This article has been just updated: January 15, 2024
Your iPhone deserves great apps, which is why we’ve put together this list of 7 essential free and paid apps for the iPhone. Our selection of apps covers everything from social media to photography to security, so you’re guaranteed to find something interesting no matter which apps you prefer.
7 Essential Free Apps for iPhone
1. Google Maps
Even diehard Apple fans admit that Apple Maps is far from perfect. If you often use your iPhone as your GPS while driving, biking, or walking, you need Google Maps. With over 220 countries and territories mapped and hundreds of millions of businesses and places on the map, Google Maps is by far the best navigation app in the App Store today, and it doesn’t cost anything at all.
It’s 2024, and it’s now okay to say that selfies are fun. But they can be even more fun with Facetune, an award-winning photo editor app that makes it easy to capture the perfect selfie every time. Facetune has an incredible collection of professional retouch features, allowing you to magically replace backgrounds, add amazing filters, and even reshape your face. The app itself is free, and you can unlock additional features via in-app purchases.
Feedly is a smart RSS reader that collects millions of stories every day, helping you get ahead on any subject. The reader knows which articles are trending at the moment, so it’s easy to read the most important content first and leave the rest for later. You can integrate Feedly with Facebook, Twitter, Evernote, Buffer, OneNote, Pinterest, LinkedIn, IFTTT, and Zapier to easily share everything you find interesting with your networks and teammates.
Amazon’s eBook readers need no introduction. With the Kindle app for iOS, you can read all your Kindle eBooks everywhere you go. The app offers a customizable reading experience, allowing you to change the font style and size, adjust screen brightness and page color, and more. With features like X-Ray, Whispersync, Page Flip, and instant translations and definitions, books are now more accessible than ever, giving you one more reason to finally pick up that novel you’ve been yearning to read for so long.
Not to be confused with the social network Snapchat, Snapseed is a powerful photo editor developed by Google. It can open both JPG and RAW files and offers a wide selection of editing tools, allowing you to adjust exposure and color automatically or manually, crop to standard sizes or freely, adjust the colors so that the image looks more natural, add both stylized or plain text, add a beautiful Bokeh to images, bring a stunning look to your images by creating the effect of multiple exposures, get modern film looks with realistic grain, add frames with adjustable size, and much more.
6. Sleep Cycle
Your sleep is more important than you may realize. A single night of bad sleep can negatively affect your cognitive abilities, memory, mood, and general wellbeing. Sleep Cycle is a smart alarm clock that tracks your sleep patterns and wakes you up in light sleep so you feel rested, energized, and ready to conquer the world. The app has been featured in CNN, Wired, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, and many other prestigious publications because it just works.
It takes a lot of work to find a good restaurant and book a table. Fortunately, there’s OpenTable to make everything easier. This great app helps you discover great dining experiences and make free restaurant reservations at more than 43,000 restaurants around the world. You can find restaurants using comprehensive search filters, book tables, update reservations, cancel, or re-book straight from the app, and more.
7 Best Paid Apps for iPhone
The official Twitter client for iOS isn’t horrible, but it’s nowhere near as good as Tweetbot, which lets you enjoy animated GIFs, create and use Twitter Lists as multiple timelines, switch to an optimized dark theme for OLED displays, or hide tweets in your timelines by users, keywords, hashtags, or even the client that published the tweet, just to name a few features that make Tweetbot such an excellent Twitter client. The app costs $4.99, and it’s well worth the price.
2. Pocket Casts
If you enjoy listening to podcasts, you can greatly improve your experience by purchasing Pocket Casts, a premium podcasting app for the iPhone. Pocket Casts is simple to use yet powerful. It can automatically build a playback queue from your favorite shows, cut silences from episodes so you finish them faster, increase the volume of voices, skip episode intros, pause your episode when you fall asleep, or send episodes straight to your Airplay or Chromecast device.
Life is full of responsibilities, and it’s essential to manage them as efficiently as possible. Things is one of the best to-do apps for iOS devices, and it can be yours for just $9.99. This app allows you to create a project for each of your goals, create to-dos from other apps, see your calendar events alongside your to-dos, and use tags to categorize your goals. Things developers frequently release updates that add new features and fix existing bugs, and the excellent rating of the app says that they’re doing a great job.
Fantastical is an award-winning calendar app that supports natural language parsing, reminders, and other features. It works with many calendar services, including the Calendar app, iCloud, Google Calendar, and Exchange. Thanks to its natural language parsing capabilities, you can enter something like “dinner with Bill Gates in Silicon Valley on Saturday,” and Fantastical will schedule it for you without any additional input.
With so many excellent free weather apps readily available in the App Store, you’re probably wondering why you should spend any money on a paid weather app like Darksky. There are many reasons why, actually. To start with, Darksky is able to create minute-by-minute forecasts for your precise location. It also features perfectly smooth weather animations that make it clear what the weather situation is like at a glance. Last but not least, it comes with a beautiful notification center widget that lets you see what’s going to happen in the next hour and the next week.
If you’re not using a unique password for each website and online service you visit and use, you’re greatly compromising your online security. A password manager such as 1Password remembers all your passwords for you so you don’t have to. While the app itself is free, the service behind it isn’t. 1Password charges its customers $2.99 per month when billed annually, but there’s also a discounted family plan that costs $4.99 per month and can be shared among five people.
iPhones have always had excellent cameras capable of taking beautiful pictures. Halide allows you to take things to the next level with its support for RAW images, live histogram, full manual controls, and intuitive gesture-based user interface. The app is compatible with iPhone 5S or later models, and it costs $5.99. Just don’t be surprised if your beloved DSLR starts collecting dust.
In 2024, Reeder 4 emerged as a popular RSS reader, while Adobe Photoshop Express and Spectre Camera impressed with photo editing and photography capabilities, respectively. Spotify continued to be a top choice for music streaming, and fitness enthusiasts favored Nike Training Club with its diverse workout plans. For to-do lists and task management, Trello was highly recommended, and Canva became a go-to for easy graphic design.
Among paid apps, Darkroom was a favorite for photo editing aficionados, and Procreate Pocket stood out for digital artists. GoodNotes 5 was highly praised for note-taking, while Things 3 was the go-to for a premium task management experience. For those looking to enhance video content, LumaFusion was the top choice for video editing. To improve mindfulness and sleep, Calm and Headspace were the leading options in the wellness category.
Spotify gained massive popularity due to its extensive music library, personalized playlists, social sharing features, and its integration with other services. Its user-friendly interface and the ability for both free and premium users to discover new music through its algorithm cemented its place as a top app in 2024.
Adobe Photoshop Express offered iPhone users a powerful yet accessible tool for photo editing, with an array of filters, effects, and editing tools. Its simple touch interface made it easy to adjust images quickly, while also providing advanced features for more seasoned photographers.
Spectre Camera was lauded for its ability to capture long-exposure photos, which was a breakthrough for mobile photography. It allowed users to create stunning effects such as blurred water and light trails, traditionally only possible with professional cameras.
The Reeder 4 app provided iPhone users with a clean and intuitive interface for reading and managing RSS feeds. It also supported services like Feedly and Feedbin, and offered a ‘Read Later’ feature, making it a comprehensive tool for personal news aggregation.
The Nike Training Club app was chosen for its wide range of workouts designed by professional athletes and trainers. The app offered personalized training plans, progress tracking, and motivational content, making it an all-in-one fitness solution.
Trello utilized boards, lists, and cards to help users organize projects and tasks in a visual manner. Its collaborative features allowed teams to work together seamlessly, increasing productivity in both personal and professional settings.
Canva gave users an extensive library of templates and design elements to create professional-looking graphics. From social media posts to presentations, Canva made it possible to design with ease, without requiring advanced graphic design skills.
Darkroom stood out for its extensive editing tools catered to both beginners and professionals. It offered quick editing options alongside more granular controls for color and light, coupled with a seamless integration into the iOS Photo Library.
Procreate Pocket provided a full suite of painting, sketching, and drawing tools tailored for the iPhone. With its high-resolution canvases and an extensive selection of brushes, the app empowered artists to create detailed artworks on-the-go.
GoodNotes 5 delivered a digital note-taking experience that closely mimicked writing on paper. With features like searchable handwriting, PDF annotation, and a variety of digital stationery, it provided a flexible and robust platform for organizing notes and documents.
Things 3 won over users with its beautiful design and focus on simplicity. The app combined powerful organizational tools with an easy-to-use interface, which included features like tags, reminders, and a calendar view for tracking deadlines.
LumaFusion brought professional-grade video editing to the iPhone, with multitrack editing, numerous effects, and advanced audio tools. The app’s robust feature set made it suitable for creating high-quality video content directly from iOS devices.
The Calm app offered a variety of wellness solutions including guided meditations, sleep stories, and breathing exercises. Its focused approach on mental relaxation and better sleep made it incredibly popular among users seeking to reduce stress and improve their wellbeing.
Headspace provided users with a wide range of themed meditation sessions, performance-enhancing mindfulness practices, and sleep assistance. Its user-friendly design and tailored programs were praised for effectively promoting mental health.
In 2024, apps like Google Maps and Airbnb remained favorites for navigating and finding accommodations. However, TripIt, which organizes travel plans into one simple itinerary, and LoungeBuddy, offering airport lounge access, also gained prominence as convenient travel companions.
Google Maps was a go-to navigation app due to its detailed maps, real-time traffic updates, and transit directions. Its ability to provide business listings and street views also made it an essential tool for travelers and daily commuters.
The Airbnb app simplified the process of finding unique accommodations and experiences worldwide. It provided travelers with a convenient way to book stays, connect with hosts, and explore local activities and attractions.
Yes, the Mint app was commended for its comprehensive budget tracking and financial planning tools. You Need A Budget (YNAB) also received attention for its proactive approach to budgeting, helping users to manage their finances more efficiently.