These days, your phone is capable of just about anything, from boosting your dating prospects (check out our best dating apps) to looking up recipes. And if you have an iPhone or iPad, the App Store offers one of the largest collections of applications on the planet, one that spans a myriad of popular categories.
Given the sheer number of apps, however, where do you even start? Here, we’ve rounded up some of the best iPhone apps available, whether you’re new to iOS or you’re simply looking to expand your arsenal beyond the best iPhone games. If you’re an Android user, we’ve also curated guides to the best Android apps and best Android games.
Communication and messaging
WhatsApp, which is a great choice for anyone who doesn’t have unlimited texting and spends a lot of time connected to Wi-Fi, lets you send and receive messages, pictures, audio notes, and video messages. It’s one of the most feature-packed chat apps out there, and absolutely worth downloading if you’re a regular chatter. Despite it being a worldwide sensation, most Americans don’t use it, which is odd, since it’s a phenomenal app. Do yourself a favor and give it a try.
Facebook’s Messenger service is offered as a stand-alone text messaging app, enabling you to chat with your Facebook friends and anyone in your contacts who has the app installed. Best of all, you don’t even need to be signed into Facebook to use it. We recommend this app for the sheer volume of messaging that happens via Facebook, though it’s a little frustrating that the Facebook app itself no longer includes messaging functionality, and takes up another slot on your homepage.
We weren’t sure whether to put Snapchat into messaging or social media apps because, well, it’s a big dollop of both. It’s one of the best platforms for one-on-one messaging, thanks to its messages that auto-delete after being seen, but it’s fair to say you probably know Snapchat for its filters, which are easily some of the best around. Snapchat using face-scanning tech to put funny, weird, and sometimes amazing filters over the top of your own face, making it stretch or morph. One that’s great to have around even if you don’t use it much.
Hinge has had a recent redesign that aims to reduce distractions, but it’s still the dating app that’s “designed to be deleted.” Hinge uses an advanced learning process to better understand your type and will seek to match you only with people it thinks you’ll really like. It seems to be working, as apparently three out of four Hinge users generally want to go on a second date with their matches — so if you’re actually looking for a partner, this is a better choice than the dreaded app beginning with the letter T.
Bumble isn’t your usual dating app because it encourages women to be the ones who make the first moves. Match with someone in the Tinder-like interface, and the woman has 24 hours to send a message or the match expires. It’s a different way of doing things, and the time-limited nature can help to spur connections quickly.
Grindr is the largest social networking app for gay, bi, trans, and queer people. The app uses your phone’s location to find other members close by to talk to, swap photos with, or meet in person. It’s not just about dating either, and there’s a group chat feature for when you need to assemble your friends.
There are amazing free recipes everywhere on the internet — but finding the one you need is very much like dealing with a needle in a haystack, and it’s easy to lose a great recipe. Instead of that, why not start using Whisk? Whisk allows you to pool recipes from all over the internet, substitute ingredients and amounts, and basically create your very own cookbook. There’s a meal planner you can use to plan the week ahead, and making a shopping list is as easy as pressing a single button. Never lose a great recipe again, thanks to Whisk.
You’ve probably seen hundreds of Tasty recipe videos around the internet, but don’t discount its app. With over 4,000 recipes, options to strip out recipes for different diets, or even meal types, Tasty is one of the most powerful recipe apps out there. You’ll find intricate step-by-step instructions for every recipe, along with handy videos, and you can even use the “what’s in my kitchen” feature to only see recipes you can make right now. A powerful and excellent recipe app.
Uber Eats: Food Delivery
Uber Eats makes getting ready-to-eat food to your door oh so simple. If you’ve used Uber before, then your account is ready to go. Simply choose a restaurant, pick your meal, and charge your card — then you’ll be able to track your food as it’s prepared and sent. You’ll be chowing down in no time. We’ve also found other food delivery apps if you’re interested.
Twitch is the best place to watch other people play video games or professional tournaments, or just chill out with some real-life board games. Yes, it sounds like the app version of being a younger sibling, but we promise you that it’s maddeningly compulsive once you get started. Whether you’re there to watch some professional gamers play new decks on Hearthstone or a League of Legends tournament, the Twitch app allows you to chat with streamers and other viewers and watch previously recorded videos, and it’s AirPlay and Chromecast compatible.
If you love to keep up with the latest news and scores from your favorite e-sports, then give Strafe Esports a try. It covers news from a variety of games, including League of Legends, Hearthstone, and Rocket League — and it even allows you to gamify your e-sports experience with a betting system that pits your predictions against other people’s. If you’re a lover of esports or are just curious, this is worth downloading.
Going out and travel
Whether you’re going out at home or abroad, TripAdvisor is one of the best apps you can download. TripAdvisor’s massive database has over 700 million reviews from travelers all around the world on all the best attractions, restaurants, and more. You can book from the app for certain places, and you can even pay using it.
Admit it, you’ve not used a mapping app other than Google Maps for years. Google’s app is the king of mapping apps for a reason, and it’s a reliable and endlessly updated service you access for absolutely nothing. It’s not just a map, and it can provide real-time updates on traffic conditions and public transit information as well. You can read and write reviews for businesses and restaurants, label your favorite places, see a timeline of your activity, and share your current trip and location with friends and family.
Want to learn a language? There are few language learning apps better than Duolingo. It has over 35 languages available to learn (including Klingon), and you don’t have to pay anything to get started. Lessons are simple but ramp up in complexity fairly quickly. You’ll start by identifying words with pictures and move on to using them in simple sentences, and before you know it, you’ll be able to quickly and easily translate more complex sentences. It’s free to use, but with limited incorrect guesses during lessons. Duolingo Plus gives you unlimited incorrect answers, and a bunch of other useful tools too, for $7 a month.
While it may be having some issues in some cities, Uber is still the king of privately booked transport. With drivers available in most cities around the planet, Uber is what you use if you need to get somewhere and don’t have wheels of your own. Uber’s “private taxi” service offers the privacy and safety of a stranger’s car as an alternative to public transportation, and it’s not too expensive either. You’ll be able to see where your driver is when they accept your ride, see the road ahead, and even rate and review your driver once your ride is done. And forget fumbling for change, as it’s all handled in-app.
Health and fitness
It’s the top fitness app on most smartphones, and there’s a reason for that. Strava provides all the tools you need to track almost any kind of run, swim, or ride. Tracking is as easy as pressing a button and keeping your phone on you (or, tracking on a smartwatch and importing the activity into Strava), and there are analysis tools available to show you how well you’ve done compared to previous efforts. It also shows you popular routes in the area, as well as your place in local leaderboards. Some features are hidden behind a paywall, but even the free Strava is well worth your time.
Looking to get a handle on what you eat in the New Year? Then MyFitnessPal is the fitness pal you need. While it has tools for tracking exercise, the real meat of the app comes in its food tracking abilities. It has a massive database of foods to choose from, broken down by brand and weight, and often all you need to do is scan a barcode and specify how much you ate. It breaks down macros, recommends a calorie amount for you based on your goals, and tells you how much you’re still allowed to eat during the day. If you’re happy to spend the time inputting your food, this is a great choice.
Calm is one of the best meditation apps out there, but it’s not just about meditation. While its meditation guides are excellent and contain a free guide to getting started, it also contains a Sleep Stories section, which has a number of voice actors and celebrities who read bedtime stories. Love Bridgerton? Regé-Jean Page has joined the cast of Calm’s Sleep Stories, and you can also listen to stories read by Mary Berry or Matthew McConaughey as well. Calm has a subscription cost for most of the features you might want to play with.
Seven: 7 Minute Workout
How long do you need to start getting fit? Well, it can be as much time as you want, really, but 7 minutes will do just fine. Seven: 7 Minute Workout aims to give you the most benefit possible in just 7 minutes through a series of quick exercises that target specific areas of your body. There’s no equipment needed, just enough space to get going. It’s free to use, but joining the 7 Club for $10 a month (or $60 a year) will give you access to a wider range of exercises, personal workout plans, and support and guidance from a certified personal trainer.
Music and podcasts
The default music app on iPhones and iPads is Apple Music, which has its own subscription service and plenty to recommend it. But there are a host of other alternatives if Apple’s default app doesn’t appeal to you.
Spotify is changing the game for the entire music industry. It’s free on PCs and tablets, but $10 a month if you want to fully use it on iPhone. It’s worth it. You can listen to full albums and create playlists.
With 70 million songs available for subscribers, Amazon Music is one of the best alternatives to Spotify or Apple Music. The subscription tiers are a bit complicated though, with a different tier available for free to Amazon Prime subscribers who haven’t signed up for the music service. That tier doesn’t include all the songs in the catalog, so if you’re bumping into limits, that might be why.
Available internationally, the BBC Sounds app is a great place to listen to the multitude of BBC radio stations, and also the BBC’s huge range of free podcasts too. Download episodes and listen to them offline, continue listening across different devices, and send music tracks you like to Apple Music or Spotify to listen to again later. A great complimentary app, and a great radio and podcast player too.
Apple News is the default news app for iOS, and it’s a great news app. But it’s not the only news app around, and there are plenty of other options if you want something more specialized or a different pace of news.
Rather than giving you a list of articles and some thumbnails to peruse, Flipboard aims to give you your news in a different manner. Laid out like a glossy magazine, Flipboard offers articles with large, colorful images, enticing you to click and find out what’s going on. There’s no scroll effect either. Instead, each page flips over as you move on, reinforcing the magazine feel. It’s a setup that’s not for everyone, but we recommend you give it a try to see if you enjoy it.
Whether you’re hopping over from Android or have been iPhone-faithful for some time, it doesn’t change the fact that Google’s news app is one of the best to be found. Drawing from news sources from around the world, Google News is one of the best ways to keep up to date with the matters you care about most.
The New York Times
It’s one of the world’s finest newspapers, and it’s available on iPhone through the official New York Times app. It offers more than just the usual breaking news, and also includes morning briefings from New York Times journalists and the ability to save articles for offline access.
Payment and money management
Investing is one of the cheat codes of growing capital, but it used to be that you needed a big nest egg to get started. That’s not the case anymore, and now anyone can invest, thanks to apps like Acorn. Rather than investing large sums of money, Acorn rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar, investing the difference. While it may not seem like much, from tiny acorns do massive oak trees grow, and this passive saving method could be key to helping you to build up a significant nest egg. You can even use it to set up an IRA pension fund as well.
Venmo is the payment app for the people. Connecting directly with your debit card, Venmo offers free person-to-person money transfers. Credit transfers require a percentage fee. It’s compatible with many shopping apps for easy checkout.
YNAB (You Need a Budget)
Alright, it’s got a steep learning curve, but take the time to get into it and YNAB is absolutely the best budgeting app out there. It asks you to put every dollar to work and can connect with your bank account to track your expenditure automatically. If you’re serious about saving, then You Need a Budget.
Adobe Lightroom Photo Editor
Why go to anyone but the master if you’re looking for image editing software? Adobe Lightroom is now available on iOS, and that means you’ve got an incredibly powerful photo editing suite right at your fingertips. It has all the tools, from the simplest crop to the finest detail changes, and it also comes bundled with a professional-quality camera app as well. There’s a premium mode that you’ll need to get the most out of it, but it does come bundled in with a bunch of Adobe Creative Cloud subscriptions, making it an excellent choice if you’re already using Adobe’s desktop software.
Slow Shutter Cam ($2)
An iPhone camera is generally excellent, but it does lack some tools more advanced users would deem essential. One of those is shutter speed, as you can’t take long exposures without the ability to fiddle with your shutter speed. If you want to take light-trail photography, pictures of the stars, or anything that needs a longer exposure time, Slow Shutter Cam should be your first stop. This app gives your phone an unlimited shutter speed — so you can take long star trail pictures or pictures of car lights zooming past, and it can even take a batch of photos with its intervalometer mode. Sounds like a lot? Well, it can be — but if you understood all that, or want to test it out, this is a great app.
If selfie editing is your bag, then there’s no better app for the job than Facetune2. It offers a lot in its free app, with a tool that allows you to retouch your face to remove blemishes or quickly apply a background or filter — but it goes even further, too, allowing you to use simple tools to change the positioning and even the size of parts of your face. Even if you’re not one for posting selfies, it’s still fun to play with.
Many iPhone and iPad users look no further than Apple Books for their reading needs as it’s the default app that comes with their Apple devices. But there are a lot of other great apps for books, whether that’s the biggest player in the game, apps that read to you, or social media apps to track your reading habits.
Amazon rules the e-book world, and a big part of that is because the Kindle app is available pretty much everywhere. It has an enormous selection of e-books that you can buy, and if you sign up to Amazon Kindle Unlimited for $10 a month, you can get access to a massive range of books and comics.
Google Play Books
Google Play Books offers millions of titles to choose from that you can read even when you’re offline. Any notes taken while reading will automatically sync to your Google Drive, which you can share with a group to collaborate on. With the addition of audiobooks, you can also listen to books on the go instead — with no subscription required.
Prefer listening to books over reading them? Audible has you covered with more than 180,000 titles that you can download for offline play. One of the major benefits is that you can speed up or slow down narration speed to fit your preferred listening experience.
Amazon is the No. 1 online retailer for a reason. Browse Amazon’s vast collection of products quickly and easily. Plus, you can enable notifications for daily Amazon Gold Box deals so you never miss out on a discount.
There’s very little that you can’t buy or sell on eBay. The app is full-featured and much easier to use than the website. Bid on items, track your orders, and sell all of your unwanted stuff right here.
Who doesn’t like earning cash-back on purchases? Ibotta is your one-stop shop for cashback from thousands of retailers, and it works both in-person and online.
It may be owned by Facebook, but Instagram is still the best social network for sharing pictures and ruining them with silly filters. We say ruining, but we put X Pro II on just about everything. You can follow specific interests as well as people, making it a great place to gather inspiration for projects, holidays, or just about anything. If you’re not the type to take lots of pictures you don’t need to feel pressured to share — just lurk on the homepage and enjoy shots from those you follow.
While it may have peaked, there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Facebook is the social media site, and if you want your phone to be Facebook official, you need this app. Facebook has evolved from just being updates from friends, and now you’ll find a local marketplace, video center, and even memories from the past. It’s also a must-download because a bunch of other apps like to use Facebook as a login option, giving you a simple option for registering — which offers a good alternative to Sign In with Apple. And, of course, pretty much everyone you know is on there, making it a must-download for almost everyone. The review scores are low right now, but that’s more to do with people being upset at Facebook rather than the quality of the app or service, so don’t let it put you off.
It’s back! Despite herculean efforts, the short video-sharing social media site TikTok never really went away, and following a huge sea shanty trend, well, we’re putting it back into the list. Chances are you know what this app is all about by now, but if you need a reminder, TikTok specializes in short-form video content, with a particular slant toward comic and musical content. Other creators can duet with videos, creating crazy new creations, meme-able videos, and — sometimes — music trends that take over the world for a bit. TikTok is the place to be, even if you’re not looking to create yourself.
Whether you follow a lot of sports and different teams, or you only follow the WWE, Bleacher Report has the personalized setup for you. Pick the teams and sports you care about, and Bleacher Report will send you the latest news and developments as they happen.
If you’re the type to watch every game, regardless of where you are, FuboTV will keep you tuned in. Whether it’s NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, or something else, the app has you covered with more than 75 channels with live games to stream on your TV or a mobile device. You’re also able to watch live news, movies, and TV shows from other networks. To start, there is a free seven-day trial and after that, it will cost you $45 per month.
Alright, so you probably have YouTube, and anyone that doesn’t is seriously missing out. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less essential, and if you don’t have YouTube on your iPhone, well, do yourself a favor and download it now. But YouTube hasn’t always been an iOS essential, having disappeared at Apple’s whims in iOS 6. Thankfully, Google brought it back. Millions of people use YouTube to upload videos daily, so there’s a staggering amount of videos available from everyone from mommy bloggers, to video game experts, to people who like to take phones apart. It’s free to use, but also features YouTube Premium, a subscription-based service that allows playlists to be downloaded and viewed offline, ad-free viewing, and video playback with a locked screen. It’ll cost you $12 a month though, and YouTube is still excellent without it, so don’t feel like you’re missing out if you’re not willing to pay.
Netflix is … Netflix. Everyone knows what Netflix is by now, so it’s fair to say we don’t need to write much here. But we’re going to anyway. Netflix is the best place on the internet to legally stream shows and movies in exchange for a monthly subscription. It’s the scourge of boredom and the way we’ve filled many empty evenings. Get started with our list of the best shows on Netflix and get bingeing right now.
You all know who Disney is, so you’re probably not going to guess wrong if we ask you what Disney+ carries. But there’s more here than just The Lion King, Mulan, and all those Disney classics. Thanks to Disney’s takeovers of many studios, you’ll find Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, and even National Geographic here too. Best of all, Star — a new “general entertainment” channel for Disney+ subscribers that adds content from FX, ABC Studios, and a bunch more originals — is coming to Disney+ too. Disney+ has the potential to become a real player in the streaming scene, and while it needs a subscription to access, it’s packed with quality content.
If you want to keep up with TV shows, but can’t stand cable, Hulu is the best place to go. Hulu is your one-stop shop for a lot of major network and cable channel shows. But it’s not for free — a Hulu Plus subscription costs $8 per month, which really isn’t that much compared to cable.
Utilities and customization
AfterShip Package Tracker
If you’re anything like us, then you might have multiple packages headed to your house right now, and keeping track of them can be tough. That’s where AfterShip comes in as supremely useful. AfterShip can track packages from over 700 carriers across the world, giving you a real-time location (when available), and everything can be easily managed with just tracking numbers. It’ll notify you when something is due to arrive, and there are no ads, either. This is a great tracking app that’s a great install for most people.
While iOS has its own built-in password manager, if you want something that works across Apple and non-Apple devices, Bitwarden is the best choice. Start storing all your passwords by simply downloading and setting up the app — then, whenever login details are recognized, Bitwarden will ask if you want it to remember them. Then, it can input them for you. Free use is entirely doable, unlike some other password managers, and premium access starts at less than $1 a month.
Dark Sky Weather ($4)
You don’t want to get caught out in the rain, so don’t. While there’s a glut of other weather apps out there, Dark Sky Weather is one of the best thanks to its hyperlocal weather information that tells you the weather, right down to the minute.
Apple’s iCloud is excellent, but it can be hard to use outside of iOS. Dropbox offers brilliant cloud storage that can be accessed from Android devices and iPhones, or on MacBooks and PCs. A basic account is free and holds up to 2GB of storage. If you want to store more, then you can get up to 1TB of storage for $8.25 a month. Keep in mind the free version is limited to linking up just three devices, though.