iPhone apps that foretell the future

More than just useful or fun, these iPhone apps point the way toward the future -- of the iPhone and smartphones in general.

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iPhone + video

Apps: Baby Monitor, SecuritySpy, Cam Viewer, Air Cam Live Video

Speaking of convenience around the home, the iPhone's ability to play video streamed from the Web makes it extremely useful in terms of home surveillance, from security aspects to tasks as mundane as watching a baby.

For the latter, there's an application called Baby Monitor from Code Goo that allows you to use the iPhone as a (pretty pricey) baby monitor. This $4.99 application uses the iPhone's built-in mic to monitor your baby for cries, and when the baby does cry, Baby Monitor calls a predetermined number. So as not to wake the baby up, the developers recommend forwarding your non-infant-related incoming calls to another number.

To stream surveillance video to the iPhone, tap into one of the many available Web cameras (like this one from Axis) that wirelessly stream h.264 video to the Web, and then use Mobile Safari to capture this stream on your iPhone.

For a more sophisticated approach, Macintosh users can try SecuritySpy, software that offers support for multicamera monitoring, motion detection and AppleScript support through a Mac client. The iPhone-specific app that works in conjunction with SecuritySpy, Cam Viewer for SecuritySpy, is $2.99 from Furnishing Industry Software, which also offers a version, Cam Viewer Lite (also $2.99), that simply requires an IP-enabled camera.

For those wanting a less sophisticated approach, there is an application called Air Cam Live Video that allows the streaming of video from most webcams to iPhones and iPod Touches. Since Apple ships iSight with its entire portable and iMac product lines, anyone can use the cameras built into these machines with Air Cam Live Video to stream video to iPhones locally or across the Web.

Similar to NumberKey Connect, Air Cam ($7.99) requires a companion application to be downloaded and run on the host computer, either a Mac running OS X or a PC running Windows XP or Vista.

Once the application on the host computer is configured with a password (which is necessary to log into a video stream), Air Cam automatically displays local connections as well as the ability to manually connect to IP addresses.

Air Cam Live Video
Air Cam Live Video offers a super simple way to keep tabs on your bundle of joy from afar.

Air Cam even comes with simple and straightforward instructions about how to configure access from beyond the local network, and the video stream works remarkably well both over Wi-Fi and 3G access.

This application is well worth the price for anyone interested in what goes on when they're not around.

Even more exciting, it gives a glimpse of how easy it's becoming to tap your phone's screen and have it function in a way that replaces any number of peripheral devices -- including, but certainly not limited to, a security camera.

iPhone + on-demand media

Apps: YouTube, Truveo Video Search, Joost, TV.com

The App Store is a perfect example of what happens when on-demand and over-the-air downloads are coupled with a simple interface; once again successfully proving the idea of using instant gratification for fun and profit. Beside application content, the iPhone has been a huge milestone for media playback, and now the device is no longer limited to iTunes or YouTube content.

Your on-demand content will rise to new levels of consumption once you tote up all the ways you can access content: the iPhone shipped with YouTube, but many alternatives now exist, including Truveo Video Search, Joost, and CBS' TV.com (all free).

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