Shortcuts: best free iOS automation app
The thinking behind Shortcuts is to lighten your iOS workload, primarily by having it automate tasks that would otherwise require loads of taps and switching between multiple apps.
In the Gallery, you can choose from dozens of pre-defined workflows, which can be added to your Home screen, welded to Today view, or each given a vocal command you can use as a trigger by bellowing at Siri.
The best bit – at least for irreverent tinkerers – is that workflows can be duplicated, pulled apart, and experimented on. Or you can make your own using a straightforward, flexible interface. Rare is the iOS app that’ll save you loads of time rather than eat into it – but this is one of them.
Otter Voice Notes: best free iOS memos app
Your iPhone and iPad ship with a perfectly usable voice memos app. But most people who save voice memos want the words – without having to subsequently type the things out while listening to recordings they’ve made. Otter deftly deals with this.
For free, you get a generous ten hours of instantaneous live transcription, as you reveal your innermost thoughts to your device. Each transcript gets handy timestamps, and you can add images and highlights. The app itself then welds keywords to your missives, speeding up searches.
There’s loads of collaboration stuff, too, for business types, along with a paid tier. At Stuff, we’re just glad wed don’t have to laboriously type out our voice recordings anymore.
LastPass: Best free iOS password app
You of course get iCloud Keychain baked into iOS for keeping all your passwords and payment details safe – and for creating new and secure passwords when the need arises. But that’s not much help if you also use Android and Windows devices.
LastPass is an excellent option for cross-platform dabblers. It integrates seamlessly with iOS, but also gives you a centralised spot to browse your details – and in a manner that’s a lot friendlier than Apple’s equivalent. It’ll store notes and form-fill options, too, and won’t cost you a penny – which seems almost absurdly generous.
Gboard: best free iOS keyboard
The default iOS keyboard is perfectly fine, but it does require you tap individual keys. If that all sounds like too much bother, try Gboard. It allows you to blithely scribble across keys to form words, or even to avoid typing entirely through dictating whatever you want to jot down.
Being that Gboard is a Google app, it also draws on the masses of content sitting in the world’s biggest search engine. This enables you to find and quickly share with friends all kinds of useful information – or, more likely, obscure emoji and amusing cat GIFs.
PCalc Lite: Best free iOS calculator
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.)