If you or someone you know has just joined the Apple community by purchasing an iPhone for the first time, one of the big questions will be, “What apps should I download?” With more than 1.5 million apps, that is a difficult question to answer. But if your question is, “What are the apps I need right now?” We can help you out with that.
Whether you are a social butterfly, a busy bee, or a music-loving songbird there are a handful of must-have apps that are the basic starters for every new iPhone user. Once you’ve established your foundation, you can dig deeper, but here are the apps you need on day one.
There are more than 1.5 billion Facebook users worldwide. Considering the planet has about seven billion people on it, that’s a lot of Facebook users. Which means, if you use Facebook, you’ll want to get the iOS app right away. Plus, you can link your Facebook account to your iPhone and enable Siri to post status updates for you.
Twitter may not be quite as saturated as Facebook, but the microblogging site still manages to permeate our daily lives pretty well. If you have a Twitter account, you’ll want this app. Some will tell you that there are better third-party Twitter clients out there, but if you want Siri to post tweets for you, you’ll need the official app.
When it comes to social photography, Instagram is second to none. When you follow your friends, celebrities, and trending topics, you’ll be showered with pictures of food, feet, and duck faces. Meanwhile, you’ll be able to grace the world with your perfectly poised selfies.
Skype for iPhone
Skype is like FaceTime, but for all platforms. You can use it for video conferencing, group chats, and just staying in touch with friends and family. Even if your grandparents don’t know what a smart phone is, chances are, they have the technology to Skype with you.
If you have a Gmail or Google+ account, you’ve probably already “Hung out” with other users through Google’s chat window or social networking site. Hangouts is similar to Skype, but only for Google accounts.
Believe it or not, the app for the most popular social networking site in the universe makes you use a completely separate app for chatting. Good news with Messenger, you don’t have to be Facebook friends with someone to chat with them. So, it’s like having 1.5 billion friends in your back pocket.
If this is your first smart phone, you’ll quickly realize just how many passwords you’ll need for different apps and websites. 1Password stores those passwords for you, along with credit card information, profile data, and a whole lot more. The best part is, you will only have to actually remember the one password you use to log in. Even better, if your iPhone has Touch ID (iPhone 5s or newer), you can log in with your fingerprint.
Word, Excel, PowerPoint (plus maybe OneNote and Outlook). These are the basic staples of the average computer-using human. There is a pretty good chance that you use one or all of these programs in your office environment. With Microsoft’s Office 365 subscription, you can access all of your important files on your iPhone. Plus you can create, edit, and share documents on the go. It’s a must have for most of us.
Apple doesn’t really call it “iWork” anymore, but it is the company’s answer to Microsoft Office. Pages, Numbers, and Keynote will get you the same results with a different interface. And, if your working companions are on Microsoft, it’s no problem. You can export your documents in their counterparts. With iCloud, you can store all of your work in the cloud for easy access from any iOS device, or on the web, whether you are using a Mac or PC.
Now that you are a part of the Apple ecosystem, it is time to maximize your benefits. One of those choice bonuses is Apple Music. With it, you have access to Apple’s wealth of tunes. You can listen to full albums in their entirety, create your own playlists with your favorite tracks, and listen to brand new music without having to buy it. You can also download everything for offline listening.
Spotify is similar to Apple Music, but basically just isn’t Apple Music. If you are new to the Apple ecosystem, chances are you are a Spotify user. In that case, keep all of your history and playlists nearby with the official app. The benefit of having Spotify around is that you can still stream music without having to pay for it, you just have to listen in shuffle mode.
Pandora is like the grandfather of streaming music. It works a lot differently than Spotify or Apple Music. It’s more like a radio station that you are in charge of. Pandora is great for hitting the play button and letting the music flow. It should be in every music lover’s arsenal.
SoundHound is a music identification app — tap to allow it to listen to the song that’s playing wherever you are, and it’ll come back with which song it is, who sings it, lyrics, and more. You can also connect SoundHound to Spotify and Apple Music to add discovered songs to playlists so that you can enjoy them later. Never ask “Who sings this?” again!
You can get your on-demand fix of thousands of TV shows and movies with Hulu. On the iPhone, you’ll need a paid subscription. But, that means you can watch the latest and greatest of Hulu’s catalogue whenever you want. If you have a subscription to Hulu, you’ll want it on your Home screen.
Similar to Hulu, Netflix lets you stream thousands of TV shows and movies right on your iPhone. But, you’ll need a subscription to the streaming service. If you are already watching Netflix shows and movies on your computer or set-top box, you’ll be happy to have the same great content delivered right to your mobile device.
The YouTube app almost belongs in the social networking section because it is much more than just a media streaming service. It is also a place where nobodies become famous and everyone has a chance at their five minutes of fame. With YouTube on your iPhone, you can film your next mini movie, edit it, and publish it without having to switch over to another screen. Or, you could just watch cat videos all day.
When it comes to keeping important files close by without taking up storage space on your iPhone, Dropbox is tops. You can store anything, movies, music, photos, PDFs, e-books, whatever, and even share it with others without having to give them access to your account. Thanks to cross-platform compatibility, everyone can use dropbox, as long as they have access to the Internet. If you have a Dropbox account, get this app.
Google Drive is another great cloud storage service, but it requires a Google account. If you are signed up with Google, you can save documents, videos, pictures, and more. You can also work in Google Docs within the cloud storage service and collaborate in real-time with others. A lot of companies use Google Drive because it is so easy to share information with employees. If you are already signed up with Google, you’ll appreciate having Google Drive on your Home screen.
Microsoft’s cloud storage service is not just for Office. You can store documents (non-Office ones, too), photos, music, videos, contacts, and more. You can easily share documents with others and because OneDrive is cross-platform, you can access your account from any device. If you have a Microsoft 365 account, your features grow exponentially.
Apple’s Maps app has grown into its own over the past few years and works incredibly well on the iPhone. But, there are still a few missing features, or tools that don’t work in all areas. That’s why you’ll need Google Maps as a backup. Google Maps has just been around a lot longer, and so has a more polished feature set that works in more locations.
Just because you are not using a Kindle, doesn’t mean you can’t read your Kindle books. Amazon makes it possible for you to download and read your purchased Kindle books on your iPhone. You can even listen to your Amazon audiobooks. You have to buy books through Amazon, but once purchased, you can download them right onto your iPhone and read whenever you want.
You’re going to need some way of counting those steps you take everyday and logging them into Apple’s Health app. Fitbit’s fitness app is great because you don’t have to have any additional equipment for basic walk and run tracking. But, if you own any of the company’s many wearable fitness trackers, you can store all of your data on your iPhone. If you don’t already own an Apple Watch, or you are leaning more toward FitBit for your health and fitness needs, you’ll enjoy the features that the Fitbit app has to offer.
Nike+ Run Club
If you are an avid runner, or even if you are just starting out, the Nike+ Run Club app is a personal trainer that will help you reach your goals. It tracks and stores your runs and coaches you along the way, no matter what your level. You can compete with other members of the Run Club to help motivate you to get moving. It connects to Apple Music for inspirational beats. You also can share your activities with friends so they can encourage your success.
Just because it’s called Runtastic, doesn’t mean you have to use it just for running. You can choose from a number of different activities, including football, cross fit, rock climbing, and more. You can select your type of workout from such options as interval training, target pace, and a few others. If you don’t have a route for your exercise routine, you can pick one from nearby routes that others have added to the program. You can also share your activities with friends and help encourage each other to stay motivated.
Apple’s Weather app has everything you need to check the forecast ahead, but Dark Sky has one fantastic feature that the native Weather app doesn’t. It lets you know, within minutes, whether it is going to start raining or snowing. So, during the wet seasons, you can use it to plan your immediate outdoor activities. Hoping to go for a walk? Check Dark Sky to see how much time you have before the rain will start to fall again. Use the Weather app for your daily reports and Dark Sky for checking in on impending downpours.
Works with Siri
Peer-to-peer payment has gotten a whole lot easier now that Siri can facilitate the transaction for you. Simply say, “Pay [name] with Square Cash” and the digital personal assistant will open up an on-screen widget to allow you to confirm that you want to follow through with the payment. You can also ask Siri to request payment from someone if your friend owes you money. That way, you don’t have to do it yourself. Conflict avoided.
Lyft is a peer-to-peer “ride sharing” service that makes it very easy for you to catch a ride. You may have seen those pink mustaches on the front of cars in the past (luckily, they don’t use those anymore). That’s Lyft. Thanks to Siri integration, you can call for a car simply by activating Siri and saying, “Get me a Lyft to the airport” or wherever you are headed. If you have multiple ride-hailing apps (like Uber), you’ll be offered a choice of which service you’d prefer to use.
Trails . Outdoor GPS Logbook
Trails is a GPS tracking app that keeps a close eye on your movement. It also has an offline topographic map that you can access from the Pro version, which can be used when you head out on those mountain hikes where cellular service is dark. When you are ready to head out, tell Siri to “Track my walking” or running, or cycling, or horseback, or skiing. It will automatically set up your criteria so you can get on the move without hesitation. When you are done, tell Siri to “Stop tracking.”
Of course, we are going to recommend the iMore sticker pack as one of the best sticker packs you can get because we want to help make your iMessage conversations as fun as possible. If someone calls you a Millennial, respond with Mikah Sargent’s eye roll. When everything goes well, drop a Serenity Caldwell ++ sticker onto a chat bubble. When someone makes you angry, Rene Ritchie’s “Srsly?” will express your feelings perfectly. We want to be a part of your conversations.
Believe it or not, there was a time in the past when people had to type in keyboard symbols when they wanted to express emotion. Retro Emoji takes you all the way back to ASCII days with about two dozen popular old-school emoticons. You can let someone know you love them with a heart-eyed key symbol smile or express your anger with my favorite, the table flip. Your older friends will enjoy the memories and your younger friends will think you are cool for knowing so much about character codes (or, maybe they will just think you are a nerd).
Sometimes, a big red stamp expresses your feelings more to-the-point than any smily face or hand jive could ever do. The Stamp Pack is bursting with bright, bold, red stamp stickers that will express your emotions with authority. You’ll feel like a bureaucrat and your friends will feel like they have to make an appointment in order to speak with you.
What could be better than making stickers yourself? Assembly is a vector design tool that comes with hundreds of shapes and illustrations so you can create the perfect sticker for every occasion, even ones that are personal inside jokes that you share with only one other person. Imagine how cool that would be? Once you create your stickers in the app, open the sticker pack in your Messages app tray and look under “My Stickers” to access them. It is a most personal way to sticker-ize your conversations.
Works with Maps
If you are looking for a place to eat, shop, drink, get gas, or practically anything that is open to the public, you can find out more detailed information from others who have patronized the business with Yelp integration in Apple Maps. It is the easiest way to learn from real people about a business you may want to visit soon.
After you’ve found a place to eat using Apple Maps, you can then make reservations, right from the app thanks to OpenTable integration. Find a restaurant you want to go to. If it takes reservations and is set up with OpenTable, you can find a date and time while still in the map. If there are no reservations available, you won’t have to switch between apps to go back and search for something different. OpenTable also works with Siri now, so you can have the digital personal assistant do the work for you.
Once you’ve found a restaurant and made reservations through OpenTable, you don’t even have to drive to your destination. With Uber integration in the Maps app, you can book a ride without leaving the app. Select the location, tap “Get Directions” and then tap “Ride.” You can choose your type of Uber ride and see the estimated wait time and cost. When you book a car, you’ll be able to track it to your current location. You can see photos, read reviews, find out about reservations, review menus, and even check in to Yelp by selecting a business on the Map.
Works with Messages
Yes, you can play games with your friends in the Messages app. Game Pigeon is great because it comes with six different games (with more to come), so game players of all types can enjoy an afternoon chatting with someone over a nice game. Play pool, poker, a version of Battleship, and more. You can have multiple games going with different people at the same time. It isn’t particularly complicated, so you don’t have to worry about spending too much time in your chat window.
JibJab is one of those silly internet sensations that is ridiculous, but hilarious. You can make your friends (and coworkers) smile with a funny little song-and-dance, right inside the Messages app on your iPhone. Take a picture of yourself in the app. Make sure it’s a funny one. Then, open the Messages app and pick the funniest GIF you can find. Some of them are really funny. Your friends will LOL, literally.
Messages isn’t just for fun and games. You can also plan your evening. Find out what movies are playing in your area and share them with the crew. Fandango shows movies that are playing locally, plus, you can add a show time and pick a specific theater. If your crew is down, you can even buy the tickets, right in iMessages. It can’t get any easier than that!
These are the apps we think every new iPhone owner should download right out of the box, but there are so many more great apps that are worth downloading once you’ve gone around the block once or twice. To our regular readers – let the noobs know what you think are other great apps they should look into.
Updated February 2018: Last updated in September 2017.
Best apps for first-time iPhone owners