Layar: Mark my words: in the next year or so, augmented reality apps will graduate from halfassed party tricks to something with actual utility. This is a daddy-step in the right direction:
Layar has grown up since we last saw it: now you can overlay all kinds of data, from geotagged Wikipedia entries to Flickr photos to local Tweets.
3GS only, but at least it’s free.
SuperGlued: Lots of apps help you find good shows, but SuperGlued doesn’t stop there. You can Tweet with other members of the crowd (Are tickets sold out at the door? Does the venue still smell like urine? Where are you? etc.), post pictures of the show live, and keep track of which events your friends are planning on going to. Free. —Full disclosure: The developer, Tom Plunkett, is Gawker Media’s grand tech vizier
Proactive Sleep: Is there a such thing as a sleep coach? Let’s assume there is! In a nutshell, that’s what this app, designed with SCIENCE, aims to be. It’s an alarm clock at its core, which wakes you up with music of your choice then challenges you to a game, or offers you a dream diary. It’ll also track your sleep patterns and warn you when you’ve dipped below average. A little steep at five dollars, but it’s fairly polished and written by a bon-a-fide sleep researcher.
Canon: Got a Canon PIXMA printer? Then there’s no good reason to pass up Canon’s iPhone app, which lets you print over Wi-Fi:
The polished interface lets you select paper sizes, find wireless printers, print borderless photos, and select photos from multiple albums stored on your iPhone or iPod touch.
Blastination: The game looks like an instant headache, and it takes a few minutes to get used to the chaos. The idea, though, is a winner: Your goal is to collect shapes with your bouncing avatar, which you pilot by bouncing off of barriers you’ve drawn in real time. A dollar.
Heart Rate Monitor: More of a conceptual win than a practical one (it’s not even out yet), Heart Rate Monitor broadcasts you heart rate over your social network of choice. Its intended purpose is medical, but the tech could easily be used for fun, too. I mean hell, Nintendo thinks we want a heart rate monitor for gaming, so there must be something to the idea.
Bailout War$: Tower defense + populist rage + genuinely OK gameplay = a good timesuck. The graphics could be better, and the satire more subtle, but this is a one-dollar casual game we’re talking about here.
CBS News: CBS’s new app is an example of a dedicated news app done right. Video content is plentiful and streams over Wi-Fi and 3G, news content is organized well, and Twitter integration is more than just token. And it’s free.
Viper: It needs to be mated to an expensive remote ignition system, and it doesn’t save you a ton of time, but this one ranks purely for coolness. I mean, you can start your car with your iPhone. This is totally the dream, for people with modest, iPhone-centric dreams.
USA Today Autopilot: Better than most travel apps, because it’s not solely meant to sell you stuff—it’s a travel planner and itinerary at its core. It’s been tied to the TripIt planner service, which keeps track of your flights, hotels, and travel miscellanea online. Free.