Best iOS apps: essential downloads for your iPhone or iPad

Just got yourself an iPhone or iPad? You MUST download these first

If you've just received a shiny new iPhone or iPad, the first thing you should do it fill it with apps.

The clever people over at MacFormat have created this list of the best iOS apps. From social networking, to productivity, and movie making - this round up has it all.

Let's get downloading...


WhatsApp (Free) has more than a billion users. It was bought by Facebook in 2014 but so far Facebook hasn’t messed anything up: it’s dropped the small initial fee and it’ll do away with BlackBerry support by the end of 2016, but WhatsApp itself continues to offer chat, voice and video calls, voice messaging and photo, video and location sharing.


If you know any young people, there’s a good chance WhatsApp is how they stay in touch with their friends – if not that, their favourite alternative is probably Snapchat (Free). It became infamous for its self-destructing photo messages, which hormone-crazed teens put to predictable use, but it’s useful for much more than that. The ephemeral nature of Snapchat messages means it’s a great way of communicating what you’re doing right now.


FiLMIC PRO (£7.99) is essential if you want to shoot great videos, offering unparalleled control – from fine-grained options over focus, exposure and more, to enabling you to choose different frame rates for your recordings, and even increase the video quality well beyond iOS’s default levels. It supports external microphones, 4K in the iPhone 7/6s/Plus, and is one of our favourite apps ever. Once you’ve got your footage, you need to polish your film’s look.


Yes, it’s home to a clowder of cat videos, but it’s also the world’s largest people-powered platform for teaching and learning how to do virtually anything you can think of, from make-up tutorials to video game walkthroughs, and home improvement to tutorial videos about how to make tutorial videos… Of course, you can share your own knowledge with other people easily from your device using the selection of video recording and editing apps from the App Store, or even iOS’s bundled Camera and iMovie apps. (Free)


iMovie (£3.99) is free when you buy a new iOS device and is the easiest option, enabling you to pick the desired parts of your clips and put together a quick movie in next to no time at all. It comes with sound effects and a few transitions, but is relatively limited for tools overall.


You can create your own soundtrack in GarageBand (£3.99), which is free when you buy a new iOS device. Its virtual instruments can do everything from classical, emotive strings to rock or electronic – even if you know nothing about music!


Pinterest (Free) as a public scrapbook or scrapbooks. As one of the top 50 most-visited sites in the world, it’s where hundreds of millions of users go to find, pin (save), and share everything from recipes, to inspirational quotes, to home improvement ideas, to fashion gotta-haves. You can create multiple boards to organise pins however you like, and the whole thing is free and supported by advertising.


With aspirations to become the world’s largest retailer, Amazon (Free) either already has a category, or soon will have, for just about every product. Naturally, its app also includes a wish list feature for saving the things you want to buy or send as gifts to other people. If you need to save things from elsewhere on the web, Amazon has extensions for your Mac or PC’s web browser and for iOS itself, which can save items not found on its virtual shelves. Lists can be public or private, and they’re free to use even if you don’t buy anything.


Some people you share with might prefer something they can hold, in which case Mosaic Photo Books (Free) is a great option. It’s a photo collage app that enables you to arrange 20 pics, print a high-quality book, and send the result to a lucky recipient. The app is free to use and doesn’t even require an account. Books cost £24 (£20 for the book, £4 for postage).


One of the internet’s best ways to share what you love is by blogging, where anyone can stumble on and see your musings, and we don’t think there’s a better or faster service for sharing this way than Tumblr (Free). It provides an iOS extension that enables you to share whatever photo, product, or pretty much anything else you’re looking at in just two taps. Of course, you can always add commentary, media, or full-on blog posts. Tumblr is free to use, even if you hook it up to your own domain. Most themes are free, though a few higher quality, low-cost options are available.


Trello (Free) uses a system of boards and cards. You create lists on boards using cards, and each card can contain text, images, labels, attachments, and more. You can add members to a board to collaborate on a project, and you can drag and drop cards within a list. The key to Trello is that you can see everything related to a project in one glance. Trello syncs across devices and, as well as the iOS app, there are apps for the desktop, Android devices, and Kindle Fire, so whatever your colleagues use, they can access Trello.


Lists are a critical part of any project and few apps handle them better than Wunderlist (Free). Use it to create a daily to-do list for yourself or to allocate tasks to colleagues. Lists can be shared and viewed in a web browser, so anyone can access them, and there’s a free Mac app. Lists sync immediately across all versions of the service linked to your account.


Evernote (Free) is a must for any project, whether you use it to store ideas, add web pages you’ve discovered during research, or scan receipts of purchases made. Like Wunderlist, it syncs with desktop and web versions, and enables you to share notebooks with team members.


Every project needs a way to monitor and control costs, and Numbers (£7.99 or free with new devices) is perfect for the job. It has templates for lots of different types of project, and it’s compatible with Excel documents should you work with colleagues who use Microsoft Office. Best of all, though, are its forms, linked to tables, which make it very easy to add data on your iPhone.


Of course an app for learning languages has to make this list, and Duolingo (Free) has a unique approach. Through a series of minigames and tests, you’ll learn any of 10 languages in an engaging environment that practically gamifies the process. In fact, you earn points as you progress so you can quantify how far you’ve come, and you can compete with friends to keep each other motivated. All classes are free, with some in-app purchases for minor perks.


iTunes U (Free) contains a wealth of free knowledge and interactive courses from some of the greatest teaching institutions and organisations around the world. Apple boasts that iTunes U’s collection contains over one million downloadable lectures, videos, and other educational content from renowned names such as Stanford, the University of Oxford, MIT, and Smithsonian Libraries.

How To Draw Everything

As the name suggests, How to Draw Everything (Free) has simple step-by-step tutorials for learning how to draw a variety of things, including fruit, anime characters and band logos. It isn’t the best-designed app, but the sheer volume of tutorials is at least a great place to start.


In the business world, slack (Free) is becoming a very big deal. It’s rather like a private Facebook for the world of work, with team members messaging one another individually and in groups, sharing files, tracking projects and updating their expenses. It has a great Apple Watch app, too.


If your work is more like Jason Bourne’s, you might like Telegram Messenger (Free). Like Slack it’s available on the web, iOS and Apple Watch, but unlike Slack it offers messages, photos and videos that can self-destruct after a set time. Messages are heavily encrypted, and Telegram is currently delivering 15 billion of them every day. Telegram is free of both fees and ads thanks to a “generous donation” from Russian-born entrepreneur Pavel Durov; the company says that if it runs out of money it will sell premium extras.


What to say about Messenger (Free), which has slowly become detached from Facebook itself? Only that you need it because your Facebook friends use it. It’s just as well that Messenger is a really good app, with third-party extensions, the ubiquitous stickers, video calling and games. You might as well install it...


Ulysses is one of our favourite Mac writing apps for all kinds of work: reviews, features, novels, broadcast scripts... you get the idea. It’s a very fast and flexible text editor based around Markdown, which enables you to format documents or add links and other code with a few simple keystrokes. Ulysses started off on the Mac, made its way to the iPad, and now it’s on the iPhone too.


We really like Airmail on the Mac, where it checks off nearly everything on our email client wish list (and then some). This mobile app brings the experience to iOS, so you can have a joined-up Airmail setup on all your Apple devices. Nearly everything we like about Airmail for Mac is present on iPhone, including message snooze capabilities and bulk editing. There are also plenty of nice touches, such as the ability to attach files from popular cloud services or send details to other excellent apps, including favourites such as Deliveries, Evernote, and Fantastical 2.

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