4G Apps You'll Want to Have in 2011
2010 may have seen the widespread debut of 4G networks and smartphones, but 2011 will be the year that 4G moves into the mainstream. It’s also likely to be the year that we see more and more apps designed to run on a 4G connection. Here are 15 apps and services that are ready to take advantage of the speed and bandwidth that 4G can offer.
Video Chat From Qik and Skype
When Apple announced that the iPhone 4 would have a front-facing camera for video calls, it seemed like a pretty big deal--until we learned that the 3G iPhone 4 could make video calls only when connected to a Wi-Fi network, and to another iPhone 4 user. Video chat on 4G phones doesn't have such limitations, thanks to apps like Skype Mobile and Qik Video Chat (which Skype recently acquired). These apps let you make phone-to-PC calls over high-speed 4G connections, which allow for drastically better video quality.
Fring takes many of the apps you use every day on your PC--such as Voice-over-IP calling, instant messaging, and video chat--and puts them all in the palm of your hand. You can see which of your contacts are online along with the strength of their connection, so you can decide whether to send an IM or initiate a video call. The app works over 3G and Wi-Fi networks, too; when used over 4G, however, Fring's "DVQ technology" comes into play, optimizing video quality for your level of connectivity.
T-Mobile on TV
Some apps clearly benefit from the speed and bandwidth that a 4G connection offers. One such application is the mobile-TV service that many cellular carriers offer on their phones. T-Mobile TV, for example, kicks things up a notch over a 4G connection, delivering clearer, more viewable video whether you’re watching a live broadcast or video on demand.
Verizon Wireless 4G customers have BitBop's mobile entertainment app. It offers a selection of on-demand shows and movies for streaming, and it also lets you download shows for offline viewing. As part of its deal with the carrier, BitBop will offer higher-quality video streams and downloads for users on Verizon's 4G LTE network.
Layar Reality Browser
The Layar augmented-reality browser sounds like something out of science fiction, but this app is a lot more useful than you might think. It adds digital information on top of your real-world environment, as gleaned from your phone's compass, camera, and GPS. You can get details that are both practical (such as Yelp reviews of nearby stores and restaurants) and fun, as developers have created layers that you can download and use to view specific kinds of information.
Similar to Layar, Junaio is another augmented-reality browser. It works with your phone's camera to deliver interactive Web-based information and services relevant to your location. Designed to let you point your camera and click, it provides information such as the closest affordable hotels, or what's on the menu at the restaurant you're standing near. Think about how fast this app must access such information in order to be useful, and you'll see why a 4G connection is such a plus.
Sling Some Video Around
SlingPlayer Mobile, an app that lets you view the contents of your Slingbox-equipped TV from your smartphone, has plenty of fans. Even its most ardent admirers, however, have complained about its video quality from time to time. And that's with good reason: This app is bandwidth intensive, and if your connection isn't good enough to deliver watchable video, well, you're not going to watch it. Now that SlingPlayer Mobile works on some 4G-equipped devices, complaints about video quality should ease up a bit.
Rock Out With Rock Band
Rock Band may not seem like an obvious app for 4G phones, but Verizon Wireless is right to promote it as one. The mobile version of Rock Band, announced at CES, lets users play together, whether they're in the same room or thousands of miles apart. Users must play in unison as well as with the music that the game throws at them, and all of that demand for synchronicity requires a high-speed connection.
The Connected Home
Not all 4G apps are fun and games--some are truly practical. Such is the case with Verizon's home-monitoring service, currently in the works. Shown off at CES, this service will allow you to use your 4G smartphone to remotely manage your home's thermostat, lights, security systems, and more. It's being developed in conjunction with Motorola Mobility's 4Home Connected Solutions division.
Outer Space on Your Phone
NASAImages, one of the winners of Sprint's 4G App Challenge, lets you view thousands of images from NASA on your smartphone. A 4G connection allows you to access the large images quickly, opening up new worlds on your phone.
Streaming video gets an obvious performance boost from the faster speeds of a 4G network, but so does streaming audio. Verizon Wireless is preloading Mog’s mobile music app on all of its 4G Android smartphones. 4G users will be able to listen to high-definition audio streams, view high-definition album art, and download entire playlists with one click.
Jukeboxes Go 4G
Verizon Wireless is teaming up with TouchTunes Interactive Networks to add a 4G spin to the company’s digital jukeboxes. The music players, available in bars and restaurants across the country, will work in conjunction with TouchTunes' new mobile app for Android phones. Users with 4G phones can search for music, access their own playlists, play back music, and post information about their music playing to Facebook and Twitter.
Say What, another winner of Sprint's 4G App Challenge, takes the old-fashioned game of telephone and adds a high-tech spin. It connects players to active games at random, and relies on a speedy connection for its frequent interaction with the game server.
Let the Media Fly
Mediafly Mobile, yet another winner of Sprint's 4G App Challenge, lets users organize and find podcasts, audio, and video streams. It relies on a 4G connection to deliver the speedy results and high-quality audio and video playback to which users have become accustomed on their PCs.
TuneWiki’s social music player will be preloaded on Verizon’s 4G smartphones. The app offers TuneWiki’s key features with a mobile spin; for example, users can find the top 50 songs in their current location. A swift 4G connection also lets users quickly search TuneWiki’s library of lyrics for more than 2.5 million songs.