7 Vin­tage iPhone Apps and Games for Seri­ous Nostalgia

George Tinari

It’s always fun to travel back in time and get a blast from the past. That’s mostly why Timehop has become as popular as it is. And with all the iOS and Android apps that are constantly coming out these days, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at the beginnings of the App Store. In 2008 and 2009, the most popular apps were on practically everyone’s iPhone because there wasn’t much competition.

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Once upon a time, the App Store was a much less crowded place | Photo: ymgerman / Shutterstock

If you’ve been using an iPhone for several years now, you might be able to recognize these popular apps from back in the day that helped start the revolution. Here are seven nostalgic picks.

1. Tap Tap Revenge

Tap Tap Revenge
Photo: Tapulous

Tap Tap Revenge was arguably the first smartphone game that went viral. Everybody had to have Tap Tap Revenge on their iPhone. Gameplay mimicked that of Guitar Hero in which you’d have to tap the buttons on screen in line with the beat to play the proper notes. It was free and users could unlock more advanced songs as they progressed — even without in-app purchases since those didn’t exist in 2008.

2. Pianist

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Download a piano onto your iPhone, because why not. Even if you didn’t play piano or have any sense of musicality, you probably gave it a shot on Pianist. At the time, people were still so fascinated about the multi-touch display of an iPhone that practically anything interactive like Pianist garnered attention. You can still get it to this day for $3.99.

3. iBeer

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Here’s another example of a pretty generally useless app that mesmerized so many people. Press the giant red button in iBeer and suddenly your screen is being consumed by lager. The attention grabber in this app was its utilization of the iPhone’s accelerometer, still a new technology for a phone at the time. Tilt the phone to simulate drinking the beer and it would slowly “drain” out of your phone. People actually paid $2.99 for this –myself included.

4. Night Camera

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Up until around the iPhone 4 in 2010, the iPhone’s camera was pretty awful especially in low light. Since there was no autofocus and no flash, getting a clear, stable shot at night was near impossible. So Night Camera debuted. It didn’t necessarily promise to improve the low-light quality, but it included a special sensor using the accelerometer that would only snap a photo if it sensed you were holding your iPhone completely still. This reduced the chances of a blurry photo. That, plus some of its effects, worked for plenty of people… at least until the iPhone’s camera stopped being so dreadful.

5. Super Monkey Ball

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The thought of a console game being playable on an iPhone was wild, yet Super Monkey Ball debuted in 2008 to significant success. The classic Sega title utilized the iPhone’s accelerometer to move the ball around the obstacle courses. The controls were a little wonky and still are today even as I attempted to play it again, but the graphics at the time were top notch.

6. Tweetie

Photo: atebits

Though not from 2008, Tweetie and later Tweetie 2 became known as the best Twitter clients available for iPhone. They introduced incredible UI features that would end up having a profound influence on the rest of the App Store like pull-to-refresh. The $2.99 Tweetie 2 was one of the most highly anticipated app launches in the tech sphere and it didn’t disappoint.

Note: Tweetie 2 was eventually acquired by none other than Twitter. The app evolved to become the official Twitter app that exists today. The developer Loren Brichter, after working for Twitter for a bit, went to develop the popular game Letterpress.

7. Trace

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Trace was and still is an addictive title that brought a very weird, primitive design to iOS. The entire app was purposely styled to look like it was designed in Microsoft Paint. But the whole point was to get the little guy to his goal in every level by drawing lines to the finish line and jumping over obstacles. It was hard to be an iPhone user and not addicted to Trace.

ALSO READ: 6 Really Cool and Useful Ideas for Utilizing Your Old Android Phone

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George Tinari has written about technology for over seven years: guides, how-tos, news, reviews and more. He's usually sitting in front of his laptop, eating, listening to music or singing along loudly to said music. You can also follow him on Twitter @gtinari if you need more complaints and sarcasm in your timeline.