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.
38. Split Pic (iPhone/iPad)
This one’s a photography app based around a gimmick, but it takes advantage of said gimmick really well. The basic thinking is you can ‘clone’ yourself into an image more than once by shooting the same photo several times as a split scene. But with the app’s well-designed merging tool and filters, there’s scope for greater creativity and experimentation here.
In-app-purchases give you access to more filters and layouts, and you can unlock everything for US$2.99. However, the free app’s more than enough to get started with.
37. 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.)
36. 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.
More after the break...
35. TodoMovies 3 (iPhone)
Sometimes the best apps on the iPhone do one thing very well, and that’s certainly the case with TodoMovies 3. The app’s designed to help you manage movies you want to watch in the future: you can browse what’s playing or search a huge database of older titles.
Each film’s page includes a trailer and artwork, and can be added to your list with a tap. Once you’ve watched a film, you can rate it and send it to your Watched list, providing you with a portable directory of films you love - and those you hate and want to avoid ever seeing again!
34. Triposo (iPhone/iPad)
There are plenty of travel guides on the App Store, but of the free ones Triposo is our favourite. The app isn’t restricted to just a few major cities - it has information on a wide variety of destinations.
Along with providing suggestions of things to see, Triposo can build a city walk for you, based on the amount of time you want to spend ambling about. Most usefully, it works offline (assuming you download relevant data before you leave), and so won’t chew through your overseas data allowance.
33. 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.
32. Flickr (iPhone)
Flickr’s had something of a resurgence in recent years, and the iPhone app is an especially nice way to browse your friends’ photos, and also to upload your own. The built-in camera works very nicely, and along with adding filters to your snaps, you can perform rather more delicate and precise edits.
Best of all, you can upload in the background (to a private album) all your iPhone photos, making full use of Flickr’s free 1TB of storage.