Updated: Best iPhone apps 2016

Best iPhone apps 2015

50 best iPhone apps 2015

Apps are the cornerstone of Apple’s iOS platform. The ecosystem is what sets Apple’s mobile platform apart from its rivals, and the highest-quality iPhone apps are typically best in class.

But, like any app store, it is sometimes difficult to find out what are truly the best apps, the ones that stand out from the rest and offer a tool or service that’s far beyond anything else available.

Sometimes the best apps are free, other times you will have to pay a little bit for them. Here we showcase the best available and offer up everything you need to know about the app and how much it will cost.

This round-up compiles our favourites, from top-quality creative tools and video editors to the finest productivity kit and social networking clients. And in addition to our ongoing list of the absolute best, every week we’re adding our picks for the latest and greatest new or updated apps, so check back often.

This week’s selection includes new virtual goodies for Star Wars fans, a video-bookmarking app, a meme generator, a better selfie solution, and a content blocker from Firefox. Even if you don’t have an iPhone right now, it’s worth reading up on what’s available if you’re considering investing in the iPhone 6S.

New this week: Star Wars Card Trader

Best iPhone apps
  • Free

The historic hype over The Force Awakens died down a bit by the time the ball dropped in Times Square, but fans have a good reason to remain enthusiastic with the latest update to Star Wars Card Trader. Essentially a virtual version of the classic Topps trading card collection, the app was updated over the holiday break to include concept art, storyboards, and base cards from the latest chapter in the intergalactic saga, with more than 100 new characters. There are also plenty of silly cartoon cards with holiday puns and even ugly sweaters for Darth Vader, Chewbacca, and more.

New this week: Zinc

Best iPhone apps
  • $2.99/£2.29/AU$4.49

Zinc is an iPhone app for bookmarking videos you want to watch later on a more expansive screen. (Take note, new Apple TV owners!) With Zinc, you’ll no longer need to resort to emailing links so you don’t forget where you saw them. There’s a Safari extension available, as well as a bookmarklet for Chrome or Firefox, so videos can be bookmarked while on the desktop. Once you sit down in front of your HDTV, everything will be ready to watch on the Apple TV, just like magic.

New this week: PlayStation Messages

Best iPhone apps
  • Free

Love your iPhone as much as you do your PlayStation 4? With the latest version of the PlayStation Messages app, you can now take your PlayStation Network messages on the road. Check your friends list to see who’s online and what they’re playing, send text or voice messages, photos, and stickers to groups of up to 100 players, and access all your favorite message groups from the palm of your hand. Let’s face it, you can’t spend your whole life sitting in front of the PS4 (can you?), so this app is probably the next best thing to being there.

New this week: Shizup

Best iPhone apps
  • Free

Speaking of texting, why use plain, old words when a meme can say it better? Shizup turns boring text messages into hilarious memes in three easy steps. Select a contact, choose a photo, then add the desired caption and your meme will be created and sent within seconds. Messaging is simple and private, and users can tap into existing photos or videos as well as a huge gallery of in-app templates covering a wide range of topics.

New this week: Scanbot 5

Best iPhone apps
  • Free

In case you missed it, Scanbot 5 hit the App Store just ahead of the holidays. The app offers one of the best ways to convert documents to digital form on your iOS device, and the latest update adds a new folders feature to help organize receipts, invoices, and other documents. With the latest Pro feature, folders sync via iCloud Drive so they’re available from everywhere, and can be used for scanning directly. Digital hoarders now have no excuse for being disorganized.

New this week: Focus by Firefox

Best iPhone apps
  • Free

Content blockers are a dime a dozen in the App Store, but only one comes with Mozilla’s pedigree. Focus by Firefox offers content blocking as well as tracking protection for Mobile Safari, allowing users to browse faster and without unnecessary clutter. Set up takes just seconds — after downloading the free app, tap Settings on your device, tap Safari, select Content Blockers, and toggle on Focus by Firefox. The app offers a variety of options depending on what content you’d like to block.

New this week: Microsoft Selfie

Best iPhone apps
  • Free

If you received a selfie stick for Christmas, chances are this app is something you’ll want to check out. Microsoft Selfie is expressly geared toward enhancing all those auto-portraits you take, taking into account your age, gender, skin tone, lighting, and other variables when determining what your image should look like. With the tap of a single button, your selfies are more vibrant and colorful than ever, as the app automatically makes intelligent adjustments, reduces noise, and tweaks exposure and color so you’ll look your best.

New this week: LinkedIn

Best iPhone apps

  • Free

A new year is a good time to find a new job, which is why LinkedIn’s latest pre-holiday update arrived at an ideal time. Featuring a whole new look and feel, the social network for professionals is now leaner and meaner, and makes it easier to share new content, photos, and more. The app is now separated into tabs across the bottom for Home, Me, Messages, My Network, and Search, making it easier to find exactly what you’re looking for in a snap. The app is still free to use, but Premium subscribers have access to exclusive tools and insights to help find a job, grow your business, hire talent, or follow up on sales leads.

Drafts

Drafts

  • $9.99/£7.99

The App Store description for Drafts states that the app is “where text starts on iOS”. A bit presumptuous, but actually a smart idea — instead of another note-taker, this app wants to be the one you instinctively launch before tapping out any words. This is worth serious consideration, because Drafts boasts a distraction-free editing environment that’s simple and powerful, including a live word count and Markdown support.

Lines of copy can be arranged by drag and drop, an extended keyboard row can be customised, and version history enables rollback and browsing for previous entries. Once you’re done, powerful sharing capabilities help you send your text anywhere — even to several places at once by way of multi-step actions.

Scanbot

Scanbot

  • Free + $4.99/£3.99 IAP

There are two flavours of Scanbot, each of which is impressive in its own right. For free, you get a superb iPhone scanner with cloud storage integration, QR code support, and the means to detect edges for any paper document you want to digitise. Upgrade to Scanbot Pro and things get more interesting. You can add pages to existing scans, quickly name files using a clever smart-naming system, and search/extract text from previous scans.

There’s also an automated actions feature, where the app finds the likes of phone numbers and email addresses within your scans, turning them into single-tap buttons within each item’s actions menu. It’s not quite accurate enough to be witchcraft, but we nonetheless happily leave important scans within Scanbot these days, rather than immediately deleting after export.

Tweetbot 4

Tweetbot

  • $9.99/£7.99

There may come a time in the distant future when Twitter’s own app is our favourite (or Twitter bans third party clients entirely), but until then, there’s Tweetbot. This latest version builds on its predecessor, with an elegant interface fit for iOS underpinned by plenty of power-user features.

There’s a landscape mode and a second column for iPhone 6s Plus users, granular mute settings, support for optional content blockers in the browser view, and new Activity and Statistics tabs. Twitter might greedily block access to a handful of its newest toys, but Tweetbot’s efficiency and power means we won’t defect just yet.

Traktor DJ for iPhone

Traktor DJ

  • $1.99/£1.49

In the early days of iOS, developers had a tendency to follow Apple’s lead and ape real-world technology on the screen.

This sometimes worked well, but we were always a little suspect of DJ apps that thought it a smart move to present you with two virtual spinning records to try and manipulate with sausage fingers.

On the iPad, Traktor DJ wisely thought different, instead enabling you to directly ‘touch the groove’, working with the waveform itself.

With Traktor DJ for iPhone, everything’s been crammed into the iPhone’s smaller display, which should be madness — but it works. There’s a bit more zooming and swiping involved, but you can apply effects, simultaneously work with two virtual decks, and get recommendations for tracks to play, based on their tempos and keys. Traktor DJ plays nicely with others, too — Audiobus and Inter-App Audio are both supported.

Numbers

Numbers

  • Free with new devices or $9.99/£7.99

When Apple first brought its office apps to iPad, they were an impressive attempt to perform complex tasks on a glass screen. Squeezing them down to iPhone seemed nigh-on impossible, and yet Numbers in particular survives intact.

Naturally, there’s quite a bit of zooming and swiping to do if your spreadsheet has plenty of rows and columns, but data entry can be relatively painless and surprisingly rapid by way of custom forms.

Unsurprisingly, Apple would very much like you to use Numbers everywhere and sync by way of iCloud, but you can also export to CSV, PDF or Microsoft Excel, along with flinging completed documents to cloud storage providers such as Dropbox.

WhatsApp

WhatsApp

  • Free

WhatsApp is one of the most essential apps you can install on your iOS device, especially if you have friends and family across the world.

Rather than worrying about your SMS allowance or signal, WhatsApp lets you send messages over any Wi-Fi or mobile data connection instead. You can also send and receive photos with no size restrictions, and if you’re using Wi-Fi (or you have unlimited mobile data) they won’t cost you any extra to send.

Periscope

Periscope

  • Free

Periscope, Twitter’s live video streaming app, is an essential download for anyone who likes the immediacy of Twitter but craves something more visual.

You can easily create your own live streams or watch other people’s, send comments and hearts in real time and if you miss the action there’s a 24 hour window with which to replay streams. In short it’s simple enough to dive straight into but has enough to it that you’ll keep coming back, whether you’re more creator or viewer.

Pocket

Pocket

  • Free

Even in 2015 there are still times and places where we can’t get an internet connection, but this doesn’t have to mean you can’t read websites, however, thanks to the excellent Pocket app. It allows you to save articles, news stories, blog posts, videos and much more, letting you read and watch them offline.

You can also synchronise your saved articles across every device you’ve installed Pocket on, allowing you to pick up where you left off and continue reading.

Google Photos

Google Photos

  • Free

There are probably hundreds of photo apps around, but Google Photos stands out as it gives you unlimited storage for photos and videos, all for free.

That’s reason enough to jump on board, especially as it works not just on iOS but on Android and computers too.

But with basic editing tools and the ability to make collages and albums this is more than just photo and video storage, it aims to be your first and last stop after taking a picture. To achieve that it will need a few more features, but it’s well on its way.

Snapseed

Snapseed

  • Free

Snapseed is Google’s own photo editor that’s been designed from the ground up to make tweaking your snaps as easy and fun as possible on a touchscreen device.

Although the interface is simple enough to use with just your fingers, there’s also a lot of depth to this app as well. You use tools to tweak and enhance your photographs to make them look the best they ever have, as well as playing around with fun filters that can transform the photos you’ve taken on your smartphone or tablet.

Citymapper

CityMapper

  • Free

Should you find yourself in one of the supported cities (including Paris, London, New York and Berlin), you’ll be grateful to have Citymapper on your iPhone — assuming you don’t want to get lost.

The app finds where you are and then gets you from A to B, whether you want to walk, grab a taxi, or use public transport (for which live times are provided).

Google Maps

Google Maps

  • Free

It’s no secret just how badly Apple’s own mapping app performs, although it has got better post-iOS 6.

Fortunately, Google Maps is a free download, and a far better solution than the old Google Maps app as well, thanks to the inclusion of turn-by-turn navigation and – in some cities – public transport directions. It’s an easy way to supercharge your iPhone’s mapping capabilities and one of the first apps you should grab for the iPhone 7 when it launches.

Listed for app of the year at the TechRadar Phone Awards.

Pushbullet

Pushbullet

  • Free

Boost your productivity with Pushbullet, which lets you view your iPhone’s notifications and messages directly on your computer. It means if you get a text message you can read it there and then without having to take your phone out of your pocket or bag.

You can also quickly send files from your computer to your phone with only a few clicks, and if you regularly find that you email links to yourself just to open them on your smartphone, then you’ll never have to do that again thanks to Pushbullet’s link sharing features.

Evernote

Evernote

  • Free

The idea behind Evernote is you should never forget anything again. Instead, you upload and tag everything, so the service becomes your digital memory. For free, you can upload 60 MB of data per month. Go premium ($5/£4 per month) and you can upload a gargantuan 4 GB per month, search document text, and store your notebooks offline.

Evernote Scannable

Evernote Scannable

  • Free

Although Evernote Scannable is quite basic by iPhone scanner standards, it’s also efficient and reliable. On launching the app, simply point your camera at a document that contrasts the surface behind it and the app will capture it. The JPEG can be sent to Evernote or shared via another service, and multiple scans are compiled to PDF.

Uber

Uber

  • Free

Uber is transforming the way we travel. You can quickly and easily request a taxi using the app and get picked up within minutes and you can compare rates and get quotes, as well as paying with PayPal or by adding your credit card to a secure Uber account.

The Uber service is available in over 50 countries, and it’s rapidly growing. Give it a try and you’ll never want to hail a taxi the old fashioned way again.

Spotify

Spotify

  • Free

Spotify has been pretty quick to establish itself as the top music streaming service, and the Spotify Music app brings some great features to your iOS device, turning it in to a pocket jukebox that delivers your favourite tunes no matter where you are.

Even better you can now listen to Spotify music for free on iOS, although if you want to download songs for offline listening and without any ads, then a Spotify Premium account is worth investing in.

Strava

Strava

  • Free

If you’re serious about running or cycling then you should be serious about Strava. As smartphone fitness tools go it’s one of the best, allowing you to track your performance, set goals and see daily progress updates.

There are leaderboards and challenges to give it a competitive edge and if you’re ever not sure where to run or cycle you can find user created routes on the app, or share your own. All of that comes free of charge, while a premium version adds even more tools.

Instagram

Instagram

  • Free

Instagram is the go-to app for quickly taking photos, adding quirky filters to them and sharing them with the world. Over 300 million people use Instagram and thanks to the social aspects and effortless interface it’s easy to see why it’s such a hit.

You’re not limited to sharing your snaps on Instagram either, as you can easily add your photos to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and more with just a few taps.

Timehop

Timehop

  • Free

For the most part, social media is fleeting, but Timehop is all about digging up precious memories from the past. You link it to whatever social media services you frequent (and your on-device photos) and it shows you what was happening years ago on today’s date.

Dropbox

Dropbox

  • Free

There are plenty of solutions for transferring content between your computer and iPhone, including Apple’s increasingly popular iCloud. Dropbox is still worth using, though. It has great cross-platform clients, integrates with iOS 8’s Share sheets, and has direct support in many iOS apps.

Check out our essential tips for every Dropbox user.

Air Video HD

Air Video HD

  • $2.99/£2.29

Even the most expensive iPhone has a fairly limited amount of on-board storage and that’s not even likely to change with the iPhone 7. This is a problem if you have a large video collection you’d like to access. Air Video HD server streams (and if necessary, re-encodes) files from a PC or Mac that can then be played on your iPhone; there’s AirPlay support, and also the means to access your Air Video server over the web.

CARROT Weather

CARROT Weather

  • $3.99/£2.99

If there’s one thing that’s sorely lacking in the majority of weather apps, it’s a malevolent AI that’s seeking the destruction of all humankind, and in the meantime gleefully revels in you getting soaked in a downpour.

CARROT Weather still gives you a pretty accurate indication of what’s going to happen, though, given that it’s powered by Dark Sky tech; but rather than getting all po-faced and technical, it’ll instead laugh that you’re in for weather hell, while showing a picture of cows being hurled across the screen in a gale.

Secret locations are there for discovery as well, which is handy if you’re desperate to know whether you need sunscreen when visiting Tatooine. (Hint: you really, really do.)

Sky Guide

Sky Guide

  • $0.99/£0.99

Easily the most beautiful of the iOS stargazing apps, Sky Guide also happens to be the most usable. You can quickly and easily scan the heavens by dragging your finger around, optionally orienting the screen to wherever you happen to be looking. A Today view widget adds information about rise and set times for nearby planets, the sun and the moon.

Day One

Day One

  • $4.99/£2.99

Traditional journals are all very well, but there’s something wonderful about an app that you always have with you, into which you can save messages, images, locations and more, and then later retrieve everything via a search. Day One is beautifully designed and easy to use – best-in-class on the iPhone.

Fantastical 2

Fantastical 2

  • $4.99/£3.99

Fantastical 2 betters iOS 8’s iffy Calendar app by way of a superior interface, a non-hateful method of dealing with reminders, and truly exceptional event input. The app has a powerful parser, and so while adding an event, you can enter the likes of “TechRadar lunch at 3pm on Friday”, watching a live preview build as you type.

Figure

Figure

  • Free

Figure crams Reason’s rich history of classic-era electronic music apps into a shoebox. Via a mixture of dials and pads, you can create all manner of banging choons, and then export them and assault your friends’ eardrums. It’s a fun toy for anyone, but also has the chops to be part of a pro-musician’s mobile set-up.

iMovie

iMovie

  • $4.99/£3.99

Camera enables you to do the odd bit of cropping with video files, but iMovie is an audacious attempt to bring a full video editor to your iPhone, infused with the ease-of-use its desktop counterpart is renowned for. Amazingly, it succeeds. Effects, themes, credits and soundtrack creation then provide extra polish for your mobile filmmaking.

Launch Center Pro

Launch Center Pro

  • $4.99/£3.99

More or less a speed-dial for regularly performed tasks, Launch Center Pro can be a huge time-saver. You can create shortcuts for things like adding a new Tumblr post or sending your last photo to Twitter, and these shortcuts can be arranged in groups. An essential purchase if you heavily use even a handful of the supported apps.

Transmit for iOS

Transmit

  • $7.99/£5.99

The app that defines iOS 8, Transmit for iOS is also a missing link for anyone who wanted a file manager for their iPhone. It might have roots in an OS X FTP client, but Transmit for iOS also integrates with cloud storage and local networked Macs. It’s perfect for moving documents, renaming files, and creating archives to email or upload.

Unread

Unread

  • $4.99/£3.99

There are RSS readers that are more efficient, but Unread is the most pleasant to use. The interface begs you to sit back and take in articles from feeds you’re subscribed to, and plentiful share options enable you to send content onwards. Note that although this is a free download, it’s essentially for a demo; the full-price unlock gets you the regular app.

Pocket Casts

Pocket Casts

  • $3.99/£2.99

Apple’s Podcasts app has improved since its initial launch, but still falls short of Pocket Casts. The third-party app cleverly mixes elegance and character, with a friendly, easily browsable interface. Subscriptions can be filtered, and you can stream episodes of shows you’ve not yet downloaded.

Soulver

Soulver

  • $4.99/£3.99

Soulver eschews trying to recreate a traditional calculator on your iPhone. Instead, it’s akin to jotting down calculations on the back of an envelope, but a magic envelope that pulls the numbers from your in-context sentences and gives you a total. Live currency conversion is built in, and you can save calculations and sync them via Dropbox or iCloud.

vividHDR

vividHDR

  • $1.99/£1.49

We’ve never been overly impressed with Apple’s HDR, and it pales in comparison to vividHDR. The basic concept is the same: stunning, vibrant photos, capturing amazing details in both highlight and shadow. But vividHDR‘s combination of speed, presets and ‘before and after’ comparisons results in better photos – and that’s what really matters.

ProCamera 8

Pro Camera 8

  • $4.99/£3.99

If you don’t feel the iOS Camera app really cuts it, ProCamera 8 should give you what you need: a bunch of extra modes (night; rapid fire; anti-shake; timers) and a dedicated lightbox with a range of editing features and filters. You can even buy vividHDR (see elsewhere in this list) as an IAP.

Retrospecs

Retrospecs

  • $1.99/£1.49

Every iteration of the iPhone has a superior camera to the previous model, and so it’s only right an enterprising developer came out with an app that can turn your crisp and beautiful snaps into something that you might once have seen on an ancient computer.

In Retrospecs, then, you load your photo, select a system, mess about with dither styles, filters and cropping, and bask in retro glory. A wide range of creaky old computers and consoles is covered, so you should be set whether you were into the C64, Spectrum, SNES, or, er, Mattel Aquarius. (C’mon there must be at least one of you who had the last of those?)

Fragment

Fragment

  • $1.99/£1.49

In all honesty, we’ve pretty much had it with filter apps. A new one comes out, and everyone gets all excited, but they pretty much all do the same thing. All of them, that is, apart from Fragment. Rather than offer the usual range of old-school camera filters and adjustment sliders, Fragment instead delves into prismatic photo effects.

In short, this means you get to see what your photos look like through glass collages, smashed mirrors and arty blur effects. Probably not one for the selfie-obsessed crowd, but a must-have download for if you want something a bit more creative and interesting than the norm.

GarageBand

Garage Band

  • $4.99/£3.99

Apple’s GarageBand remains an impressive, ambitious app, turning your iPhone into a recording studio. You get synths, loops, drums, guitar amps and a DAW for arranging MIDI data, making it suitable for beginners and pros alike.

ToneStack

ToneStack

  • $9.99/£7.99

With its huge range of amps and effects, ToneStack is an excellent choice for guitarists wanting to make some noise by connecting their instrument to their iPhone. An ABY unit enables you to split the signal, for hugely complex set-ups. And if that’s not enough, a slew of IAP provides yet more amps, stomp boxes and features, including an eight-track recorder.

Bloom

Bloom

  • $3.99/£2.99

Although we’re happy making music on an iPad, the iPhone tends to be better suited to much more focussed composition, as evidenced by loop-maker Figure elsewhere in this selection of apps. Bloom may seem rather more noodly, on account of it being an app for fashioning generative audio, but it’s still stripped right back, making it perfect for the smaller screen.

Devised by Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers, Bloom has you tap out patterns, which create visual patterns and ambient melodies. And if that all feels a bit much, Bloom takes over when left idle, potentially providing limitless ambient background goodness.

Editorial

Editorial

  • $9.99/£7.99

Although we’re fans of the likes of the simple, straightforward Byword, Editorial is *the* app for people who want to have a huge amount of control over creating and processing their output. The writing interface is strong, but what makes Editorial is the means to quickly add custom snippets and integrate workflows for extending the app and saving you time.

Procreate Pocket

Procreate Pocket

  • $2.99/£2.29

For illustrators on the go, Procreate Pocket is a must-have. You get a big range of brushes, transform tools, a superb painting engine, and a full-featured layer system. Alas, there’s no IAP for magically improving your digital painting skills.

Workflow

Workflow

  • $4.99/£3.99

Workflow is all about automation. You can download sets of actions or compose your own, which can trigger iOS apps and related services. For example, you could create a Home screen icon to call a friend, or build a single-tap icon to get directions to your nearest coffee shop.

1Password

1password

  • Free

Although iOS includes iCloud Keychain for securely storing/sharing login and payment details, 1Password is a better system. It’s cross-platform, supports multiple identities and secure notes, and enables you to edit login details on your iPhone.

A pro mode IAP ($9.99/£7.99) adds multiple vaults for teams/families, categories for personal documents, tagging and custom fields.

BBC iPlayer

BBC iPlayer

  • Free

BBC iPlayer is our favourite TV catch-up app because it cares about the user experience. There are no ads, you can watch live TV, and you can access content broadcast over the past 30 days. Episodes can be downloaded to watch later, and there’s AirPlay support for sending shows to your telly by way of an Apple TV.

Documents 5

Documents 5

  • Free

Until Apple sees fit to give us a Files app for iOS, Documents 5 will have to take the strain. It’s really a document reader, designed for displaying PDFs, but in having full iCloud Drive access, it can be used to manage local and remote files, and download documents to your iPhone from the web.

Next for iPhone

Next

  • $2.99/£2.29

The problem with apps for tracking expenses is they’re usually dry, complex and time-consuming. Next for iPhone is none of those things, which is probably why we’re actually using it.

The app is icon-based, so you just tap the icon closest to the thing you’ve just bought. (You can add notes to be more specific if you want, but you don’t have to.) The Next app then tots everything up, enabling you to look back in horror at the end of the month when you realise you’ve in fact spent a third of your earnings on absurdly expensive coffee.

Duolingo

Duolingo

  • Free

Duolingo is entirely free from IAP, which is extremely generous given the quality of the app and its potential for helping you learn a new language.

It’s packed full of bite-size quizzes that you can dip into at any time, and that gradually build your vocabulary and grammar in any of the ten supported languages.

eBay

eBay

  • Free

Start using the eBay app and you won’t go near the site on a PC again. It’s fast, efficiently flags new finds based on your activity, and can be used to create new listings. The built-in bar-code scanner can save you loads of time with the last of those.

Find My iPhone

Fine My iPhone

  • Free

Using Find My iPhone, you can always find where your device is, and keep track of any other devices on the same account. It’s very useful if you’ve misplaced your device or think it’s been stolen and want to know where it’s at.

Google Translate

Google Translate

  • Free

The revamped Google Translate is an astonishing app. When online, it’ll translate written, photographed or spoken text between a huge range of languages. And for English to French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish (and back), the app will try to live-translate whatever’s in front of your iPhone’s camera — even when you’re offline.

Groove

Groove

  • Free

When you’ve a sizeable music collection, you can get stuck in a rut and always end up listening to the same thing. Groove tracks your listening habits and cross-references the data with last.fm.

The result is a constantly evolving selection of automated personalised playlists, which might change your iPhone music-listening habits forever.

Novation Launchpad

Novation Launchpad

  • Free

For beginners keen on making music, Launchpad is perfect. You choose a genre and then trigger loops with a tap. Effects are only a further swipe and tap away. If you really get into the app, there’s IAP for further loops and the means to import your own audio.

RunKeeper

RunKeeper

  • Free

Now as synonymous with mobile exercise as Nike+, RunKeeper is an excellent app, backed by a robust social infrastructure. Using your iPhone’s GPS, you can track exercise routes and then share activities with friends. IAP subscriptions are available for ‘elite’ users, and are ad-free and offer real-time sharing.

Skype

Skype

  • Free

FaceTime is a great alternative to standard voice calls, but it only works with Apple kit. Skype remains the best widely-used alternative for people you know distinctly lacking in Apple devices.

You get free calls to anyone else using Skype, and cheap calls to anywhere in the world. If you’re on Pay and Go, this can be handy, and the app enables iPod touch users to call normal phones too.

TodoMovies 3

TodoMovies 3

  • Free

TodoMovies is a to-do list for movies. Using the clean, efficient interface, you can check out what’s on (and, if you like, movies from the past) and fashion a list of films you want to see.

Usefully, the app provides the means to rate every movie, and so extended use results in a list of favourites you can delve into at any time.

TunnelBear VPN

Tunnel Bear VPN

  • Free

For free, TunnelBear VPN gives you 500 MB of private browsing that can worm its way around geo-locking. All you do is fire the app up and tell the bear where to tunnel. If you want unlimited data, it’s yours for $2.99/£2.29 per month.

Twitter

Twitter

  • Free

It’s a pity Twitter has felt the need to hobble third-party clients, given that its own app doesn’t appear to need any help these days in fending off the competition. Twitter for iPhone is fast and efficient, boasts useful Connect and Discover views, and expands tweets that contain photos, videos and other media.

Vidgets

Vidgets

  • Free

You can do without most Today view widgets, but Vidgets provides some really useful monitoring tools.

The standalone app is where you manage your icon-like ‘vigets’, which comprise world clocks and indicators for storage and network speeds. That sole $2.99/£2.29 IAP is primarily for showing your support, but you do get an option for saving space by removing widget titles.

Yousician Guitar

Yousician Guitar

  • Free

To some extent, Yousician Guitar is like Guitar Hero, only you use a real guitar that the app is teaching you how to play.

You start with basic plucking and strumming before moving on to working your way through full songs, the app scoring you as you go. For free, the app only restricts daily play time. To go unlimited, subscribe for $19.99/£14.99 per month.

Instapaper

Instapaper

  • Free

Instapaper was the service and app that kickstarted ‘read later’, the means to save web pages for later. Unlike Safari’s Reading List, Instapaper strips articles back to just text and images, thereby providing an efficient and usable interface.

Premium membership ($2.99/£2.29 per month) unlocks the means to search your archive and add highlights to articles.

The Elements

The Elements

  • $13.99/£9.99

Originally the darling of the iPad, The Elements in late 2013 became a universal app, so it could be enjoyed on iPhones too. A rich, engaging digital book, it tells the story of the periodic table. Each of life’s building blocks can be manipulated on the screen, before you delve into related facts and figures.

Warblr

Warblr

  • £3.99 (UK only)

We’ve all seen iPhones cleverly detecting songs playing around them, but Warblr uses similar technology to figure out what nearby songbirds are getting all fighty instead. The louder the input, the better the results, but waggle your iPhone in a bird’s general direction and as long as you’ve a web connection, its song will be interpreted, and a list of possible culprits provided.

The app’s not always accurate and it could do with the means to stash multiple recordings to fiddle about with later, but it’s otherwise a fine way to learn more about which feathered friends are in the vicinity.

Korg iElectribe

iElectribe

  • $9.99/£7.99

We’re unashamedly huge Korg fans when it comes to iOS. The company’s iPad apps are superb, but on iPhone everything’s been rather simpler fare, until iElectribe. Astonishingly, Korg’s squeezed its powerful beat-creation tool into an iPhone, giving you a step sequencer and 300 rhythms to mess about with.

It’s admittedly a touch fiddly to use, unless you’re blessed with a plus-sized iPhone, but arm yourself with a decent pair of headphones and you’ll nonetheless be in rhythm heaven. And for when you’re back home or in the studio, surrounded by other kit, the app keeps on plugging away, thanks to support for nanoPAD, nanoKONTROL, Inter-App Audio and Audiobus.

Metamorphabet

Metamorphabet

  • $3.99/£2.99

If you’ve seen tiny humans around iOS devices, you’ll have noticed that even those that can’t speak beyond bababababa and dadadadada nonetheless merrily swipe and poke at the screens. Metamorphabet capitalises on this ingrained infatuation with shiny touchscreens, and cunningly attempts to teach the alphabet via the medium of surreal interactive animations.

It starts off with A, which when poked grows antlers, transforms into an arch and goes for an amble. Although a few words are a stretch too far (wafting clouds representing a daydream, for example), this is a charming, imaginative and beautifully designed app.

VHS Camcorder

VHS Camcorder

  • $3.99/£2.99

A constant in the world of mobile is device cameras getting better and better. Naturally, then, certain people who own mobile devices clamour to download apps that degrade photos and videos, so they resemble imagery and footage captured during bygone eras. You pretty much know what you’re going to get with VHS Camcorder, a time machine of sorts back to the 1980s that makes your video look like it’s decades old.

The app’s settings are particularly fun: 480p intentionally disables widescreen, and ‘Tilting Device Makes Things Worse’ is actually a switch you can toggle. One negative is there’s no import, so you can’t keep a clean version of your video and just use the app for later adding effects; but perhaps that’s the point- it’s all about authenticity. And fluorescent socks.

Pixelmator

Pixelmator

  • $4.99/£3.99

Photoshop is so ingrained in people’s minds when it comes to image editing that it’s become a verb. Oddly, though, Adobe’s largely abandoned high-end mobile apps, choosing instead to create simpler ‘accessories’ for the iPhone and iPad, augmenting rather than aping its desktop products. Valiantly filling the void is Pixelmator, a feature-rich and truly astonishing mobile Photoshop.

It’s packed full of tools and adjustment options, and works well whether you’re into digital painting or creating multi-layered photographic masterpieces. On iPhone, Pixelmator’s naturally a bit cramped compared to using the app on iPad, but at the price it remains an insanely great bargain.

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