Smart app choices for a smart phone

Whether it’s a compilation of more than 170,000 recipes or a battle between zombies and flora, the list of iPhone apps is constantly expanding.

For students who are newcomers to the smart phone, downloading apps for social networks like Facebook and Twitter offer obvious starting points.

Yet, with more than 300,000 apps that are constantly used and updated – the iTunes Store even reached its 10 billionth download last month – it can be hard to branch out from there.

The Oracle suggests some of the best, and often free, iPhone apps from five categories.


Urbanspoon’s free app remains among the favorites of food-lovers because of its restaurant reviews and “shake” slot machine, which matches a neighborhood, food type and price.

For instance, if you’re hungry for sushi near USF, the “shake” might recommend Shiso’s Sushi Bar & Lounge. The application now also includes photos from nearby restaurants on its home screen.

Foodspotting further hones in on these snack snapshots by letting you select a certain dish, then offering user-submitted photos of that culinary craving at nearby restaurants.

If you need help choosing what to cook at home, BigOven’s free 170,000+ Recipes app stands out merely for the gargantuan number of recipes at your fingertips.


It’s easy enough to find free apps for online radio services like Pandora Radio and that offer on-the-go streaming music, but you can now catch upcoming concerts or even immediately identify songs.

Another free application called Concerts! tracks your city’s venues, then alerts you to shows based on your music library.

It also offers directions to the concerts and e-mail notifications to send friends.

Then, there’s SoundHound, for those moments when you can’t quite remember a tune’s title at a party or you discover your new favorite song.

Simply tap an orange cursor, and within seconds the music recognition engine names the song along with lyrics and band information. You can even try your luck by humming into your phone’s microphone.


For students who don’t have time to grab a newspaper from the Collegiate Readership Program stands, several news sources are just a click away on your phone.

NPR News not only allows you to browse top headlines in 10 topics, but also provides you with live streams to all its radio programs.

This means even more streaming music at your fingertips, as programs like “All Songs Considered” and “World Caf” offer critically acclaimed bands.

CNN’s app features breaking news and live streams too, but it goes even further by incorporating an iReport section where one can offer news tips in the form of photos or video.


Students can even include their own school when adding new apps to their smart phones – an iTunes store search for “University of South Florida” returns four free apps.

iUSF packs an enormous amount of information about all four campuses into eight sections with further subsections. For instance, “Find It” tracks Bull Runner buses and contains a course catalog.

Offering an in-depth look at campus sports, USFBulls updates users about upcoming game schedules and current team rosters.

USF Health even created ID Podcasts, an app that amasses more than 100 hours of audio recordings about infectious diseases for medicine and nursing majors.


Although Angry Birds boasts more players – the free version is actually more popular than Facebook’s app – the similarly strange Plants vs. Zombies is a time-waster well worth $2.99.

In 50 different levels, players fend off a zombie onslaught with 49 types of cartoon plants, including watermelons and “wall-nuts.”

The tower defense game was listed as one of TIME’s top 50 iPhone apps.

On that same list was the Scrabble app, which lets newcomers play the classic board game with one online opponent and allows expert players to participate in up to 50 simultaneous games.

Try the Oregon Trail app for ’90s nostalgia and a revamp of the Windows learning game’s 19th-century pioneers into an eight mini-game, anime style.