Since Apple's iTunes App Store opened its doors in July 2008, the world has been treated to more than 20,000 apps for the iPhone 3G and the iPod Touch. As of February this year, 500 million apps had been downloaded from the store.

Programs run the gamut from necessary, useful and just plain fun. And then there's another class of software - iPhone apps that foretell the future.

These are the applications that offer clues as to how mobile users are likely to use their smartphones - whether it's an iPhone or one of the iPhone's rivals - in the months and years to come. While we focus specifically on the iPhone here, it's likely that other smartphone platforms will take a similar course as well.

Apple iPhone 3G review

Apple iPod Touch review

With an eye on what's out there now in the App Store - and what that inventory indicates about what could be coming next - we've sorted through thousands of programmes to pick a few apps that indicate the direction we could see the iPhone and other future mobile devices take.

Ready for a little reading of the tea leaves? Here's our list of iPhone apps that best exemplify the future of mobile applications.

Mobile phone reviews

Broadband speed tester

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