Maybe there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but iOS device owners certainly have their pick of free apps. While you’re mulling over your choices for what apps to install on your new iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, consider these 10 options, which won’t cost you a dime.
CNN: There are other news apps, but no free news app offers quite the polish of CNN on either the iPhone or the iPad. The app combines videos and cleanly displayed articles to keep you abreast of all the news that’s fit to consume.
PCalc Lite: iOS’s built-in calculator is merely fine—and doesn’t exist on the iPad. PCalc Lite works on all iOS devices, adds a slew of features like unit conversions, constants, optional Reverse Polish notation, and more (though its paid counterpart offers more features).
Kindle: Amazon’s offering is but one of several e-reading ecosystems that you can choose from on iOS. Kindle for iPhone and iPad still outshines its competitors, both in size and pricing. Even better, the app automatically syncs your current page between all your iOS devices, computers, and hardware Kindles.
Netflix: If you use Netflix’s streaming service, you need this app on your iPhone or iPad. It combines access to your Watch Instantly queue, along with easy browsing for other titles you might like to watch.
Flipboard: Flipboard assembles content on your iPhone or iPad from sources you choose—including major magazines, your Facebook and Twitter feeds, and an assortment of curators—into a delightfully easy-to-browse interface.
Flow: This Amazon-powered app borders on crazily futuristic. Point your iPhone’s camera at anything around you—a book, DVD, video game, or any UPC barcode—and near-instantly, you get reviews, pricing, and even excerpts or clips as appropriate. It’s great for comparison shopping and bookmarking goodies your friends have that you want, too.
Dropbox Sure, Dropbox can keep all your files in sync between your computers. But with the company’s iPhone and iPad app, you can gain access to all of those files on your iOS devices as well. Magic!
Find My iPhone: If you use more than one iOS device, Find My iPhone will, one day, prove itself invaluable. Apple’s iPhone and iPad app can help you locate even muted iOS devices, send messages to their screens, and get a GPS fix.
US Basketball: This iPhone offering is one of those hilariously addictive games that you just can’t stop playing. It’s free, it’s fun, and it’s highly replayable.
Square: This is the only app on this list that requires an accessory—but the accessory is free, too! Square lets you swipe credit cards, wiring that money directly to your bank account. The only cost is a 2.75 percent fee assessed on the total you charge the cardholder.
[Lex Friedman is a staff writer for Macworld.]