The top iPhone apps for techies

Useful native iPhone apps for IT pros have arrived, but the best require jailbreaking

Apple's iPhone 2.0 launch sparked an explosion of native apps and games, along with a burst of business application support from Google, Oracle, NetSuite, Salesforce.com, and a host of others who have tuned their Web GUIs for the iPhone's Safari browser. It has taken longer for useful IT tools to come to the iPhone, but many are now here.

However, you won't find all of these tools in Apple's App Store. To get the best of them, you'll need to "jailbreak" your iPhone (or iPod Touch) and install Cydia, a package manager for jailbreak apps. Cydia opens the iPhone to a brave new world beyond iTunes, where goodies such as terminal emulators and SSH software are free for the downloading.

[ See also "Enterprise apps for the iPhone," the InfoWorld Test Center review of the iPhone 3G, and "Why iPhone 2.0 won't yet rule the roost in the enterprise." ]

Among InfoWorld's top picks are MobileTerminal, the OS X terminal emulator for the iPhone, and OpenSSH, an SSH client and server. But we're not all work and no play: NES, a Nintendo emulator, also tops our list, because Super Mario Brothers is its own justification. See the full list, "Top 10 iPhone apps for techies."

Jailbreaking your iPhone isn't illegal, but it will void your warranty. You will need Apple's 2.0 firmware and the PwnageTool jailbreak software (sorry, Mac only). The latter is available free from blog.iphone-dev.org. Be prepared to search a bit for the latest version, 2.0.3.1.

Most iPhone users don't care that they can get a root prompt on their phone. If that's you, the official apps available through iTunes are no doubt all you need. But if you're an IT pro wanting to use the iPhone or iPod Touch to monitor and control other systems, or to satisfy other geek needs, you'll want to bust free with PwnageTool and check out the offerings through Cydia.

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