iPhones are expensive, but iPhone software is mostly quite cheap, and a lot of it is free. The problem is finding the good apps – the ones that are as good as the paid-for alternatives, only supported by non-annoying IAPs and/or adverts – and filtering out the dross.
Luckily we’re here to help. Our roundup gathers together 81 fantastic free news, photography, entertainment, work and social apps for the iPhone.
Reddit’s free iPhone app replaced the old Alien Blue Reddit app, which until April 2016 was the closest thing to an official Reddit app we’d seen so far. But now, Reddit has used what it learned from Alien Blue to come up with its own app built from the ground up.
You’ll see the latest news, trends and memes available to browse, search and discover within the app’s clean, easy-to-use interface. You’ll also be able to access your inbox to stay up to date with messages, comment replies, post replies and mentions.
Buffer is a neat tool that lets you easily post – or share pages you’ve found – to multiple social media accounts (although only a single account per social network, unless you upgrade to the paid-for version) at scheduled times.
It’s fantastic for media and business types who’ve used analytics to find out the optimal time to send out tweets and Facebook updates; you can set up a series of strong posting times, and updates will automatically be queued up for the next window.
If you’re on
Facebook – and if we’re honest, most of us are – then this is probably the first app to download on a new iPhone. It’s free, it looks good and does a good job of getting out of the way and letting you find out where your ex-girlfriend has been on holiday.
If you’re reliant on Google’s mail service, then the Gmail app is an obvious one to try. It’s free, it looks good, and it’s tightly integrated with other Google services.
Facebook introduced Messenger to the world in 2011, and since then it’s grown into a communication app burgeoning with features. You can use it as a straightforward messaging app, for either one-to-one or group chats, but there’s also the ability to make free calls over Wi-Fi, and even play games with other Facebook users.
A superb and versatile alternative to FaceTime for when you want to call friends and relatives who aren’t on Apple devices. Skype features a slick, user-friendly interface, the ability to make free calls over 4G and Wi-Fi, an instant messaging feature, and even features Highlights, which brings an Instagram-like feed to the platform.
Like Facebook, Twitter’s free native iOS app is simple and effective. It’s intuitive to use and ideal for the more basic aspects of using the service – which is what you want from the iPhone app. Use it as an up-to-the-minute news service, social media stream, or as a way to enact foreign and domestic policy if you’re the president of an international superpower.
This is a superb app for keeping in touch with groups of friends without spending a groat. WhatsApp allows you to send text messages, videos, pictures and audio to your friends or family at no cost. The app is easy to use and in our experience totally habit-altering.
Download WhatsApp Messenger
BBC CBeebies Playtime Island
This bundle of educational mini puzzles and games related to various CBeebies characters and shows is ideal for soothing and pacifying the younger user.
There are no ads or in-app purchases to worry about, and a parental lock that means you can give it to your little one with some peace of mind.
Download Playtime Island
BBC iPlayer Kids
iPlayer and an old iPad are a lifesaving combination for parents bundling small and medium-sized children on to a plane, but it may be worth switching to this more youngster-tailored version of the app.
The design is more suited to young sensibilities, both visually and in terms of ease of navigation, and of course, there’s no danger of your toddler stumbling across something age-inappropriate. (Handily, the app also incorporates a ‘safety lock’ to keep young users in the app.)
Download iPlayer Kids
Like iPlayer Kids, this is a simple and appealing concept: an app that means your kids can easily access YouTube’s vast video library without you having to watch everything over their shoulder. The buttons are bigger, the video categories are simpler, parental and other controls are hidden behind a safety lock and a little message comes up from time to time instructing the viewer to go and play.
Download YouTube Kids
Photo & video apps
Adobe Photoshop Express
Adobe Photoshop Express for iOS is a cut-down, free version of Adobe’s dominant image-editing software. There’s basic editing features that allow you to crop, touch up, straighten, and generally enhance your photos, plus support for Google Photos, Dropbox, Facebook, and Creative Cloud.
Download Adobe Photoshop Express
Want to have fun creating voice-overs or miming popular internet videos/sounds? Then Dubsmash is the perfect app for you! We find this app a lot of fun and is a nice way to pass-by time with your family and friends. You’ll need a login to use the app, but it’s free and easy to get one.
This AI-powered filter app allows you to tweak your appearance with impressively realistic results.
You can get the app to scan your photo library for selfies to use, or you can take one in-app, and that’s where the fun begins; you can change your hairstyle, airbrush your skin and make yourself look old. Give it a go – the results will probably shock you!
If you’re a photographer and often upload your photos to Flickr, this app is obviously a must-have. But it also works for those who just like looking at beautiful and often professionally taken photographs.
In order to use the app, you’ll need to have a Flickr account, but you can create one straight from the app.
Download Flickr for iPhone
There are two main areas of Instagram: photo editing and social. Editing photos is very simple: existing photos can be selected from your photo roll, or you can capture a new image within the app itself. Once you’ve chosen a photo, the Filter panel enables you to tweak the look of your photos using different effects.
But it’s the social side of Instagram that really sets it apart. You can share your photos on your Facebook, Flickr and Tumblr accounts as well as with Foursquare, which enables you to tag a photo with its location. Instagram also works as a social network in its own right.
Often used to view the latest fashion and inspiring artists, Pinterest is a fun way to pin your favourite interests in one place. The app is well designed and fun to use. A virtual scrapbook for the internet.
Snapchat took the world by storm back in 2011, and has grown from strength to strength ever since. It’s a fun way of sharing your life moments with those close to you.
Each photo you send has a timer attached to it; once this expires your contacts aren’t able to view it any more. There are ways to save photos, though, so make sure you don’t send any sensitive material.
Download Snapchat for iPhone
Snapseed might be free, but its tools and enhancements rival those of many paid-for photo apps on the iPhone.
From single-tap Auto Correct and tools for cropping and straightening to more creative options such as Retrolux, Grunge and Tilt-Shift, Snapseed is packed with features and worthy of a place on your home screen.
Download Snapseed for iPhone
A must-have iPhone photography app, even in its free form.
Offers a solid choice of everyday editing tools along with striking, evocative photo presets. VSCO Cam also includes a social aspect in the form of VSCO Grid, a photo-publishing platform that allows users to submit work, find and follow photographers and view a curated selection of appealing images.
Download VSCO Cam for iPhone
Work, office, business & productivity apps
Adobe Acrobat Reader
On your iPhone you’ll already be able to view and synchronise PDFs via Safari and Apple Books, but Adobe Acrobat Reader adds that that extra bit of functionality. Most importantly, it allows you to edit and annotate PDF Files.
Download Adobe Acrobat Reader
Any.do is a free productivity app for iPhone that delivers in just about every way. It’s great to look at, easy to use, and effective at helping users get stuff done.
In either the category or schedule view, the task list is presented in a clean, spare format, and Any.Do has many layers of organisation. It’s both easier to use and more pleasing to look at than the native Reminders app in iOS.
Download Any.DO for iPhone
Documents is, as the name suggests, an app for keeping your documents in one convenient place, particularly when on the move. Those documents include text, audio, music files and web and email content. It’s been awarded ‘Editors’ Choice’ by Apple in more than 70 countries, which is a fair reflection of the app’s quality and usefulness.
Download Documents for iPhone
Dropbox’s cloud service lets you store and sync files online, so they’re accessible from multiple computers. And with the company’s free iPhone app, you can access your Dropbox files on the go.
It’s a reliable and user-friendly offering. But Dropbox has an ace up its sleeve in the form of Photo Uploads. Install the Dropbox iOS app and switch this on and any pictures snapped in your iPhone will be copied to your Dropbox cloud storage, making it easy to quickly view the files and share them with other people.
Download Dropbox for iPhone
This note and snippet managing service lets you type text notes and take photo notes with your iPhone’s camera. After you capture a note, Evernote automatically uploads everything that you put into it to the company’s servers, where your notes are indexed for easy search and retrieval, and become available for syncing to all your devices. Fast, smooth and extremely functional.
Download Evernote for iPhone
Excel is used all over the world to view and edit spreadsheets, it’s available on your iPhone too – a worthy recommendation. However, you’ll only be able to view spreadsheets via the app, as if you want to edit or create them you’ll need an Office 365 subscription.
Download Microsoft Excel for iPhone
PowerPoint is used all over the world to view and edit presentations, and is available on your iPhone too. However, you’ll only be able to view presentations via the app, as if you want to edit or create them you’ll need an Office 365 subscription.
Download Microsoft PowerPoint for iPhone
Word for iPhone is a worthy recommendation. However, as with the other Office products on iPhone, you’ll only be able to view documents via the app, as if you want to edit or create them you’ll need an Office 365 subscription.
Download Microsoft Word for iPhone
If you’re looking for a word-processing app that doesn’t require a pricy subscription, Google Docs is a solid free option. It provides many of the same features as Microsoft’s offering, and is linked to your Google account so you can create, edit and access your documents from anywhere – not just your iPhone. You can even export files as Microsoft Word-friendly documents, so there’s no real reason not to give it a go.
There’s also Google Sheets, a strong free alternative to Microsoft Excel for iPhone.
Download Google Docs
MultiTimer might be a bit of a niche app, but it provides a great service for those that require it. Say, for example, you want to cut down smoking and want to increase the time between cigarettes. You could use the iPhone’s built-in Timer function, but it requires you to manually restart it every time it ends.
The easier option is to download MultiTimer, an app that provides the ability to set multiple recurring timers – great for quitting smoking, managing cook times and more. The Today Widget and Apple Watch companion app allow you to check in at-a-glance too.
Everyone’s using Slack by now, aren’t they? Well, possibly not. But there are certainly a lot of workplace teams out there who could benefit from it.
Slack is a simple private messaging system, organised by team (your colleagues) and then subdivided by channel (specific areas of interest). Anyone who is a member of a channel can post and read messages on it, and invite other members of the team to join.
You can leave channels, you can mute them, you can dip in and out; it’s a clever and highly customisable way of organising the way various parts of your team can let each other know what needs doing – and post web links, images and documents too, where applicable.
The iPhone app, which is also free, makes it easy to stay in touch, but not overwhelmed, when you’re out of the office. Although judicious use of the app-specific do not disturb feature is recommended.
Having the ability to convert money on the fly, using the latest exchange rate (provided you’ve connected to the internet at some point) is extremely handy. The app is useful especially when you’re abroad and want to know the conversion rate or even how much the currency exchange booth is ripping you off by.
Download XE Currency for iPhone
Amazon’s iPhone app lets you do exactly what you’d expect: search for products, read user reviews, compare prices, track packages, view and cancel orders, and actually buy stuff.
Brilliantly, however, the app takes things further into the realm of future-shopping. You can scan barcodes using your iPhone, or take photos of things you like while out in other retail establishments, and Amazon will do its best to provide you with price comparisons of the same or similar products on its own books. Clever stuff.
Download Amazon for iPhone
The first rule of online auctions is that you need to be constantly connected – if not, how will you be able to bid on the desired item last minute if you’re away from your computer?
Thanks to eBay’s iOS app, you don’t have to worry about ever missing an auction. This fully-fledged app allows you to do just about anything eBay’s full website does.
Download eBay for iPhone
If you’re looking for an app that provides you with discounts and coupons to events, restaurants among other places, the Groupon app is a must-have on your iPhone. The beauty of this app is that it’s free and can save you up to 70 percent off the retail price of a product or service – it’s a win-win!
Download Groupon for iPhone
Selling that present that you never wanted and the shirt that you haven’t worn in a decade couldn’t be easier with Gumtree. The local-shopping app is fantastic as it connects you with local sellers or buyers. With Gumtree’s rebranding in early 2016, it has refreshed its complete look and made it even sleeker to look for used (or even new) goods. You’ll need a Gumtree account to sell and buy gear – but can still browse the app without an account.
Download Gumtree for iPhone
Everyone is hungry at some point during the day, and often we’re quite lazy about getting off the sofa and cooking a meal for ourselves in the kitchen. No matter the reason, Just Eat, as its name suggests, allows you to… well, EAT! This app gives you the power to order takeaway food from a choice of over 20,000 restaurants. The convenience of the app is its design based on location. It’s nifty and if you’re hungry whilst reading this, give the free app a go.
Download Just Eat
As the colleague who recommended this app points out, Moneybox is an odd choice for a free apps roundup, since by its very nature it requires you to spend money. But the app itself is free, and the purchases involved in its use are (or should be!) ones you were going to make anyway – and should end up saving you up a nice little nest egg.
The idea is that you connect the app to a bank account, whereupon your purchases start to appear in the app’s listings. For each purchase you can swipe left to ignore it, or swipe right to round it up to the nearest round number, usually adding around 20p to the cost. This money – what would have been your change if you’d paid with cash – is then added to a growing Moneybox account, which you can then invest in a range of tracker funds.
Obviously, there are risks involved in stock dealing, so make sure you go in with your eyes open. But it strikes us as a good way of building up a pot of money without really noticing it.
We can’t think of anyone that doesn’t like a deal, especially if it’s a restaurant and you’re strapped for cash. The Tastecard app presents you with many 2-for-1 deals and 50% coupons at popular restaurants all over the UK. This includes fan favourites, such as Prezzo, Zizzi, Strada and even Pizza Express. This app is extremely useful for getting a cheaper meal on the go and better still not having to print out any vouchers – it’s all done straight from the phone.
Download Tastecard for iPhone
Reading, music & entertainment apps
A lot of us don’t have time to read all the books we want; for commuters and other busy types, the increasingly popular audiobook option can help. Audible is a fantastic little app that allows you to listen to your books on the go, when washing up, or at the gym.
There’s a free trial available to new users, which includes an audiobook of your choice which you get to keep even if you don’t decide to subscribe. We doubt you’ll be able to resist it though, as it’s simply one of the best uses for your iPhone.
Download Audiobooks from Audible
If you don’t have Apple TV, you’ll know one of the many cheaper alternatives is the Chromecast. If you happen to have a Chromecast dongle at home, then this app will be extremely useful if you want to stream content from your iPad to a TV.
If you find yourself feeling a little anxious and in need of a distraction, or if you find yourself with a few minutes spare, Fluid Simulation provides a gorgeous, artistic tactile experience that’ll help calm a busy mind. As you swipe across the display, beautiful plumes of colour and light appear beneath your fingers. It’s hypnotic and frankly addictive.
There’s not much more to it than that, but there’s beauty in its simplicity.
Download Fluid Simulation
If you have a Netflix account, this is a no-brainer. The app is useful to watch your favourite on-demand TV shows and films. You will, of course, need a Netflix account to use the app.
If you’re a serious musician you might find the iOS version of GarageBand a bit gimmicky (although it’s much more likely that you’ll appreciate it as a handy portable notebook). However, for those who can hear it all in their heads, but have no training whatsoever, and never felt confident enough to try and lay it down, the interface of GarageBand for iOS is nothing short of a miracle.
Macworld is funded by advertising, and it’s therefore debatable whether I should be recommending Instapaper, which offers a charmingly user-friendly way of consuming advertising-funded content without having to look at the adverts. Still, at least Instapaper users briefly glimpse the adverts when they visit the page they’re interested in, unlike
And make no mistake, Instapaper is really charming, and really user-friendly. You set up a Read Later button in your desktop browser, then whenever someone on Twitter links to an article that you want to read, but it’s too long and you’re at work, you just hit that button and then load it up – laid out beautifully and cleanly, with (most of the time) the images from the article in the correct places, or near enough, but none of the adverts – on your iPhone while you’re commuting home.
It’s perhaps the single biggest change that smartphones have made to the way I read, and a neatly designed app. Just a shame about that ad revenue.
With its large catalogue of television programs and radio shows, all streamed without commercials, the BBC iPlayer app enables you to watch any show broadcast in the last seven days on the move.
The BBC iPlayer app should be a stock download for all iOS device owners in the UK. The ability to download content will make it a vital component for anybody going on long journeys without a reliable connection, and also make it less data-intensive for binge-watching your favourite shows.
Download iPlayer for iPhone
Sounds launched in 2018 as a replacement for the popular iPlayer Radio, which was finally discontinued in late 2019. It brings a wide range of radio listening options together with original podcasts, and it’s both free and a pleasure to look at and use. We miss iPlayer Radio, for sure, but Sounds has made the grieving process easier to handle.
Download BBC Sounds
How do you judge a reading app?
We demand an app with a pleasant reading experience; benefits like a built-in dictionary, easy and fast navigation and search, and customisation options; and a store with a massive ebook selection, and one that’s easy to browse from an iOS device. Amazon’s Kindle app shines on all those fronts.
That’s why – despite competition from no less a giant than Apple and its iBooks offering – Kindle is still the best e-reading option in the App Store.
Apple’s first stab at its Podcasts app didn’t support playlists, didn’t sync podcasts between devices, and its Now Playing screen was split into two pieces. But since then a lot of work has been done, and the current version is a much more impressive way to enjoy audio content.
For more of this sort of thing, read our roundup of the
Best podcast apps for iPhone.
Founded by various broadcasting heavyweights, including the BBC, Global Radio, Guardian Media Group, Absolute Radio and RadioCentre, Radioplayer bills itself as a not-for-profit company with a single purpose: ‘to serve radio and its audiences by making listening easy’. The app delivers on that promise.
If your musical map doesn’t extend beyond the UK, then Radioplayer really is an excellent choice, with plenty of favourite channels available despite the geographical limitations. Its ‘Recommended’ option, much improved by logging into Facebook, also helps discover new channels and broadcasters for when you want to broaden your horizons a little.
Shazam started life before the advent of smartphones and tablets but has essentially been refining one idea, the ability to identify the music all around you, over the past 10-plus years. Users simply tap the Shazam button to identify tracks they like the sound of – or indeed want to avoid ever hearing again.
For music fans, Shazam really is an essential app, one that should also appeal to casual users who simply want to identify which song is being used to soundtrack a new advert or TV drama, without resorting to a trawl through the internet. It’s ability to identify even the most obscure of tracks is very impressive.
Sky’s free Sky+ app puts you in full control of your Sky+HD box from the sofa in front of it to the other side of the world.
Most useful is the ability to set your Sky+ box to remote-record your favourite TV programmes away from home and on the move. Forgotten to set the final episode of your favourite TV show to record? Getting round Sky’s bug of recording that second back-to-back episode via series link? The free Sky+ app sorts all that out for you from the comfort of your smartphone or tablet.
Another neat and ingenious free app, SongKick noses through the artists in your music library, then creates a calendar of upcoming concerts in your area. Simple but radically convenient.
Download SongKick Concerts for iPhone
Finding the latest music trends or even some of the best DJs around the world can be sometimes hard to listen to. SoundCloud brings music lovers together to enjoy and listen to songs for free. Sometimes you’re even able to legally download the songs you listen to.
Via the app you’ll be able to follow friends and artists, discover podcasts and comedy, and even listen to the news. You aren’t required to sign into a SoundCloud account to use the app, but in order to fully benefit from the functionalities, we recommend creating or signing into your SoundCloud account.
Download SoundCloud for iPhone
Arguably one of the most popular music streaming services, Spotify allows users to listen to 20 million tracks for free (although peppered with ads) or ad-free via the £9.99-per-month Spotify Premium service.
On the premium plan tracks can be stored locally on the iPhone, so you can listen to them even when you haven’t got a data connection. Apple Music, Amazon Prime Music, and Google Play Music all offer similar features and choice, but Spotify is the one to beat.
Download Spotify for iPhone
Possibly the best app to listen to radio from across the world; provided you have an internet connection, TuneIn Radio provides an easy way of listening to music no matter where you are. There are pop-up adverts through the app, which can be annoying after a while, but you are able to get rid of them if you purchase the Pro version of the app for £7.99.
Download TuneIn Radio for iPhone
Games are always fun to play, but sometimes we like to watch others play it too. Twitch is the go-to app for watching streams or people ramble on about games (or even technology streams). You won’t need an account to watch the streams, but can create an account to mark your favourites.
Download Twitch for iPhone
If you live in, or are visiting, one of the 40 cities that Citymapper covers (just London, Birmingham and Manchester in the UK, but there are a few more in the US, for instance), you’re in for an informational treat. The free app kits you out with maps and suggested routes, real-time progress for the nearest bus and tips such as best carriage or station exit.
If you’ve got a bit of free time – particularly small and otherwise useless bits of free time here and there – and want to learn or brush up on a language, then the Duolingo app is probably the best place to start. A decent range of languages is offered, and while the courses include all four disciplines (reading, writing, speaking and listening) it’s easy to skip the audio tests when you’re in public and don’t want to be embarrassed.
The gamification elements – you build up a streak of days when you’ve practised, and topics you’ve completed start to deteriorate if they’re not kept up for a while – provide clever motivation so you don’t give up. There’s no substitute for total immersion in another language, but this is a very decent second-best.
It’s time to take sides: are you Apple Maps or Google Maps?
Actually, the joy of free apps is that you can hedge your bets and try both as much as you like. Apple Maps is now used by far more iPhone users, but this is obviously influenced by Apple’s own app getting preferential treatment – location links from the Mail app, Safari and so on will always default to Apple Maps. And Google Maps has a lot to recommend it.
Indeed, while Apple Maps has done a good job of catching up over the past few years, adding public transport directions for example (Google Maps had that features before Apple Maps existed), most users reckon Google is still ahead, and we’d strongly recommend that you download Google Maps and test it out for yourself. What people need from a navigation app is accuracy, and we still feel that Google is more reliable.
Apple Maps vs Google Maps |
Download Google Maps for iPhone
Having a translator at hand can be expensive. Thankfully Google created Google Translate, a free app which provides you with a basic translation to almost every language imaginable. It’s a useful app to have on your phone, especially if you like travelling abroad and need to quickly and roughly know what something says.
Download Google Translate for iPhone
London Live Bus Countdown
Bus checker apps, such as this free example for Londoners, fit into the category of apps that quietly improve your life.
Stuck at High Barnet late at night with no idea if it’s worth waiting for the next 184? Hook yourself into the TfL mainframe and see a ticker of approaching buses and their approximate times. (With the emphasis on approximate – look out for the crushing disappointment of the very occasional ‘phantom bus’. But that’s down to glitches in the system, rather than the fault of the app builders.)
There are adverts – such is the price of free. You can remove them for £2.99/$2.99, which incidentally is the same price you’d pay for the rival bus checker app we tend to favour,
London Bus Checker.
Download London Live Bus Countdown
National Rail Enquiries
Having the ability to know when and where your next train is can be extremely useful. Whereby using the National Rail app allows you to plan your journey and even check for delays. As we all know there are always delays on public transport… so this app comes in very handy!
Download National Rail Enquiries for iPhone
Navmii GPS UK & ROI
Navmii is a free satnav app available for the UK, Ireland, USA and other countries from the App Store. It operates just as a TomTom or Garmin satnav would: you enter a postcode or an address, and it provides a quick and effective route to get you where you need to be.
Additionally, you can also carry out a Google search for a business name then navigate to that business based on the results fed back to the app. It may be free, but it gets the job done.
Download Navmii for iPhone (UK & Ireland version; search for ‘navfree’ on the App Store to see the huge number of other versions)
This extremely useful app allows you to arrange your travel plans with greater ease. You can check live train times (including delays and cancellations), check the platform as you rush out of the taxi or bus and even buy UK rail tickets on the fly. What more could you ask for?
Download Trainline for iPhone
This app provides fantastic information for those that like travelling, by providing users with the chance to view and read reviews, find photos of iconic places and restaurants and even see the map of a city. The app is a must-have when you want to go on holiday and have access to an internet connection.
Tube Map London Underground
As someone who commutes and works in London, having a map handy with service information is really useful. The Tube Map for the London Underground does just that and gives you the vital information at the touch of a button. Furthermore, if you happen to get lost on the Tube or unable to find a map, the app will allow you to see the London Tube map even when you’re offline.
There’s a Night mode now, too, showing the routes still running after most of us have gone to bed.
Download Tube Map London Underground
It’s easy to have an issue with Uber the company, related to its aggressive workplace culture, its lack of diversity and the way it treats drivers. It’s up to you if you’re able or willing to put those ethical issues to one side. But if you are, then on a purely technical level Uber the app has been a disruptive revelation and a huge convenience to millions of users eager to get from A to B quickly and cheaply.
Wheely is a free app that adds convenience to the cab-booking process, and may even save you money. Because the journey fee is agreed before you step in to the vehicle, you know exactly how much you’re going to pay regardless of how long the journey will take. Given London’s notorious traffic, that can only be a good thing.
And if you do get stuck in a jam, all of Wheely’s vehicles offer free onboard Wi-Fi so you can keep working as you wait. Or, let’s face it, you can send emails, surf the web,
tweet about your predicament and generally faff about as only the internet allows you to faff about.
Apple’s Maps service features built-in Yelp reviews of local business, but if you don’t like Maps – or just want to get straight to the reviews – the company’s own app is free. The information available (especially on restaurants and bars) is pretty detailed. As well as reviews, you get pricing, nearest transport options, photographs, opening hours, and even information on ambience, noise level and expected attire.
Yelp is certainly worth downloading. It’s a good way to find local listings, and a good tool for business owners too.
Download Yelp for iPhone
News & reference apps
BBC’s News app provides the latest news from around the world, and offers push notifications to alert you to breaking news as it happens. You can tailor the news categories to your preferences, and there are video reports on most of the top stories.
Download BBC News for iPhone
BBC Weather is a useful, attractive addition to the wealth of weather-related apps, and while there are more detailed and varied alternatives available, the BBC’s offering wins out for ease of use and clarity.
Download BBC Weather
We’ve popped the mighty Flipboard in our news and reference section, but it could have easily appeared with the other social apps – because social networks are where it sources its articles. According to the team behind the app, Flipboard “is on a quest to transform how people discover, view and share content by combining the beauty and ease of print with the power of social media”.
Flipboard is a must-have app. Beautifully tactile and responsive, it makes reading anything on your iPhone an absolute pleasure, one ideal for exploring both favourite news sources and discovering new and inspirational content, including wonderful user-curated personalised magazines.
Yahoo Weather is a vast improvement on Apple’s (Yahoo-powered) preinstalled Weather iPhone app, combining plenty of weather-junkie data with attractive views of the UK and beyond.
Yahoo’s offering stands out amongst the crowd thanks to accurate forecasts, good balance of information and an attractive, simple design.
Download Yahoo Weather
When it first launched, we criticised the BBC Sport app for its bugs and lack of ambition, but the offering has been polished and improved in the intervening years. And the vital simplicity and ease of use remains.
They’ve also added a feature called My Sport, which allows you to create a personalised page that will supply the latest scores for the teams you support (or strongly dislike, if you’re into the whole schadenfreude thing) as well as news that involves them.
Download BBC Sport
Cricinfo – Live Cricket Scores
Obviously this one’s a bit more niche than the BBC’s general-sports offering, but when your niche is the world’s greatest sport – one which is “battle and service and sport and art”, as Douglas Jardine put it – then you’re probably doing okay.
Like the best website-to-free-app translations, ESPNcricinfo offers essentially the same content and offering that you’d find on its website, but arranged in an easier-to-consume and mobile-friendly format. You can switch easily between the most important sections – Home (offering a mixture of scores, match reports, comment pieces and videos), scores and ball-by-ball commentary for current and recent matches, and dedicated coverage of particular series.
Knowing what’s going on in the world is always useful, and Reuters is a well-designed app which allows you to quickly see breaking news, analysis and even market data.
The Weather Channel
One of the best weather-checking apps on the App Store: its pleasant and easy interface allows you to quickly check the weather. The Weather Channel can also be used within the Notification Centre in the Today view.
Download The Weather Channel
(For more on this subject, read our roundup of the
best iPhone web browsers.)
Google’s Chrome browser for iOS is well made and a pleasure to use, particularly if you’re deeply entrenched in Google’s ecosystem. If you use Chrome on the Mac, for instance, you can sign into Chrome on both and sync your tabs.
Chrome includes a voice-search mechanism, but this time it’s bundled with the browser for free; and we all know how good Google is at voice control.
Chrome’s tab management is excellent, if currently quite similar to Safari. You can quickly create new tabs, rearrange them and move between them in a 3D manager view; unlike in Safari’s equivalent, swiping any tab to the right closes it.
The general interface is strong, too: back in the main view swiping right takes you to the previously viewed tab, and we like the user-friendly ‘drag down to refresh’ that you get on all web pages.
It’s easy to invoke ‘private browsing’, although in this case it’s called Incognito Mode. And Chrome offers to cut your data usage with a Data Saver optimisation mode. According to Google, the reduction may be as much as 50 percent.
If you don’t like advertisers tracking the websites you visit – and this is a widespread practice – then Ghostery is the browser for you.
The app is designed with anonymity as its primary aim. The app collects no user data, and there are no cookies and no signups. And if the web page you’re on is using any ad trackers, Ghostery will spot them and warn you with a red icon.
And relax. That’s your lot.
In this feature we’ve focused on non-gaming apps, but if your interests do lie in that direction, take a look at our dedicated roundup of the
best free iPhone games.
If you’d rather know about software for tablets, meanwhile, take a look at our roundup of the
Best free iPad apps.