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Best apps for iPhone

Best apps every iPhone owner should download right now!

iMore's guide to the best apps available for iPhone. From camera apps to calendar alternatives to cloud storage and more.

Why is it so hard to find great apps? That's the question we asked today on Talk Mobile. One of the reasons is that there are literally hundreds of thousands of apps available in the App Store, even if we just count iPhone apps alone. With so many to choose from, it can be tough to find the absolute best one, not to mention expensive. We're here to help.

While we do tons of app reviews and weekly app picks, over and above all of that there are apps that we think are simply best in class. These are the ones that we download on our iPhones immediately and use all the time.

These are the best apps for iPhone, as of the summer of 2013.

Best camera app: VSCO Cam

VSCO Cam for iPhone

There is no shortage of camera and photo editing apps in the App Store. The best of the best combine both into one and give you the option to share to your social networks of choice, all in one place. That's why we recommend VSCO Cam. Not only does it balance ease of use with features, it's gorgeously designed, wicked fast, and free. From taking photos to giving you access to everything you've snapped with VSCO Cam in one place, it does a great job of balancing the need to create beautiful photos with getting them where they need to be with just a few taps.

Best calendar app: Fantastical

Fantastical for iPhone

When it comes to calendar apps, Fantastical sets the bar for all the others. Not only is it absolutely gorgeous, but it understands natural language input. Launch Fantastical, tap the dictation button, and say what you'd like it to add. It's even smart enough to switch between calendars by simply adding the calendar name to the end of whatever you'd like to add. It's much quicker than the default calendar but brings all your events over with no setup required. Not to mention, it's beautifully designed.

Best cloud storage app: Dropbox

Dropbox for iPhone

For many of us, Dropbox is a regular part of our workflow. Whether you use it daily or just a few times a week or month, the iPhone app is a must have. Automatic upload for photos is easy and allows you to save precious storage space on your iPhone. It's also great for the times that you need to upload other kinds of files to Dropbox. It's the number one file sharing service for a reason, and if you've got an iPhone, the Dropbox app is an essential.

Best ebook reader app: iBooks

iBooks for iPhone

iBooks is Apple's free ebook and PDF reading app for iPhone. It's a stylish way to read not only books purchased from the iBookstore, but all the free books from the massive Project Gutenberg library as well as any of your own ePub or PDF files. Apple's book catalog isn't as big as Amazon's Kindle library, but the reading experience itself is far superior.

Best educational video app: Khan Archiver

Khan Academy for iPhone

Khan Academy is one of the best products of education and the internet, and with the Khan Archiver app for the iPhone, you have free access videos on topics ranging from kindergarten, advanced science, humanities, history, and more. You can even download the videos to watch offline.

Best alternative email app: Mailbox

Mailbox for iPhone

If you use Gmail, Mailbox is a great way to clean out your inbox with a quickness. From gesture support to the gorgeous interface, Mailbox is a great alternative to the default Mail app for Gmail users. It works by auto-creating labels and allowing you to sort emails with them. Want to remember to do something later? Just snooze the message for a later time and it'll automagically re-appear at the time you've specified. It also supports push notifications which make it a completely viable alternative if you live and breathe Gmail.

Best launcher app: Launch Center Pro

Launch Center Pro for iPhone

"Launch actions, not apps" is Launch Center Pro's motto and the app allows you to do just that. From composing an email/message (with or without a default recipient/body), to creating quick dialers, Safari searches and page launches, to a flashlight utility, and the ability to insert a custom URL string that can either launch an app function or a web page, Launch Center lets you do everything you need to do on your iPhone, faster than ever before.

Best navigation app: Google Maps

Google Maps for iPhone

We are all very familiar with the issues Apple has with their default Maps app. While they continue to improve upon that, Google Maps is still a fan favorite and for good reason. Not only is it a native standalone app now, it also has some of the best maps available. From turn-by-turn to walking directions, Google Maps does it all, with a gorgeous design to boot.

Best password manager app: 1Password

1Password for iPhone

We live in a world where we have passwords for our passwords, 2-step authentication, and more. It's never been more important to have good passwords for all of our accounts without duplicating them. This obviously makes the task of remembering them all more complex and at times, almost impossible. This is where 1Password is essential. Not only can it store all your passwords and allow you to access and sync them across virtually any device you own, it can also help you generate strong ones. If you don't have a password manager, 1Password is what you want.

Best personalized magazine app: Zite

Zite for iPhone

Zite is not only personal to each user, but it grows more personal over time as you use it. The way Zite recommends new content is something none of its competitors can match. Bottom line, Zite is the best social magazine app currently available on the iPhone.

Best podcast app: Instacast 3

Instacast for iPhone

We've taken a look at quite a few podcast apps over the years and Instacast is still one of our favorites. From the way it handles podcasts to how it lets you interact with them, it's a great option for hardcore podcast listeners while still being simple enough for users who just don't care for Apple's native Podcasts app.

Best read later app: Pocket

Pocket for iPhone

Pocket provides the best design and user experience for the broadest base of users, both on the app and on the website. If you want more than Apple's built in Reading List provides, or you're new to the whole idea of "read later" and time-shifting content, give Pocket a go.

Best RSS app: Reeder

Reeder for iPhone

Out of all the RSS apps available in the App Store, Reeder has been a long time favorite here at iMore. Not only will it still be kicking once Google Reader closes its doors for good, it's still one of the absolute best options. From the way it organizes and manages articles to how easy it is to set up and start using, it's a winner. It manages to give you the news you want while getting out of the way leaving you with just your content. And in an RSS app, that's what's important.

Best stocks app: Bloomberg

Bloomberg for iPhone

Bloomberg for iPhone is a great way for casual traders and investors to interact with their stocks and stay up to date with world news. Whether you need to casually monitor stocks on your iPhone or just find the urge to check out financial news, the free Bloomberg app has you covered -- for free!

Best streaming music app: Songza

Songza for iPhone

There's lots of streaming services out there for iPhone but Songza probably takes the cake for most creative way for discovering music. Songza's Music Concierge service can help you find music based on your moods. Are there other robust options out there with more features? Sure. But for a free service with a vast collection and a great interface, you can't go wrong with Songza and for casual listening, it's our favorite.

Best text editor app: Byword

Byword for iPhone

Byword just got even better with the release of Byword 2. With the option for premium subscriptions for publishing straight to Wordpress, Drupal, and other content management systems, Byword is a great way to get your thoughts out. Whether you're a student or a professional writer, Byword gives you the tools you need to manage your writing. With iCloud sync, markdown support, and more, it's a clean, easy to use, and reasonably priced text editor that's the best in its class. If you're looking for a writing suite, look no further than Byword.

Best travel advisory app: TripIt

TripIt for iPhone

The free TripIt app for iPhone, when paired with a free TripIt account, becomes your virtual travel assistant. Simply email any flight or hotel confirmations to TripIt and they'll automagically get logged and displayed on your iPhone, along with helpful maps and additional information to make your travel safer and easier.

Best task management app: Omnifocus

Omnifocus for iPhone

It's hard to beat OmniFocus' feature set, which includes Siri integration, location-based reminders, and Forecasts. If price is no object, and you want the most powerful, versatile task management solution for iPhone, with options for syncing with iPad and/or Mac, then you want OmniFocus.

Best note taking app: Evernote

Evernote for iPhone

When it comes to note taking, you'll be hard pressed to find a better option than Evernote. Not only do they have an app or desktop client for almost any device you may own, syncing is super fast and doesn't cost you anything, unless of course you want additional storage. Evernote is widely supported by many third party developers which means you'll have no problem sharing content to it.

If you haven't tried it yet, you've got nothing to lose and we're pretty sure you'll love it as much as we do.

Best Twitter app: Tweetbot

Tweetbot for iPhone

Tweetbot might feel over-designed to some, but it's well-designed. It has a ton of features for power users, including the best push-notification implementation in the business. As far as general purpose Twitter apps go, Tweetbot hits the best balance for the widest range of our readers.

Best VNC app: Screens

Screens for iPhone

With iCloud integration, SSH keys, and a re-designed Screens Connect, Screens 2.0 handles remote computing better and faster than ever before. Screens is also the most iPhone, iPad, and Mac-like remote computing app on the market today, and that makes it the easiest to setup and the most familiar to use.

Best weather app: Yahoo! Weather

Yahoo Weather for iPhone

Yahoo! Weather was completely revamped recently to feature a gorgeous interface that integrates Flickr photos of the locations you're looking at the weather at. There may be more robust and feature packed weather apps available, but when it comes to design and ease of use, Yahoo! Weather can't be beat. It's no wonder Apple chose to use it natively in iOS 7. If you want the experience now, you can get it by downloading Yahoo! Weather.

Best web browser app: Chrome

Chrome for iPhone

If you want a browser that has a better layout than Safari and allows you easy access to bookmarks and other open tabs across all your desktop computers, Chrome is it. There may not be gesture support or a ton of customization options, but it works flawlessly and has a beautiful interface.

Your picks?

These may be our favorites but we know you all have your own too. Think we overlooked something or missed an especially awesome app? Let us know in the comments!

This is your community, so help us make future guides your choice!

Allyson Kazmucha

Editor for iMore, Potter pundit, and the ninja in your iOS

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There are 51 comments. Add yours.

icyrock1 says:

My favorite browser, by far, is Mercury. I love the interface. It's the best from all of the ones I've tried (and I've tried a lot of them).

Short list of the ones I've tried:
Mercury
Chrome
Skyfire
Opera Mini
Photon
Atomic
Puffin
Dolphin
UC Browser
Grazing
Onion Browser
Clear Browser
iLunascape
360 Browser
iCabMobile
Maven+
Maxthon
Sleipnir
Perfect Browser
Secret Browser
FastBrowser
MammothV Premium & the normal version
ect.

Chrome is my third favorite choice after Photon and Mercury.

CORYK333 says:

Short list? Looks like the majority of browsers in the store ;)
--used to use Mercury a ton, but recently found iCab to be the best for my usage when I need to view something & Safari doesn't cut it (which isn't often anymore, but nice to have the option)

icyrock1 says:

Lol, I didn't include those who's main function wasn't a web browser (like 1password has a built in browser, mSecure has one, etc.)

Though, I guess it's not really a short list. XD

snozzle says:

I like iCab, too. Full screen mode, multitouch gestures (two finger swipe to go back), and file upload/downloads. Sometimes Dolphin Browser is faster, but I still go back to iCab.

bobbyjonc says:

Tweetbot is a great Twitter app but I just fell in love with Twitterific's simple interface. For a time, I expected that iOS 7 would adopt such design.

andrew202 says:

I think a lot of these apps will not be in use once iOS 7 is released. like Mailbox, Fantastical, Launcher Pro, Chrome, Yahoo! Weather, and possibly Google Maps.

Allyson Kazmucha says:

You may be right. And we will look at that when the time comes. But this is now. ;)

Sent from the iMore App

Richard Devine says:

Maybe, I disagree on some though. For me Google Maps will always be better than Apple Maps, and Chrome will always be the better choice for people like me who live in Chrome on the desktop

Dev from tipb says:

I actually think some of them might get *more* use in iOS7. While you still cannot set third party apps as default handlers (boo!), the new multitasking APIs will, for example, allow Mailbox to download content in the background in response to a push notification, which should bring it nearly to par with Mail.app in terms of getting-content-the-moment-you-open-it speed.

gordol says:

Browser: Mercury. It syncs with either Firefox or Chrome, user's choice (I sync with FF, nothing else works as good for that).
Twitter: TweetCaster Pro
Camera: the now-gone KitCam.
Weather: http://i.wund.com, bookmarked to my home location
Calendar: CalenGoo. There are things that Fantatical just does not do, or at least didn't at the time.
RSS: currently nothing until a reader app allows me to select my feed aggregater source AND is available on the iPad as well as the iPhone as a universal application.

emjayess says:

Nice to see Zite get some well-deserved attention: I check it several times a day and the breadth of interesting articles is amazing.

Also hoping the new iOS 7 will make a lot of the apps listed obsolete, especially Fantasical--I use it, but only for the duplicate function and I miss the native day view. Launch Pro is sometimes useful, but mostly frustrating to set up actions.

Duvi says:

I was thinking the same when I saw Zite mentioned. In all honesty, when I never thought I was going to see that. I've been using Zite since it launched and like it more than all the other ones out there.

cmlariba says:

What about a hand writing App for iPad and iPhone?

Sent from the iMore App

Allyson Kazmucha says:

Good catch! I'll add it in when I'm done painting walls. :) probably penultimate or note shelf if you're looking for one. But I'll check my arsenal just to be sure :)

Sent from the iMore App

Hadu says:

Take a look at UPad before adding Penultimate or NoteShelf.

pictor says:

Your comments filter is very frustrating. It always forces me to enter captcha, or worse (as it just did) flags my comment as spam. iMore really needs to work on their comment system. I summarized my comment here - http://d.pr/i/WeFh

Allyson Kazmucha says:

Sorry about that, i'll pass your comment on to our web developers.

As for a note taking app, I added Evernote but there aren't very many handwritten note taking apps for iPhone. It just doesn't make sense w/ the screen being so small.

When we do a list for iPad, you'll definitely see some but for iPhone, handwritten notes just don't make a lot of sense with such little screen real estate.

Kevin Michaluk says:

Love that Songza got its props as best streaming music app! SOO TRUE.

Allyson Kazmucha says:

I got shunned by someone for forgetting about it in a comparison a while back ;) I'd never used it. I like it best now.

Sent from the iMore App

kch50428 says:

The thing Google Maps has going for it is familiarity... If it's all you've ever used, you like it... and hate anything else. Navigon is quite good... and Apple's Maps app has worked flawlessly for me every time I've used it.

Derrick4Real says:

Podcast: Downcast
storage: skydrive (people love dropbox but skydrive gave me way more storage free)

Margie Hall says:

pro tuber is the best youtube app, wifi sharing, supports 1080 playback and downloading, its fee today so get it while you can

Konstantin Smetankin says:

I almost agree with choices of best apps. Especially about Tweetbot and Dropbox. Really great apps.
Considering browsers I would recommend to try very convenient and fast app for surfing Web and particularly for efficient search: http://smartsearchapp.com
It is really awesome from my point of view.

GOPphil81 says:

I like safari better then chrome.

ERJ says:

The best calendar app is WEEK CAL. The mini month view along with color coding and many other features is amazing. It also integrates effortlessly with your existing iPhone calendar.

Fit24 says:

I like Tweetbot and Yahoo! Weather. However Pocket Informant is the most used app on my iPhone. To me one of the best features is the ability to wirelessly sync my calendar, tasks and notes directly with Outlook on my desktop.

Sent from the iMore App

SteveCollard says:

I listen to a lot of podcast and love iCatcher

Ejang1087 says:

Venmo for paying friends back instantly
Adobe Kuler brings colors to life

Nick Kalman says:

I don't agree on maps. I do use my maps a lot everyday and I have to say that Apple Maps more reliable then Google Maps.

Sent from the iMore App

C Robertson says:

Music streaming should have been broken into radio-like services and all-you-can-eat. Radio, yes, Songza is the one I keep coming back to (although Tunigo is a very close second..), but all-you-can-eat would go to Spotify for me.

Also, no Flipboard?

Trappiste says:

Most of these apps are relevant only for English-speaking North Americans (like the iPhone in general), so the word *every* in the heading is a bit of a misnomer.

Joebin says:

Great list! I'll get Yahoo Weather. My current weather app is lame.

whitakercrew says:

I've been using the camera app HDR FX Pro for over a year now, it's amazing. I'm not sure of the price, I got it free through Apps Gone Free, but I just downloaded VSCO and can't wait to give it a try. I would also have to agree that SkyDrive may be a better option than DropBox, only because you get 7GB of storage up front, 25GB if you've been a long-time user, but I re-installed DropBox today because hey, who can't use another 5GB of storage these days. Thanks for the list, I'm trying several apps you recommended. Coincidentally, I found your post through Zite, so I was glad to see it on the list :)

skydivertak says:

Great list!
But I'm looking for the best app to jot down notes that have "paper napkin" drawings and typed text. Sort of what "Paper" seems to do on the iPad.
Is there anything that works like the Newton drawing/notepad did?

Allyson Kazmucha says:

For those asking about a note taking app, most freehand apps will be for iPad because the iPhone's screen is just so small is just doesn't make a ton of sense. But just to jot down notes, I'd recommend Evernote.

Joe Dimon says:

Great list. Maybe of interest in regard to the handwriting comment above: I recently downloaded a group messaging and private sharing app called grouptime (www.grouptime.com). The unique thing is, that it enables users to send truly personal messages with custom fonts like handwritings, etc.

Perry Schaffer says:

You can pick the category but Evernote needs to be in here somewhere.

pictor says:

As a service, yes, absolutely, but as an app I am more hesitant. I actually enter stuff into Evernote through the Drafts app, or by emailing stuff. The actual EN app can be a bit fiddly in terms of fast entry and searching.

It's good, don't get me wrong, but I think they still need to clean up 1 or 2 aspects of the interface.

vinny jr says:

I'm long time Android hacker who still uses Android and have just recently bought my first iphone 5 in white with 64gb of int memory. My point is I use Chrome on all my Android phones but have found Safari very good and fast on my iphone. It does everything I want it to do and I have no need for Chrome. The more I use Safari the more I like it. I don't like downloading apps for nothing. I don't like taking up int storage on my phone if I;m not going to use the app. I know I have plenty of int memory with 64 plus I have numerous cloud storage apps but like to keep the iphone or any phone slim and trim. Maybe I'm just neurotic but it keeps me happy and the phone fast. (I think)

temm says:

Will i maybe the only one, but Google Maps has failed me a couple of times big time. I live in Greece and a trip to Turkey it was sending me an extra 240km on an 800km route. I double checked with the desktop version an it was the same.
I lot has been written about apple Maps (maybe more due the the meltdown graphics), but tomtom has been around before even google existed.

pictor says:

I have never used ByWord, but I feel Dropbox Write (http://writeapp.net/) needs more love. It has a great UI, tons of sharing options, a mardown shortcut bar, if you need it, but if you go to the site and do a text search for "Cursor Trackpad and Swipe Selection", you will see the best editor feature ever invented, and one that every other editor needs to adopt immediately. It's genius

CharFeld says:

I would like to be able to access & stream old episodes of my favorite podcasts - from a time before I started subscribing to them. Can Instacast let me do that?

h42el says:

Reeder and fantastical are questionable choices and I can't believe they made this list. Seriously. Fantastical just puts dots under each day that has events. So if you've got a lot going on (which.. I'm assuming the people who need a third party calendar app do) it's just a sea of dots and you have to tap through every day to actually get an overview. Calendars+ does this SO much better and visually tells you your month at a glance. And then there's Sunrise which is FREE. You cannot in good conscience recommend fantastical without mentioning these too.
Don't even get me started on reeder, it's so overhyped. You can't rearrange folders, you can't even add new feeds. How.. how can you even recommend this without reminding people that google reader is running out, and most of the other services reeder synchs with are NOT free? Maybe I'm missing something here. Maybe these apps have changed since I tried them. Feedly is more ios7 styled, has its own cloud service, and of course lets you search and add feeds. Oh. And it's free. Seriously how can you not at least mention it with reeder? I am disappoint. This makes me wonder if for every paid app you recommend there's a free one that's better yet somehow got ignored.

gewappnet says:

As others said: Evernote is missing as the best app for everything notes related. For navigation I would say Navigon is essential and for offline maps for pedestrians CityMaps2Go. I still prefer iTeleport over Screens for remote access. For audio streaming I like TunesIn Radio for radio streams and Audiotap for streaming of my own music collection. The quality of Weather apps really depends on the data. Yahoo Weather is just crap for Europe. WeatherPro gives the most accurate data for Europe.

Deepak K says:

From thefrustum.com
Best Camera app: I prefer Camera+
Best calendar app: What is the point of using a third part app for something like calendar, when its integration (like making it default) is so limited in iOS as of now. I prefer Sunrise as an alternate to the default app, if I have to.
Best alternative email app: Mailbox, i would say it depends on your usage pattern. Mailbox is something which will either be great or horrible for you. I like the Gmail app as an alternate to the default Mail app.
Best personalized magazine app: Flipboard on any day over Zite!
Best podcast app: Haven't tried Instacast 3, but am ok with Downcast.
Best RSS app: Feedly undoubtedly
Best web browser app: Chrome feels alien to iOS, Safari on iPhone is on any day better overall

talluptallup76 says:

Photoful can be added to the list, it's a great app

Sent from the iMore App

darrenmars says:

An app I've been wanting for a long time and just discovered it for myself recently: Glass Jar. Add your account balances, your known expenses and your known incomes and Glass Jar will project your future financial position. Set up payment alerts, overdraft alerts and recurring transactions. I love it because it helps me to get an idea of when I can finally afford to buy my first house! Personally I think it's totally worth the pennies that the developer is asking.