Apps are big business, and they are one of the main reasons for the success of iOS.
Android may shift more units than iOS, but the App Store still tends to get the lion’s share of the best apps, from high-end audio tools through to cutting-edge education offerings.
But what can you get if you’re not willing to spend anything at all? Surprisingly, quite a lot; as our selection shows, fantastic free iPhone and iPad apps are available for all manner of tasks, from sprucing up photos and composing music through to keeping fit and exploring the world.
25. Shazam (iPhone/iPad)
Every time we’ve used it, Shazam feels like a little slice of magic. You point your iPhone in the general direction of music blasting out of a speaker, and — boom — the song is (more often than not) identified. Over time, Shazam has bolted on various handy extras, and the latest release includes plenty of links (Spotify, YouTube, social networks) for tracks it successfully recognises.
24. eBay (iPhone/iPad)
Many commerce sites screw up on mobile: they dumb down the experience, or make browsing fiddly. By contrast, eBay betters the desktop browser experience by some distance. On iPhone, search is fast and fluid, and on the iPad, the specially optimised interface boasts seamless scrolling and high-resolution images. The app in either format is excellent for selling, too, making it a breeze to get rid of your unwanted tat.
23. Paper by FiftyThree (iPad)
There are loads of drawing apps for the iPad, but few feel quite so elegant as Paper. Open the app and you get a little set of notebooks, which open with a tap. You can flip through pages and launch the editor with another tap. Drawing is responsive and fluid, akin to finger-painting in the future. For free, you get a paintbrush, seven colours and an eraser; more tools are available via IAP.
22. Retrica (iPhone)
As of iOS 7, the Camera app gained eight live filters, but Retrica’s selection is much larger, drawing on decades of photographic styles. Other tools further boost creativity, including vignettes, blurs and borders. Our favourite feature, though, is the interval timer, which takes a number of consecutive photos and stitches them together in a user-defined layout.
21. Remote (iPhone/iPad)
The remote control you get with an Apple TV could be considered elegant compared to the button-frenzy evident on most equivalents; however, it’s a mite fiddly for anything more than very basic menu navigation. With Remote, you can control your Apple TV using your iOS device, which rather helpfully includes a keyboard when making searches. The app can also control local iTunes libraries and send the audio on via AirPlay.