Apps are big business, and they're 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.
30. 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.
29. PCALC LITE (IPHONE/IPAD)
For reasons that baffle us, Apple still doesn’t provide a calculator with the iPad. PCalc Lite is the best of the freebies, boasting an elegant interface, RPN mode, alternate themes, and conversions for length, speed, volume and weight. If you require more features, themes, layouts or conversion options, IAP enables you to bolt on bits of the app’s commercial sibling, the suitably named PCalc. (And the app’s great on the iPhone, too, bettering Apple’s built-in equivalent.)
More after the break...
28. 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.
27. FridgePoems (iPhone/iPad)
This app’s developer helpfully points out that beautiful poetry would be all the more commonplace if only people had a handy fridge to cart about, with magnetic words attached. But now you can compose on the go, sliding sets of words around on your iOS device. Colours can be customised and word packs are available via IAP, although the initial selection should suffice for most.
26. 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.