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iPhone Owner's Guide - Getting Started with the App Store

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Must-Have iPhone Apps

Your new iPhone offers an engrossing smartphone user experience thanks to Apple's comprehensive selection of default applications. Fresh from the package, you can send calls and texts, browse the web, exchange emails, stream YouTube videos, listen to music, take photos, and so much more.

While these features may fulfill most of your expectations, the real potential of your iDevice unlocks with an App Store membership. With over 700,000 apps currently available, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer scope of Apple's software selection. Here are some of our top picks for apps that all iPhone users should download:

Best Social Networking Apps

With built-in call, text, email, and video chat features, your iPhone keeps your finger on the pulse of your dynamic social life. Add Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest you'll never miss a beat on the next big happening. These services really come into their own on a mobile platform where you can post GPS location-aware status updates, arrange meet-ups, upload photos, or otherwise participate in vibrant digital conversations while on the go. With push notifications enabled, you'll be in the know the instant a friend posts an update.

Best iPhone Apps for TV, Video, and Reading

The iPhone's data connection, built-in storage and smorgasbord of digital content apps put a wealth of media sources at your fingertips. The following apps will have you immersed in a wide selection of digital content in no time:

Best Reading Apps

For the digital literati, consider downloading apps from three of the major eBook distributors:

  • Amazon's Kindle
  • Barnes and Nobles' Nook
  • Apple's own iBooks

If you early-adopted the eBook format through Amazon's Kindle or B&N's Nook dedicated eReaders, their respective iPhone apps will automatically sync your digital library. You can customize your reading experience with different font styles and slick page-turn animations, as well as improve the readability of the text with increased font sizes and high contrast colors schemes.

The iPhone's vibrant, full-color screen also makes for a great graphic novel reading experience. Both Marvel and DC are well-represented in the online marketplace.

If you prefer a franchise-agnostic reader and rip your comics into CBR format, consider bitolithic's Comic Zealreader.

Finding New Music with Your iPhone

Your iPhone's basic iPod functionality may DJ your well-worn favorite tracks while on the road, but music discovery giants Pandora and Soundhound will get you outside your aural comfort zone in two unique ways. Pandora's software engine takes a cue from you for a band, song, or genre and breaks your suggestion down into its sonic components to build a radio station that streams music with similar qualities. Soundhound uses a bit of digital magic to analyze music playing in the environment. If you hear a snippet of a song on the radio and don't recognize the artist, start SoundHound's software while the tune is playing. The app will output the artist and track name from an extensive database. You can even sing or hum a tune for the same result.

Best Apps for TV and Movies

Whether you're a couch potato or an avid cinema-goer, there's never enough time to stay current with your favorite films and television shows. Try a mobile app like Netflix, Hulu or HBO to relax on a long commute while taming your Watch Instantly queue.

For a free alternative, try Crackle. Though it has less content than Netflix, Crackle allows you to stream selections from Sony's catalog without a paid subscription.

If you prefer to catch the latest blockbusters on the big screen, check out Movies by Flixster to receive showtimes in your area. Flixster also gives you trailers and critics' reviews so you'll never fly blindly into a dud film again.

Best Productivity Apps

As an evolutionary link between traditional cell phones and mobile computers, the iPhone is a capable digital assistant that works with your other electronics. To keep your fleet of mobile, personal, and work computers in perfect sync, try a cloud storage service like Dropbox. Once you install Dropbox on your iPhone and personal computers, any file that you put into your virtual storage space automatically syncs across all your devices. Then, prepare to enter productivity nirvana with a simple Dropbox text editor like PlainText. Anything you record, be it the opening sentence to the next great American novel or an addition to the weekly grocery list, transmits in real time to the cloud. Alternatively you can use iCloud, which is built into iOS for syncing and backing up. iCloud will back up all your iOS apps and data but will not give you the diversity of DropBox. Also make sure to check out SugarSync, which is another great piece of syncing/backup software that also works on iOS.

Additionally, there are plenty of lifehacks within your iPhone’s stock calendar and scheduling apps. Set reminders, schedule events and keep your friends and family informed all with a few simple commands.

If staying productive means inundating yourself with as much information as possible, consider an RSS feed reader like Pulse or Reeder. Both apps create attractive and intuitive magazine-style interfaces for reading your favorite blogs. Reeder offers a slight advantage if you require Google Reader integration. If you prefer to hand-pick long-form web articles for later reading, try Instapaper.

Best Game Apps

If you find yourself with an unexpected moment of leisure between socializing, keeping up on digital media and staying productive, try a renowned, addictive game like Angry Birds Space. Like the original Angry Birds, you will once again take control of the birds as they battle against the pigs in deep space. Features the same game play as the original version but at Zero Gravity!

For all those looking for a less confrontational challenge and more of a puzzle game, look no further than Disney's Where's My Water. In this game you will find yourself helping Swampy the alligator gain access to water so he can take a bath. Capture rubber ducks along the way and unlock new levels in this challenging puzzle game. Warning: This game is extremely entertaining and very addicting to all puzzle addicts!

To pit wits against one of your friends, try Zynga's Words with Friends, a digital take on the popular board game Scrabble. Once you connect with a friend's game, play your turn at your convenience. The game runs in the background and notifies you when your friend plays their round.

A Journey of a Thousand Miles

Once you take your first step into Apple's app ecosystem, keep going! These suggestions are only a fraction of what's available, so watch the App Store landing page for the latest essential apps.

If you’re interested in upgrading to a newer iPhone or iPad for less, check out the huge selection available on our site. Don’t wait another day to get the device you deserve at a fraction of the retail price tag!