17 free iPhone apps you need right now

We take a fast look at new iPhone applications that let you drink beer virtually, interact with music in cool ways, and even do some useful things.

Baseball

MLB's play-by-play scoreboard app that is featured on iTunes costs just US$5, but I'd recommend that sports lovers opt for the free SportsTap app instead, since it gives you instant access to all live sports, not just baseball. But the Baseball iPhone app lets you tap into the statistical database of baseball history. Need to know how many doubles Marty Barrett hit in 1986? It's a few taps away. Want to know Urban Shocker's career ERA? That's there, too. It's like having the entire Baseball Encyclopedia right there on your iPhone. We only wish it had team-based stats and year-by-year standings, not just individual stats. Still, this is a must-have app for any baseball aficionado.

Eventful

Configuring your alerts is a bit of a chore (the Eventful developers may want to consider making the categories "opt-in" by default instead of "opt-out"), but once this app is up and running, Eventful will let you know who's coming to town and what's going on in your neck of the woods. Concerts, book signings, live sports, theater, public speakers, you name it.

Evernote

Need a centralised location for all the notes, photos, and voice recordings created on your iPhone? Evernote lets you save documents and media files on a Web storage platform that you can access anywhere. If you're planning on using your iPhone for taking a lot of notes or snapping a bunch of pictures while you're out and about, this is a must-have app for saving everything to a centralized location that you can reach from any Web-connected device.

Facebook

This one is actually somewhat disappointing, except for the Facebook chat integration. Frequent Facebookers may want to download this app purely for the easy-to-scan alphabetical list of friends and the integrated chat program, but simply using the full Web version of Facebook on Safari for the iPhone actually has quite a few advantages. The iPhone Facebook app gives you only a watered-down version of your friends' profile pages, which are available in their full form on mobile Safari. On the other hand, this app's key benefits are its clear organization and the ability to converse with friends over the Facebook chat program, which isn't possible in the mobile Safari version.

Google Mobile App

Think of Google Mobile as Firefox 3's "Awesome Bar" for the iPhone. Not only does this search-bar-on-steroids suggest popular query matches for you once you type in a few letters, but it'll also search your phone for any contact names that start with the same few letters. Tapping a search result launches it in a browser window, and tapping a contact name lets you message or call them. For some reason, this app asks you to use your current location, presumably to match your search query with nearby businesses or listings, but in my testing it didn't really associate my searches to local points of interest.

iPint

Okay, this game is completely useless, but you'll probably want to try it at least once. Using the iPhone's accelerometers, you tilt the handset to guide a pint of beer across an obstacle-ridden bartop into a customer's hands. But that's only half the fun. Once your virtual pint is safe in their hands, you get a surprise ending involving a virtual glass of Carling, some nifty accelerometer tricks, and faux chugging. I don't want to ruin it for you, so just give it a go. (Search for iPint in your iTunes software.)

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Tim Moynihan

PC World (US online)

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