We've all done it: flipped open a cell phone in the dark to hunt for a dropped pen or the keyhole on a car door. Now a Minneapolis software developer has capitalized on this alternative use of the cell phone and found itself in the spotlight on the new Apple iPhone App Store.

DoApp, which develops widgets and other applications for websites, computers and portable devices, quietly released its program to convert the iPhone into a flashlight, a strobe light or even a night light. But after Apple opened its online applications store, DoApp's "myLite Color Strobe and Flashlight" program quickly broke into the store's top 10 free downloads.

Graeme Thickins, DoApp's vice president of marketing, said Monday that myLite is currently the eighth most downloaded free application at the iPhone App Store.

"What amazes us is we've passed companies like Facebook, AOL and MySpace," whose applications currently rank 12th, 15th and 16th, respectively, he said.

The old generation of iPhones used Web-based applications, but the new App Store sells some applications and gives others away. They range from functional programs such as calenders and maps to whimsy, such as the multicolored strobe light and simulated bubble wrap.

Apple says more than 250,000 of its software development kits were downloaded this spring, but only 4,000 were accepted for the App Store.

Apple released a statement after the App Store's first weekend, reporting more than 10 million downloads of applications.

Joe Sriver, CEO and founder of DoApp, came to the Midwest from Silicon Valley after working at Google (he was employee number 198). At first, Sriver was skeptical of the "tech scene" in the Twin Cities. But he said that changed after attending MinneBar, which bills itself this way: "Technology & Design (un)Conference: No Spectators, Only Participants."

Sriver said the development of myLite came from personal experience: Because he had used his cell phone to find things in the dark, he figured others must have, too.

Consumers have reported other uses for the flashlight application, ranging from adding lighting for a photo shoot to reading X-rays, Sriver said. DoApp has two other applications in the iPhone store: a myTo-Dos list and a Magic 8 Ball game to answer those perplexing life questions.

CodeMorphic, another local developer based in Eden Prairie, was also accepted to the iPhone developer program. Damon Allison, chief technical officer, said the company's first application, which allows users to take a photo and turn it into a cartoon, will launch in August. He said it also plans to launch a real estate locator.

The potential with the iPhone is endless, Allison said, because of its versatile platform and complex operating system. "What's interesting about the phone, is it's a computer that just happens to have a cellular antenna," he said.

Sriver said Apple's App Store has demonstrated its own potential. "We displaced some pretty amazing names in a short amount of time," he said of myLite's success. "We're in awe of what's going on."

Emma L. Carew • 612-673-7405