Must-Have iPhone Apps

Andrew Border
Osmos iPhone app

As of January 2017, there were 2.2 million apps available in the App Store. Having that many options for iOS devices can be intimidating and overwhelming for even the most experienced iPhone users. There can be hundreds or even thousands of apps that claim to serve a certain purpose, but there are usually at least a few that stand out among the rest.

Great iPhone Games

iPhone software and hardware updates every year. These updates allow game developers to harness new technologies to create amazing games and playable experiences.

CSR2 Racing

CSR2 Racing by NaturalMotion is the latest update to the smash-hit CSR Racing. CSR2 is one of the most popular apps in the App Store and boasts some of the most amazing graphics you will find in any iOS game. This game allows users to choose, upgrade, and customize a fleet of cars to race against AI opponents or online. Even if you're not a car buff, CSR2 has plenty to offer in the way of heart-pounding action in the palm of your hand. A special event tied in with The Fate of the Furious movie added unique championship cars in June 2017.

CSR2 Racing is free to download with in-app purchase options.

Kingdom Rush HD

Kingdom Rush HD by Ironhide S.A. is a modern update to the classic tower-defense genre. In Kingdom Rush, players build towers and deploy soldiers along paths to stop waves of enemies. A nice twist is the addition of heroes that can be deployed in each level. Heroes have skill trees to unlock with experience points earned by completing levels. Even you've never played a tower-defense game before, this title is a great place to start. IGN even gave Kingdom Rush HD a stellar score of 9/10. Once you complete this game, you can try out the other games in the series.

Kingdom Rush HD is free to download and offers in-app purchases for upgrades.

Pelé: Soccer Legend

Pelé: Soccer Legend by Cosi Productions is one of the best ways to get a soccer fix on the iPhone. Graphics are fun and colorful while gameplay is simple and engaging. Soccer Legend places players at different positions in the attacking third of a soccer field, forcing them to kick a soccer ball around defenders and into a goal with the flick of a finger. There are 150 levels to progress through, from the favelas of Brazil all the way to the premier grounds of England. The sheer amount of content this game offers for free definitely fuels its addictive nature. Along the way, you can earn new gear and uniforms for your player. Outside of the standard levels, you can also put your skills to the test against other players across the world, adding another dimension to the excitement.

Pelé: Soccer Legend is free to download, but you can purchase extra lives to play longer.

1010!

1010! by Gram Games is a great puzzler that will keep players busy for a long time. It came in at the #2 spot in Lifewire's top 10 puzzle games of 2017. In this Tetris-style game, players place block configurations in a 10x10 grid, trying to create horizontal or vertical lines. When a line is created, those blocks are erased from the board and points are earned. The complex puzzles that are built from such a simple idea are what make 1010! such an engaging puzzler. You'll strengthen your spatial reasoning and have fun all the while.

1010! is completely free to download and play.

Guns of Boom

Guns of Boom by GameInsight does a fantastic job of realizing the full first-person shooter (FPS) experience on a mobile device. There have been countless attempts to bring the heart-pounding excitement and tactical gameplay of FPS games to mobile, but Guns of Boom is the first game to hit the nail on the head. This game pits teams of four against each other in arena style maps and has a visual style reminiscent of Team Fortress 2. There are plenty of unlockable items like new weapons, gear, and special equipment. Players can also create and join clans with friends or other players to play competitively and rise through the worldwide ranking system.

Guns of Boom is free to download and allows players to purchase in-game currency that is used to unlock new weapons and gear.

Guns of Boom screenshot

Recommended iPhone Apps for Productivity

More and more iPhone owners are using their phones for work and staying productive while on the move. Check out these amazing productivity apps that are sure to keep you organized and doing more.

Evernote

Working in tandem with the main website, Evernote for iPhone allows users to save and create all of their notes, ideas, images and tasks in one place. Text notes and to-do lists are easily created and even color-coded. There is also support for voice notes and full search capabilities. A submission by Tyler Tufte to Chris Pirillo's blog cites five great reasons to use Evernote.

Basic functionality with Evernote is free with optional upgrades to the premium and plus versions.

Scannable

Scannable is a great app also made by the Evernote team. Scannable allows users to take pictures of physical documents and turn them into high quality PDF files. This app is a life saver for students and professionals alike who receive physical documents that need to be saved digitally when a scanner isn't handy. Once the photo is taken, you can crop the picture to include only the information you need. The most useful feature of Scannable is the ability to scan in multi-page documents into a single PDF file. Scannable also integrates into the full range of iPhone sharing abilities, making it easy to send PDFs wherever they need to go.

Scannable is completely free, making it great for students.

Todoist

Todoist by Doist is one of the best task-managing apps on the App Store. Todoist allows users to create multiple projects, add tasks to those projects, set deadlines for tasks, add notes to tasks, organize tasks into sub-folders, and break down large tasks into smaller steps. By creating a free account, users can sync lists across all their devices. Professionals from varying fields rely on Todoist to keep track of their short and long-term tasks. Another fun aspect of Todoist are the points that are awarded for every task completed. You can set daily point goals and make your busiest days feel like a fun game.

Todoist is free to use, but it offers a premium subscription that allows users more control and flexibility with their lists.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a free social media dashboard. It ties in with its browser-based companion and allows users to manage multiple accounts across networks like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn, and more. Status updates can be scheduled into the future, messages can be translated, and URLs can be shortened and tracked. List support and link tracking make this an excellent choice for power users. Hootsuite is used by major companies like MailChimp, Herschel, and Virgin.

The regular version of Hootsuite is free, whereas the pro level is offered on a subscription basis.

Microsoft Office Apps

If you already using the Microsoft Office apps on your iPhone, this may seem like an odd entry to this list. However, there are plenty of iPhone users who don't know that Word, PowerPoint, Excel and a few other Office apps are available on the App Store. These apps are free with the purchase of the desktop versions and can sync with your computer by signing in with an Office 365 account.

Useful Multimedia Apps for iPhone

iPhones are becoming a part of the creative workflow more and more. These apps are great for creating stellar content without tying yourself to a traditional computer.

iMovie

Watching videos on the iPhone is one thing, but the iMovie for iPhone app goes much further by empowering users with the ability to edit their videos on their iPhones, just as they would with iMovie on a Mac computer. There are eight unique themes, 12 trailer styles, several video effects, and the ability to publish the finalized videos to YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, or CNN iReport, all for free.

VSCO Camera

VSCO by Visual Supply Company is definitely a professional's photography app. Calling VSCO just a photography app sells it a little short. While it does have state-of-the-art photo editing technology and amazing filters, it is also has a community of users that share photos from around the world. If you are brand new to photography, getting a handle on the iPhone's built-in photo editing software is a good start before moving on to VSCO and its more advanced feature set.

VSCO is free to download and use, but gives users the option of paying $19.99 a year for a VSCO X membership that provides access to premium filters and editing tools.

Paper

Paper by Fifty-Three is an amazing sketching app that has consistently been on Apple's list of essential apps for the past three years. Paper gives users the ability to use multiple brushes, an infinite number of color pallettes, and a zoom tool to create high-definition detail in every drawing, no matter the size of the screen (and using only your finger). It even won Apple's App of the Year award. Check out the video on Fifty-Three's website to see all the awesome features Paper has to offer. Paper also sells a pencil product that allows users a greater amount of detail and control.

The app is free to download and use.

GarageBand

GarageBand for iOS is far and away the best all-in-one music production app available for the iPhone. The amp-modeling software offers plenty of mixing options to satisfy even the most experienced engineers. If you record a session in GarageBand for iOS, that session will sync with GarageBand for macOS via iCloud and it can be opened on your Mac in GarageBand or even Logic Pro X. Pair this app with stellar audio interfaces by Apogee Electronics like the JAM guitar interface for iPhone or the ONE 2x2 interface for iPhone, and you have a mobile recording rig that will blow everyone away.

GarageBand is a free download via the App Store.

Best Kid-Friendly iPhone Apps

These apps are great for kids, but some of these games and apps may not be appropriate for all ages. Check the age recommendation and always test a game or app before letting your children play to make sure it is right for them.

Lego Star Wars

The Lego Star Wars video game series is incredibly popular on the iPhone. These games can be purchased individually for $1 or $2 each, or they can be purchased as a bundle for $6.99. These games have plenty of content and action to keep kids entertained and engaged for hours. They are essentially translated versions of the console games, made to fit iPhone screens. If your kids enjoy these games, there are plenty other offerings from Lego in the App Store. The Lego games are recommended for children ages 9 and up.

Hidden Pictures

Hidden Pictures by Highlights Magazine is the classic "find-it" or "hidden objects" game. Kiddos are shown a picture and are given a list of objects to find. Some are easy and others are more difficult. This is a nice, engaging way for kids to spend time interacting with technology while still engaging in a meaningful way. Hidden Pictures comes with 45 free puzzles and then it requires a $2.99 monthly subscription for unlimited puzzles after that. Hidden Pictures is great for kids between 5 and 8 years old.

YouTube Kids

YouTube Kids is a great app for kids and parents. YouTube Kids allows parents to set search and content restrictions so everything their child sees is age-appropriate. This allows kids to explore and discover interesting videos in a safe environment. There are even options for parents to set a timer so the app lets kids know when it's time to stop watching. All of these amazing and easy-to-use controls are behind a locked settings menu that only parents can access. Best of all, the app is free to download and use. Children should be at least 4 years old to use YouTube Kids.

Job-Based Games

Whether it's being a dentist or a world-class chef, job-based games help kids find new and fun careers that ignite imagination and spark passions. There are plenty of games that sharpen motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and critical thinking. A couple of the top games on the App Store are Dentist Office Kids and Food Maker Kids. These games keep kids busy and thinking while they are playing and having fun. If neither of these games interest your child, there are plenty more games like these set in different workplaces like salons, retail stores, or rescue jobs. Age recommendations vary depending on the game.

Epic Books

E-books are great for adults, and Epic Books is here to bring the wonderful world of e-reading to kids. The Epic! mobile app is free to download, but a subscription is required to access the thousands of books available on the app. For $7.99 a month, parents can purchase the "Epic for Home" package that provides access to the Epic library of over 25,000 books. Each account can support up to four users if there are multiple kids using the app on the same device. The Epic library has awesome books from publishers like Scholastic, National Geographic, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Sesame Street, Smithsonian and many more. These books are written with children ages 6 through 8 in mind.

Download and Explore

The library of apps for the iPhone grows every day. While this list of top-rated and recommended apps is a great place to start, all users are encouraged to explore the App Store on their own to discover their own favorite apps.

Must-Have iPhone Apps