In Pictures: 16 great iPhone app battles

The iPhone has become a battleground for a number of popular mobile app categories

  • The iPhone app wars are heating up. Some of the battleground categories are critical, such as maps, language translation and productivity. Others are strictly for fun and recreation, such as streaming radio, golf and running. Every app battle, though, means you will need to make a choice. Sometimes the winner is clear. Other times, it’s a fight to the finish.

  • Apple Maps vs. Google Maps Maps is one of the most important apps on the iPhone. Yet we all know Apple Maps can send you on a bridge to nowhere, while in Google Maps we trust. So it's no surprise that Google Maps is the clear winner today. But Apple Maps is getting better every day. It may be only a matter of time before Apple Maps is good enough to mount a real challenge to Google Maps.

  • Instagram vs. Vine A video-sharing war is now underway on the iPhone as Instagram challenges Vine. The battle started to heat up when Instagram added video sharing to iOS and Android apps late last month, thus throwing down the gauntlet to Vine. blogger James A. Martin has already picked a winner. Read his five reasons why Instagram video is better than Vine.

  • Apple iWork vs. Quickoffice vs. Microsoft Office Mobile The office productivity wars on the iPhone took a dramatic turn when Microsoft finally entered the fray last month. Unfortunately for Microsoft, its Office Mobile app received lukewarm reviews. Meanwhile, third-party apps such as Quickoffice have been evolving and now offer solid functionality. The king of iPhone productivity apps, however, is still Apple's native suite iWork.

  • Evernote vs. Springpad vs. OneNote The iPhone is great for jotting down notes, and apps haven't missed the opportunity to serve up this functionality. Evernote, with its elephant head logo, has been the longstanding leader in the note-taking category and offers an array of functionality. But taking notes is all about speed and simplicity, which is the calling card of note-taking rival Springpad. Now Microsoft jumped into the fight with OneNote. blogger James A. Martin, however, isn’t impressed: OneNote is still missing a key feature, he writes.

  • Jibbigo vs. Google Translate A language translator in the palm of your hand is a powerful device, and two such apps have risen to the top: Google Translate and Jibbigo. Which app should you choose? It depends on where you are when you need it. Google Translate requires an Internet connection and is perfect for, say, field service workers who may run into a language barrier on the job. Jibbigo takes up more memory because it doesn't need an Internet connection, making it perfect for globetrotters without an international data plan.

  • RunKeeper vs. Endomondo Runners love the carry-with-me-at-all-times iPhone for all sorts of reasons--mostly to keep track of their times, mileage and especially heart rate (via a paid subscription). You can also share your hobby on social networks. Two of the most popular apps are RunKeeper and Endomondo. blogger James A. Martin prefers RunKeeper. Find out why in his post, Two iOS, Android Fitness Apps to Help Track Heart-Rate Data.

  • Apple Weather vs. Yahoo Weather There's a storm brewing in Boston while, across the country, a heat wave embroils San Francisco. It's no surprise that weather apps are some of the most heavily used on the iPhone. The simple, native Apple Weather app has one unique advantage over the competition: It's tied to voice-enabled Siri. The Yahoo weather app, though, "is pretty cool, right down to the spinning windmills that show wind speed," writes blogger James A. Martin.

  • Golfshot GPS vs. SkyDroid vs. GolfLogix It didn't take long for golf apps to get on course. Golfers could tap these apps to keep score and use GPS to get distances from the tee to the green, instead of forking out hundreds of dollars for a laser range finder. Golfshot GPS, the granddaddy of the category, initially drained battery life but has since been improved. Other quality apps have also hit the App Store, such as GolfLogix and SkyDroid.

  • Calorie Counter vs. LoseIt! Counting calories to lose weight has never been easy--until now. The smartphone is the perfect device to record calories because it's always within hand's reach and you can record calories as soon as you consume them. Two apps are among the top of the category: LoseIt! and Calorie Counter. LoseIt! was the first to gain exposure and has even been cited as a digital disrupter to Weight Watchers, while Calorie Counter claims to have the largest food database.

  • Twitter vs. Field of 3rd Party Apps Sometimes, it seems as though the iPhone was made for tapping out a short Tweet and scanning others. An array of Twitter-related apps descended on the App Store (including Twitter itself), each promising to better organize the chaotic Twitter universe. Depending on personal preference, iPhone users swear by such third-party apps as Tweetbot, Twitteriffic and, recently, Slices. blogger James A. Martin writes that Slices does a good job organizing your Twitter stream.

  • Apple Calendar vs. Field of 3rd Party Apps Keeping track of your day, week and month is important, especially if you're always on the go. Apple's native Calendar app is simple and does the trick for most people. Business executives with jam-packed schedules may want to invest in Omnifocus. Other apps include Bento and, recently, Tempo. blogger James A. Martin was on the waiting list to use Tempo for nearly a month. "It's worth the wait," he writes.

  • Skype vs. Facetime vs. Google Hangouts When Steve Jobs showcased Facetime by having a video chat with Jonathan "Jony" Ive two years ago, you'd have thought the future had finally arrived. Free video chatting, though, proved to be kind of creepy. But this hasn't stopped similar apps from making their way to the iPhone. Skype and Hangouts, which replaces Google Talk, are the most notable. Facetime enjoys the advantage of being integrated into iOS, which makes it easier to make and receive video calls.

  • iMessage vs. Field of 3rd Party Apps Messaging is fast becoming the preferred way of communicating with friends and colleagues. You could argue that messaging has replaced making calls as the dominant communications app on the iPhone. Apple's native app, Messages, includes iMessage for unlimited texting with other iPhones. Other messaging apps include Kik Messenger and Whatsapp. Messages has the added advantage of being integrated into iOS and can be accessed by Apple voice-enabled artificial intelligence engine Siri.

  • Kayak Pro vs. TripIt Travelers depend on iPhone apps to plan and organize their trips. You can check everything from flight status to hotel addresses. If you're a frequent flier, you might need more than one app. "TripIt Pro is super useful, if only for the airline alerts, but its feature for syncing all your frequent flier accounts is pretty lackluster," says blogger James A. Martin. "I use Kayak Pro to start my searching and TripIt Pro when I'm actually traveling."

  • Foursquare vs. Facebook Places If you're one of those people who likes to check in to places (and earn rewards) or search for places like a restaurant, you'll want either Foursquare or Facebook Places on your iPhone. Facebook Places, of course, integrates tightly with Facebook and has recently undergone improvements that make it comparable to Foursquare. But Foursquare's big advantage is the number of people using it.

  • Pandora vs. Spotify vs. Slacker When Apple adds a third-party app's functionality to iOS, it's a sure bet that the app is gold. Last month, Apple announced iRadio in iOS 7. Pandora is the current leader in the music-streaming category, but it isn't alone. Spotify and Slacker are also popular apps. "I'm partial to Pandora because it helps you discover songs and artists you're probably going to like," says blogger James A. Martin.

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