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Enter a Portal For Free iPhone Apps

Apple's ubiquitous marketing campaign for the iPhone emphasizes you can get the "real Web" on the sleek device -- no compromises.

Developers at Seattle-based Blue Flavor say they "love" the iPhone, but think the Web experience can be improved by optimizing applications for the device's often-limited access speeds.

The company's solution is Leaflets, a mobile portal of free Web 2.0 applications optimized for the iPhone and other so-called "Mobile 2.0" phones. Blue Flavor also plans to offer original content and applications oriented to Mobile 2.0 from other developers on the site.

"We wanted to create applications for the bandwidth-constrained," Brian Fling, a co-founder and director of strategy at Blue Flavor, told internetnews.com. "A lot of iPhone apps and desktop apps load slower on the AT&T EDGE network, and even where there's Wi-Fi access, if the application has a lot of JavaScript , it's slow."

iPhone Leaflets
Leaflets for your phone.
Source: Blue Favor

Some of the applications available now at the site are simply popular Web applications (like Yahoo's Del.icio.us and its photo-sharing site Flickr), reworked to be more accessible on iPhone.

There are a few other simple apps designed by Blue Flavor. One provides updates to the Tour de France. "We're using it as kind of a case study to see what we can do for live events like the Olympics," said Fling.

"I wouldn't say what we've done is revolutionize iPhone development," Fling added. "But we've focused on an area not many others have, based on our understanding that mobile content can be optimized for the device."

Perhaps the best example of an app improved for the iPhone is Blue Flavor's New York Times Leaflet. Apple has used it extensively in its TV ads, but one of the paper's own reviewers, David Pogue, said it took 55 seconds for the homepage to load on the iPhone using EDGE.

Compare this with the six seconds Blue Flavor said it takes its Times offering to load. Fling said the company used publicly available RSS feed information to reformat and publish summaries of articles (not the ads) with larger type. Clicking on the included links will bring you to the slower Times site.

"But you bypass the homepage, which has a lot of content and graphics, and you go right to the article making it much more usable," said Fling.

Blue Flavor said other popular destination sites can be translated into Leaflets in just a few hours using Web standards like XHTML, CSS, RSS and XML.

Application development for the iPhone is picking up steam. Last week NetSuite announced its business management software would be available to iPhone users under the name SuitePhone.