There are a wealth of great free applications for the iPhone, but with the App Store offering hundreds of thousands of apps, selecting the cream of the crop can be a daunting task. We’ve scoured the App Store, bringing you the best from all categories. Every application you’ll find here was carefully selected and tested. Free apps still require time on your part and we value your time. Our goal with this article was simple. Provide our readers with a comprehensive list of the best free iPhone apps, bar none and then update it on a consistent basis.
Google Maps – Free
With the release of iOS 6, Apple’s Maps app is now longer powered by Google. Thankfully, there is an entirely new Google Maps app and it is absolutely awesome. Not only does it offer reliable maps, but it also provides turn-by-turn driving directions. Using our handy guide, you can also get Siri to use Google Maps for directions.
Google local search is also built-in, making it easy to find POI’s and more. The included street view assists with helping you find your destination. All these features are wrapped in a new, clean interface that is a pleasure to use on your iPhone.
Instagram – Free
The social photo sharing app is easy and fun way to share photos with friends, family and social networks. A free account allows you add a wide array of some of the best photo filters and frames available in an app. The filtered effects transform your photos into beautiful pieces of art. Unlike some apps, Instragram doesn’t lure you in with a free app, only to charge you for filters. They are all 100% free.
Follow your family, friends, other members who take interesting photography or me @meinck. When you are finished with your masterpiece, just one tap allows you to share on Facebook and/or Twitter.
Spotify – Free
Back when it was a purely paid service, we crowned Spotify king as the best streaming music app for iPhone and iPad. Some of the services still require a membership, but Spotify now offers the ‘Radio’ feature for free. You can select one of the preset radio stations based on genre and Spotify will provide a steady stream of music.
If you add an artist, followed by a favorite track, you can create custom radio stations. Between the preset stations and custom radio stations, Spotify will fill your life with music and it’s completely free.
Songza – Free
A surprising find this year has been Songza. This brings a fresh new take to finding music. Instead of specific genres or custom radio stations, Songza brings you music based upon your mood or time of the day. On Sunday morning, you’ll find 60’s French Pop, perfect for enjoying coffee and crêpes. If you find a station you like, just add it to favorites.
Songza stands apart from a crowded field of music apps in their ability to deliver fantastic playlists, with little effort on your part. The service is free and so is the app.
Facebook – Free
There are over 1 billion Facebook users and chances are that you are one of them. The Facebook app for iPhone hasn’t always been among the best, but it’s seen some updates this year that have won over users. It still remains the absolute best Facebook experience on your iPhone and trumps Facebook apps on other platforms including Android.
Notifications will help you keep up to date on new comments to your posts and more. There is no easier way to interact with the social networking giant. If you are still accessing Facebook using Safari, you owe it to yourself to download Facebook for iPhone now.
Redbox – Free
Netflix gets all the press, but a good number of us like the convenience of picking up a DVD from the corner grocery of 7-11. The Redbox app allows you to search for movies near your location. Find a movie you like, there is no need to do 60mph in order to grab The Avengers before it goes out of stock.
The Redbox app allows you to search and reserve movies, right from your iPhone.
Action Movie FX – Free
Winner of Apple’s Best of 2012, Action Movie FX takes your videos and allows you to add stunning Hollwood effects that have to be seen to be believed. The effects are fabulous, but what’s more impressive is how easy it is to create them on your iPhone. This app guides you through the process and your movie will be created in a matter of minutes.
Create an explosive action scene starring your family and share on Facebook. You’ll be amazed and so will they.
YouTube – Free
Before iOS 6, YouTube was one of the stock apps. No worries, an updated YouTube app is available in the App Store. Watch your favorite viral videos, access your subscriptions, playlists and more.
There is no bigger library of videos on the Internet and this app allows you to access them all from your iPhone. Download it today and bring it back to stock status.
LearnVest – Free
Have you heard of Mint, the app that allows you to better manage your finances. LearnVest is a highly rated personal finance app that features a beautiful interface for setting budgets, tracking goals and watching your spending.
LearnVest also offers money-saving tips and how-to guides in the library of articles. All of this is free. This app works well with the LearnVest.com website, both of which are backed by bank-level security.
Foodspotting – Free
Plenty of apps will help you find great restaurants and eateries, but what about finding the perfect dish. Now before you get to the restaurant, you can preview photos of menu items along with feedback from other foodspotters.
Foodspotting puts a whole new spin of finding a great restaurant. Once you install the app, you too can contribute to the greater good of helping others enjoy fine food.
Starbucks – Free
The Passbook feature in iOS 6 hasn’t seen that many apps take advantage of the iOS 6 feature that provides you with easy access to payment features that are location based. Whether you enjoy a Grande Pike Place or Chai Tea Latte, the Starbucks app is a great example of the Passbook feature.
Set your favorite location and you’ll receive a notification pop-up when your iPhone near that location. Swipe the notification and you can pay for your coffee directly from your iPhone. Paying for coffee for your iPhone is easy and so very hipster. If you get stuck, follow our guide on how to set up Passbook in iOS 6.
Letterpress – Free
Twitter has been around for years and one of the early apps was Tweetie. It included some groundbreaking features like ‘pull to refresh’ that can now be seen on countless apps on many different platforms. Tweetie was bought by Twitter, but the developer went back out on his own and we’re happy he did. Loren Brichter makes a triumphant return to app development with the release of Letterpress.
This new word game pits you against friends (or willing Game Center opponents) to use tiles to create words. It’s addictive, beautiful and one of the best games of 2012.
Temple Run – Free
With almost 80,000 reviews and an average rating of 4.5 stars, Temple Run leads the way when it comes to fun, fast and free gaming action for your iPhone. This game really shines on the iPhone, because it is made for iPhone. The gameplay excels here because it relies on swiping and tilt controls, a method of gameplay that shines.
The action is fast and furious, taking place in a detailed 3D ancient temple. Avoid the bad guys and swipe your way through the ancient temple as you collect coins. Are you a modern day Indiana Jones? Download Temple Run and find out.
Fooducate – Free
What if you could make better food decisions when grocery shopping? That’s what Fooducate aims to accomplish, by allow you to scan foods and view their associated grades based . It will attempt to provide healthier alternatives.
So if you really want to guilt yourself into leaving that Double Movie Theater Buttered Explosion Popcorn on the shelf, this app will do just that. In all seriousness, Fooducate will help you make better decisions for a healthy lifestyle and do so for free.
C25K (Couch to 5K)- Free
This is short for ‘couch to 5K’. C25K is the inspiration you need to start running, with the goal of hitting the 5K mark within 8 weeks. This app is perfect for beginners, with audio alerts that guide you through a workout. Start by warming up and then cycle between walking and running. It’s all in the pursuit of building strength and stamina.
When you are ready to hit the gym, Couch To 5K lets you listen to your favorite tunes while being your own personal trainer. It’s easy to use, free and uses a proven 8 week program.
Waze – Free
A light, airy interface is a fresh take on GPS navigation apps on the iPhone. Waze uses 30 million users to provide up to the minute community-based traffic. Using Waze, you can save on gas, save time and avoid road hazards. It will also alert you of police traps.
With voice guided navigation and continuously updated maps, Waze offers a refreshing break from other maps apps. With over 10,000 reviews in the App Store and a 5-star rating, Waze will help you find your way.
Pocket – Free
Apple’s App Store Best of 2012, this app acts as a DVR for articles you find online, but not have time to read. When you ‘pocket’ an article, it saves it for reading later. What’s more, Pocket will sync your saved articles across all of your devices and computers.
In addition to being extremely useful, this app is beautiful from the icon design to the simple, minimalistic interface. Pocket can help you save articles, videos, recipes and more – perfect for frequent travelers.
Flipboard – Free
Sure you can scour news sites using Safari, but what fun is that? Flipboard compiles all of your favorite content sites to create a beautiful magazine experience on your iPhone.
Flipboard constantly updates its cover tiles, bringing the most important articles, photos from Instgram and even your personal feeds from Facebook and Twitter. With a unique flip interface, hey that’s where the name comes in, it provides for a picturesque way of viewing what’s most important to you.
Rockmelt – Free UPDATE: No longer available.
Rockmelt feels like a distant relative of Flipboard, the not always serious, funny relative. It also provides for a customized news experience, but makes it a tad bit easier to find more obscure content from the Internet. The menu allows you to switch from your content, often sourced from your Twitter follows, to main categories such as Tech News, News, the lighter LMAO and a variety of others.
The news you select is display in a very well executed visual format. As you view stories, you can press the ‘comment bubble’ to do more than just ‘like’ a post. Rockmelt lets you lol, want, wtf, aww, hmm, share or view reactions from other Rockmelt users.
Apps Gone Free – Free
What’s better than a great paid app? The same application at the price of free. That’s where Apps Gone Free comes into play. It tracks applications that are taking a temporary hiatus from being paid apps and dipping their toes into the free app pool.
These are often limited time offers, so this app provides an easy way to track them on their descent to free. While this list you’re reading offers the best free iPhone apps, we don’t take into account paid apps that go free.
Flashlight – Free
Having endured a number of outages this year, the latest being over 10 days due to Hurricane Sandy, Flashlight for iPhone is a must have app. In all fairness, there is very little difference between them. My personal favorite is free and has served me well through both Hurricane Irene and Sandy.
Get yourself this Flashlight app for free and never be caught in the dark.
Dropbox – Free
Do you use Dropbox? If not, it’s an excellent service that allows you to store photos, pictures, documents and files in the cloud. It’s free to sign up and they provide you with up to 2GB of storage space for free. You can earn added free storage by recommending the service and jumping through other social hoops as outlined by the company. If you automatically save your photos to Dropbox, they’ll add 3GB to your capacity automatically.
All in all, 2GB is plenty of space to get started. What’s great is that you can store anything on Dropbox and then access it directly from your iPhone. The new update also provides a timeline view of your photos. You can also share large files using a link to your Dropbox. Free storage in the cloud and a free app to access videos, photos and docs from your iPhone.
Any.Do To Do List – Free
The Any.Do to do list feature set rivals some of the expensive paid to do apps. An App Store Best of 2012 award winner, Any.Do syncs to the cloud, providing you with access to your lists on any device. It boasts a gorgeous user interface, which is important for any app most will utilize on a daily basis.
The new update also brings with it support for time and location based reminders. Need a reminder to pick up laundry detergent the next time you are at Target, Any.Do will remind you. Beautiful. Simple. Effective. Free.
Pinterest – Free
Are you part of the Pinterest phenomenon. What better way to share and organize all of the beautiful things you find on the web, right from the Pinterest for iPhone app.
Whether you are redecorating your home, planning a wedding or simply pinning things that appeal to your sense of style, Pinterest for iPhone allows you to pin on the go.
Google+ – Free
The burgeoning social networking service from the search engine giant might gain traction thanks to the excellent Google+ app. Whether you are joining a hangout, sharing photos or just keeping up to date on your feed, you’ll appreciate this free app. Google+ allows for video chat, chat and Nearby stream to see what’s happening around you.
Google+ does a great job of presenting information in a clean, uncluttered application where the focus is on the content. If this service takes off, they might owe part of its success on a fabulous iPhone app.
Path – Free
If we are grading social apps on the appeal of the app, Path delivers an awe-inspiring application that leaves others in the dust. Designed to be more of a personal social sharing experience, Path is a delight to use. You’ll need to convince your friends and family to join, but show them this app and they are sure to follow you to Path.
You can tie into your Facebook contacts and send out personalized invites, which if you prefer, can include an audio invite. To say that Path is beautiful is an understatement.
Twitter – Free
Next to Facebook, Twitter is the most ubiquitous social network. While our favorite Twitter for iPhone app is the paid Tweetbot app, it still doesn’t take away from the quality of the free app. What started as Tweetie, the application has undergone a major facelift of sorts, but still retains a high quality Twitter experience.
If you are just getting started with Twitter or considering joining, it’s hard not to recommend this app. I’d also recommend following this guy.
ESPN SportsCenter Feed – Free
ESPN has a number of iOS apps, many of which are not very good. Here they stuck the K.I.S.S. theory and it just works. Sign up using Facebook (or not) and you can customize a personal feed based upon your favorite sports teams and sports.
It’s hard not to love the simplicity and ability get fast access to sports news that matters most to you.
Team Stream – Free
Guess what this app does? If you guessed a stream of news for your favorite teams, you’d be right. It will also drop in major sports news where it sees fit. The great thing about Team Stream is how it finds and pulls relevant tweets based upon your favorites.
As a Dallas Cowboys fan, I appreciate seeing tweets from insiders like @calvinwatkins or @BryanBroaddus who writes for DallasCowboys.com.
Yelp – Free
When Apple booted YouTube from iOS, they should have replaced it with Yelp. The defacto standard for restaurant reviews is indispensable and a must-have on your iPhone. iOS 6 now offers Yelp integrated with Siri, so you should go one step further and download the free app.
When you ask Siri for restaurants, you can go straight from Siri into the Yelp app, where you’ll find a wealth of information about restaurants, bars, nightlife, coffee houses, shopping and so much more. Apple thought so much of Yelp that they integrated it into iOS and that’s enough for us to call it a must have free app for your iPhone.
FlightView Free – Real-Time Flight Tracker and Airport Delay Status – Free
Track flights from all airlines for free with FlightView. The app interface is uninspiring, but that shouldn’t dull your enthusiasm for this free flight tracker. It provides tracking information, detailed weather for departure and arrival, a map and you can enter your own notes.
The Airports tab allows for quick access to Airport Delays, Current Weather and Directions To Airport for airports nearby based on your location. You can also find a list of airport delays which you can also view as a map. This is a rather comprehensive flight tracking app and at a price that cannot be beat.
Find My iPhone – Free
This might be one of the most underrated free services that Apple offers. It’s not just for iPhone, you can use it with your Mac’s, iPod touch and iPad. Install the free Find My iPhone app and you can locate them in a snap.
The level of detail to how this provides you with information about the whereabouts is astounding. Download the free app and follow our tutorial on how to use find my iPhone.
Chrome – Free
Most reports claim it’s not as fast as Safari, but there are reasons why it should earn a place on your iPhone. If you use Chrome on the desktop, this app provides you with the option to sync all of your bookmarks. There is no discounting this seamless experience of accessing all of your favorites.
While Safari remains our favorite on iOS, Chrome is very good and some will make use of the Incognito option for complete privacy. Tabs and content viewed here won’t leave cookies or appear in your search history.
Key Ring Reward Cards – Free
Reward cards are free, help you save money and often result in some sort of incentive based upon points or usage. It’s surprising when stores don’t have some sort of loyalty card program. That means your keychain or wallet can start to get mighty heavy toting around all of your various memberships. Thankfully, you can manage your reward memberships with your iPhone. The Key Ring Rewards Cards app lets you create a free account where you can add all of your reward memberships. If you add a new iOS device, it makes it easy to sync all of your memberships with the mothership.
As you make the transition for key ring to Key Ring for iPhone, the included bar scanner will scan your existing cards and in most cases auto-recognize them as a particular retailer. If your feeling a little light on rewards programs, Key Ring Rewards provides you with the opportunity to join new programs based upon your location. Keep saving money and earning loyalty points, but do it with your iPhone.
@Timer – Free
Need to set a timer or fifteen. This is the app for you. @Timer excels in it’s simplicity, which is what you should demand from a timer app. You can select from the presets or create your own custom timers.
I’ve got one set for 4 minutes, the amount of time it takes to brew a fantastic cup of coffee. For those who spend time in the kitchen, you can fire multiple timers for different items you are cooking. @Timer also features a muted, yet colorful interface that is beautifully crafted.
Weather – Free
One of the nicer weather apps available for the iPhone, this one doesn’t skimp on the features. Weather will provide you with the temperature right on your home screen, so there’s no longer a need to open an app to check local temps.
When you do open Weather, it utilizes photography to help visualize weather conditions in your area. This app goes beyond good looks, offering up a detailed forecast for one or several locations. Despite a wealth of information, it doesn’t overwhelm the interface, which is not always an easy task when dealing with temperatures, wind direction, humidity, precipitation and the deep weather details available.
Camera Awesome – Free
Despite the advanced features, Camera Awesome is a great photo app for beginners and experts. Beginners will appreciate the included selection of photo filters, all of which are nicely done. One-tap sharing to popular social networks is easily accomplished. If you need to improve the quality of your photos, what better way then to press the ‘Awesomize’ tab.
Experts will appreciate the exposure compensation option. As with most photo apps, there are in-app purchases, but Camera Awesome does not charge for advanced features including fast-burst picture taking, image stabilization and the ‘Big Button’ allows to capture an image by tapping on the ‘Big Button’. If you struggle with lining up your photos, there’s a neat feature built-in that will ensure proper alignment. All in all, the title is spot on. This is Camera Awesome.
There are thousands of free apps for the iPhone, but downloading them takes an investment on your part. There’s the time to take to install and evaluate, not to mention the valuable storage space on your device. The apps listed above were carefully selected, so that if our readers download any of the above apps, they’ll find them to be a valuable addition to their app library. Our plan is to continuously revisit the list and update it on a regular basis. That means adding new apps and also removing those which no longer make the cut. Our goal is to create a resource for selecting the best free iPhone apps throughout 2013 and beyond.
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