There are now well over 250,000 apps available for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and, surprisingly, many of the best are free.
The following list showcases our pick of the 50 best free iPhone apps, and includes iPhone applications for social networking, travel, news, photography, productivity and more.
If your top free iPhone apps aren't covered, tell us all about them in the comments.
You can also take a look through the top 10 with our nifty video.
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Once an ugly duckling, but now - as of version 3 - a social-network-aware swan, Facebook is a triumph. The revised grid-based 'home screens' provide speedy access to regularly visited sections (news feed, notifications, and so on) and pages, and the experience is such that it in many ways beats the browser version.
Pretty much from nowhere, Gorillacam arrived in December 2009 from the creators of the Gorillapod tripods. It mashes together a slew of features to hugely improve an iPhone's camera (timer, multi-shot, spirit-level, on-screen grid, 'press anywhere' capture), meaning you can bin a half-dozen standalone apps that offer similar things.
The prospect of Nike+ but better and for free might sound unlikely, but that's what RunKeeper provides. Previously split into 'pro' and 'free' versions, the developer now generously includes all the features in one free app.
That means you can spend no money, yet use your iPhone's GPS capabilities to track your jogging and cycling routes, and examine mapping and details of your pace and calories burned. Activities can be shared online, and treadmill runs and other exercise details can be entered manually.
Kindle's grabbed many 'electronic book' headlines, but an iPhone or iPod touch is a perfectly competent alternative - at least if you have the right app to hand. Stanza enables you to download books from various sources (many of which offer free titles), and you can transfer your own ePub, PDF or eReader titles from the free Stanza Desktop.
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.
For anyone commuting by train, thetrainline is the free app to beat all others. Journey planning, offline results, timetables and a location-aware 'next train home' option are available via a clean, streamlined interface. The app's not quite as good as National Rail Enquiries, but it is very similar - and five quid cheaper.
It's imperfect and annoyingly lacks push notifications, but Skype is still an essential download. The interface is pleasingly 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.
Although some aspects of cinema listings app Movies are disappointingly US-centric (notably regarding details on upcoming movies and DVDs), it succeeds where it matters. Select a film and the app figures out where you're located, lists nearby cinemas, and displays times your chosen film is showing. Efficiency can be further increased by pinning favourite cinemas to the top of the list.
Virtual pianos and guitars are all very well, but purely digital musical toys are more suited to Apple handhelds. TonePad is the best of them, using a grid-based interface that enables you to turn notes on and off and compose pleasing and harmonious loops; your creations can be edited, saved and uploaded to share with other users.
10. Thomson Reuters News Pro
There are many free news apps, but Reuters News Pro offers a breadth of coverage that makes it a winner. Preferences enable you to tailor the app's output to the UK, and the toolbar provides swift access to news, pictures, videos and stock markets coverage.
11. Twitter (formerly Tweetie)
Tweetie was the iPhone Twitter client that other iPhone Twitter clients wanted to be. Its combination of polished interface, plentiful options and multi-account support meant everyone loved it - apart from cheapskates, because Tweetie wasn't free. Now, however, it is, because Twitter bought it, rebranded it as Twitter, and set fire to the price tag.
In all honesty, Comics is a little awkward compared to using it on an iPad, but you won't find a better comics experience on an iPhone. The app is free, as are dozens of downloadable comics - and once you run out of those, many more are available to buy. Reading works on a frame-by-frame automated 'zoom' basis, and is surprisingly usable.
The Wikipedia website works fine on iPhones, but a dedicated app is a better bet. Wikipanion is a freebie which gives you quick access to article sections, in-article search, viewing options, bookmarking, and the ability to tweet about whatever odd fact you've just unearthed. Also, wonderfully, there are no ads.
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.
Now iBooks has arrived 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.
16. Around Me
Around Me figures out where you are and lists local stuff - banks, bars, petrol stations and, er, Apple Retail Stores. The app's reliance on Google Maps info means there are gaps, but it's nonetheless handy to have installed when in unfamiliar surroundings, and the 'augmented reality' landscape mode is amusing, if flaky.
17. Dictionary.com - Dictionary & Thesaurus
A million definitions and 90,000 synonyms are available in the palm of your hand with this free, offline dictionary and thesaurus. The app is fast and efficient, includes phonetic and audio pronunciation of words, and its interface seems perfectly suited to the iPhone.
18. Air Video Free
Air Video Free can stream (and convert as necessary) video from any computer running the free Air Video Server. You only get access to a small number of items per folder or playlist, but some careful planning can get around that limitation.
19. Adobe Photoshop Express
If you're looking for Photoshop-style power, Photoshop Express won't impress. However, if you're after a quick, free, highly usable tool for making edits to your iPhone photos, Adobe's app is ideal. Use it for cropping, straightening, exposure adjustments, colour effects, sharpening and more.
20. iHandy Level Free
One of the tools from the excellent iHandy Carpenter toolkit app, iHandy Level Free turns your iPhone into a spirit level. By default, it'll show just how wonky your device's accelerometer is, but tap the calibrate button and you get an accurate and great-looking level.
Check out TechRadar's top 10 ebook reader apps for iPhone
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21. Read It Later Free
Read It Later is an astonishingly handy service that enables you to save pages from the web, to read them later, typically bereft of advertising and other junk. The service is free, as is this app, which downloads stored articles for you to read offline.
22. PCalc Lite
"But I've already got a calculator on my device," you might argue. True, but now you can stash default Apple apps in a folder, it's easier to justify replacing them with something better - and PCalc Lite is without doubt the finest free calculator for iOS, with a great interface and plenty of options. You can also bolt-on features from the paid version via in-app purchases.
Having made a big splash on the iPad, iBooks has now arrived for Apple's smaller devices. Effectively iTunes for books, the app combines a reader and store, in Apple's typically usable and integrated fashion. Usefully, iBooks includes PDF support and bookmarks automatically sync across devices.
24. Red Laser
Now free, due to being snapped up by eBay, the Red Laser bar-code scanner is pretty accurate, even if you're still saddled with an iPhone 3G. It's great for checking prices while shopping, and also enables you to get your media collections into Delicious Library if you make use of AppleScript.
25. eBay Mobile
And the reason for eBay buying Red Laser? So it could roll the technology into its eBay app, making it even easier for you to sell your unwanted tat. Naturally, the app also enables you to search the world's biggest car boot, in order to buy future unwanted tat.
25 more best free iPhone apps
26. Tube Map
At its most basic, Tube Map is a London Tube map on your device, for free. In landscape, even the ads get out of your way, which is rather nice. And if you've a web connection, the app also provides live board info, a station finder and a route calculator.
27. Google Earth
"Hold the world in the palm of your hand," says Google about Google Earth, which enables you to fly across the planet by swiping your finger. More integration with content and features from Maps would be good, but Google Earth's Wikipedia articles and a Panoramio layer at least ensure it's a great app for seeing the world from your living room.
28. XE Currency
XE Currency is a fine example of an app that does what it needs to, without fuss. You configure a list of currencies, and it shows current conversion rates. Double-tap a currency to set its base rate or to define values for custom conversions.
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 (and only allows five 'tags' per month for new users, unless you upgrade to the paid version), it's worth a download.
Another contender for the 'surely, that's witchcraft?' award, Bump enables you to select up to four contacts, then 'bump' your device into another iOS device running Bump to transfer details, or to compare contacts. And, yeah, we know there's an email-based 'share contact' option in Contacts, but where's the fun in that?
As you might expect, Yell.com enables you to find local stuff. Select from a bunch of built-in categories or type in your own term for a list of local amenities, and use the map to navigate. Avoid the clunky augmented reality view, though.
32. BBC News
BBC News has a mobile website that works very nicely in Safari. However, when using it you'll find video isn't accessible. The BBC News app has some slightly quirky navigation (and occasionally questionable stability), but provides quick access to breaking stories, complete with playable videos and zoomable text.
33. Find My iPhone
For the paranoid souls out there (or the unlucky ones who've had their devices pilfered), Find My iPhone has now been freed from the paid version of MobileMe. 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.)
34. Dragon Dictation
Fed up of typing on the tiny iPhone keyboard? Use Dragon Dictation instead, which happily converts your speech into text (with slightly spooky levels of accuracy for a freebie app). You can even punctuate ("Comma! Full-stop!"), and when you're done the app enables you to fire your thoughts at Facebook, Twitter, Mail or the iOS clipboard.
35. iHandy Torch Free
It's a torch! It's a cheesy neon light! It's a hypnotic spiral effect! With slightly annoying ads! (In reality, iHandy Torch Free is a mostly a handy app to have installed in case you get up for a midnight snack or toilet visit, don't turn on the light and want to avoid smashing your toe annoyingly hard into an unruly cupboard.)
36. TVGuide.co.uk TV Guide
TV Guide is an app that's come a long way. At one time, this was a disappointing UK TV listings app. Today, it boasts now-and-next and scrollable listings views, reminders, and calendar, Twitter and Facebook integration. Only avoid if you hate TV or don't live in the UK.
37. Zoopla Property Search
There are loads of property search apps on the App Store, but Zoopla is the best of them. Its listings are comprehensive and there's also local market data, including local sale prices and estimates on market value. The location button is a bit rubbish, but the app soon finds properties when you manually type a location.
If you're an instant messaging fiend, IM+ gives you access to GTalk, Yahoo, MSN/Live Messenger, AIM/iChat, ICQ, MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, and Jabber. With multitasking and push notifications in iOS 4, IM+ has been transformed from a curiosity into a must-have freebie app.
39. Atomic Web Browser Lite
The lite version of Atomic is missing quite a few features that are found in its paid-for version, including even basic multitasking support and content resumption on reopening the app. However, for times where you need a single-session browser that automatically dumps everything on exit, such as when buying gifts, this is a handy app to have installed.
40. Virtuoso Piano Free 3
Virtuoso Piano Free 3 won't turn you into a virtuoso, but it's a perfectly serviceable mini piano. You can amend the number of keys shown on screen, and buttons enable you to rapidly navigate the full keyboard. You get two built-in voices for playback, to which you can add variable levels of sustain.
41. TuneIn Radio
Don't bother buying a DAB radio - just install TuneIn Radio instead and plug your device into a set of speakers. TuneIn Radio has a great interface for accessing over 50,000 digital stations; it also has AirPlay support, and you can use it as an alarm clock.
42. 4oD Catch Up
Technically, more like '4oD Catch Up With A Specific Chunk of Channel 4's TV Shows Only' (no archives yet in the iPhone version); also 4oD Catch Up lacks subtitles and AirPlay support. But it's free, unlimited, and gives you a month to catch up with Channel 4's programming on your device.
43. Jamie's Recipes
More a gateway drug for the tasty treats of Jamie Oliver, this IAP-infused app nonetheless flings ten freebie recipes your way and a few videos. The interface in Jamie's Recipes is lickable, and there's a handy shopping-list feature, for those of you who don't fancy arriving back home after fighting the crowds in the supermarket, only to find you accidentally picked up 500 lemons and forgot the chicken.
Take a photo, smash a filter into it, and upload it. Instagram's service is now used by millions of people to share nuggets of visual loveliness, and the app itself is a pleasure to use, and also to browse during moments when you're not feeling quite so inspired.
45. Google Translate
Assuming you're online, Google Translate is a great app for translating text between 57 different languages; handily, 15 of the most popular also enable you to speak into your device and listen to translations. It's also considerably cheaper and more portable than 56 translation staff.
46. iMotion HD
We say a big PFFT! at CGI. Real animators use stop-motion, until they inevitably go crazy at only being able to craft about three seconds of footage per week. iMotion HD enables you to create such painstaking animations with your device.
The sting in the tail: a £1.49 IAP for export, but if you don't care about that, you can play your creations on your device to your heart's content. There's also the free iMotion Remote to use as a remote controller over Wi-Fi for iMotion HD, to avoid you accidentally moving your 'camera'.
TED is brain food. The app provides access to talks by insanely clever people, opening your mind to new and radical ideas. You can also save your favourite talks locally, for even easier access, or ask the app to inspire you, based on your mood and available time.
The remote for Apple TV is a bit of a joke when you need to do anything more than play or pause. Remote is a free app which provides much better control and the ability to stop yourself going mad when typing things into search fields. It'll also happily use Home Sharing to pull content from computers on your network to your device, or fire said content at your Apple TV using AirPlay.
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.
50. Apple Store
Apple fans with a lack of self-control should steer clear of the Apple Store app, which enables you to buy shiny Apple products directly from your device, and also to locate your nearest shrine of tech loveliness (aka Apple Store).