5 iPhone apps to WOW your non-geek family and friends

Found an iPhone under the Christmas tree or in your New-Year’s gift basket?  Here’s my list of iPhone apps that never fail to impress, including non-geek people (such as the people you met at those parties last week). (Please skip this post if you have iPhone-fatigue or if you’re a hardcore Apple fanboy – just sharing my Holiday Season experiences here :-) )  Happy New Year!

Aroundme Search result Aroundme start page Aroundme

An easy one to introduce the idea of location-based searching (really useful in the last-minute Christmas present hunting before the shops close down): go through the menu to find services nearby or type in what you’re looking for (such as “toys” or rather the Dutch equivalent “speelgoed” as in the screenshot) and find how to get to that shop from where you are standing.  The app is nothing but a layer around Google maps but provides a more gentle, step-by-step interface.

Google Iphone search result Google

Why type? Fire the Google app, bring the phone to your ear and say “pizza“. Then have a look at the screen again and decide which pizzeria you want to call or get directions with the next tap of your finger.  Note: “pizza” is a very safe choice, not only because there are pizzas for everybody’s taste (yes, really useful in last-minute cooking stress) but also because this app is in fact an exercise in imitating American English.  That kind of limits your options, so make sure your guests do not have any outrageous culinary desires.


Scanning Recognizing

Picture on a tableWant to know more about  that present you just unwrapped?  Take a snapshot with Snaptell and get online prices and background info – see it in action on the first screenshots on the left.  If you’re a bit underwhelmed (“hey, haven’t we been OCR-ing pictures to text for ages?“), consider the example in third screenshot: Snaptell came up with a photographer’s biography when I tried to test it with an anonymous background pic decorating some printwork.  Next time I come across some artwork that looks vaguely familiar but impossible to pinpoint to a name or artist, I know who I can ask…


Shazam sending an audio sampleShazam when it has found a result When the Iphone was released, the Shazam app (screenshots left) got a lot of attention: just let it record a sample of music, it ‘ll recognize the track and point you to Youtube versions, discography and biography of the performers, etc…

I found the competitor Midomi (screenshots on the right side) is a lot more fun however…

Midomi start screenMidomi recognising songsApart from having actual music analysed, you can sing/hum the songs or recite some lyrics.  Surprisingly flexible with different (linguistic/cultural) variants of e.g. children’s songs: the screenshot shows the results for a sung/hummed “Flemish” “Broeder Jacob” with the “Dutch” and English-language versions. (In other tests with friends it did perform badly on Czech folk songs though!)


Another source of endless finger-photo fun with children is FaceMelter… need I say more?
Face Melter
(Features animation as well!)

As a bonus: The Internet

How about this Christmas dinner scenario: your brother in law gets fed up with your geekery and throws you a pile of napkins (“Make yourself useful for once!“). Google video search on “napkin fold” will save the day: gather around the iPhone with the entire family and follow as shown…

Your favourite apps?

So how do you convince your tech-sceptical relatives and friends?  Leave your own experience in the comments…

5 Responses to “5 iPhone apps to WOW your non-geek family and friends”

  1. Busby SEO Test Says:

    nice collection of iphone apps, but was all of that apps free?

  2. Pascal Says:

    Only Facemelter isn’t free, I think it’s $0.79 now

  3. Notities of reminders inspreken en laten doormailen | Weblog Pascal Van Hecke Says:

    […] of op zijn minst in je mailbox, toch?  Nu had ik bij mijn zoektocht in eerste instantie een iPhone applicatie in gedachten… en er domweg niet aan gedacht dat een voice-to-online service die je gewoon kan bellen […]

  4. Zharko Says:

    good list, i also recomend that you try the Storyz app (www.storyz.com) it also works on multiple platforms – iphone, pc and normal mobile phone :)

  5. Hilzer Says:

    Hey, just reading…thought I’d show theres interest!