Many phone apps are free, but some are worth the money

I'm convinced the smartphone is going to become the new computer for a lot of us.
We can check e-mail, shop and do a host of other Internet-related tasks that used to be only done on a desktop computer.

And now that mobile applications are available on several smartphones, such as the iPhone, Blackberry and Android devices, these mini apps also do a lot things that desktop computers used to do.
Fun - and mostly free

I've had my iPhone almost a year now and while I missed my Palm Treo for a while, the memory is beginning to fade. As a matter of fact, I'm not sure where I put it.

In the meantime, I've been busy downloading and trying new apps on the iPhone and I have some favorites among the ones that just occupy space and I need to delete.

I'm up to three screens of apps now and a fourth screen could start at any time.

One of my first downloads was TipTap, an app for figuring out tips at restaurants. It was free then and does a good job of under-the-table calculations, while no one is looking. Now it'll cost you 99 cents.

DomainPro bills itself as the fastest Web site domain name checker around. It'll give you a quick thumbs up or thumbs down for Web site names ending in .com, .net and .org.

I thought I could find a good To Do list app, but they have all been rather lame. That's the one app that iPhone application developers have not mastered. An app called "To Do's" with a red check mark icon still remains on my phone though. At least it was free.

If you're into shopping on eBay, there's an app to help you keep track of your items and the bidding. It's simply called eBay Mobile and gets a four-star rating. I don't buy much, but I like to track the auctions.

Another handy app is Units, which is a measurements converter, such as from miles to kilometers or pounds to kilograms.

For tweeting, I use Twitterrific and just added TwitterFon for a second Twitter account. They're both free and there also are other Twitter apps to choose from.
The heavyweights

Those are the light-weight, fun apps and most of them are free. But there are some apps worth paying for.

In my line of work, I like to keep a dictionary handy and I chose the Wordbook English Dictionary &Thesaurus app for the iPhone. It cost me $8.55 at the time and is now on sale at 50 percent off. I think it was worth the money and I use it daily.

Another app I didn't mind paying for is HandDBase Database Manager. It's similar to a desktop computer database application with full-blown sorting and filtering. It's great for your hobbies and collections.

And who can function without a password manager? I choose eWallet for $9.99 and have to use more than I would like to.

Both HanDBase and eWallet have desktop companion software, which means you can sync your smartphone to your computer and keep things up-to-date when at home or the office.

If you have to track mileage for business use, try MileBug for $3.99. Or there is a light version that's free. It'll come in handy at tax-prep time.

With all the thousands of apps available for smartphones, who needs a computer?
Earnest Hart is assistant managing editor for online. To contact him, call (601) 961-7269 or e-mail