iMore's authoritative guide to the very best, absolutely free apps for iPhone and iPod touch
Looking for great free apps for your iPhone or iPod touch? The App Store is home to over half a million apps and games, and a surprising number of them are available for free. That's free as in free of charge to buy, free of subscriptions to use, and free of any crippling or time-bombing to make you pay later. They're just free. But which free apps are the best? Which are the top free apps you just absolutely have to download right now?
That's where iMore comes in! Here's your ultimate, authoritative guide to the top, 100% free iPhone and iPod touch apps for social networking, IM and communications, education, entertainment, finance, fun and games, health and fitness, kids, music, navigation and location, news, photography, productivity, reading, shopping, sports, travel, and general utility.
Whether you're new to iPhone or iPod touch and looking for a fast, free way to get started with apps, or you're just bored and looking for a little free fun, check out the apps below. And hey, since they're free, you can download them all!
(Also, be sure to check out our best free games for iPhone rundown for even more great free iPhone apps!)
What better way than to keep up-to-date with all the latest free iPhone app and game news than with iMore's own, absolutely free iPhone app! Not only that, you'll also get breaking news, helpful how-tos, app and accessory reviews, instant access to our podcasts, and more! This is the very best way to enjoy the best of iMore right on your iPhone!
Best free social networking apps for iPhone
Facebook is the most popular social network on the planet, and it's always been one of the most popular free apps on the iPhone. Inside the free Facebook app, you can update your status, view photos, and check into your location. You can also keep up with your news feed, messages, events, pages, chat, as well as upload your photos and videos, and much, much more. (And if you're looking for more friends, check out our Facebook name swap thread!)
Twitter and the iPhone go together like chocolate and peanut butter, and the free, official Twitter app for iPhone is the best way to get started finding cool celebrities and interesting internet personalities to follow, and trending topics to get involved with. (And be sure to check out our Twitter name swap thread to find other iMore members to tweet with!)
Pinterest is the new, rapidly growing, free social network that let's you pin photos, articles, recipes, or anything you think is cool, to your virtual pinboard. With the free Pinterest for iPhone app, you can view the pins of your friends, repin, like, and comment on your favorite pins, and pin directly from your camera.
More free social networking apps
Best free IM and communications apps for iPhone
The free Skype app for iPhone lets you make free audio and video calls and exchange text chats from your iPhone to other iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad users, as well as Android, Mac, Windows, and millions more Skype users around the world. You can also buy Skype credits to call conventional phone numbers at really low prices.
imo instant messenger
imo is a great, free iPhone app for those who love traditional instant messaging (IM). imo supports Facebook Chat, Google Talk, Skype, MSN, ICQ/AIM, Yahoo, Jabber, Hyves, VKontakte, Myspace, and Steam. You can send text, images, and voice as well.
GroupMe is an excellent free group messaging app for iPhone that communicates over both data and SMS. GroupMe perfect for coordinating big events with friends that aren't all using smartphones. GroupMe generates a phone number which collects and forwards free messages to those authorized to be a part of the group. Those that do will be able to take advantage of a few extra features, like location and picture sharing.
Best free educational apps for iPhone
The free iTunes U app for iPhone gives you access to courses from universities and schools. These courses are completely free and even include assignments. iTunes U and the instructors provide course materials, including audio, video, books, documents & presentations, apps, and books. iTunes U includes over 500,000 free lectures, videos, books, and other resources on thousands of subjects from Algebra to Zoology.
SparkNotes is one of the most popular study guides for literature, Shakespeare, poetry, philosophy, drama and short stories. With the free SparkNotes for iPhone app you can access 50 pre-installed study guides in your library and hundreds of study guides online. You can also check-in at the place you're studying and indicate what subject your studying which could then result in impromptu study sessions with other SparkNotes users studying the same subject at the same place at the same time.
With school comes lots of studying. One of the most common studying techniques is to use flashcards. With the free Flashcards+ app for iPhone, you can say goodbye to the stacks and stacks of flashcards that accumulate over the course of a semester and use electronic flashcards on your iPhone instead. The beauty of Flashcards+ is that you have your flash cards with you wherever you go, which means you'll likely squeeze in more mini study lessons throughout your day and end up with better grades as a result!
Best free entertainment apps for iPhone
While apps like Netflix are free, you still have to pay for a subscription to actually use them. Not so with Crackle! The free Crackle app for iPhone lets you watch hours and hours of Hollywood movies, from Resident Evil to A Few Good Men, and TV Shows from I Dream of Jennie to the Tick, absolutely free. And it supports AirPlay so you can watch on your big screen TV.
IMDB's free iPhone app means you're always only a few taps away from the latest show times, trailers, movie and TV rations, and cast and episode lists. It's the perfect couch-side companion for any serious entertainment buff, and the perfect mobile app for cinema buffs!
The free TED app for iPhone blurs the lines between education and entertainment, showcasing riveting talks from experts in the fields of technology, entertainment, and design. With the TED app, you can browse their complete catalog of talks, bookmark and download your favorites, and share individual talks and playlists with your friends. It's like holding genius in the palm of your hand. For free.
Best free financial apps for iPhone
Love it or hate it, Paypal is the internet's default currency and the free Paypal for iPhone app is the best way to manage your Paypal account on the go. Whether you're sending or requesting money, checking your balance or reviewing your past transactions, or looking for a local retailer who takes PayPal, it's right here, right when you want.
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!
The free Mint.com for iPhone app gives everything you love about the web site on the go and in the palm of your hand. You can track, manage, and budget your money, connect your bank, credit, and other financial accounts, and safely, securely keep it with you wherever you are. It also syncs with the Mint.com website so you're always up-to-date.
Best free games for iPhone
For dozens of additional free iPhone games, check out our best free iPhone games special feature!
Angry Birds Free
The free Angry Birds app lets you play one of the most popular games in the world right on your iPhone -- for free. Yes, it is supported by adds, but you'll be too busy catapulting birds and destroying pigs to even notice them!
Draw Something Free
Draw Something is a sensation and you can play it on your iPhone for free with Draw Something Free. In Draw Something, you have a partner and you take turns drawing pictures with the goal of getting each other to guess the correct word. Just like Angry Birds Free, Draw something Free is supported by ads.
Hero Academy is a great turn-based free iPhone game where you and a friend (or random partner) take turns moving and attacking each other with various army pieces on a checked board. You have a set number of action points with which to move your pieces, bring in fresh ones from your stash, upgrade your pieces, and, of course, attack. The main goal is to either whittle down a few crystals on your opponent's side of the board, or run them out of troops.
More free games
Best free health and fitness apps for iPhone
The free RunKeeper for iPhone app uses your iPhone's built in GPS technology to track your running, walking, cycling and other exercise activities. RunKeeper also syncs up to its own web portal where you can view your history and stats in more detail. Integration with Facebook and Twitter means you can even show off your fitness prowess to your friends!
WebMD is a reputable and accurate online source for medical facts and advice, and with the free WebMD iPhone app you'll have complete access to mobile-optimized health information and decision-support tools including WebMD’s Symptom Checker, Drugs & Treatments, First Aid Information and Local Health Listings.
The free Fooducate for iPhone app contains a wealth of information and user reviews about many of the foods we consume on a daily basis. Fooducate stresses the importance of eating foods that are good for your body as a whole. Sure, a calorie is a calorie, but if you give your body calories from better quality foods, you get the benefits of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that artificially processed foods with lots of additives, high fructose corn syrup, and other “empty” calories just can’t match.
Best free kids apps for iPhone
PBS KIDS Video
The free PBS KIDS Video app brings all your child's favorite shows right to the iPhone or iPod touch. Curious George, The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That, Dinosaur Train, SUPER WHY!, Sesame Street and Wild Kratts and are all here and ready to entertain and educate.
Curious George at the Zoo
If your child is interested in animals, then Curious George at the Zoo is a great free iPhone app to educate and entertain them. Explore an interactive 3D zoo, learn about and interact with the animals, watch videos and play games, all on the iPhone or iPod touch.
ABC Letter Tracing
The free ABC Letter Tracing app for iPhone is perfect for pre-schoolers just learning to write. It has both upper and lowercase letters, along with helpful voice-overs and illustrations of items that begin with each letter.
Best free music apps for iPhone
How many times have you been listening to the radio, or attending a party, or watching TV when you hear a song that you like but have no idea what the name of the song is or even who the artist is? With the free Shazam app for iPhone, all have to do is let your mic listen to the song for about 30 seconds, and Shazam will tell you exactly which song it is!
Don't have much music stored on your iPhone? Don't fret! With the free Slacker Radio iPhone app you can stream radio to your iPhone for free. The Slacker music library features millions of songs from thousands of artists and you can customize your own radio stations with your favorite artists and songs. In addition to music, you can also listen to ESPN Radio, ABC News, comedy and more.
The free TuneIn Radio app for iPhone gives you on-the-go access to over 50,000 radio stations worldwide. From the local station where you may live now to the far away station where you may have grown up or simply visited and always remembered, TuneIn radio has over 120,000 free shows for you to choose from, right on your iPhone.
Best free navigation and location apps for iPhone
Waze social GPS & traffic
The free Waze app for iPhone uses Open Street Map data, which means you're contributing to building a map as you drive, and you also get to view the things added by others. The crowdsourced nature of Waze lets users share information about traffic jams, accidents, speed traps, and other pertinent data. It includes standard turn-by-turn navigation, but the accuracy can vary depending on the quality of the maps in your area.
Foursquare is free app for iPhone that lets you check into the places you go, and see which friends are there now, or may have been there in the past. It's a great way to keep track of trips and photos of the places you've visited, and a fun way to earn badges and share and receive recommendations for where to go next.
Poynt is a free location-based search app for iPhone with dedicated channels to a variety of different kinds of content. What makes it better than just a Google Maps search is that each experience is very closely tailored, so searching for a movie will immediately bring up options to buy tickets from your phone or view a trailer, while restaurant listings will include reviews and the option to reserve a table.
Best free news apps for iPhone
The free Flipboard for iPhone app shows you the news that matters to you, along with recommendations from your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram friends. That makes it a dynamic, up-to-date, but highly personalized magazine, right in the palm of your hand! It's also makes it easy to share the stuff you like most back with your friends and social circles.
Pulse News, from Alphonso Labs is an awesome free newsreader for iPhone that brings all your news together into one place. With Pulse News, you choose the categories you want to display and the specific content for each section. For example, you might want to add a Gaming, Sports, News, Tech, Science, Art and Design any number of additional categories.
The free AP Mobile app brings the Associated Press right to your iPhone. With comprehensive, timely coverage of local and global news it's not like having a newspaper or TV station in the palm of your hands -- it's like having their news sources. Plus, if you find yourself in the middle of the news, you can even send the AP your tip!
Best free photo apps for iPhone
Instagram isn't just a free iPhone app, it's one of the most popular social photo sharing networks on the planet. It features a large selection of vintage, hip, and fun filters as well as the ability to add the tilt-shift effect to your photos. You can also follow friends and photographers, "like" photos, and leave comments on them. (If you're looking for more great iPhoneographers to share with, check out our Instragram name swap thread!)
There are a lot of collage apps in the App Store, but what's great about Pic Stitch is that it's free! With Pic Stitch for iPhone, you can create beautiful collages that tell a story in just a few taps. It features 32 different layouts and after you've finished your masterpiece, you can share it to your favorite social network or another photography app.
If you're looking for a free app that offers more than the built-in iOS Camera app, look no further than Camera Awesome. This fantastic free iPhone app not only gives you a lot of powerful editing tools and filters, but it also gives more control while taking photos as well by allowing you to select separate points for focus and exposure.
Best free productivity apps for iPhone
With the free Adobe Reader app for iPhone, you can have all your PDFs in your pocket. What's more, you aren't limited to just viewing PDFs, but you can annotated them with text, handwriting, strikethroughs, highlights, and more. You can also fill out forms and add your signature.
Evernote isn't just a great free note-taking app for iPhone. It's a great free note-taking app on almost every platform. That means no matter where you are, or what device you have access to, your notes are always there for you. You can also add pictures and search for text in the images, add voice notes, and easily share what you've collected.
The free Dropbox for iPhone app gives you access to all your files stored in your Dropbox account (free up to 2GB). You can mark items as favorites to store them locally on your iPhone for offline viewing, save photos and videos to your Dropbox account, and easily share them with family, friends and colleagues.
Best free reading apps 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.
Readability offers a gorgeous way to read articles from your favorite website without the distraction of ads and other fluff -- for free! You simply set up your free account and add articles with a bookmarklet . A lot of other apps, like Twitter, off Readability support so that you can add articles directly from those apps.
The free Kindle App for iPhone is Amazon's ebook reader. Unlike Apple's iBooks, Kindle is cross-platform. If you already have a large Kindle book collection, free or otherwise, or you just want to keep your options open for the future, Kindle is a great choice.
Best free shopping apps for iPhone
The free Apple Store app not only lets you shop Apple's online store from the comfort of your iPhone, but it actually lets you purchase accessories via your iPhone, iTunes account, and EasyPay at the Apple retail store. You can also make an appointment at the Genius Bar an automatically check in when you arrive.
Etsy for iPhone is a free app that gives you access to 11 million items from some of the internets most eclectic, most astonishing artisans and craftspeople. You can browse, you can buy, and if you're a seller, you can manage your Etsy account right from your iPhone.
With the free RedLaser app your iPhone transforms into a powerful barcode and QR code scanner. If you see an item at the store, simply scan it and get instant results from Google, TheFind, eBay, Milo, American Express, and many more. It's one of the easiest ways to compare real-world prices online -- and it's free!
Best free sports apps for iPhone
ESPN ScoreCenter is a free iPhone app that brings you the latest scores, standings, and news for dozens of sports and hundreds of teams around the world. If you have a free myESPN account, you get automatic access to all your favorites. If you don't, you can choose baseball, basketball, cricket, football, hockey, rugby and soccer teams to follow right on your iPhone.
MLB.com At Bat
Although it has premium options, the free or “lite” version of MLB at Bat for iPhone still gives you access to lots of great content. You can watch the scoreboard during every game, see news and highlights from recent games, buy tickets to upcoming games and check in around the league for other scores and highlights. While diehard baseball fans will want to buy the full app, the Lite version is great for casual fans on the go.
NBA Game Time
NBA Game Time is sort of like MLB.com At Bat – but for basketball. During games, you can follow along practically play by play, seeing who is on the court at every moment and who is scoring plays. You can also check the scores around the league, watch video highlights, check the standings, look at the schedule for every team and get information on each arena, right from the free iPhone app!
Best free travel apps for iPhone
If you're searching for a place to eat, shop, drink, relax and play, the free Yelp for iPhone app will provide you with a map or list of exactly what you're looking for. Each location is also filled with reviews by users who have been to that place before. When you decide on a place and have finished your visit, you can leave a review of your own for other users to read when in the same predicament that you were in.
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.
While there are a lot of language courses and travel references available for the iPhone, the free Google Translate app lets you find the right phrase, in the right language, right when you need it. Text translation is available in 64 languages and voice translation in 17. Yup, you can talk instead of type! Fantastique! Hen hao!
Best free utilities for iPhone
Find my iPhone
The free Find my iPhone app by Apple will help you locate your iPhone in the unfortunate event that you misplace it or it gets stolen. You can track your iPhone from another iOS device or from the iCloud website. You can also send a message and alert to your iPhone to help you find it or to provide contact information in the even that someone found your iPhone. If you're concerned about the security of your data, you can remotely lock your iPhone or even wipe it with the free Find my iPhone app.
Apple's free Remote app lets you control your iTunes or Apple TV right from your iPhone over your local Wi-Fi network. Browse or search your iTunes library or Apple TV content, choose songs, TV shows, or movies to listen to or watch, and control playback, skipping, and more.
The Weather Channel
Apple's built-in weather app is great and all, but sometimes you're looking for more information about the weather than this app can provide. The Weather Channel app is a great alternative. It features interactive maps and radar, severe weather alerts, and hourly and 10 day forecasts. You can also watch videos of breaking news and weather coverage and upload and view photos of the weather taken by other users. And you get all of this for free!
Your favorite free iPhone apps?
Did we miss any of your favorite free iPhone and iPod touch apps? If so, head on over to our iPhone apps and games forum and add yours to the favorite free iPhone apps list! We'll be updating this post often, so your pick could be next!
Rene Ritchie, Ally Kazmucha, Gary Mazo, and Simon Sage contributed to this article