Apps are big business and one of the main reasons for the success of iOS.
Android may shift more units than Apple's mobile platform, but the App Store gets the lion’s share of the best apps, from high-end audio tools through to cutting-edge education offerings.
But what can you get when unwilling to spend anything at all? Actually, loads; 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.
(Many thanks to Pixeden for the fabulous device templates.)
Travel and weather
Triposo: Best free iOS travel guide
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.
Weather Underground: Best free iOS weather app
At the last count, there were about a billion weather apps knocking around. Weather Underground rises above the dross through a clever panel-based approach. If you just want to scan the forecast and rainfall for the coming hour, you’re set. But if you are a weather wonk, desperate to check air quality, UV risk, and what the wind speed will be like at precisely 2pm tomorrow, scroll down a bit and the details will be there. You get widgets. You get customisation. You also, unfortunately, get ads – but they’re at least unobtrusive and can be nuked annually for S$2.50.
Google Maps: Best free iOS maps app
Apple initially made a mess of its own maps solution, and even today it’s imperfect. The Apple Maps app is pretty good for driving directions, but it’s not great on foot and it remains poor for locating points of interest.
Fortunately, Google’s alternative is excellent, accurate, and also bundles the useful Street View, for checking out routes before a long and unfamiliar journey. Smartly, it’ll also work offline, too, if you download chunks of map to your device.
Google Translate: best free iOS translation app
Google has a habit of injecting its apps with a little slice of magic, and Google Translate is no exception. The app will happily translate between over 100 languages (and can handle over 50 of those offline), and translate bi-lingual conversations on the fly.
The best bit, though, is when you’re ambling about somewhere, looking at strange signs and menus, and then point Google Translate’s camera at them. In an instant, it translates everything, like a Babel fish for your eyes. And although some live translations can be a little, um, fishy (sorry), it’s a much more efficient way to translate than laboriously tapping out words, or hiring 50 translators to follow you about wherever you go.
Citymapper: Best free iOS city travel planner
If you’re roaming around one of the places Citymapper supports, and fancy getting about a bit more efficiently, it’s a superb app. Pick a start point and destination and it lists public transport options and related costs, along with telling you how long it’d take to walk or cycle your route, and how many calories you’d burn. Alternatively, check out the Near tab for a mini map, nearby stops and stations, and to see what transport’s leaving and when. Frankly, we’re almost surprised the app doesn’t turn your iPhone into some kind of tiny car, to transport you about itself.
Foursquare: best free iOS app for finding local gems
Now its social arm has been hacked off as separate app ‘Swarm’, Foursquare’s doubled down on discovery. The app initially appears obsessed with dining and drinking, and you can indeed use it to find all manner of local bars and restaurants. However, there’s also a Fun section that houses loads of categories, helping you locate nearby places of interest, from jazz clubs to historic sites. Amusingly, search results appear to be populated using keywords, so ‘park’ will occasionally list pubs with car parks, rather than places with lots of trees. Result!