WORK AND STUDYING
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.)
Documents 5: Best free iOS file-organiser
Apple for a long time dragged its heels regarding a Files app, and even now the iCloud Drive app is optional, activated via a buried switch in Settings. Documents 5 is a free app that enables you to get at all of your iCloud documents and those stored in other linked locations (Google Drive, Transmit and so on), and it’ll also preview a bunch of formats, including PDF, text documents and images. Handily, it’s good for downloading files from the web, too, if Safari trips up and self-combusts trying to do so.
1Password: Best free iOS password app
There’s iCloud Keychain for sharing your login and payment details across various versions of Safari, but 1Password is loads better.
First, you can very easily edit your login details; secondly, it’ll save notes and multiple identities (for example, if you have an abbreviated one for forums); thirdly, it works cross-platform.
Desktop’s where developer AgileBits earns its cash (1Password for OS X costs 50 quid/S$100), but the iOS version therefore somehow being free is ludicrously generous.
Bear: Best free iOS writing app
Sitting slightly awkwardly between full-fledged writing tool and minimal note-taker, Bear is nonetheless a rather lovely app for tapping out words on an iPad (or, if you’re fleet of thumbs, an iPhone). It offers robust Markdown support, a theme with great clarity, plenty of configuration options, and a clever tagging system for grouping arbitrary documents.
Surprisingly, it’s not a walled garden – for no money at all, you can still export your musings as text files. Cross-device sync and export to PDF or HTML requires a subscription, but for free, Bear remains an excellent single-device writing app.
Paper: Best free iOS note-taking app
Originally an elegant drawing app for iPad, Paper got a radical overhaul with version 3. The sketching stuff remained but was joined by superb tools for quickly creating diagrams, taking notes, and making lists. Hipsters bemoaned the loss of digital notebooks, but we much prefer the new stacks of virtual paper that explode into a wall of sticky notes that are easy to explore. And the app coming to iPhone made Apple’s somewhat similar Notes look like a cheap rip-off by comparison.
SKYPE: BEST FREE IOS VIDEO-CHAT APP
Apple’s FaceTime generally works very well, but it doesn’t work at all unless the person you’re calling also owns Apple kit. Skype is available for a much wider range of platforms and can also be used to call landlines and mobiles; Skype-to-Skype calls are free, and calls elsewhere are usually cheaper than mobile plans. The app also includes instant messaging, for when you’d rather type than talk.
Dropbox: Best free iOS cloud storage app
Even with the addition of iCloud Drive to iOS, it still pays to install Dropbox. It’s fully cross-platform, unlike Apple’s solution, thereby typically being a better bet for an iOS file system if you want to easily get at your documents elsewhere. As of iOS 8, you get a Share sheet extension, enabling you to quickly upload content from thousands of apps, and the Dropbox app itself can preview all kinds of files before sending them on. For free, you get 2 GB of storage, and up to an additional 3 GB if you use Dropbox to save photos.