ExtremeTech published a list of the 30 best free applications for the iPhone, you can check it out over here.
So the time seemed right to take another look at the free iPhone apps out there and see what's as essential today as Jim's were back in 2008 (though a number of those remain relevant as well).
We tried to stay away from games and slightly more predictable choices like instant-messaging clients—we wanted to see what out there had the best chance of being truly useful in your everyday (or almost everyday) life. In addition, this list focuses primarily on apps designed for the iPhone and iPod touch. Every app we list here will work on the iPad, but don't expect any one to work terribly well unless it's been optimized. (We have a list of excellent free iPad apps, too.)