[Not Enough] Star Trek On The iPhone

J.J. Abrams is fond of saying that iPhones do more than an Original Series communicator (except speak directly to a ship in orbit, but lets not get picky). Recently Apple upgraded the iPhone software to '2.0' and launched the official Apple’s App Store. The service offers almost 1,000 free and paid apps in numerous categories. The only problem — a serious lack of Trek applications!

JJ Abrams and the Star Trek team show their love for the iPhone
At the Fringe panel at Comic Con last weekend, the team behind the new Star Trek movie (JJ Abrams, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Bryan Burk) were asked which they prefered, the iPhone or the Blackberry…they all voted iPhone.

Sure it’s cool…but where are the Trek apps? The only app available is DeepSpaceNewt, an unofficial application developed originally for the Apple Newton way back when. And, let’s just say, we’re not thoroughly impressed.

Deep Space Newt (the ONLY Trek app)
Deep Space Newt aka DSNewt (reference to DS9) is styled after an old text-based game originally offered on the Apple Newton. DSNewt offers the chance to play either an Amalgamation (Federation) starship or a Stigon bopper (Klingon Bird Of Prey). The developer describes the game as such:

“Blast the enemy out of your territory with your phasers and torpedoes. Defend yourself with shields, cloaking devices and your own wits. Watch out not only for your enemies, but also wormholes and exploding stars and planets.”

Sounds great, right? And it could be, but we tried this app and were somewhat disappointed. The LCARS interface is great, and of course we love the fact that it’s all Trek, but game play is not up to par. The controls are sluggish, there are no sounds, and the objective of each level seems unclear. In our opinion, this game would be great if you were familiar with the original, but otherwise, it’s not worth the $7.99 price tag.

Screenshot showing in game play

Screenshot showing DSNewt on the iPhone

The LCARS iPhone User Interface
A YouTube user, hideandseektoday, created an LCARS style iPhone user interface which is a really neat way to turn your iPhone into a PADD. The major problem — it basically mods your entire operating system requiring you to illegally jailbreak the phone, voiding your Apple warranty (eek!).

Star Wars Beating Trek To The Punch?
One application which has been widely popular since the firmware update is a little FREE app called PhoneSaber. You can turn your iPhone or iPod Touch into a light saber in the color of your choosing. Hear the signature light saber whrrrs and crashes based on movements detected by your phone’s accelerometer. Several PhoneSaber fights have broken out already around the office. We can’t wait until the first PhoneSaber fight breaks out between complete strangers on the street. But, hey, if Star Wars gets an awesome app, why can’t Trek have a PHASER app?

the PhoneSaber app on the iPhone

The TrekMovie Challenge – Let’s See Some New Trek Apps!
Since DeepSpaceNewt is currently the only Star Trek app available for the iPhone, TrekMovie.com puts this challenge out to you: Let’s see some new Trek apps! Come on, computer geeks! Get to work! We’d love to see a simple Tricorder app which would consist basically of a Tricorder UI that would beep and boop when buttons were pressed, similar to the current web app, but a whole lot better. Or how about a Star Trek PADD app that would be legal and through the App Store? C’mon, Trekkies, don’t let Star Wars fans best us on this one!

In the spirit of the the 'X-Prize' TrekMovie will offer a whole $17.01 (cash money, American!) to the first iPhone application that embodies Star Trek as successfully as the PhoneSaber does for Star Wars. To win your prize, submit your application to kayla [@] trekmovie.com. Entries will be judged by the TrekMovie iPhone subcommittee (comprised of Kayla and Anthony). Any winning entry should incorporate TrekMovie.com name, link, and/or branding and will be featured here at TrekMovie.com. TrekMovie would prefer to see the application be free (like the PhoneSaber).

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I used to have a great tricorder app for my Palm Pilot, way back in the stone age. It was a graphic representation of a TNG tricorder screen, and all of the buttons made TNG sounds. Great fun, although it didn’t actually do anything.


Well, I personally find the light saber app kind of lame. I think a truly functioning LCARS interface controlling all apps of ther iphone would be much cooler. I’m no programmer, but it seems it wouldn’t be that diificult to come up with a version that looks and sounds right without having to butcher the actual phone operations or void the warranty. I’m actually very surprised that someone at Apple hasn’t already come up with it…I’m sure there are many, many Trekkies working for them.

Yes! Yes!
I hacked my old iphone just so I could make it look a PADD.
I hope the apple people figure it out. They should have diffrent skins and themes for the iphone. Just like you can have for your computer.

Semi-related: I once made a ringtone out of the Trek bosun’s whistle sound effect and let me tell you, when that thing went off in a room, at the bank, wherever, select heads turned. It really flushed the Trek fans out of the woodwork.

*like a PADD I ment sorry was typing to fast. =p

Come on, people! I’m getting an iPhone soon, and I want to be able to use it as a tricorder!

Since I lack any form of computer programming skils, I will offer ideas:

1. A layout that tells you the percentage of your warp core (battery)
2. A fully-functional (but not really) tricorder
3. Phaser
4. Phaser Rifle
5. “Chirp” ringtone
6. A ringtone/theme that when you get a call, everything goes to red alert (everything is shaded red) and you hear the red alert sounds.
7. A replicator menu that shows all restaurants in an (X) mile radius. Lists them by various category.
8. Medical tricorder complete with actual schematics of the human body
9. LCARS voice for caller ID
10. Red shirt detector

11. LCARS layout that is interchangeable with the regular iPhone.

I have the “Communicator Chirp” as my ring tone…

I also use “Sensor ping”, Medical Scanner”, & “Transporter Beam” among others…

I know: geek alert!! heh!!


RE: #10

Yup…and proud of it! And since you’re here with us…ummmmm….

does anyone have a clean sample of the original communicator double beep?

RE: #12

There is a wonderful CD available with every imaginable Trek sound effect from the original series. I have it…unfortunately, not in front of me, so I can’t give you the exact title. I have used it to copy sounds onto my computers in the past to add a little Trek flavor to them.

I’m sure you’ll be able to search it out online.


I HATE hearing about how 20th-21st Century cellphones are so much more advanced than TOS communicators. Bull ! Communicators communicate to a ship in orbit without a vast network of satellites for line of sight signal transfer. Thats some pretty sweet technology, plus they can be modified to emit soundwaves that cause avalanches ! Show me the I-Phone that can do that. So it doesnt have a viewscreen, maybe it does(just never used in camera range) and when not in use it looks like that swirly circle thing we know and love as the classic communicator. It transmits through solid rock ! I loose signal in a stair well, cell phone are not communicators !

You what I want? The TOS communicator “beep-beep” answer your communicator noise as a ring tone. Not the “chiiiiirp” flipping open sound – you can get that anywhere. I’m too lazy to actually cue up a TOS dvd and capture it – anyone know where I can find it? Not the “chiiiiirp” flipping open sound – that’s right out.

u guys talking about this?


Is Deep Space Newt anything like WinTrek that they used to have for Windows 3.1? I’m sure that game was based on an older text-based game though too.

#5 — “select heads would turn” — ha ha very wittily put!

Finally, the lack of Trek apps has been realized. It would be great to finally have some. All I got now is an LCARS-themed wallpaper on my iPhone. Maybe if JJ and crew are so fond, we’ll see a movie-related app down the road.

@15: Don’t know if you mean this for the iPhone or not but if yes and if you don’t mind spending a buck or two: Look for Star Trek (Sound Effects From the Original TV Soundtrack) on iTunes. (Artists are Douglas Grindstaff, Jack Finlay & Joseph Sorokin). You can buy anything as a ringtone. Or for free (on a Mac with iLife ’08) you can convert any song into a ringtone with Garageband. (Drag the file into Garageband; Click on Cycle button; set cycle; Share > Send to iTunes as Ringtone).


The only thing missing from the cell phone that makes it not better than the communicator is a power source invented in the writers room.

It is, despite this, a device which you holdup to your head to talk to basically anyone, anywhere on the planet. Yes, yes, there are networks and such, but in terms of functionality and what it does for the user, every cell phone since we got text messaging is more advanced.

And I can’t even begin to count how many times the communicators haven’t worked in my years watching trek. Often because they’re underground.

Yeah, the cell phone is useless without transmission towers and boosting stations; essentially a cell phone is a fancy radio. But maybe there’s a really good calling plan for the entire Milky Way…

I can send it to you if you like as I have an MP3 or wave file of it.

I am pretty sure the ENTIRE iPhone (and every other cell phone for that matter) already IS a Trek App, seeing as they have all been inspired by the original communicator!


If someone comes up with an LCARS interface for the iPhone that successfully manages the apps, I’ll add in another $17.01 matching prize.

I would like an mp3 of the communicator “beep beep” incoming call sound as well!

I love my TOS chirping ringtone. I think its easier for people to figure out what it is, rather then “BEEP BEEP”. Does anybody else also have Worf saying “Captain, Incoming Message” for TXT messages and Voice Mails?? The strange looks I get. LOL!

I also use Theve (Journey to Babel) and Cloud William (The Omega Glory) as wallpapers too.

“FEEDOM?!?” – Cloud William


Thats just it those are big deals- the lack of a network is sign of advanced technology, plus while we never saw a viewscreen one could retcon it in if it was even desired, keeping in mind cellphones arent commonly picture phones anyway.

So I stand by my exasparation, Communicators have not been shown to be less advanced than your avarage cell phone. And their supossed bulky size could be to offset whatever technology is needed to not require a network and or a more advanced power source.

As for their use being compromised by plot devices, well thats why its a dramatic television show and not flight recorders from “the future”

In Star Trek II communicators successfully transmit from the Regula I Genesis Caves with no problem.

Besides cellphones kept getting smaller and smaller until they were a size only women and small handed men could use, now they are increasing in size because of functionality, who is to say that is why communicators maybe bulky and larger looking than the microcells of the turn of the century.

#15 Captain Pike — that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Just the beep-beep. I used a program called Xingtone to convert a sample I pulled from TV but the background sounds of the ship under it makes the ringtone sound a bit muffled. I need the beeps CLEANLY.

#13 — does that CD have the beeps with no other ship sounds under them?


Actually, an iPhone can communicate directly with a ship in orbit. If you know someone in space, they can call your phone directly from the station. I’ve seen it happen. I guess that doesn’t single out the iPhone above any other phone on the planet, but it does techincally render the criticism untrue.

I much prefer my Nokia N810. I suggest everyone check that out or even wait for the next version with wimax… or, even better, wait for the Nokia touchscreen which can be seen in The Dark Knight

Anthony? What happened to my post? This is the second time you did this to me.

Why so sensitive? Without telecommunication arrays in space an Iphone would be worthless. DING DONGS. No texting your girl or boy. Ya’ll.

that’s a pimp Padd Pod, they should make one for Ipod touch too.

Star Trek rules!

I’m not sure if this would be the ‘ultimate’ Trek iPhone app, but: could be neat to have the iPhone display the faces of the various TOS tools — the classic communicator with the whirlling centre piece, which could work as the actual phone interface; the tricorder; the medical tricorder. These could make the appropriate sounds as it’s flipped open (communicator chirp), or slowly waved in front of something (tricorder sounds).

Aww, great!! ;) Lets not forget its not just an iPhone world out there! There are still a few of Windows Mobile types out there..

All kidding aside would be nice to have something for my Touch by HTC. Love this phone!!

I am actually developing a Star Trek episode guide, it’s just taking a bit longer than I thought (I originally wanted to have it out by the time the app store opened but since I can only work on it during my spare time, it got delayed). But don’t worry, it’ll be here soon.

Oh dear, that’s an insult on this TOS minded site!! Now all people will start complaining that it is an TNG era interface. They all want a clunky TOS interface on the iPhone… Poor people…

I don’t need no stinkin’ iPhone! I’ve converted my Nokia N810 Internet Tablet into a TNG-style PADD and I love it. !


It’s not a phone, I know, but it does support telephone calls via skype. My phone is an LG Dare–their answer to the iPhone and I think it’s a better phone. Besides, it was 3G before Apple decided it was cool. ;)

ugh.. every time i hear a communicator/cell phone discussion it makes me insane. i worked for the company that had a deal with paramount to put out an actual communicator cell phone 3 years ago.

i oversaw the design of the thing from my fanboy point of view, and it had the potential to be unbelievably cool.

it never reached market, because the fledgling company i worked for totally changed its business direction and that didn’t please CBS, to say the least. (Trek moved from Paramount to CBS while I was working on the phone.)

I still have the one-and-only prototype. it doesn’t work, but it looks exactly like a TOS communicator with a fantastic design allowing for all normal (and some extra) cell phone functionality…

ugh, it makes me sick. I’ve been holding this in for so long….

there – i’ve finally said it!


this is not a ‘tos minded site’ and I am not sure where you got that impression. This is a Star Trek site, all flavors

Yes Antony, I know that is the intention and I know the site is. But I’m refering more to the comments. Every time something from the TNG era comes out, there are many readers who react negative and start discussions about why it wasn’t TOS or why TOS is so much better (for example the Star Trek Online game). This is rather anyoing and I don’t understand why this comes up every time. Just had to get it out.

Besides that, love visiting this site. Keep up the good work.

I forget if the Star Trek Sound Effects album has the incoming signal “Beep-Beep” for the communicator, but if you have the Playmates Classic Star Trek Communicator and a way to record it into your computer for an MP3, the one side button on that made a very clear incoming sound.

41. VanEdge

This is a subject that also makes me nuts. I believe I saw the cell phone product you are talking about, or at least one that was being hyped online a couple of years ago. What a shame that it never came to be!!

Incoming Communicator Beeps:

The timing of this discussion is a trip!
Just a couple of days ago, I recorded those beeps from my Diamond Select Communicator and uploaded them in MP3 format for the same reason, wanting the original tones for a cell phone. The sound perfectly matches those from the TOS. I hope the sound bite is clean enough:



thanks for the link. that sounds okay but I think its still a little high-pitched/tinny compared to the real thing.

I often listen while I’m watching Enterprise for when their beep goes off in a space of the show that doesn’t have any ambient sound underneath it (but once you start looking you realize that that show is almost wall-to-wall with mood music)… but so far I haven’t tried to grab any audio from that. But I think that’s gonna be the best bet – rip the audio from a DVD of an episode of Enterprise, its the same beep and almost defnitely a higher fidelity than any similar sound pulled from TOS.

“I also use Theve (Journey to Babel) and Cloud William (The Omega Glory) as wallpapers too. ”

Next to my son learning a new word….that’s the coolest thing I’ve heard today.

Agree with the article, I WANT A TRICORDER APP! In fact I’m this close to getting a freakin’ Apple Developer License and coding it myself…

Oh, and thanks Darnell! I just threw your mp3 into garageband, boosted the gain (as it were) and saved it as a ringtone for my iPhone!

There’s already a hacked app for jailbroken iphones. I had it on my 1.1.4 iphone. It was a tricorder…