.