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msnbc.com
updated 11/5/2008 3:24:34 PM ET 2008-11-05T20:24:34

There's a reason for the "i" in iPhone. It's all about me! Forget Microsoft Exchange Sync and Loopt and social networking and connecting with the world.

If you've got an iPhone, you can live within your own universe of egocentric applications, including some that make your phone ring to aid your escape from an incessantly chattering coworker, one that helps you plan a dinner party down to the seating arrangements and a yet another that offers a "chill pill" to calm you down from the stresses of the day.

Some of the programs have become available in the last few weeks. Others have been among more than 6,000 applications available in Apple's online "App Store" since July, when it launched as part of the iTunes Store. There are many, many useful iPhone programs. Those are not the focus of this story.

The iPhone handily lets you can create your own iCocoon because Apple's device is like no other in terms of its operating system, visual richness and ease of use, and because thousands of software developers know a good marketing opportunity when they see it.

With a press of a button right from the phone to download the programs onto it, and a dollar or two in many cases for these vanity apps, your iPhone really can be all about you, even more than it already is.

Here's a look at the top 10 most recent iRreverent, iNane or, depending on your take, iNnovative, iPhone programs:

iCycle: Sure to iRritate your wife
This one's for guys who really should consider relationship counseling first before buying this program, which launched Oct. 10. It lets you know when your significant other or others are having their periods. Seriously.

You definitely have too much time on your hands or too many women in your life if you opt for the iCycle program, which monitors menstrual cycles.
"Enjoy peace and quiet in your relationships," says developer TJWare in its App Store explanation of the program. "Prevent arguments and unnecessary misunderstandings, save money, plan your dates, vacations, weekend trips and major discussions within her 'best time period' of the month, the Green Zone."

It's up to you to set up the names and cycles of the women in your life. That should be a fun question to ask, and when you tell them why you're asking — but of course you won't, because you're not a total idiot, are you? (Or are you?) Then you get to program that into iCycle.

Your reward for entering all this info is a series of stoplights in yellow, green and red.

"The visual cues show when your women are about to get their period in their current cycle (the Caution Zone), when they are having their period and are highly irritable (the Warning Zone), when they are coming off their period (the Good Zone), and when they are in the green zone (The Best Zone or Ovulation Period)," say the developers.

Oh, and there's a lame attempt at the high ground with iCycle: "Great if you are planning to get pregnant and know when she is most fertile."

The iPhone may be a miracle, but is not a miracle worker, buddies. Use your heads, not your … $1.99 for this program.

iThrown: A virtual tossup
So, you've spent $199 or $299, or maybe even more for the first-generation iPhone, and admit it, sometimes the urge to fling it is unbearable.

This free program "enables you to check how far you can throw your iPhone…without really throwing of course," says Magnatron, the developer of iThrown.

The program uses the iPhone's accelerometer motion sensor to "measure your throw and how far the phone would have flown." Hmm. That's satisfying.

Oh, and in case you need to have that virtual throw validated, iThrown also "includes nice audience recordings to make sure everybody around you knows how good your arm really is."

iBubbleWrap: A pop notion
Among the stress-relieving programs for the iPhone — and there are several — this one uses virtual bubble wrap for popping to do the trick.

"Just swipe your finger to reveal more bubbles and pop them all," says developer Lima Sky of its 99-cent program that debuted Oct. 24.

Among the upsides: "Unlike real bubble wrap, iBubbleWrap never runs out of bubbles to pop and you always have it with you." Not recommended for symphony- or library-goers.

iClouds: Breezy and easy
Get your head in the clouds instead of out of them with this 99-cent relaxation program that debuted Oct. 20 from Studio-Kura of Japan. The program shows floating clouds. That's it. You can choose daytime, evening or night clouds, and view them at various speeds and angles. A similar program is iDaydream (also 99 cents).

Take A Chill Pill: Very safe and non-narcotic
This, too, can help relax you and give you a virtual fix of Advil or Tylenol with more pleasant results: the sounds of rain, birds, chimes, crickets, clocks, bells — whatever floats your boat (oh, and there's an ocean sound, too). The 99-cent program from Gabe Jacobs Productions launched Oct. 23. There are also similar apps, but the idea of popping a rain pill is quite appealing.

Exitstrategy: The art of the fake phone call
"Ever been stuck somewhere you don't want to be? In a meeting? An uncomfortable social gathering? Your in-laws' family reunion? On a date gone bad? Exitstrategy can help." So says developer Maglevity Labs of its 99-cent "phoney" program.

"When your phone rings, you can show the caller information to anyone around you. Once they're convinced, you can then choose to either decline or 'answer' the call, speaking into the phone in an appropriate tone … as you step outside to talk."

Executing Exitstrategy is a little tricky, and you have to make sure you're not caught in the act pressing the icons to activate it. Otherwise, your frantic effort to exit will boomerang swiftly with dagger eyes and social ramifications.

This program is not recommended for those who blush easily or who have honest faces. But then, if that's you, you would just suffer the insufferable until you could no longer bear it and say: "I gotta go. No, I really gotta go." Now, that's an exit strategy.

Excuses, Excuses: More lame social engineering
"Need an excuse to skip work today? How about school? Or a family event? This app can help and it has a funny new excuse for you to try every day," says the developer of Excuses, Excuses, a 99-cent program that launched Oct. 31. (It's to be confused with another 99-cent program — Excuses — that basically does the same thing.)

Caution: Excuses, Excuses crashed as it tried to install on my iPhone. What's its excuse?

DaysTo Concert: No applause necessary
This 99-cent app and its siblings, "DaysTo Festival" and "DaysTo Barbeque" from ZATZ Publishing launched Oct. 30. Pre-Halloween trick?

DaysTo Concert, for example, tells you "how soon you'll be attending that rock concert you've been anticipating … Find out how many days you have to get ready for that all-important concert …strategize for what you're bringing."

And it's much the same for "Festival" and "Barbeque." "DaysTo Barbeque, for example, "gives you the instant gratification of knowing exactly how soon you'll be at that exciting BBQ you've been anticipating."

Instant gratification? This one's an instant insult to anyone with half a brain, no matter how big your ego.

iDinnerParty: For overachieving iPhone users
If you're planning a wedding or big event, you may find this $1.99 app appetizing.

The program, launched Oct. 29 by Serendipity App Company, gives meal and event planners more data fields to fill in than the IRS.

Not only can you record whether your guests are attending, you can record their meal choices, and e-mail that information to a restaurant. The program also has a "table organization" feature with up to 10 tables for seating charts.

The Dialing Cat: Might be purrfect for you
If the idea of having a cat dial your phone numbers makes you laugh — repeatedly — and if you don't mind allotting more than 12 megabytes of space to this program (that's a lot for an iPhone app), The Dialing Cat, released Nov. 1, may be the cat's meow.

And, yes, the cat can meow when dialing. The $1.99 program, from NaughtyNuts, was released Nov. 1. There's also a Dialing Frog app for $1.99.

The Frog is cute too — for about five seconds. Then all the flies flittering around the keypad as you press each number quickly become annoying.

That's when you definitely need to reach for an iPhone Chill Pill — or an iLife (your own).

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