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2010’s Best Apps

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© Illustration by McKbillo

If you are giving one of your loved ones a "magical" iPad or iPhone this holiday season, The Digital Traveler Brandon Perlman presents his list of the best apps you have to download first.

2010 has been the year of the app—for the iPhone, yes, but also, in a turn of events we could not have predicted at this time last year, for the iPad as well. In the months since the iPad was released, we've been keeping an eye on which apps out of the thousands being developed are really worthwhile. As the year comes to a close, we present our definitive list for both devices—the coolest, quirkiest and smartest apps out there right now.

1. Flipboard creates a personalized iPad magazine using links and information pulled from your social-media feeds.

2. Springpad stores and categorizes all the things you want to remember for the future—products, recipes, movies, books, websites—then finds helpful information like price comparisons, showtimes and local restaurants.

3. iNow is the ultimate iPad to-do list: Drag tasks to sort by priority, to "delegate" to someone else or to trash when done.

4. Knocking Live Video streams live video from anyone with an iPhone 3G or later and works over both 3G and WiFi.

5. Howcast offers around 200,000 how-to videos, from making mayonnaise to treating burns to writing sonnets.

6. Nike + GPS uses the iPhone's GPS technology to track runners' routes and pace. Results can be uploaded to Facebook or Twitter.

7. SoundHound goes a step further than the popular Shazam app by identifying not only recorded songs but also hummed tunes, which it recognizes with surprising accuracy. It also provides lyrics and links to watch music videos on YouTube or to purchase MP3s.

8. WorkSnug, a service for the mobile workforce, locates the nearest mobile work space, be it a café or a library, in an ever-growing number of cities around the world. Users rate everything from decibel level to availability of power outlets to WiFi signal strength.

9. TripIt organizes itineraries, compiling data from e-mail confirmations into one master plan, and sending periodic updates. The program works for more than 1,000 big-name hotels, airlines, travel agents and other booking sites, and it even has a feature that lets others monitor the schedule as well. The Pro version costs $69 a year. it's free for American Express Platinum© cardholders; click here: http://www.transformtravel.americanexpress.com

10. ShakeItPhoto satisfies a certain nostalgia for a style of picture-taking now long gone. It uses the iPhone's camera to create Polaroid-style images, adding the signature white border and faded coloring to every shot. It even makes the unmistakable Polaroid click when it snaps a picture. (Shaking the phone to "develop" the photo faster, the feature that gives the app its name, is optional but fun nonetheless.)

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