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The Top 10 Toronto iPhone Apps of 2009

Posted by Erin Bury / December 22, 2009

top 10 iphone appsIt seems like 2009 was the year of iPhone app mania... or maybe it's just because 2009 was the year I got my iPhone. I spent an inordinate amount of time downloading and playing around with some of the 90,000 apps in the iTunes app store in all kinds of categories.

So now it's time to take a look back at the top apps of the year - either built by Toronto companies or focused on Toronto. Below, in no particular order, are the Top 10 iPhone apps of the year.

AirCanadaAppAir Canada (Free)
Ever been blindsided by a flight delay, or waited in a giant lineup to check in? As someone who travels a lot I know the hassle of airports can be frustrating to say the least. Enter the Air Canada app, developed by IBM Canada. You can add your flights and check their status, check in, find flights for future trips, and even rent a car. The app was selected by Apple as one of the Canadian iTunes Rewind Best of 2009, and in late November 2009 reached 200,000 total downloads. In addition, it was awarded Best Mobile Application at the 2009 Canadian New Media Awards.


GlobeandMailThe Globe and Mail (Free)
You don't have to be a journalism school grad like myself to know that for traditional media, the times they are a-changin'. Developed by local company Spreed (they design mobile apps for content providers and are also behind the new Metro app) The Globe and Mail app lets you instantly check breaking and popular news stories in nine categories, and share them with your friends via Twitter, Facebook or e-mail. It has offline reading support for iPod Touch users, and they'll soon be adding a video and comments component. The app has over four million page views a month, and Spreed is actively soliciting feedback at http://globeapp.uservoice.com.


TorontoEatonCentreToronto Eaton Centre (Free)
For those of us who love shopping, a trip to the Eaton Centre is a treat. For those who loathe it, it can be a maze of stores and chaotic crowds. The new Mobilefringe Toronto Eaton Centre app helps everyone, from shopping addict to the other end of the spectrum. It lets you view its stores in an interactive mall map, and has a store directory you can navigate by category or promotion. Check out hours and event information, let your friends know you're shopping, and best of all find promotions for all your favourite stores.


RogersMyAccountRogers/Fido My Account (Free)
Getting your wireless bill each month can be a very unpleasant surprise - I know that my jaw has dropped this year as I've seen international roaming charges inflate my bill. But the new Rogers/Fido My Account app lets you keep track of your usage - it automatically pulls your account details from your network connection and SIM card when you download the app. It tells you the services included in your package, and what you've used up so far in the current billing cycle. The information updates every 20 minutes so it's current, and you can even pay your bill. Just don't go over your data limit while you're doing it.


KoboappKobo (Free)
I love the idea of reading books electronically (who wants to carry around a novel? My laptop is the only weight worth carrying around), but I don't like the price tags associated with e-Readers. Enter the Kobo app (formerly ShortCovers), Indigo's answer to the Kindle. You can buy books for up to 65% off their retail price, and there are thousands of free classics. And if you're not sure you want to buy something you can read the first chapter for free.


NuitBlancheNight Navigator Scotiabank Nuit Blanche (Free)
Simply Good Technologies created the Nuit Blanche app as a companion to the popular Nuit Blanche event in Toronto, a City of Toronto produced celebration of contemporary art which took place on October 3, 2009. The app allows you to find project details and TTC routes, use GPS to locate the closest projects, find and share real-time project photos, and access My Night, a personal itinerary planner. It also used Capturefy, a new photo recognition technology. All in all, a great new augmented-reality style app to accompany your night out - make sure you download before next year's event.


EndloopAppArcade Solitaire: TriTowers ($0.99, Lite version is free)
A top 10 roundup wouldn't be complete without an addictive game. Local iPhone developers endloop created the Arcade Solitaire: TriTowers app - it combines arcade-style sound and graphics with the classic Tri-Peaks solitaire gameplay. It's easy to catch on to the rules - just press the ? button to learn more. And if you're the competitive type you might spend all your time trying to get to the top of the Global Leaderboard. Endloop is also behind the popular apps iHeartRate and Photocaps - so if games aren't your thing you can check out what else they've been working on.


CorusRadioAppCorus Radio (Free)
I know it might not be considered "cool," but I still love listening to the radio. No, not online radio - the kind you listen to in your car with the cheesy commercials and hyped-up DJs. So I love Corus Radio's app - powered by StreamTheWorld it gives you access to 50+ radio stations, including Toronto's 102.1 The Edge, Q107, and AM640. You can sort by station name, city, or nearest to you - perfect for when you're traveling. And who wouldn't love the "shake to shuffle" feature - just shake your iPhone to listen to a randomly selected station.


FreshbooksMinibooks for Freshbooks ($14.99, Lite version is free)
Toronto startup Freshbooks has had a great year - they won the PICK 20 Award for Top Web app, for one. Then they released their Minibooks for Freshbooks app, which was quickly featured at #4 in the app store. Then they were featured in an iPhone TV commercial. Not too shabby! The app is an extension of the Freshbooks invoicing service - it lets customers create, edit and send invoices from their phone. You can try out the Lite version for free, and then decide if you want to buy the more expensive version.


FinderseriesThe Finder Series (All free except No more ATM fees, $1.99)
Majestic Media Ltd, a Toronto-based creative agency, developed a series of Finder apps that I personally use on a weekly basis. if you've ever searched for an ATM for your bank of choice, then you need to download the TD Finder app, the BMO Finder app, or the RBC Finder app. Never pay ATM fees again! What a delightful thought. If you're addicted to Tim Horton's like I am (an extra-large every morning) then you need the recently-updated Horton's Finder app, which finds the closest place you can pick up a double-double. Apparently other people need to find their Timmy's as well - the app was #1 free app in the Navigation category two days after its release!

Have you tried any of the apps listed above? Are you addicted to one we didn't include? Let us know in the comments.

Discussion

41 Comments

Andrew / December 22, 2009 at 09:42 am
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Local businesses would do well to understand that the iPhone is *not* the de facto mobile standard, and a simple, mobile-optimized site would be accessible by more people on more devices.
Chrissy Aitchison / December 22, 2009 at 10:16 am
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Great article! I'm downloading the Rogers/Fido My Account app as I type this.
kyliep replying to a comment from Andrew / December 22, 2009 at 10:21 am
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I dunno. I think an app, with standardized navigation and feature-set, does make it easier to find and share information than a mobile-optimized site. I can also see the benefits to developing apps--raising the profile of your site/business, perhaps gaining a revenue stream via ads--over simply optimizing your standard site for mobile. Will be interesting if businesses start developing apps for RIM/Palm/Google. Air Canada does for RIM, which makes sense, as would an ebook reader for RIM by Indigo (perhaps they have already, though).
Jason replying to a comment from Andrew / December 22, 2009 at 10:34 am
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Last time I checked the blackberry web browser was weak (no/limited javascript) so yes, if you just serve up static info, then a mobile website is fine.

But the examples here go beyond static pages. Chorus app has streaming audio, the G&M app caches articles for offline reading on the subway, ereader presumably has DRM and security (something the publishers require), animation and graphics for solitaire...

As for the app list: I found the nuit blanche app to be junk. Totally useless for researching where to go and what to see. (It only reported what was near my current location. Basically it was excellent at stating the obvious.)
Daryl / December 22, 2009 at 10:37 am
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I never knew there was a Fido/Rogers app. The Fido app says "Users will not be charged data consumed by application use". Obviously they mean *this* application's use, but I'm curious how they determine the difference.
Daryl / December 22, 2009 at 10:43 am
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The Fido app doesn't work... a lot of bad reviews all claiming the same bug:

"You have roamed out of your home region. Please wait while your data is fetched. The request will be resent automatically in 60 seconds. Click here to resend manually"
Rayanne Langdon / December 22, 2009 at 11:03 am
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I just downloaded the My Account app last night. I know it's super buggy, but I was mega amped to be able to pay my bill right there and then. I'm the worst when it comes to paying bills on time.

Thanks for featuring MiniBooks, Erin!

Rayanne Langdon -- Queen of Hearts, FreshBooks.com
scott / December 22, 2009 at 11:22 am
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the rogers app cannot check your data with usage through wifi. you have to use data to check your data usage.
melissa / December 22, 2009 at 11:33 am
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Really? No The Score app? Even though it's made by a Toronto company and has been the #1 sports app in the App Store for the entire year?
David / December 22, 2009 at 11:37 am
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Erin, if you're a fan of the radio then you really should be using the exquisite CBC Radio app. No excuse!
handfed / December 22, 2009 at 11:38 am
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what's an iphone?
Erin Bury / December 22, 2009 at 12:06 pm
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Hey Melissa,

The Score app is great - I've been using it since I got my iPhone - but it was released in September 2008. This is a roundup of the best apps of 2009.

David - I certainly do have the CBC Radio app. Great one!!

Rayanne - You're welcome. The Minibooks app seems to have nothing but positive reviews!

Erin
Ryan / December 22, 2009 at 12:12 pm
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I'm partial to the RedFlagDeals.com App and mobile optimized site, but I'm biased ;)
Doug replying to a comment from Jason / December 22, 2009 at 12:40 pm
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For those of us who aren't as famliar with some of the downtown Toronto streets, the Nuit Blanche app was a great idea. And, while the presentation was nice, the back end servers weren't well thought out. On the night itself, it was SUPER slow, no doubt because so many were trying to access it.

Erin - THANK YOU for this list! I had already downloaded the Metro App but wasn't aware of the Globe and Mail one, nor of the Corus radio or Rogers apps.
Paul / December 22, 2009 at 12:56 pm
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How about a decent TTC app? Now that would be useful.
Andrew Lane replying to a comment from melissa / December 22, 2009 at 01:01 pm
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The Score app is top notch but maybe off the radar but good call! The NFB's film app is also pretty top notch: http://blog.nfb.ca/2009/10/20/nfb-iphone-app/
Matthew Gallant / December 22, 2009 at 01:20 pm
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What about the puzzle game Critter Crunch [http://crittercrunch.com/], made by Toronto indie game studio Capybara?
handfed / December 22, 2009 at 01:41 pm
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"indie game studio" LOL!! that's just great!
karim kanji / December 22, 2009 at 02:30 pm
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Fantastic summary Erin! Love your writing. I can't wait to get my iPhone in 2010. i'm just waiting for soemone to give one to me for free. Friend-App!
Liz / December 22, 2009 at 02:50 pm
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Thanks for this great article! For shoppers who like the Toronto Eaton Centre app, be sure to check out Point Inside, which features smart indoor mall maps for thousands of malls throughout Canada and the U.S. Learn more at PointInside.com.
everlast_34 / December 22, 2009 at 04:17 pm
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Fido app works great for me. Never had a problem.
Cant believe the TTC app didnt make the list! That shit is sweet!
jpluscorp replying to a comment from Paul / December 22, 2009 at 05:03 pm
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We released an ttc exit guide app that gives a map of each station and the nearest exits to buses, GO trains and street names etc. Don't know if that is what you are looking for but check it out!

Air Canada App gets a thumbs up from me, makes travelling a bit more pleasant (after i get over Air Canada's constant delays!)
Mike replying to a comment from Doug / December 22, 2009 at 05:41 pm
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I agree. While the Nuit Blanche app was good for doing some research before hand, it was absolutely useless the night of.
yayaya replying to a comment from Paul / December 22, 2009 at 10:39 pm
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i agree with this!!
TTC app would be great.
Paul replying to a comment from jpluscorp / December 23, 2009 at 09:57 am
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I was thinking more along scheduling. As much as I dislike walking the length of the platform to some distant stairwell, knowing whether I have to dash to a stop or have time to grab a coffee at an unfamiliar stop would be more practical.

If you take over the Red Rocket app, keep it updated, and combine it with your exits app, then it would almost be compulsory for every rider.
jpluscorp replying to a comment from Paul / December 23, 2009 at 10:48 am
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Thanks for the advice! I will let our developers know and see what they can do to get by developing something like this.
Ste / December 26, 2009 at 10:30 am
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The mobile device is such a useless attempt at trying to curb people's boredom and mask the fact that they are just brainless, mass consumers it isn't funny. Put down your phones people and pick up a book - there are lots in print needing to be read.
wolfshades replying to a comment from Ste / December 26, 2009 at 01:08 pm
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I would provide a serious answer to this close-minded condescending comment but it smells too much like troll.
Ste replying to a comment from wolfshades / December 30, 2009 at 10:18 am
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I'm really not close-minded. I'll attempt to prove it :)

1. Air Canada. Check your flight's status on the computer before you leave. Again check your flight's status either at check-in or on the Airports screens. Need a flight - visit a kiosk or talk to someone in person. Ditto for car rental.

2. Globe & Mail (Free). Um - buy their paper or visit them on-line for a read. They actually may stay in business longer because of that decision. Reading on these devices for any prolonged period of time is seriously bad for the eyes too... seriously.

3. Eaton Centre. Mall maps are everywhere. Very useful. Promotions? Who doesn't walk by stores and physically see sales and promotions on display.

4. Cell Phone billing. Who the hell would want to look at that regularly? A monthly email invoice more than suffices.

5. Kobo. Books, books, books. Read them in the flesh. Feels better. Better for the eyes. Authors, publishers, artists and manufacturers (not to mention physical stores) get paid more.

6. Nuit Blanche. Their online site is decent. Easy to plan prior to going out. However, yes I can see this being useful for this once a year and sometimes chaotic event.

7. Games. No comment.

8. Corus Radio App. Yes. Good app. If you love radio. But why shake it to randomly fall on some radio station - pretty gimmicky.

9. Invoicing App. Nothing like sending an invoice to someone in person I suppose for a service that requires you to do so. I look at this app. however and pretend it doesn't exist - does it change anything?

10. Finder App. If you live in the GTA, then you know basically where all of your services, cafes, restaurants, etc. are located. Outside of the GTA, then sure take your phone with you and use the app. However, if you knew you were traveling outside of the GTA, then why wouldn't you investigate first what/where you would be visiting?
Bad_Self / December 31, 2009 at 12:00 am
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Can you get a signal to read your stuff on the app right away or do you need to download before you get on the TTC? Just askin'cause that's a tall order at 7am.
wolfshades replying to a comment from Ste / December 31, 2009 at 01:44 pm
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I take it back. In providing some rationale for what you think, you're at least not a troll.

Your point-by-point comments on the blog are interesting, in so far as that they show why *you* would not want an iPhone or mobile device. However, they don't support your contention that anyone who does is a part of the "brainless, mass consumer" society.

Point by point, then:

1. Air Canada - presumes you have access to a computer prior to your flight. There are situations where that's not the case. Having a handy app takes some of the stress out of the picture, particularly now when so many U.S. bound flights are iffy at best, when it comes to scheduling.

2. Globe and Mail - again presumes you have access to a computer. At some venues (restaurants, retail stores, or just out for a drive), that's not always the case. I regularly buy and read newspapers, but there are occasions where I don't have ready access to one, or can't be bothered to go hunting down a store or newspaper box. That's when an app like this comes in handy. You are right about the eye problems though - that's the problem generally with mobile devices. For me, it's mitigated by my use of reading glasses. (They had better not make these devices any smaller though)

3. Eaton Centre - mall maps are everywhere? Have you been to the Eaton Centre? The mall maps are not conveniently located, except I think at one end of the mall, on one of the four floors, and then again at the other end. I've used this map. Again, the word here is convenience.

4. Cell phone billing. Eh, I don't use the app for that. It's useful for checking current levels of data use though. I see this as a "take it or leave it" deal.

5. Kobo. Have to agree with you when it comes to mobile devices and books. Well, except for actual e-readers. We'll have to agree to disagree on this one: I read so many books in a year, that the e-reader I own has come in quite handy. Some like you prefer the feel of books. I don't particularly miss that though. The downside is that I'm reading a *lot* more books than I used to, and the cost for this particular vice has gone up. :)

6. Nuit Blanche - the app was useful right up until the night itself, when it became utterly useless. They put too much energy in the front end app itself, and not into the back end. The servers couldn't handle the hits (my guess).

7. Games. Better off getting a console (360 or PS3 or whatever).

8. Corus Radio app. Well, ok you don't like the gimmicky aspect of shaking it to get a random radio station. So don't use that part of it. Would you agree that it's an OK app to have, otherwise? I certainly think so - haven't listened to an actual radio in years and I miss some of the stations.

9. Invoicing app. Agree with you.

10. Finder app. I've lived in the GTA for years and am STILL discovering some places I didn't know existed.

So...let's add a few more: the free Shazam app, for example, which basically "listens" to whatever music is playing and then tells you what song, album and artist is playing. I remember listening to the radio, hoping the DJ would announce the album and singer. I remember it being a 50/50 proposition, too. This app is, hands down, the most useful app on my iPhone. I use it in department stores, coffee shops and in the movie theatre.

Banking apps: there are so many good ones that help you track your finances. Granted, you could do that on a computer at home, but this requires that you keep meticulous records when you're out and about, and that you ask for receipts every time.

I could go on. There are thousands if not millions of apps out there, some of which are gold, and some of which are crap. Bottom line is that it makes life more convenient for some of us.

That does not make us "brainless mass consumers" though.

J Evans / January 7, 2010 at 09:49 am
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Best Apps in T.O. or across Canada?

I can't believe CBC App is not listed here.
Also the finder serious are not the best available out there.
I would vote 'Near Me' or 'Where Z Timmy' many finders in one App. Not mention all these Apps are free.
Jenn M / January 20, 2010 at 08:46 am
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Nice list Erin! I have most of the apps on your list. Just recently discovered this New To Go App. Has the slickest interface and with weather, traffic and gas price all on one screen is quite useful.
Lourdes / March 9, 2010 at 02:49 pm
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The best iphone app for 2010 so far for me is FastMall by MindSmack.com. Turn by turn guidance at the mall, find the bathroom quick and be taken to it, get deals, remember where you park, check in at the mall and stores, full community of features. So much fun :) http://www.FastMall.com
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