The following list showcases our pick of the best free iPhone apps, and includes iPhone applications for social networking, travel, news, photography, productivity and more. Most of these apps are also compatible with the iPod touch.
If your top free iPhone apps aren't covered, tell us all about them in the comments. And don't forget to check out our iPhone 7 rumours.
WhatsApp is one of the most essential apps you can install on your iOS device, especially if you have friends and family across the world.
Rather than using up your SMS allowance by sending text messages, WhatsApp lets you send messages over any Wi-Fi or mobile data connection instead. You can also send and receive photos with no size restrictions, and if you're using Wi-Fi (or you have unlimited mobile data) they won't cost you any extra to send.
If you're serious about running or cycling then you should be serious about Strava. As smartphone fitness tools go it's one of the best, allowing you to track your performance, set goals and see daily progress updates.
There are leaderboards and challenges to give it a competitive edge and if you're ever not sure where to run or cycle you can find user created routes on the app, or share your own. All of that comes free of charge, while a premium version adds even more tools.
There are probably hundreds of photo apps around, but Google Photos stands out as it gives you unlimited storage for photos and videos, all for free.
That's reason enough to jump on board, especially as it works not just on iOS but on Android and computers too.
But with basic editing tools and the ability to make collages and albums this is more than just photo and video storage, it aims to be your first and last stop after taking a picture. To achieve that it will need a few more features, but it's well on its way.
Snapseed is Google's own photo editor that's been designed from the ground up to make tweaking your snaps as easy and fun as possible on a touchscreen device.
Although the interface is simple enough to use with just your fingers, there's also a lot of depth to this app as well. You use tools to tweak and enhance your photographs to make them look the best they ever have, as well as playing around with fun filters that can transform the photos you've taken on your smartphone or tablet.
Spotify has been pretty quick to establish itself as the top music streaming service, and the Spotify Music app brings some great features to your iOS device, turning it in to a pocket jukebox that delivers your favourite tunes no matter where you are.
Even better you can now listen to Spotify music for free on iOS, although if you want to download songs for offline listening and without any ads, then a Spotify Premium account is worth investing in.
Periscope, Twitter's live video streaming app, is an essential download for anyone who likes the immediacy of Twitter but craves something more visual.
You can easily create your own live streams or watch other people's, send comments and hearts in real time and if you miss the action there's a 24 hour window with which to replay streams. In short it's simple enough to dive straight into but has enough to it that you'll keep coming back, whether you're more creator or viewer.
It's no secret just how badly Apple's own mapping app performs, although it has got better post-iOS 6.
Fortunately, Google Maps is a free download, and a far better solution than the old Google Maps app as well, thanks to the inclusion of turn-by-turn navigation and - in some cities - public transport directions. It's an easy way to supercharge your iPhone's mapping capabilities and one of the first apps you should grab for the iPhone 7 when it launches.
Uber is transforming the way we travel. You can quickly and easily request a taxi using the app and get picked up within minutes and you can compare rates and get quotes, as well as paying with PayPal or by adding your credit card to a secure Uber account.
The Uber service is available in over 50 countries, and it's rapidly growing. Give it a try and you'll never want to hail a taxi the old fashioned way again.
Although Evernote Scannable isn't the most feature-rich iPhone scanner you're ever likely to see, it's a winner when it comes to efficiency. Open it up, plonk a document on a background with enough contrast, and the app in a moment scans it in.
You can send the resulting JPEG to Evernote, share it to another service, or do further scans that will be compiled to PDF.
Boost your productivity with Pushbullet, which lets you view your iPhone's notifications and messages directly on your computer. It means if you get a text message you can read it there and then without having to take your phone out of your pocket or bag.
You can also quickly send files from your computer to your phone with only a few clicks, and if you regularly find that you email links to yourself just to open them on your smartphone, then you'll never have to do that again thanks to Pushbullet's link sharing features.
Instagram is the go-to app for quickly taking photos, adding quirky filters to them and sharing them with the world. Over 300 million people use Instagram and thanks to the social aspects and effortless interface it's easy to see why it's such a hit.
You're not limited to sharing your snaps on Instagram either, as you can easily add your photos to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and more with just a few taps.
Clients to access the popular Evernote service for storing notes and ideas online are available for so many platforms that we half expect a ZX Spectrum app to be announced tomorrow. On the iPhone,Evernote is efficient and usable, enabling you to rapidly scan your notes and also create new ones.
Even in 2015 there are still times and places where we can't get an internet connection, but this doesn't have to mean you can't read websites, however, thanks to the excellent Pocket app. It allows you to save articles, news stories, blog posts, videos and much more, letting you read and watch them offline.
You can also synchronise your saved articles across every device you've installed Pocket on, allowing you to pick up where you left off and continue reading.
The world's biggest social network brings a tightly honed experience to the iPhone and iPod touch, but nonetheless still enables you to access your contacts, feeds and other important information. This sense of focus makes it in many ways superior to using Facebook in a desktop browser.
If you pick up an iPhone 6s / iPhone 7 when it launches later this year, Facebook will likely be one of the first apps you'll want to download.
One of the biggest new camera features in iOS 8 is the ability to finally adjust your exposure settings.
Although you can manually brighten and darken the frame with the basic built-in camera app, the Manual app adds some more granular control over settings such as ISO and shutter speed.
If you're feeling the need to cut down on your food intake, Calorie Counter's a smart download. The app is well designed and, importantly, has a massive food-item database, making it easy to input everything you eat. Web sync, optional social features, reports and goals add to the goodness.
Sometimes with apps, it's the seemingly little things that make a big difference. With Overcast, for example, you get a perfectly decent podcast app that does everything you'd expect: podcast subscriptions; playback via downloads or streaming; a robust search for new shows.
But where Overcast excels is in attempting to save you time and improve your listening experience. Effects (which can be assigned per-podcast) provide the smartest playback speed-up we've heard, voice boost for improving the clarity of talky shows, and smart speed.
The last of those attempts to shorten silences. You won't use that setting for comedy shows, but it's superb for lengthy tech podcasts. As of version 2.0, Overcast is free, and betters all the other iOS podcast apps that also lack a price tag. (Should you wish to support the app, though, there's an entirely optional recurring patronage IAP.)
TodoMovies is a to-do list for movies. You use it to browse what's on (and, if you like, what's been on — including years ago) and build a list of what you want to see.
Cleverly the app also enables you to rate each movie, thereby building up a list of your favourites that you can refer to at any time.
Organizing travel just got automagical. Whether you're a planner or the spontaneous type, TripIt helps transform your travel and booking confirmation emails into a master day-by-day itinerary, with all your plans in one place, via the web or your phone.
Along with creating your itinerary, TripIt also suggests attractions and activities according to your schedule, and even looks up all the information we seem to forget like weather, maps, and directions.
Apple's apps and software have always been variable, but Podcasts was just a mess when it was first released. However, an update streamlined the interface, and enabled you to create custom stations that automatically update and synchronise over iCloud.
Paid solutions like Instacast still edge Podcasts for mad-keen podcast devourers, but Apple's freebie comes close.
7 minute workout
There's more to exercising than just running, and 7 Minute Workout can help introduce you to a whole new set of calisthenics.
The app includes instructions for a whole series of exercises including tricep dips, planks (not to be confused with planking), box squats and much more. It even provides instructional video for each to make sure you have the proper form.
Find My Friends
A.k.a 'Stalk My Contacts', but Find My Friends does have practical uses: if you're meeting a bunch of iPhone-owning friends and want to know where they're at, for example, or for when wanting to check where your spouse is on the road, to see if it's time to put the dinner in the oven/pretend to look busy when they walk through the door. (Or maybe that's just what freelance tech writers do.)
There are plenty of read-later services out there, but Instapaper was arguably the original, and it remains the best. The app integrates well with iOS, enabling you to send articles to it from other browsers. Only text and imagery is saved - all web-page clutter is removed - and downloaded articles are cached for offline reading.
Inside the app, there are plenty of formatting options, boasting some great font choices and colour options. If you really get into the system, there's an optional premium subscription (£2.29/$2.99 per month), which adds full text search for your archive, unlimited highlighting within articles, and the means to create playlists for the app's text-to-speech feature.
Timers and task managers are usually designed with extreme efficiency, to the point they practically yell NO FUN ALLOWED in your face.
30/30, however, provides a streamlined, tactile interface that happens to look great, is fun to use, and that makes it a breeze to create lists and define timers. It also enables looping for anyone addicted to the Pomodoro Technique.
Plenty of apps exist for transferring content between your computer and your device, but Dropbox is free and easier to use than most of its contemporaries. Dump files you want to sync in a folder on your computer and Dropbox for your device will enable you to access them, download them for offline viewing, and, in many cases, view them.
FaceTime is a great alternative to standard voice calls, but it's no good if you're trying to contact someone without a Mac or compatible iOS device. Therefore, Skype remains an essential download.
The interface is simple and usable, enabling anyone with a Skype account to make free calls to other Skype users and cheap calls to anywhere in the world. If you're on Pay and Go, this is particularly handy, but the app also enables iPod touch users to utilise their devices for calls.
There are plenty of Wikipedia readers for iPhone, but Wikiwand feels like someone's actually sat down and thought about how to design and present information, rather than more or less flinging a mobile website at your face. Search is lightning fast and comes with handy thumbnail images, to help you make the best selections. Article pages boast large images and enable you to quickly navigate via an easily accessible sidebar.
Our favourite touch, though, is the preview you get when tapping on a link. It appears at the bottom of the screen, giving you a quick overview of the relevant article. This means an extra tap's required to subsequently open a linked article, but you get context for what you're currently reading without having to switch back and forth between different entries.
Thanks to the new Health app and the step tracking capabilities of Apple's M8 and M7 co-processor you can use the app to track your steps, sleep and food intake.
The official Twitter app might lack some of the features found in the likes of Tweetbot, but it does provide a sleek and simple means of using the service. It also rapidly rolls in new features from the website, such as the Connect and Discover views, along with expandable tweets that contain photos and videos.
Apple binned its own YouTube app from the iPhone, presumably because it hates Google far more than it loves online video.
Google's own YouTube app works much as you'd expect, enabling you to search and watch an almost limitless number of cats playing pianos, people moaning about stuff to their web-cams, and more besides.
You know how it goes: hand your iPhone to someone so they can check out an amazing picture you took, and before you know it they're scrolling like a maniac through the entirety of Photos.
Stop such rudeness with ShowStopper, an app that enables you to make locked galleries on the fly. You get up to four images at once, but can go unlimited for $0.99/69p.
With iBooks on the iPhone, you might wonder why you should bother with Amazon's Kindle. After all, the app's not as pretty as iBooks, nor is there an integrated store (you buy in Safari and sync purchases to the app). However, Kindle offers a massive selection of books compared to Apple's app and the reading experience is great.
Although iOS includes iCloud Keychain, 1Password is a better system. It's fully cross-platform and enables you to store multiple identities (such as a full one for payments and a simplified one for forums), secure notes and software licence details. As of iOS 8, 1Password integrates with Touch ID, meaning you can use it with Safari, although the app also retains its own built-in browser.
A great many Today view widgets seem quite gimmicky, but Vidgets provides a great mix of monitoring and utility.
The standalone app enables you to add and organise the likes of world clocks, network indicators, and widgets outlining remaining space on your device. These are then immediately available in Notification Center.
On using the eBay app, there's a good chance you won't go near the eBay website again. The app is fast, has great saved searches (which flag new finds), and enables you to create listings. The last of those things is also improved by the built-in bar-code scanning.
We're always waiting for the other shoe to drop with Duolingo, but it seems this organisation really does want you to learn new languages entirely for free.
And it's a fantastic app — fun, friendly, and packed with bite-sized quizzes that hold your interest and never become onerous. It's perfect for anyone who wants to dabble in a bit of Spanish, French, German, Portugese, Italian, Irish, Dutch, Danish, Swedish or even English!
Shazam is an app that feels like magic when you first use it. It's deceptively simple—hold your iPhone near to a music source, and wait while the app listens and tells you what track is playing. But the sheer technology behind this simplicity is mind-boggling, and while Shazam doesn't always guess right, it's worth a download.
The revamped iOS 8 keyboard is far better than its predecessor, not least because of the predictive word bar, but SwiftKey takes things a step further. Rather than laboriously tapping out individual keys, you just glide your finger across them. This can make for some comical typos initially, but SwiftKey soon speeds up iPhone text entry.
For the most part, Yousician Guitar feels quite a lot like Guitar Hero, only you use a real guitar and the app is cunningly teaching you how to play it.
Things start with the absolute basics, but before you know it, you're strumming and picking with the best of them. The app's free, although with limited daily play time. Subscriptions enable you to learn more rapidly.
Find my iPhone
For the paranoid souls out there (or the unlucky ones who've had their devices pilfered), Find My iPhone is a must-have download. Assuming you've a 2010 or later iOS device, you can set up a free account and locate your devices within seconds. (Note that older devices can also be added to Find My iPhone - you just need a recent one to get things going.)
Google Translate is a bit like an insanely portable and entirely free gaggle of translation staff. When online, you can translate written or photographed text between dozens of languages, or speak into your device and listen to translations. And for English to French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish (and back), the app will attempt to live-translate (even when offline) any text in front of the camera.
The idea behind TunnelBear is to keep browsing private and to get around censored and geo-locked websites. The interface is insanely simple — you just tap the country you want to browse from and wait a bit.
Connections are generally robust but easy to restart if they drop. For free, you get 500 MB per month. Spam your Twitter feed and you'll get an extra GB.
There are a wealth of running apps available, but RockMyRun is a good'un. This free app monitors your pace - or if you have a wrist or chest based heart rate monitor, your beats per minute - and offers up its specially curated playlists to give you the perfect music for your speed.
From serene sounds during your warm up, to high intensity bangers when at full speed, it adds another dimension to your run. The best bit is when you explode into a sprint and the music pounds in your ears.
Skyscanner's a great website, which enables you to punch in airports and find out the cheapest way of getting from A to B. The Skyscanner app is the same, but it's on your device and with a spiffy AI. Well worth a download, even if only to check flights for an upcoming holiday.
Hours Time Tracking
Time trackers tend to fall into disuse when they're not simple to get working, and not immediately available. Fortunately, Hours Time Tracking has an interface that makes setting and starting timers simple. You can use the app itself, a Today view widget, or even your Apple Watch to get a timer going.
Adjustments, edits and exports can later be made from within the app itself. (Also, when sync service Hours Cloud appears, existing users will be grandfathered into a better ongoing deal for free usage than new users, do grab this one as soon as possible, then!)
BBC iPlayer is by far our favourite of the TV catch-up apps, largely because it tries to do what's right for the viewer, rather than the suits. You can watch live TV or check out shows that have been broadcast over the past 30 days. Archived shows can be downloaded to watch later, and there's also AirPlay support for firing footage at your Apple TV.
Brits might rightly grumble that the Netflix selection leaves a little to be desired, but it's still a very affordable way to get a ton of TV in front of your eyes. The app works much like you'd expect: browse, watch, realise it's three in the morning - again.
It would be a hard ask to expect the Flipboard experience on the iPhone and iPod touch to match that of the iPad version, but it nonetheless has a good go, transforming your favourite feeds and news sources into a tiny, beautiful digital magazine.
It's interesting to watch the evolution of an app. Starting out on iPad, Paper was something of a design industry darling, offering a beautiful and stylish if ultimately slightly limited digital notebook of sorts. Then it went free, the developer positioning Paper as the perfect app to use with its Pencil stylus.
But the latest update not only brings the app to iPhone it also radically reimagines and expands it. Alongside existing sketch tools, you now get notes and the means to add photos, transforming Paper from nice-to-have to essential.
These days, the bigger problem isn't deciding what you want to watch on the telly, but where you want to watch it. And where has a couple of meanings: the device you're going to peer at and the service you use. With telly becoming so decentralised, JustWatch aims to bring coherence to browsing content offered by a range of providers.
Search for a show or movie and the app tells you where you can buy, rent or stream it; click New, Popular or Price Drops and you can, respectively, find newly added content, see what everyone else is watching, and discover bargains that might only stick around for a day or two.
The thinking behind Slack is to free teams from the drudgery of email. It's essentially a real-time messaging system, where people have group conversations based around user-defined hashtags, or send private messages to one-another. Support for inline images, videos and Twitter-like summaries boost pasted content, and the app integrates with cloud storage from the likes of Dropbox and Google Drive.
It's worth noting that while Slack is clearly aimed at businesses, it works perfectly well as a means of communication for groups of friends who aren't thrilled about storing their personal insights and details on Facebook.
Back in 2009, Jorge Colombo did some deft iPhone finger painting using Brushes, and the result became a New Yorker cover. It was a turning point for iOS and suitably handy ammunition for tech bores who'd been drearily banging on about the fact an iPhone could never be used for proper work. The app sadly stagnated, but was made open source and returned as Brushes Redux.
Now free, it's still a first-rate art app, with a simple layers system, straightforward controls, and a magnificent brush editor that starts you off with a random creation and enables you to mess about with all manner of properties, from density to jitter.
Making decisions is hard. With Flotsm, absolve yourself from all the pesky responsibility by unleashing questions online (anonymously) and having people vote for their favourite options. Should you not be thrilled with a particular response, you can cunningly nudge it in a different direction, filtering votes by gender, age and location. Alternatively, if you're more a bossy than indecisive type, trawl lists and spend your time voting.
Should you get a bit too much into Flotsom, you can follow search terms, although be advised the Apple keyword will return everything from queries about what iPhone someone should buy to concerns about the proper ingredients for a fruity pie.
This Star Wars app is clearly a cunning slice of digital marketing injected into your iPhone, but we don't care, because it's fun. The main interface has three skins - droid, light side, and dark side - and provides you with access to all kinds of Star Wars goodies.
There's a sound-board, selfie generator, and augmented reality Force Trainer where you waggle your iPhone about like a lightsaber, attempting to deflect bolts from a floating training remote. There are practical bits, too, such as ticket-booking (obviously) and checking out the local weather - the app helpfully noting which Star Wars location it most closely maps to.