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iPhone apps are fun and quirky – but are they safe?

You can link to webcams or make yourself sound like a cartoon. But you might also pick up a virus.

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For my wife’s birthday recently, I wanted to get her a little something out of the ordinary. So I bought her the latest iPhone.

Anyone who thinks that only the male of the species craves tech gear is fooling himself. My wife is living proof that women can be as attracted to shiny, beeping tech devices as any guy is.

In fact, after watching her with her new phone for a while, I confess to feelings of tech envy. She’s let me use the phone a few (and I do mean few) times, just so I could see how cool it is. I was most impressed with its easy Web access and the quality of the photos it takes – not bad for a device whose primary function is still as a phone … I think.

But the other cool thing about this newest version of the iPhone are its applications, or apps. Apps are the little programs that a user can download to his or her iPhone for a plethora of uses. (My wife is always looking for a better appointment/scheduling application, for instance.) Some of the stuff is pretty amazing; most of them are also free. And the fee-based ones I’ve seen range from 99 cents to $15.

Take the RDM+: Remote Desktop for Mobiles. This app allows you to access your desktop remotely from the iPhone. So while you’re taking the train or subway into work in the morning, you can log onto your home computer and e-mail yourself that file you forgot to take to work. It’s possible to do this from a laptop as well, of course, but it’s a lot easier to get to your iPhone than to open up your laptop.

Then there’s Mobiscope. It lets you connect to any webcam you like – up to four of them at once. You could use it to see what’s happening at home if you’re on the road – the program can even send you e-mails if motion is detected. (That could generate a lot of e-mail if the cat is moving about.) But there’s an even better use: Link to your favorite public webcams and see what’s happening with the traffic around your city. Better than updates on the radio.

Some apps are more practical than flashy, like Remember the Milk (gotta love the names these developers come up with). It is, of course, a to-do list.

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