Ready, set, app!
So you’ve just unwrapped a shiny new iPhone, switched it on and signed in with your Apple account… Congratulations! You’re now an iPhone owner, and you must have been very, very good this year for Santa to leave this under your tree.
But what now? It’s time to make the most of your new handset, and that means getting some top apps on it. Here’s our pick of the 15 apps you need to download on your new iPhone 6S, 6S Plus, 6, 6 Plus or 5S.
- Want more? Check out our Best iPhone apps 2015
Apple’s iBooks is a solid book reading app, but there’s a more fundamental problem than how swishy turning the pages is. The platform. Simply put, the iBooks catalogue isn’t as expansive as Amazon’s digital Kindle catalogue, so if you want the best selection of books to read you need to go with Amazon.
There’s also the added advantage that if you stick with Amazon, your ebooks become device agnostic. As there’s a Kindle app available for Android as well as the web browser, if you decide to make the move to Android in a few years you won’t lose access to your bookshelf with it.
Your new iPhone will have a built in weather app, which is fine for a quick glance at the forecast, but for those wanting more information you’ll need to look elsewhere.
AccuWeather is one of the most accomplished weather offerings on the App Store, and its RealFeel data can tell you just how hot or cold you’ll feel when you step outside. There’s also an Apple Watch app too, giving you the latest info on your wrist.
It’s important to keep your photos backed up. That way, if the worst happens and your phone is smashed or stolen, you won’t lose your precious memories.
Google Photos is the app best positioned to help with this. The almighty Google in its benevolent wisdom offers free, unlimited photo storage space – and will automatically look at your camera roll and upload anything new.
Better still, once uploaded not only will your snaps be available on any device and the web, but Google will also index them to a creepy extent using its advanced machine learning to figure out what exactly is in the photos.
So there’s no need to add labels: you can simply type someone’s name and Google will find them.
Another app that is better than the one Apple provides is Google Calendar.
Not only will it more reliably keep your appointments in sync than the built in calendar, but it also defaults on the “Agenda” view – which the official app refuses to.
If you make an appointment with an address Google recognises, it will shade the appointment box with a map. If you use a keyword like “Xmas”, it will give it a Christmas theme, and so on. Essentially it is very elegant, and does the job it is supposed to nicely – and what more can you ask from a calendar?
WhatsApp is one of the most essential apps you can install on your iOS device, especially if you have friends and family across the world.
Rather than worrying about your SMS allowance or signal, WhatsApp lets you send messages over any Wi-Fi or mobile data connection instead. You can also send and receive photos with no size restrictions, and if you’re using Wi-Fi (or you have unlimited mobile data) they won’t cost you any extra to send.
If you want to know how to get from A to B in one of the world’s major cities, whether it’s London, New York, Paris or a tonne of others, CityMapper is your best bet when it comes to mastering public transport like a local.
The app uses real time feeds from different public transport agencies to calculate your optimal route. It will show you all the different options, bus, train, metro etc, with details on which will be faster and which will cost more. Plus it can also show you a comparable taxi or Uber cost.
CityMapper is great because of all of the extra bells and whistles too: It’ll even tell you the optimal place to stand on a platform for a quick interchange, and you can set it to vibrate and alert you when you get to the right bus stop.
The modern world is one of multiple devices. You might use a laptop at work, read using your phone on the bus and kick back on the sofa with your tablet… but what if you want to send something between them?
PushBullet is an under-appreciated yet super useful little app which makes sending content between devices a breeze. Simply attach the photo or paste the link or text and hit send, and you’ll get a notification on other other devices.
You can even send and receive stuff with friends. There’s essentially a built in messaging client too.
If you want to transfer files from your computer to your new iPhone, particularly if they are large, then one of the best ways to do it using Sync from BitTorrent. Don’t worry – this isn’t anything dodgy or piracy related – it’s an app for transferring your own files using the BitTorrent protocol.
What makes it particularly useful for large files is the way BitTorrent works. It basically breaks down files into smaller parts and transfer them chunks at a time. This means that if the connection is interrupted for any reason, it can resume from where it left off.
Once the files are on your iPhone, you can then either open them in the app if they are pictures or videos, or send them to other apps on your phone to open there instead.
The great, yet frustrating thing about the web is that there is so much to read. How can we find the time? Instapaper helps solve this problem in two steps.
First, you install the Instapaper bookmarklet on your computer and when you come across a great #longread that you don’t have time for, simply hit “Read Later”. Then if you head over to the app, you’ll find it has appeared there for reading, and has been automatically formatted for paginated reading like a book.
You can even read offline and sync it later, so is perfect for taking on a plane or train too.
While mobile devices will never fully replace the desktop Photoshop experience for image editing (no matter what an iPad Pro and Pencil stylus may try to persuade you), Snapseed is great for making small tweaks on the go.
Crop out that awkward thing in the background, adjust the contrast or exposure – or apply Instagram style filters, so you can be sure that your photos aren’t too embarrassing.
The best movie player for desktop is also available on iOS. Supporting a dizzying array of codecs and filetypes, if VLC can’t play it nothing will.
The iOS app has baked in support for playing files direct from Google Drive, Dropbox and other services – as well as wifi transfer with a PC.
If you use Twitter, you owe it to yourself to get Tweetbot 4 for your new iPhone. Sure, it’ll set you back £3.99 unlike the official Twitter app, but it is a vastly improved experience.
With support for multiple accounts, syncing timelines across devices (so you can continue reading your tweets from where you left off), and a more sane approach to mentions and other activities (like favoriting), it makes Twitter a joy to use.
Inexplicably, some people haven’t got the memo that it is 21st century and still insists on doing things with paper. Fortunately, your 21st century device can do something about it.
Scanbot will enable you to use your iPhone camera as an ersatz scanner, to photograph and organise documents in a way that is easier to look back through later.
Taxi firm (sorry, Private Driver firm) Uber is a hugely controversial company… but annoyingly, like all big and controversial companies (looking at you, Amazon), the service provided is really, really excellent.
If you live in a big city, this app is essential to helping you get around. A massive improvement on the traditional taxi experience, you can track your driver in real time, tap in your destination to save awkward descriptions of where to go and even share your location with the person you’re travelling to meet.
And finally… some showing off. Periscope, which is made by Twitter, enables you to live stream video from your phone straight to the web, with all of your followers getting a notification so they can join in and chat with you live.
Whether there is much utility in Periscope remains to be seen, as the app is rather new, but as a statement of what our phones are capable of it is hugely impressive.
Just remember one thing though: Friends don’t let friends film in Portrait mode.