So many apps, so many space and time wasters… Worry not, here’s the list of the very best 10 free apps for iPhone/iPad and the very best 10 free apps for Android, the ones that have made it to the cream of the cream, the ones you certainly must download and won’t regret it.
WhatsApp, Skyview, Citymapper, Retrica, TuneIn Radio, Yousician, Chunky Comic Reader, Find My iPhone, Dropbox, Evernote Scannable, WPS Office + PDF, Circle of 6, Periscope, Audible for Android, Pocket, Strava, Hopper, Duolingo and more.
Find out exactly how they can each help you in a variety of situations, enhance your life and/or boost your creativity.
iPhone & iPad
Many of these Apps have a version for Android, so don’t hesitate to check if the one you want is on the Google Play store.
Instead of using up your SMS allowance by sending text messages, WhatsApp lets you send messages and even call over any Wi-Fi connection for free. You can also send and receive photos with no size restrictions, voice messages and share videos. A must-have.
SkyView brings stargazing to everyone, and it’s totally free. Simply point your iPhone, iPad, or iPod at the sky to identify stars, constellations, satellites, and more. Plus you can also do some time travelling, checking out the sky on different times and dates. Visually stunning and captivating, it will make you fall in love with astronomy at first sight.
Currently available in New York, the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and 18 other cities around the world.
Enter the city you’re in, and, voila, Citymapper, now also available on Apple Watch, offers you all the information you need from public transport (subways, express trains, buses, ferries) to help you get places. And, if you opt not to use public transport, it gives you estimates for taxis and Uber cars. Once you start using it, it will be hard for you to imagine how to go anywhere without it.
Retrica is a great camera app with live filters that allow you to preview how your photos will look, before you even take the photo. With over 100 filters, you’ll never run out of options, plus it comes with other tools to boost your creativity, including vignettes, borders, blurs, and the interval timer, which takes a number of consecutive photos and stitches them together in a user-defined layout. Get it, make your photos POP and be the talk of the town because you can share them straight away to your social networking profiles.
TuneIn Radio allows you to listen to your favourite radio stations, as well as discover new favourites from over 100,000 radio stations around the world, for FREE. From sports to news, music and talk radio, you name it, TuneIn has the largest selection.
Yousician will teach you how to play a real guitar or piano in no time. The app listens to you play exercises and songs, and gives instant feedback. Step by step video tutorials will guide you through the world’s most extensive curriculum. The fun and addictive gameplay tracks your progress and keeps you motivated to practice and learn more. You’ll be amazed to see how fast your skills advance. Get ready to cross ‘learn to play an instrument’ off your bucket list.
Chunky Comic Reader (iPad)
Amazingly good and yet free. Chunky Comic Reader seizes comics from a range of cloud services. Choose, drop into its self-organising library and go. Amongst its Settings you will find options to adjust panning, page turns and rendering, including smart upscaling, this which ensures stunning quality on the Retina display even if the source comics are low-res. If you splash out on the single £2.99 IAP you will also gain access to Mac/Windows shared folders and Chunky’s own web server.
Find My iPhone
If you misplace your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac, Find My iPhone will let you use any iOS device to find it and protect your data. Simply install it, open it, and sign in with the Apple ID you use for iCloud. It will help you locate your missing device on a map, remotely lock it, play a sound, display a message, or erase all the data on it. It can even save your life, word. At least it did in the case of Melissa (Read the news article here)
With Dropbox you can easily send large files to anyone, even if they don’t have a Dropbox account. Plus it’s fully cross-platform, which means that you can get at your documents elsewhere. Its Share sheet extension allows you to quickly upload content from thousands of apps, and the app itself enables you to preview all kinds of files before sending them on. You get 2 GB of storage for free, and up to an additional 3 GB if you use it to save photos.
Evernote Scannable lets you scan contracts, receipts, and pretty much any paper that comes your way. It may not be the most feature-rich iPhone scanner but it’s still a winner when it comes to efficiency. You can send the resulting JPEG to Evernote, share it to another service, or do further scans that will be compiled to PDF. You can send your documents to your contacts via email or text, and it even turns business cards into contacts. Highly recommended.
Many of these Apps have a version for iPhone/iPad, too, so do not hesitate to search for your favourite/s at the iTunes store.
WPS Office + PDF
Fully compatible with Microsoft® Office (Word, PowerPoint and Excel), it allows you to open, create and edit almost any file format including DOC, DOCX, XLS, PPT, TXT and PDF documents. And it syncs with Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, OneDrive, Evernote and FTP/WebDAV. And if all of this was not enough, add the full support for wireless printing, also 100% FREE (No Ads or In App Purchase). It’s like witnessing a real miracle.
Circle of 6
Winner of the HHS/White House Apps Against Abuse Technology Challenge and the Institute of Medicine and Avon Foundation for Women Safety @Home Challenge, this unique app is for those dangerous situations when you need to quickly (and discreetly) get help from your friends. Two quick taps sends one of three pre-written text messages to as many as six of your contacts. One message sends your GPS location and a request to be picked up, while another asks your friends to quickly get in touch with you. The app also includes links to the RAINN and Love is Respect hotlines.
Twitter’s live video streaming app, Periscope lets you broadcast live video to the world. Going live will instantly notify your followers, who can join, comment and send you hearts in real time. Plus, with its Private option feature, you can broadcast to specific people. Replays currently last 24 hours and you can delete your replay at any time. A recent addition is Maps, which lets you see live scopes from around the globe. The map is available to devices with Google Play Services.
Audible for Android
You may not like or have time for reading, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss on great books and stories. You can listen to them! With Audible on your phone, you can listen to books on the go from a breathtaking range of 100,000+ titles of all different genres -from best sellers to classics, and everything in-between. Immerse yourself in an entire new world on your way to work or school, at the gym, while doing house chores or during a long trip.
Especially well made, this app comes with nifty features such as bookmarking, sleep mode, variable narration speed, multitasking for background downloading and listening, and more.
Webby Award for Best Productivity App and Best User Experience 2014, Pocket is still one of best tools out there to help you save articles, videos and other web content for later in a beautiful and optimized easy-to-view experience (even offline), stripped of ads, with unlimited storage, and with sharing tools. Its latest addition is Recommendations, which deliver the best content being saved to Pocket by millions of users, personalized just for you, based on what you save, read, and watch in it.
As smartphone fitness tools go Strava is one of the best, allowing you to track your performance, set goals and see daily progress updates, whether running or cycling. It tracks your runs and rides with GP, gets key stats like distance, pace, speed, elevation gained and calories burned and collects heart rate data from Bluetooth Low Energy sensors.
There are monthly challenges to give it a competitive edge, and it also lets you set personal records and see how you stack up against friends, locals and pros.
Dash Radio, unlike other streaming radio apps for Android, includes over 60 + original & exclusive stations in every genre (with more added weekly), featuring the best DJ’s, personalities and curators in the world, with no adverts, 24/7 content and daily competitions. Plus, it’s not FM so you can listen with or without headphones and supports Bluetooth streaming to external speakers.
Booking flights can be a nightmare, especially with offers by so many different airlines and prices changing constantly. This smart bunny is like having a super-fast, all-knowing travel agent in your pocket. Hopper will come to your rescue, telling you not only what the prices are at any given time, but also whether flights are likely to get more or less expensive if you wait to book, as well as giving you a snapshot of which days have the cheapest flights, so you can predict the best time to buy. Getting alerts for price drops and warnings before a price is likely to rise for a specific trip makes it the best money saver when it comes to air travel. Hop and get it.
Duolingo: Learn Languages Free
Google Play’s Editor’s Choice and “Best of the Best” of 2013 and 2014, Duolingo: Learn Languages Free, continued to be that app that manages to be both educational and great fun in 2015.
You can learn Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish or English in an addictive game that lets you advance by completing bite-sized lessons, and track your progress with shiny achievements. It’s completely free, with no ads, no hidden fees and no gimmicks, for reals.
Formerly Allthecooks, Cookpad lets you find, save and share great, authentic, home-made recipes and access them on all of your devices, any place, any time.
You can also add favourite recipes, manage shopping lists and find new recipes based on ones you already favorited. The only con to this app is that, once you start using it, you may never want to eat out again.