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The 5 Most Useful Free iPhone Apps

Tickers in this article: SBUX P AAPL
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Readers love hearing about great apps that populate Apple's (AAPL) App Store . I generally leave that content to other solid writers who contribute to TheStreet.

See, for example, Katie Roof's 10 iPhone Apps for Foodies and Top 5 Music Apps .

Since getting iPhone 5, I have tested a fair number of apps -- several hundred -- and narrowed it down to my five most useful.

No. 5: Remote

Apple just updated this app for iPhone 5 and the new iPad. Up until this past weekend, I never used it before. Now, I can't live without it.

You use Remote from your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch to control Apple TV or your iTunes library. I use it exclusively with iPhone 5 to control iTunes.

It's flawless. You can pretty much do anything from the app that you can do in iTunes. In the Remote app, your iTunes library appears on your mobile screen. You can play, pause, skip, move between libraries, edit and create playlists and even manipulate the excellent "Up Next" feature in iTunes 11.

No more putting active windows in the background to get to the iTunes platform on your desktop and laptop. If you're on the computer working all day, that's an indispensable time saver.

No. 4: Umano

This app aggregates stories from around the Web and groups them by "Interests," including Entertaining, Geeky, Entrepreneurial and Scientific.

Umano reads the stories you select aloud. It's Pandora (P) meets Songza for the information Web.

Select an interest and let it roll. Umano starts from the top, reading the first article in the category. It announces the title, the subtitle, the source and then reads the article word-for-word. When finished it moves to the next article in the queue.

You can customize playlists in Umano and proceed handsfree.

Pandora and Songza help mold the future of radio; Umano does the same with what ends up a hipper, more relevant incarnation of newsradio.

Based on its Twitter feed of just 50 or so followers, Umano, surprisingly, has yet to really take off.

No. 3: Safeway

Safeway (SWY) owns and operates several grocery store chains including Safeway stores, Vons and Tom Thumb. You can download the same app under any one of those brand's names.

I shop at Von's offshoot Pavilions.

If you patronize a Safeway store, a checkout clerk has likely asked you to sign up for the "Just 4 U" program. To opt in, you download the iPhone app and link to the rewards card account you already have or simultaneously create with the store.

The app looks at your purchases -- past and present -- to provide "Just 4 U" deals. It's personalization at the grocery store. It also lists deals available to all other club card and weekly ad shoppers. You can take any of the deals, add them to your "card," and then add them to a shopping "list" in the app.

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