Essential Apps For Your New iPad or iPhone

By Tom Pritchard on at

Apple's popularity is never likely to fade, and there's rarely a time when you won't think about buying one of their products. But say you have just got yourself a shiny new iGizmo, where should you start? We here at Giz are here to help, with our list of essential apps that everybody should have. We'll be updating the list with the cream of the crop at the end of each month, so bookmark it and check back then.

iPhone Apps


Viber: Phone networks aren't always forthcoming with the number of minutes you can have on your contract, and if you go over your allowance your bank account is going to take a serious hit (believe me I know). Viber works exactly like an ordinary phone call but sends the call over the internet instead, leaving your regular minutes allowance untouched. So if you're connected to Wi-Fi, or out of minutes, Viber is there to help out. [Free]


WhatsApp Messenger: WhatsApp is very similar to Viber, but instead of doing phone calls it's a messaging service that aims to replace your texts. The principle is all the same though; rather than using your allocated texts allowance, you can instead use Wi-Fi or a smidgen of data -- fantastic if you have an unlimited data plan. [Free]


Any Video: MMS has been around for a long time, but it's been rather restricted to images. Any Video is trying to change that, and through the app you can record and send video via whichever messaging app you choose. Whether it be WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or even a good old fashioned text message. [Free]


Google Maps: This one speaks for itself. Google Maps is vital if you don't know where you're going. The app has all the basic functions of Google Maps from a browser, with the addition of GPS navigation. Works great in the car, or on foot. [Free]


Around Me: This one is handy if you're ever in a new area that you don't know too well. Around Me is designed to give you a list of businesses and amenities that are in your general vicinity. Things like cash machines, hotels, coffee bars, and so on. [Free]


Facebook: The world's biggest social network, available in the palm of your hand. Upload photos, message friends, and keep up to date with your timeline. There's not much more I can add, it's just Facebook on-the-go, and I'm pretty sure you already know what Facebook is, right? [Free]


Twitter: A friend of mine once said, "there's no point to Twitter unless you have internet on your mobile." It's sort of true when you think about it; micro-blogging is the kind of thing you update as and when you have a thought, making Twitter a staple part of your mobile life. [Free]


Google+: Google has pretty much made it mandatory for you to have a Google+ account. You need it to leave reviews on Google Play, or to comment on YouTube. Might as well download the app so you can manage your account on-the-go. [Free]


Instagram: The world's favourite app for taking photos of your food, Instagram is a social network devised around your photos. Think Twitter but where photos are an integral part of every post. You can even apply filters to give your photos that faux historical look if that's your thing. [Free]


Spotify: Spotify doesn't need much of an introduction. Access its extensive catalogue of online music, and make it available to play offline to save on that precious data allowance. You can even include your own music into the player just in case your favourite artist isn't available. A new radio-like shuffle feature will make offline playlists available for free with ads too. [Free -- with optional subscription]


Amazon Cloud Player: A music streaming service from Amazon, Cloud Player is designed to give you access to your Amazon music library from anywhere. You can download your collection, and add any music you already have on your phone. But best of all it doesn't need a constant data connection -- offline mode will let you have access to your collection regardless. [Free]


eBay: Everybody's favourite auction site, right there on your phone. Search, bid, buy -- everything. Especially useful for managing those bidding wars on the move. [Free]


PayPal: If you're going to buy on eBay then you'll need a PayPal account. It may not be an obvious choice to stick on your phone, but it's still useful. You can send payments securely and safely and withdraw any unspent funds. Pretty much everything you could do on PayPal, but in the palm of your hand. [Free]


The Trainline: The Trainline isn't just for buying tickets, although that is one of the main selling points. The Trainline has a database of pretty much every single train running in this country too; otherwise it would be useless, right? You can use this to your advantage -- you can look up trains, see when they'll leave, and more importantly how long they'll take. Whether it's for your own journey, or if you're giving a lift to a friend, it's pretty handy to have. [Free]


Amazon: One of the world's best known internet retailers, Amazon should be a staple part of your mobile life. It's everything you can do on the full version of Amazon, but with the added bonus that you can use it on-the-go to compare prices. [Free]


Shazam: You might be sitting in the car, or wandering through a shop when you hear a song you like. But you don't know who it's by, or even what it's called! Shazam will listen to a sound-byte of the song and compare it to a central database - letting you know everything you need to know about the song: Title, Artist, Album and where to buy it from. [Free]


Soundhound: Functioning in much the same way as Shazam, Soundhound has an extra cool little feature. Had a tune stuck in your head all day but don't quite know where it's from? In addition to figuring out the song from a clip, you can also sing, or hum the song and Soundhound will tell you what's been bugging you all day. [Free]


Find My iPhone: An important tool in case you ever misplace your phone, or if it's stolen. All it requires is that you have the app on another iOS device or a Mac. From there you'll be able to activate the phone's ringer, or in a worst case scenario lock your device and erase all the data. [Free]


QR Code Reader and Scanner: Nice and simple, this app will scan and decipher those pesky QR codes for your understanding. You can also use the app to create your own QR codes for whatever reason you may need them. [Free]


CamScanner HD:  Sometimes you might need to scan something but you’re not in a position to use one — it’s unlikely sure, but it does happen. CamScanner is a life saver in such a situation. Using your phone’s camera, you can use the app to quickly load a document onto your phone. Direct from the app you can then turn scanned documents into PDFs, email them and, if you're a premium user, you have access to an OCR function that will transform them into a text document. [Free]


Opera Mini Web Browser: Opera was the first alternative browser to be released on iOS way back in 2009. It's a great app to have if you're not too fond of the native Safari app -- it's simple to use and the home screen even includes the option to bookmark your favourite websites for quick access. [Free]


Chrome: Another browser, this one is pretty much a miniature version of the Chrome you may be used to using on your computer. While this may seem strange, it comes with its advantages. You can sign in and sync all your bookmarks, settings, and even the tabs you have open. Chrome is definitely one to have if you like an easy transition. [Free]


Gmail: Exactly what it sounds like - Gmail is the app for Google's ever-popular email service. Everything you'd need is right there in the palm of your hand for easy email access on-the-go. [Free]


Inbox Cube: If you’re like most people, you’ll have set up the email on your phone so you can get them as-and-when they arrive. Chances are you might have multiple accounts for different things as well. Inbox Cube is designed to stick all your emails together in one convenient place, so no fiddling around with multiple apps anymore! [Free]


Evernote: A note taking app designed to let you share your thoughts and musings across all of your devices. You can make to-do lists, record voice notes, and share via Facebook and Twitter. Evernote is free, but there is a subscription that will give you access to premium features such as offline note access, or an added layer of password protection. [Free -- with in-app purchases]


Radioplayer: This app gives you access to a whole host of online streams from radio stations around the country. It doesn't matter where you are you, with it you can listen to your favourite station without any fuss (provided it has an online stream of course). Better yet though, Radioplayer includes a link to iPlayer, so you can catchup on BBC radio from the last few days. [Free]


Mobile Mouse: A handy little tool for those of you who use your computer for a variety of entertainment purposes. Mobile Mouse will turn your phone into a mouse and remote control for your computer. Watching Netflix from the sofa without having to get up just got a whole lot easier. [£1.49]


Catchr: You never can be too careful with your phone nowadays, especially with all the sensitive information we trust them to hold. But how can you be sure some nefarious individual isn't using your phone when you're not looking? Catchr will log when it's been used, what apps have been accessed, and it will even map where the phone has been. Perfect for all you people with chronic paranoia. [£1.49]


Launch Centre Pro: This is pretty much speed dial for your device's apps and functions. Got anything you use on a regular basis but you have to scroll through a bundle of menus to get to? Set it to Launch Centre and you get to save yourself a wee bit of time in getting there. Now with iPad compatibility, this new update brings this app away from being solely for the iPhone. [£2.99]


Cloak: Stylising itself as Incognito Mode for real life, Cloak is a fantastic anti-social-network for those of you who don't want to be disturbed in public. Cloak scours the realms of Instagram and Foursquare to keep track of people in your life who you'd rather not run into: whether it's a disgruntled ex, the dodgy bloke in the pub that you owe money to, or people you just plain don't like. [Free]


Firechat: Here's an interesting one, a messaging app that is "off the grid" -- i.e. it works when there's no data or phone coverage available. Before you get all excited this isn't the kind of app that will let you converse with your mates in Australia, this is restricted to the local area. But if you're in an area with sketchy signal, like a festival or a sports stadium, then it's a rather useful (and easy) way to stay in touch with your friends. Of course you can always start conversations with randomers, whatever floats your boat. [Free]


DocuSign Mobile: Gone are the days when paperwork had to be filled in by hand, we have computers for that now. Sadly, paperwork has not caught up and often still requires a signature -- causing you to print it out, sign it, and scan it back in. DocuSign lets you do that on your phone and saving you that hassle, regardless of the format or source. The new version has rebranded the app (formerly DocuSign Ink), but is still a fantastic tool to have -- especially if you have to sign forms far too often. [Free -- with optional subscription]


This App Gives You Easy Access to Your Best Reaction GIFs AnytimeGIFwrapped: In the modern world, simple text-based emoticons just don't cut it. You want to convey an emotion or expression that's far more specific than anything a colon/punctuation combo can offer. GIFwrapped is a way for you to collect the best reaction gifs on your phone ready to be sent via iMessage, or posted online. [Free]


Breeze: Finally, a RunKeeper For Those Who'd Rather Walk

Breeze: Most fitness-logging apps are focussed on exercise regimes and monitoring in the short term. Breeze will monitor you all the time, automatically, making it simple for you to keep track of how active you really are. It's designed to not drain your battery life, as well as making improving your fitness far more interesting. [Free]


Mingleton: Mingleton is an app designed around breaking the ice and getting touch with people nearby. Designed to let someone anonymously know that you're willing to mingle, you can find out if they're willing to mingle as well. Once you're interacting you can find out which mutual friends you have, what interests you share, and so on. A great way to meet new people, especially if you're at a party and don't know anybody. [Free]


PQ Chat: Privacy is one of the things we're desperately trying to grab hold of in the post-Snowden world. PQChat is a secure instant messaging app that promises to prevent anybody snooping on your conversations. Built with privacy in mind from the ground up, it gives you total confidence that your conversations are staying between you and the recipient. It is, however, your job to ensure the app itself is secure and people can't read through your past conversations when they nick your phone. [Free]


Our Favorite Android, iOS, and Windows Phone Apps of the Week

Notifyr: If you're at your desk you won't always have your phone on hand, and if you do you might miss the odd notification (hashtag first world problems). Well if you're a Mac user, that is a thing of the past. Notifyr links to your iPhone and shows your notifications on screen. Whether it's a text message, a phone call, or whatever, you'll know about it. You can't actually reply from the Mac, so if it requires your urgent reply you will need to dig your phone out. [£2.99]


Our Favorite Android, iOS, and Windows Phone Apps of the Week

Tapsule: Most social networks and image-sharing services focus on what you as an individual have shared, not so with Tapsule. The app works by letting users set up their own personal groups, and lets members of the group collect photos, videos, and messages as a single unit. A great idea that will let you and your friends easily share your collective memories together. [Free]


Our Favorite Android, iOS, and Windows Phone Apps of the Week

Stereo: Apple music players haven't had much in the way of design changes over the past 13 years (blimey, the iPod is 13 years old?), but Stereo is there to make it a bit more interesting. Designed to help you reminisce about the days flicking through your vinyl records, it's a great way to make your music player a bit more visually appealing without ruining the functionality. [£1.49]


Fotowics: This one is a real-time photo-sharing platform that's a little bit like Twitter, but with the main focus being on sharing photos (or "twics") rather than status updates. Functionally it's exactly the same, you upload, you hashtag, you reply, and you retwic. It's a little different from everything else out there, and if you're bored of the likes of Instagram, this isn't a bad alternative. [Free]


SKRWT: The folks who made SKRWT realised that there is one thing holding mobile photography back: crooked lines caused by the phone's wide angle lens. SKRWT is here to stop that from happening, and all it takes is a swipe of your finger. There's also some very basic image editing included (cropping etc) to ensure that the final product is the best it can be. [£1.49]


Wiper Messenger: Private communication is all the rage, but can you delete logs from the other person's device? With Wiper, that's more than possible. With free worldwide texting and calls, it's one of the more private ways to communicate with people across the world for zero cost. [Free]


Nando's: Ah Nando's and their chicken, it's almost as well known as KFC and its... erm, chicken. You may be aware that Nando's offers a takeaway service, and now that service is available on your iPhone. It's quicker, easier, uses PayPal, and means you can order while on the go. [Free]


Fitbay: Don't let the name fool you, this app doesn't have anything to do with physical fitness. Instead it's a way of shopping for clothes in your exact size. Once the app has your measurements and a description of your body type, it connects you with a network of people who not only share a similar physique, but also a similar taste in clothes. [Free]


Pipes: An app to help you keep track of the things that you love, Pipes will keep you up to date with news and updates on your selected topics. Best of all there's Twitter integration, so you can keep up with what real people are saying right there. [Free]


DSTRUX: I included an app like this in last week's Android apps; DSTRUX functions in a fairly similar way. Basically it ensures that you are in control over the files you send to people. If they share them, you'll know about it and can stop them from viewing it. Screen capture is disabled, and you can completely destroy the file anytime you like. [Free]


Roamer: Using your phone abroad isn't as easy as it is at home, and your network doesn't always make it easy to find out what charges will be accrued by calling and texting in another country. Fortunately Roamer is an easy, and low-cost, way to ring international mobiles and landlines without building up enormous charges. Just buy some in-app credit and you're good to go. Our benevolent editor Kat actually used this in Morocco recently and found it incredibly easy to set up and use. If that's not a reason for you go try it, I don't know what is. [Free -- with in-app purchases]


Rantable: I'm a big fan of ranting, and sometimes Twitter just doesn't have enough space to rant effectively. Rantable is a new platform that allows you to rant away without having worry about sticking to 140 character increments. Best of all it can link to your Twitter account to reach out to all your Twitter followers and ensure your rant is heard by the masses. [Free]


GIF Keyboard: Sometimes word just don't cut it, and emoji are all-round lame. When you want something that shows exactly how you're feeling, you want a GIF. GIF Keyboard will let you send GIFs within iMessage for the recipient to see without having to click any unnecessary links. It's customisable as well, so you can pick and choose your favourite GIFs to share with friends. [Free]


SwiftKey Keyboard: iOS 8 has brought one big advantage to the world of iPhone: third- party keyboards. SwiftKey itself is one of the most popular options from Android, bringing its unique predictive texting over the the iPhone. SwiftKey adapts to the way you type by learning your typing style and offering you more-accurate auto-corrections and intelligent word prediction, which makes your typing faster and more efficient. [Free]


Contact Center: This one is designed to make contacting all your friends and family much easier. Essentially it puts all your contact apps in one central hub, including the phone, texting, email, Facetime, etc. It's also got group messaging, group email, and the ability to search and share GIFs. [Free]


Lucky Voice Karaoke: An app that gives you access to thousands of karaoke hits right there on your phone, from the best karaoke chain in town (in our opinion), any time and any place. You can use the pre-built playlists, or you can go ahead and make your own. No need for any bulky karaoke machines either, and it's not limited to your phone screen, thanks to Airplay integration. It's free to download, but if you want access to the songs you'll have to fork out £1.49 for 24 hours of access. [Free -- with in-app purchases]


Transit App: Public transport is a pain the arse. Despite there being apps to keep track of timetables and the like, they usually don't include everything. Transit app tries to include everything possible in cities across the world. London is currently our only signed-up city, with TfL services and, strangely, the Boris Bikes. It's not just for tracking either, you can also use it to compare travel routes to pick the one that's best for you. [Free]


Billguard: Mobile banking is incredible, you can actually keep track of your finances on-the-go instead of printing a statement or accessing a computer. Now wouldn't it be easier to have all of your accounts in one place instead of two or three different apps? That's what BillGuard is for. That and a bunch of other stuff including showing you your spending habits with graphs, searching the internet for money saving coupons, and helping you save. It's only just been made available here, so you should check it out. [Free]


Moments: An app designed to make video clips from your photos in an easy and simple way. So whether you want to make stop-motion clips, time lapses or flipbooks you can do it all. Afterwards you can add a soundtrack, throw in some text, maybe a few filters or frame. [Free]


DICE: This is one for finding gigs in and around London and getting tickets with minimal fuss. The folks behind the app handpick the gigs they offer, and while it might not seem that different from other ticket-booking apps the clincher is that they don't charge booking fees that hike up the price of your evening out. It also personalises the more you use it, and all your tickets are stored as QR codes in the app. [Free]

iPad Apps


Remote: Remote is an app that will turn your iPad into a remote control for an Apple TV box, will play iTunes Radio, and will control your iTunes account. Quite simply, it is a way of making your home more interconnected, turning your iPad into a conduit to control your personal media. [Free]


VLC for iOS: VLC is well known for being able to play videos of any file type on computers. The iOS version is no different. Simply transfer the video onto your device and you can watch it at your convenience, all without having to do any pesky file conversion. [Free]


MEGA: Kim Dotcom’s new data storage service, offering a remarkable 50GB of free space. Designed to be secure and easily accessible, it should have ample room to back up all the important data you store on your phone. But say 50GB isn’t enough? For £8 a month, you can upgrade to 500GB of storage, with 1000GB of bandwidth a month. Bargain. [Free -- with in-app purchases]


Dropbox: A cloud storage service, intended as a backup or to transfer your files between devices. Keep your files nice and safe on the off chance that you lose your tablet, or if you need that important work document off your computer. [Free]


Comics: Comics is an app devoted to, you guessed it, comics. With over 40,000 individual issues available for purchase from a variety of publishers, including Marvel and DC, Comics is the ideal way to easily purchase your favourite graphic stories. [Free -- with in-app purchases]


Skype for iPad: Everybody's favourite video messaging app, available on the iPad. There isn't really anything here that you wouldn't find in the desktop version. [Free]


YouTube: YouTube hardly needs an introduction, but it should be a staple addition to your tablet. Manage your subscriptions, watch a variety of videos. Standard stuff. [Free]


Netflix: The popular on demand service is a great addition to your tablet. No longer will you be tied to your computer, or your games console, in order to watch top notch TV and movies. Having it on your iPad is a great way to go on one of those television/movie binges. [Free -- with subscription]


LoveFilm Instant: Similar to Netflix, LoveFilm instant will give you access to the entire LoveFilm catalogue right there on your iPad, or you can stream to your Apple TV box. [Free -- with subscription]


BBC iPlayer: With the last two weeks of BBC television available at the tap of your finger, iPlayer is one app that you should not be without. [Free]


4oD: Like iPlayer for Channel 4's output, 4oD allows you to catch up on the latest programming from the last few weeks. What is different however, is that 4oD contains a lot more than the last two weeks, with full series of some classic and much-loved Channel 4 programming available too. [Free]


 iTV Player:  ITV’s on demand service is available so that you can catch up with Coronation StreetThe X Factor and countless other programmes without being tied to your computer or television. [Free]


Demand 5: There isn't much more that can be said about on demand programmes; Demand 5 is Channel 5's offering, ensuring that you will never miss a thing -- and a nice way to complete the terrestrial TV set. [Free]


Sky Go: Sky Go is designed to let Sky customers watch the latest in Sky programming. Whether it be movies or TV, the app will let you stream or download them to watch at your leisure. [Free]


Sky Movies: One for Sky Movies customers, the Sky Movies app lets you keep a list of upcoming movies, set them to record on your Sky box, and even watch them there and then on your iPad. [Free]


Air Video: Maybe you like watching lots of videos, but you only have so much storage on your iPad. Air Video is there to let you stream your video collection -- regardless of file type -- from anywhere, saving your valuable storage space. But, say you don't want to stream? Air Video will convert the video into an iPad friendly format, so you can save and watch it at your leisure. [£1.99]


TV Catchup Live TV: TV Catchup lets you watch over 50 television channels live, from the comfort of your tablet. You can personalise your channel list, and even use voice commands to control what you're watching. [Free]


Garage Band: The Mac's famous music creation suite available on the iPad. Use a multitude of instruments and use the touch screen controls to record and edit some tunes. [Free]


Pages: A word processor specifically designed for the iPad, Pages will let you craft word documents and then save them to iCloud for easy access anywhere. With wireless printing, and multiple file type conversion, Pages is the ideal Word processor for you. [£6.99]


Kindle: Amazon's eBook store makes it easy and convenient for you to purchase, download, and read books all in one place. Fantastic if you don't have a Kindle and don't fancy finding space for brand new books. [Free]


iTunes U: The world's largest digital catalogue of free educational material, iTunes U gives you access to hundreds of lectures and courses from universities across the world. A handy tool to help you increase your knowledge of skills, with no effect on your wallet. [Free]


Microsoft Remote Desktop: I have often found myself in situations where I really need my computer but I just don’t have it with me, like if I’ve forgotten a file, or I need to do some work whilst out and about. With Microsoft Remote Desktop this will never be an issue ever again. You can connect to a PC remotely and access your files and resources from anywhere – provided you have a steady internet connection. [Free]


SwiftKey Note: A way to make your note taking that extra bit faster, SwiftKey is designed to learn from you and predict what you're going to say from just a few keystrokes. Better still, you can sync up the app to Evernote, so even if the worst happens you're not without a back up of your work. With this, theoretically, gone are the days of that terribly annoying autocorrect. [Free]


Calcube: Calendar apps are quite useful, but they are a bit of a pain to navigate. Calcube is designed to be much faster and intuitive, so that organising your time isn't such a headache. Plus, there's weather forecast integrated into the app itself and the design is a snazzy little cube. Really, what more could you want?  [£1.49]


Snupps: If you're like me you have lots of things, and stuff (things and stuff Cooorl!). Snupps is a great way to organise those things, and let you keep track of the masses of stuff that you own. While this may seem like a hoarder's wet dream, it does have practical applications. Whether you're moving home, taking business inventory, or you have a large collection of comics that you need to catalogue (guilty), it's an awesome way to keep track of everything you own. [Free]


Notability: A note-taking app that covers all the bases to make your note-taking as easy and natural as possible. Whether it's typing, writing, doodling, annotating, or audio. The new update includes new features for audio recording that includes tying it in with notes and annotations so they appear together in real-time, and different playback speeds so you can transcribe at a pace that's comfortable for you. [£1.99]


Inky Mail: A simple email app that helps to organise your inbox, minimalise clutter, and lets you find your important emails quickly and easily. The new update lets you download your old emails via Wi-Fi, edit your signature, and more space between the buttons so that typing is much easier. [Free]


Photoshop Mix: A version of Photoshop designed to complement being used on an iPad. The basic features include enhancements, image cutting, and mixing. Connect to your Creative Cloud account and you can unlock even more features like accessing individual layers from PSD files, and opening Lightroom files. [Free -- with option subscription]


Hanx Writer: Do you just wish you could use the far-superior writing implement that is the typewriter but without having to deal with things like slow typing and only having a single physical copy? You could buy one of those USB typewriter stands for your iPad, but you're still stuck with the problem of slow typing. Instead you should try out Hanx Writer, which gives you the illusion of using a typewriter, but with same speed and precision you get from typing on the iPad's screen. Though, admittedly, it would be much faster (and easier) if you just used a keyboard. [Free]


List updated 31st October