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.
Cheatsheet: best free iOS quick notes app
There are loads of apps for jotting down conventional notes on iOS, but Cheatsheet is for all those little things you never quite remember, despite them being very important – lock combinations; phone numbers; the Konami code.
Your list of notes is created in the app, and each item can have an associated icon so it’s easy to spot. The best bit is everything can be displayed on the lock screen, making your list readily accessible.
For free, you’re limited to four items. Splash out three quid and you can have as many as you want, along with iCloud sync and an Apple Watch app.
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.)