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.

NumberKey Connect lets your iPhone act as the number pad for your Mac; particularly useful for Apple's wireless Bluetooth and laptop keyboards, which lack number keys.

NumberKey Connect lets your iPhone act as the number pad for your Mac; particularly useful for Apple's wireless Bluetooth and laptop keyboards, which lack number keys.

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).

For podcast lovers, Apple has included the ability to browse and even play back audio and video without having to download it, and if you like the show, to download podcasts directly from the phone. The ability to view without downloading has opened up the entire world of podcasting for me, allowing me to spend time watching content I normally wouldn't bother downloading. This is the bright spot to having access to an array of on-demand video, but the vast library of studio titles still remain hidden away. Where is NBC-backed Hulu, for instance?

While video for the iPod has been available in the iTunes store for years, the iPhone's 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity open a whole new door for on-demand content streamed to the device. There's still a lot of work to be done as most networks figure out a way of making lots of cash while providing an always-accessible venue for their content, but there will be a time soon when we decide our own programming.

iPhone + gaming

Apps: Real Soccer 2009, Hero of Sparta, Brothers in Arms

Gaming is another category where indications of the iPhone's future abound. Apparently, Apple thinks so, too, because its latest iPod Touch ads feature games found at the App Store. Gaming will become better on the iPhone as the hardware progresses.

With processors and GPUs becoming increasingly smaller and faster, the iPhone of the future may pack the power of today's laptops. Here and now, the iPhone has already tested traditional phone-based gaming and has even managed to give portable videogame units a run for their money. (It's the software, stupid!)

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