Five fab apps for iPhone OS 3.0 and the new 3GS

Push notifications add a lot of new options for developers

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3. News You Can't Lose: AP Mobile

Price: Free

From: The Associated Press

You have to be a bit careful setting up AP Mobile initially -- it takes advantage of the iPhone OS 3.0 push feature, so top stories can pop up at any time, requesting your attention, even when you're using another app, or no app at all. You might want to disable that feature before going to, say, a job interview or a funeral.

Otherwise, this is a great, free way to keep on top of breaking news. ESPN ScoreCenter (also free) will soon get a similar push feature, pinging you every time some overpaid jock makes a basket, scores a goal or hits a home run. Vital for sports fans.

4. Star Defense

Price: $5.99

From: NGMoco Inc.

From the same company that brought out other amazingly creative offerings like Dropship and Rolando comes this tower defense game. Not only does it benefit from the iPhone 3GS's souped-up CPU and GPU chips, but it uses push notifications to send out challenges to friends and other Star Defense players within virtual earshot.

The Nintendo DS family of handheld game devices were immensely successful in their P2P play over Wi-Fi. There's no reason the iPhone and the iPod Touch can't also grow into using peer-to-peer/player-to-player networking for collaboration and challenges, opening up new modes of gameplay and productivity. One hopes.

5. What Now?: Remember the Milk

Price: Free, but requires $25 "Pro" account

From: Remember the Milk Pty.

Remember the Milk is a to-do productivity application that can get around one of the big weaknesses of most to-do lists -- you have to look at them. I know that's a problem for me. For example, iCal can send you e-mail or desktop note alerts, which helps -- but it only works if you are at your desk.

This app will display an alert at user-defined times before a task must be done. The alert will arrive via IM, e-mail or SMS. It works with Google Calendar, and you can manage tasks even if you're offline and you can share them, as well. It's like the way your mom would remind you to do homework when you were a kid.

These five are just the tip of the iceberg, given the thousands of apps available already and the countless others in the works. It took a little while after the initial APIs were released for developers to start really taking advantage of the iPhone's initial features, like multitouch functionality. We'll be seeing more as time goes on, especially since by most metrics, the adoption rate has been fabulous for the new operating system -- more so with iPhones, where it's free, than on the iPod Touch, for which there is a $9.95 charge because of the way Apple accounts for revenue.

Let's just hope developers and users don't go overboard with the pushing. It could make a crowded train car quite annoying.

Dan Turner has been writing about science and technology for over a decade at publications such as Salon, eWeek, MacWeek and The New York Times.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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