If you’ve noticed that we haven’t updated our Favorite iPhone Apps list in a few months, below is the reason why. We’ve been adding apps for a few years now, but our old list was built for an iPhone that could do a few dozen things – it wasn’t built for the sheer variety of apps available today. This one is. We don’t know what kind of app you’re looking for, but we’re hoping you’ll find it here. We’ve got 120 of our favorite apps spanning a bunch of different categories, all of which you can find in the Key. Click on any category or subcategory to jump right to it, and click on the name of any app to link directly to the iPhone App Store.
Below are our app picks for Entertainment, Work and Organizing, Security and Utility, What’s Around Town, Social and Chat, Fitness and Health, Travel and Maps, and The Dark Arts. We’ll add new categories in the coming weeks and months. We hope you enjoy and please give us app suggestions or feedback in the comments.
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There are times to be productive and times to just relax and have fun. These are our favorite apps for sitting back and enjoying movies, TV, books, news, radio, podcasts, music, sports, and games. (Our game picks are pretty thin. We’ll fix that soon.)
Movies and TV
Nobody can match Netflix. It’s the best streaming service around with thousands of movies, TV shows, and original shows like Orange is the New Black. A subscription costs $8 per month.
If you want to keep up with TV shows, but can’t stand cable, Hulu is the best place to go. It has most major network and cable channel shows. A Hulu Plus subscription costs $8 per month.
You can’t buy movies and TV shows on the Amazon Instant app, but you can watch purchased or rented videos. Amazon Prime subscribers also get a library of free videos if they pay $80 a year.
What’s that guy’s name again?! Anytime you’re wondering about an actor or director of a movie or TV show, this is the app that will help you find out. It also has movie showtimes and news.
We mark Hulu and Netflix as “free,” but Crackle really is. It requires no subscription. There isn’t a lot of Crackle content, it turns over quickly, and it’s full of really weird crap sometimes.
Nope. This isn’t an elementary school supplies app. GetGlue is a great place to find things to watch, converse with other TV show fans, and keep up to date on your favorite programs.
YouTube used to come with your phone, but with iOS 6, Apple removed it. Luckily, Google brought it back. If you need to know what YouTube is, please meet us back in 2005.
What’s better than reading a book? That’s right: having it read to you. Audible is owned by Amazon and has the best selection of audiobooks out there. It’s just as good as reading, we swear.
Amazon rules the ebook reader world, but you can also get its Kindle app just about everywhere else, including iPhone. Download it and read up on any device you want. Reading’s fun!
You’re clearly an Apple user, and this is Apple’s book shop. It’s as good as any other, but the downside is that your books will only be readable on Apple products. Only the loyal should apply.
If you like news readers that make things look like pretty magazines, you can thank Flipboard for that. It’s the reigning king and a best first app for those delving into digital news reading.
Instead of reading through topics like ‘Tech,’ Zite lets you choose topics and then magically mixes them together. At first it will confound you, then you won’t be able to stop. Zite knows you.
It’s kind of like Flipboard, but has thousands of topics to choose from and nicer animation. It also has a very pretty 3D constellation view of hot keywords for each topic you like. Check it out.
Remember Google Reader? This is its replacement. Feedly is for news junkies and people who remember what RSS means. No reader is more customizable, but beware of the ‘Pro’ upsell.
The number of tabs in our browser tells us that we should use Pocket. It lets you store articles you plan to come back to and is integrated into 300+ apps. (Formerly known as ‘Read It Later.’)
Circa’s goal is to condense news so that you can more easily read it on the go. It will keep you up to date as you wait in line or for a train, and has a decent notification system to boot.
Radio and Podcasts
We’ve used all the podcasting apps and this is the best. It’s far better than Apple’s Podcasts app, it looks clean, has access to the iTunes Podcast library, and has all the options you need.
TuneIn Radio’s specialty is live radio, whether it be for sports, news, talk, or music. It has a lot of local, niche stuff as well, so check it out if you’re hunting for a show that isn’t anywhere else.
Stitcher’s claim to fame is that it ‘stitches’ your favorite shows and preferences together to make stations (a la Pandora) that you’ll enjoy. But really, it’s a one-stop shop for talk radio shows.
Spotify is disrupting the entire music industry. It’s free on PCs and tablets, but $10/mo if you want to fully use it on iPhone. It’s worth it. You can listen to full albums, and create playlists.
If you haven’t used Pandora by now, go turn your AM radio back on. Pandora uses music science to create stations out of a song or artist. You tell it what you like and what you hate. It learns.
Does that song sound familiar? Shazam it and you’ll find out. Shazam detects songs in a single second sometimes and now works on TV shows, too. Best of all: It connects to Spotify.
ESPN has a monopoly on this sports stuff. Its SportsCenter app is the best place to keep up to date with sports scores from all your favorite professional or college teams on the go.
This one is self-explanatory. If your cable provider allows it, you can watch ESPN on this app. It’s great, but again, completely up to your service provider whether you have access at all.
If you’re tired of ESPN, TheScore is a good alternative. It keeps track of scores, news, and everything much like ScoreCenter, but with a different look and feel that we prefer (at times).
Think of this like an indie version of Zelda. Oceanhorn is a good example of a full-fledged, old-school adventure game on iOS. Bonus: the music is by the composer of Final Fantasy.
This is the first game to take advantage of the 64-bit A7 chip in the iPhone 5S. It’s a series of boss fights where you strategically swipe to dodge, slice, and shield yourself from large villains.
It looks like Tim Burton made it (back when Tim Burton was still inspired). This side scroller is moody and very creative. Check it out if you’re game for something a little strange and tough.
Work and Organizing
When you’re on the go, you need apps that help you get things done. Below are our favorite email, office, cloud storage, money management, task management, calendar, and note-taking apps.
Swipe and tap to zoom through your inbox at breakneck speed, and rid yourself of the crap you don’t want to see. You can even set it have mail return later, like a snooze button for emails.
If you’re suffering under the weight of an overstuffed inbox, this app can help. Add multiple accounts and labels, and power through a unified inbox in record time. It’s well designed.
This app transforms your incoming emails into cards that you can tap on to view and reply, or quickly swipe up or down to archive/delete or keep for later. It’s a fast way to keep things clean.
Word Processing and Spreadsheets
Create, edit, and view your documents, spreadsheets, and presentations with this handy office suite with cloud sync support. (Support for Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, and PDF).
New iPhone owners can download it for free, but even at $10 Apple’s word processor is tough to beat. Packed with templates, editing tools, and change tracking, there isn’t much it can’t do.
Apple’s spreadsheet app is beautiful, but the minimalist UI hides a multitude of power user options covering everything you need to combine your numbers with charts, text, and images.
Google’s lightweight browser is slick and fast, and it enables easy sharing of bookmarks, password data, and open tabs between your desktop and iPhone. We prefer it over Safari.
Dolphin supports tabs and syncing between PC and mobile, but also boasts features like Wi-Fi broadcast to share links, or the customizable gestures for hitting your favorite sites.
Atomic is not much of a looker, but geeks, you’ll soon forgive that when you dive into features like Adblock, download management, multi-touch gestures, and browser spoofing.
One of the first big cloud services on the scene, offering 2GB free and the chance to earn more space, Dropbox is still a good way to share files across devices and back them up in the cloud.
Anyone using Google services probably already has documents, photos, and videos in Google Drive. It gives you 15GB for free, making it a handy cloud backup place for your precious files.
You get 5GB of free storage in this well organized, attractive app, which lets you share your documents, photos, videos, or music across all of your devices. You can even upload files by email.
It takes some time to set up, but once Mint can track all of your spending and create a sensible budget for you. You can monitor all of your credit card purchases and banking through Mint.
Stay on top of your bills and consolidate your financial accounts under one password. It sends auto reminders to pay bills and offers a digital cabinet for bills, statements, notices, and offers.
Use PayPal to check up on the transactions in your account, send or request money, and photograph checks or credit cards to add them to your account without messing with the details.
Clear understands the benefit of clarity when it comes to increasing productivity. It’s controlled with gestures – pull down to create a task, swipe to mark it complete, and pinch to switch lists.
Air-To-Do doesn’t jumble your chores together; it lets you control how to organize them. You can check off your list with boxes, versus other task apps that delete a task when it’s complete.
This customizable, elegant app is perfect for creating task lists and reminders. Entries sync to the cloud, you can type or talk to start tasks, and gestures make management quick and easy.
This app is like Apple’s built-in Calendar app. Use it to create reminders and events by typing. It also understands natural language, so you can say “lunch with dad tomorrow” and it works!
By pulling in data from your email accounts, calendars, documents, and apps, Tempo helps you stay on top of your meetings and arrive prepared. It can even dial you into conference calls.
Here’s a calendar that’s ideal if you already use Any.Do for task management. It gives you an at-a-glance view of your appts, lets you create events, and pulls in relevant data for each entry.
Never forget your best ideas, notes, or to-do list items with this comprehensive note-taking app. You can label photos, record voice notes, and enter text to create notes. Available everywhere.
Drafts is quick and easy access to a blank page. You can search, sync, send, and share everything you create and there are customization options to make your default actions more efficient.
A simple and accessible layout lets you create notes with images and links, and then organize those notes in whatever way you see fit. This is a versatile tool that’s easy to pick up and use.
Next Page: Security, What’s Around Town, and Social