There are many thousands of apps. Whatever your goal, as Apple’s erstwhile advertising campaign proclaimed, “There’s an app for that.” But some apps are simply must-haves—whether for their functionality, their interface brilliance, or just their entertainment factor. Here are ten apps your new iPhone shouldn’t be without.
1. Google Maps (free)
When it comes to online mapping services, Apple has made inroads, but Google still rules. The free Google Maps app gives you more than just maps: It also provides turn-by-turn navigation for driving, walking, and bicycling, and—Apple Maps’s one major omission—public transit directions. It’s quick and easy to use, too.
2. Reeder 2 ($5)
Silvio Rizzi’s Reeder is an RSS reader, and if you’re not yet on the RSS bandwagon, you should be. The app, which can sync with your favorite RSS services or work as as a stand-alone reader, presents a simple interface for reading the latest articles from all your favorite websites. Tap a headline, and the article slides into view. If the feed in question shows only a summary, Reeder’s built-in Readability support can help: Reverse-pinch on the text (or tap the Readability button), and Reeder quickly loads the rest of the article automatically. Tap and hold on links to bring up a sharing window; Reeder makes it easy to email links, save links to Instapaper (another great reading app), post links to various social networks, and more.
3. Vine (free)
Who knew six seconds of video could be so much fun?
Vine is a social network based around a smartphone app that lets you create and publish six-second videos that you can share with the world. Vine is easy and fun to use, and creating and watching Vine videos is strangely addictive.
4. Flickr (free)
Apple’s Shared Streams let you share your photos with your close contacts, but Yahoo’s Flickr service and app opens that to the world. View images from your friends and fellow Internet denizens; upload images to your own Flickr account; and mark photos that make you smile as favorites.
5. Kindle (free)
Your iPhone is a lot smaller than a Kindle, but it can emulate one pretty well. With the free Kindle app, you can read ebooks and magazines you’ve purchased from Amazon’s Kindle bookstore.
Unsurprisingly, the interface is simple: You swipe to turn pages, tap and hold on a word to see its definition, and tap and drag to highlight text. You can adjust the color scheme of your virtual book (black text on a white background, the inverse, or sepia tones), as well as change the font size. Kindle also lets you search books for specific text, jump to individual chapters, and post to social networks about favorite passages. Using Amazon’s Whispernet technology, the app syncs your current page with Kindle Cloud Reader, Kindle for Mac, Kindle for iPad, and actual hardware Kindles. The only downside: Apple’s rules prevent Amazon from including a link to its bookstore; you’ll need to hop over to Safari to buy more books, though this workaround can make that process a bit less painful.
6. Netflix (free, subscription required)
It feels almost like science fiction when you first use the Netflix app to stream movies and television shows to your iPhone.
You can browse your Watch Instantly queue, search for other titles, and begin playing any of them in seconds. Netflix isn’t the iPhone’s most elegantly implemented app; it feels a bit like a website crammed into an app with minimal spit and polish. But it does what it’s supposed to do, which is to let you stream movies—over the Internet! Just remember you’ll need a decent Internet connection, too.
7. Dropbox (free)
Because it can invisibly sync your files between all your Macs (and PCs), Dropbox is already magical. Add in the Dropbox iPhone app, and now you can access your Dropbox-synced files wherever you are.
You don’t necessarily need to be online, either: The Dropbox app lets you mark individual files as favorites, the latest versions of which the app caches when you open them. Dropbox can play video and audio files, and preview text from Microsoft Office and iWork documents. Sharing files from within Dropbox is snappy: The app emails the recipient a link to a Dropbox-hosted copy of the file you’re sending, instead of forcing you to wait for an attachment to upload.
8. Google Search (free)
Siri is great for a lot of queries, but sometimes you need a search engine with a few more options.
Google’s app offers live vocal transcription and photo search for your queries as well as traditional text search; in addition, you can view your Google Now information (similar to Notification Center’s Today view) if you sync the app with your Google account.
9. Perfect Weather ($3)
If you need a bit more information about your local weather, turn to Perfect Weather as a Weather app replacement. The app is gorgeously designed and offers multiple locations, multiday forecasts and radar maps, rain predictions, and alerts. It’s a perfect companion for anyone who needs better weather information without too much data clutter.
10. Moves (free)
Your iPhone is not only an excellent communicator—it can be a very effective fitness tracker, too. The Moves app is an innovative way to combine traditional fitness tracking with a visual journal of your day: It uses your iPhone’s location and directional sensors not only to tell whether you’ve been sitting, walking, running, biking, or taking transportation, but also to chart your journey along the way.
At the end of the day, you get a timeline of your day with a full map of where you’ve been, how long you were there, and what you did during that time. It’s a nifty way to keep tabs on your fitness—and to keep an automated diary of your movements while you’re at it.
Given that there are over 900,000 apps in the App Store, it’s hard to narrow that list down to just ten. So here are a few honorable mentions for app categories we haven’t mentioned above:
CALCULATOR: PCALC ($10) PCalc has long been a great calculator for the Mac, and an equally great one for iOS. For math nerds and anyone else who needs a bit more than the stock Calculator app offers.
CALENDAR: FANTASTICAL ($5) iOS’s first calendar with natural-language processing, Fantastical is a great tool for quickly adding events and viewing your calendar if you want something a little more powerful than Apple’s included Calendar app.
DOCUMENTS: GOODREADER ($5) Need to download a .zip archive, PDF, or other odd file to your iPhone? Chances are, GoodReader can handle it. The app supports full PDF notation, downloads from FTP, and more.
WEB: CHROME (FREE) Safari is a fantastic Web browsing tool, but Google’s Chrome can be a good alternative if you use the company’s browser on your computer. Besides, you never know when you might need a different Web browser.
NOTES: SIMPLENOTE (FREE) If you’re looking for a few more features than the included Notes app offers, Simplenote is your app. It offers simplicity, sleek design, automatic iOS and Mac sync, collaboration features, and more.
RADIO: PANDORA (FREE) If iTunes Radio isn’t quite doing it for you, Pandora offers a different spin on curated radio, using its Music Genome Project to create stations from artists and songs.
TWITTER CLIENT: TWITTERRIFIC 5 ($3) Twitterrific is an elegantly designed, fun-to-use Twitter client that takes iOS 7’s design cues to the next level.
SOCIAL: FACEBOOK (FREE) If you’re a Facebook fan, the company’s app doesn’t get much better. It’s been redesigned for iOS 7 and supports almost every feature available on the Web.
FOOD: YELP (FREE) Hungry? Yelp can help you find delicious food in your neighborhood based on recommendations from local users.
VNC: SCREENS ($20) Your iPhone can do a lot, but sometimes it’s just not the tool you need for the job. Screens lets you view your home computer’s display—no matter where you are—and work remotely with ease.