If you or someone you know has just joined the Apple community by purchasing an iPhone for the first time, one of the big questions will be, "What apps should I download?" With more than 2 million apps, that is a difficult question to answer. But if your question is, "What are the apps I need right now?" We can help you out with that.
Whether you are a social butterfly, a busy bee, or a music-loving songbird, there are a handful of the best iPhone apps that are the basic starters for every new iPhone user. Once you've established your foundation, you can dig deeper, but here are the apps you need on day one.
Twitter may not be quite as saturated as Facebook, but the microblogging site still manages to permeate our daily lives pretty well. If you have a Twitter account, you'll want this app. Some will tell you that there are better third-party Twitter clients out there, but if you want Siri to post tweets for you, you'll need the official app.
When it comes to social photography, Instagram is second to none, and definitely one of the best iPhone apps. When you follow your friends, celebrities, and trending topics, you'll be showered with pictures of food, feet, and duck faces. Meanwhile, you'll be able to grace the world with your perfectly poised selfies.
It's fun. It's free. Lots of your friends are already signed up. It's WhatsApp, and it's one of the most popular chat apps around, and another one of the best iPhone apps. You can send chats internationally, start group audio and video calls, plan get-togethers, and it's cross-platform so your non-iPhone friends can join in the games, too.
Skype lets you stay in contact with your friends from anywhere in the world. It allows you to message each other, do audio or video calls, and you can also use Skype to call any number with fairly low rates. Skype has been a popular way to keep in contact with your favorite people for a while, and it's also commonly used for podcasting.
If this is your first smartphone, you'll quickly realize just how many passwords you'll need for different apps and websites. 1Password stores those passwords for you, along with credit card information, profile data, and a whole lot more. The best part is, you will only have to remember the one password you use to log in. Even better, if your iPhone has Touch ID or Face ID, you can log in with your fingerprint or face scan. I've been using 1Password for years, so I can definitely vouch that it is one of the best iPhone apps, and probably the most essential.
Fantastical is our favorite calendar app that also integrates Reminders seamlessly into it. With Fantastical, you get a beautiful and sleek interface that makes scheduling a breeze with natural language input. You can easily switch between the month view to a weekly ticker view, and see your entire agenda at once. It works with your native iOS Calendar, so no additional setup is necessary. It's the best iPhone app for calendars, at least we think so.
Word, Excel, PowerPoint (plus maybe OneNote and Outlook). These are the basic staples of the average computer-using human. There is a pretty good chance that you use one or all of these programs in your office environment. With Microsoft's Office 365 subscription, you can access all of your essential files on your iPhone with this comprehensive app that includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint in one place. Plus, you can create, edit, and share documents on the go. It's a must-have for most of us.
If you're throwing out everything you knew about anything non-Apple, then iWork is your replacement productivity bundle. It's the company's answer to Microsoft Office. Pages, Numbers, and Keynote will get you the same results with a different interface. And, if your working companions are on Microsoft, it's no problem. You can export your documents to their counterparts. With iCloud, you can store all of your work in the cloud for easy access from any iOS device, or on the web, whether you use a Mac or PC.
If you want an email app that will help you become more efficient at going through your email inbox, try Spark from Readdle. With the Smart Inbox feature, it helps automatically group your email messages into Notifications, Newsletters, and People. You can also set up Smart Alerts so that you only get notified when an important email hits your inbox, instead of being notified for everything, including newsletters and spam. You can have multiple accounts, a universal inbox, and customize the actions when you swipe on a message. It's a very customizable and efficient email client, making it one of the best iPhone apps.
Now that you are a part of the Apple ecosystem, it is time to maximize your benefits. One of those choice bonuses is Apple Music. With it, you have access to Apple's wealth of tunes. You can listen to full albums in their entirety, create your own playlists with your favorite tracks, and listen to brand new music without having to buy it. You can also download everything for offline listening.
Spotify is similar to Apple Music, but basically just isn't Apple Music. If you are new to the Apple ecosystem, chances are you are a Spotify user. In that case, keep all of your history and playlists nearby with the official app. The benefit of having Spotify around is that you can still stream music without having to pay for it, you just have to listen in shuffle mode. It also has a variety of podcasts to listen to as well. If you aren't an Apple Music subscriber, then Spotify is the best iPhone app for music.
Pandora is like the grandfather of streaming music. It works a lot differently than Spotify or Apple Music. It's more like a radio station that you are in charge of. Pandora is great for hitting the play button and letting the music flow. It should be in every music lover's arsenal.
You can get your on-demand fix of thousands of TV shows and movies with Hulu. On the iPhone, you'll need a paid subscription. But, that means you can watch the latest and greatest of Hulu's catalog whenever you want. If you have a subscription to Hulu, you'll want it on your Home screen.
Similar to Hulu, Netflix lets you stream thousands of TV shows and movies right on your iPhone. But, you'll need a subscription to the streaming service. If you are already watching Netflix shows and movies on your computer or set-top box, you'll be happy to have the same great content delivered right to your mobile device. We watch so much on Netflix, it's definitely up there as one of the best iPhone apps.
The YouTube app almost belongs in the social networking section because it is much more than just a media streaming service. It is also a place where nobodies become famous, and everyone has a chance at their five minutes of fame. With YouTube on your iPhone, you can film your next mini-movie, edit it, and publish it without having to switch over to another screen. Or, you could just watch cat videos all day. YouTube is one of the quintessential best iPhone apps that everyone should have.
When it comes to keeping important files close by without taking up storage space on your iPhone, Dropbox is tops. You can store anything, movies, music, photos, PDFs, e-books, whatever, and even share it with others without having to give them access to your account. Thanks to cross-platform compatibility, everyone can use Dropbox, as long as they have access to the Internet. If you have a Dropbox account, get this app. You will need to pay for storage increases, however. I've been using Dropbox for years for pretty much everything, and it's one of the best iPhone apps on all of my devices.
Google Drive is another great cloud storage service, but it requires a Google account. If you are signed up with Google, you can save documents, videos, pictures, and more. You can also work in Google Docs within the cloud storage service and collaborate in real-time with others. A lot of companies use Google Drive because it is so easy to share information with employees. If you are already signed up with Google, you'll appreciate having Google Drive on your Home screen.
Microsoft's cloud storage service is not just for Office. You can store documents (non-Office ones, too), photos, music, videos, contacts, and more. You can easily share documents with others, and because OneDrive is cross-platform, you can access your account from any device. If you have a Microsoft 365 account, your features grow exponentially.
Apple's Maps app has grown into its own over the past few years and works incredibly well on the iPhone. But there are still a few missing features or tools that don't work in all areas. That's why you'll need Google Maps as a backup. Google Maps has just been around a lot longer, and so has a more polished feature set that works in more locations. Again, this is one of the best iPhone apps to have around for directions.
When it comes to beating traffic, nothing compares to Waze. It's part social, part magical. Using real-time data from drivers currently on the road, Waze can determine traffic conditions right where you are. If an accident just happened a few minutes ago, it'll be reported in Waze, and alternate routes will be determined to help get you through the traffic jam the best way possible.
Having a rideshare app on your phone is always going to come in handy, especially when traveling to a new city or if you can't get a ride from family or friends. Lyft offers cheaper rates than Uber (slightly, but it does make a difference), and they do offer quite often. I prefer using Lyft whenever possible, and there are different levels of rides to suit your needs. Lyft is one of the best iPhone apps to have around if you travel a lot.
If Lyft is not available, you can always go for the one that started it all — Uber. The rates may be a dollar or so more than Lyft, but there may be more drivers available. There are also different levels of Uber rides available, and Uber has a reward system that rewards you the more you use it. Plus, they have their own credit card with decent bonuses, and if you use Apple Card, you get 3% Daily Cash with Uber and UberEats.
Apple has its own Books app, which comes with your iPhone, though you can always download it again if you deleted it. With Books, you can browse through all of Apple's offerings from iTunes Books collection, and even import your own ebooks as well. The reading experience is pleasant, as you can customize the appearance to your liking and flick through pages quickly. The Books app also lets you set reading goals to help motivate you to read more too.
Just because you are not using a Kindle, doesn't mean you can't read your Kindle books. Amazon makes it possible for you to download and read your purchased Kindle books on your iPhone. You can even listen to your Amazon audiobooks. You have to buy books through Amazon, but once purchased, you can download them right onto your iPhone and read whenever you want. The versatility of the Kindle Reader app makes it one of the best iPhone apps.
Fitness and Health
You're going to need some way of counting those steps you take every day and logging them into Apple's Health app if you don't also own an Apple Watch. Fitbit's fitness app is great because you don't have to have any additional equipment for basic walk and run tracking. But, if you own any of the company's many wearable fitness trackers, you can store all of your data on your iPhone. If you don't already own an Apple Watch, or you are leaning more toward FitBit for your health and fitness needs, you'll enjoy the features that the Fitbit app has to offer.
Nike+ Run Club
If you are an avid runner, or even if you are just starting out, the Nike+ Run Club app is a personal trainer that will help you reach your goals. It tracks and stores your runs and coaches you along the way, no matter what your level. You can compete with other members of the Run Club to help motivate you to get moving. It connects to Apple Music for inspirational beats. You also can share your activities with friends so they can encourage your success.
Ever wish you could see all of your health and fitness data in a single app with a unique and easy-to-follow interface? That's what Gyroscope is, and it also has third-party app integrations for your computer as well, so you can really get a comprehensive overview of your daily activity, as well as how to improve your lifestyle to a more healthy one. You can see your steps, workouts, computer time, sleep, places you've been, and so much more.
Apple's Weather app has everything you need to check the forecast ahead, but Dark Sky has one fantastic feature that the native Weather app doesn't. It lets you know, within minutes, whether it is going to start raining or snowing. So, during the wet seasons, you can use it to plan your immediate outdoor activities. Hoping to go for a walk? Check Dark Sky to see how much time you have before the rain starts to fall again. Use the Weather app for your daily reports and Dark Sky for checking in on impending downpours. Dark Sky is one of the best iPhone apps because you get comprehensive, detailed weather reports.
If you want a weather app that is more fun, then CARROT Weather is worth a download, as it is one of the best iPhone apps. It has a beautiful and colorful interface that matches the current weather conditions, and CARROT is a fantastic AI that provides you with a daily dose of snark and sarcasm. If it's too much, you can customize the personality settings to tone it down a bit. CARROT Weather has a customizable widget and an Apple Watch app as well.
These days, no one really carries cash with them anymore. Peer-to-peer payment services have gained in popularity, because they're so much faster and easier to send and receive money from each other. Venmo is one of the most popular options available, and it connects to your bank account so you can send money instantly, and get money too. Just say, "Hey, mind Venmo-ing me that money?"
Another popular option, and one that I use more myself, is Square Cash. It's from the same company that does Square POS payments at many businesses, and it makes it super easy to send and receive money. Just connect it to your bank account, and you just input the amount you want to send or request someone pay you back. Square Cash also has its own physical card that you can request and use just like a regular debit card. A more recent addition is the ability to buy and sell stocks, and you can invest in Bitcoin directly from the app as well, making it one of the best iPhone apps to download.
Works with Maps
If you are looking for a place to eat, shop, drink, get gas, or practically anything that's open to the public, you can find out more detailed information from others who have patronized the business with Yelp integration in Apple Maps. It is the easiest way to learn from real people about a business you may want to visit soon.
After you've found a place to eat using Apple Maps, you can then make reservations, right from the app thanks to OpenTable integration. Find a restaurant you want to visit. If it takes reservations and is set up with OpenTable, you can find a date and time while still on the map. If there are no reservations available, you won't have to switch between apps to go back and search for something different. OpenTable also works with Siri now, so you can have the digital personal assistant do the work for you.
Find out what movies are playing in your area and share them with the crew. Fandango shows movies that are playing locally, plus, you can add a show time and pick a specific theater. If you and your friends are ready for a movie, just purchase your tickets directly in the app and head on over. It doesn't get easier than that.
These are the best iPhone apps we think every new iPhone owner should download right out of the box, but there are so many more great apps that are worth downloading once you've gone around the block once or twice. To our regular readers - let the noobs know what you think are other great apps they should look into. And if you just picked up a new iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro, don't miss out on protecting it with a great case!
Updated October 2020: Updated for iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. These are still the best iPhone apps that every first-time iPhone owner should download!
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