Apple pre-loads every iPhone with a slew of its own first-party apps — but thankfully, the App Store is overflowing with alternative apps, many of which are better than Apple’s.
Whether you’re looking to organise your photos, get some work done, or get around town, we’ve scoured the App Store for the best apps that are better than the default ones you’ll get on your iPhone.
Microsoft recently purchased the Acompli email app, and Outlook is essentially that app with a new skin on it. Still, this is the most robust and most refined email app out there: You can create a quick filter on your flagged and unread emails, check out all the attachments and files that have been emailed to you in one dedicated folder, and also gives you tabs for your calendar and contacts, which are nice additions aimed at making you more productive.
(Microsoft Outlook, Free)
Like Apple's Calendar app, Sunrise can pull in data from all your other calendars -- but it it can do so much more: You can set reminders, see weather forecasts based on your location, and see your entire day at a glance without having to press any buttons. You can also RSVP to various event invitations via Google and Facebook right in the app, and sync all your data across all your devices.
Sunrise is also in the process of being acquired by Microsoft, and will probably be rebranded as a Microsoft app at some point.
Apple's Notes app is a little too simple: There's no way to organise or tag your notes, or create different types of notes. With Evernote, you can tag all your notes to keep them organised, create notes out from photos or text, flag certain notes to revisit later or even set reminders for yourself. Better yet, if you take pictures of documents and upload them to Evernote, its powerful search function can even scan those PDFs and other documents. And, of course, Evernote syncs across all devices, from phones and tablets to laptops and desktops.
Apple is reportedly working on bolstering its two-year-old mapping and navigation app, but until then, Google offers the most detailed, reliable data, whether you're looking to walk, drive, or take a bus or train from A to B. In case you're driving, its turn-by-turn navigation also helps you with lane guidance.
(Google Maps, Free)
Apple's Voice memos app is nice, but it doesn't give you a great way to organise or annotate all your recordings. Enter Recordium, which lets you edit your clips right in the app, annotate any part of the recording, and it will even sync with your favourite cloud storage service like Google Drive or Dropbox.
Apple's Contacts app has barely changed over the years -- it's still a giant list of the people you know, with all of their personal information attached to their own personal 'cards.' Still, it's tough to organise these contacts besides alphabetically, and it's tough to remember who each contact is and how they got in your phone. Enter Humin, which shows you how you met all your contacts based on context, such as 'lives in Williamsburg' or 'met last week.'
The Music app (née 'iPod') is pretty cut and dry: You load your music onto iTunes, sync with your phone, and enjoy. You can view your music by genre, artist, album, or song, but you're limited to whatever you've already put in iTunes. Spotify, meanwhile, has access to most music you could imagine, including new albums and singles -- but it also offers much more in the way of features. You can sync your playlists across devices, download tracks for offline listening through Spotify Premium, and find new music through curated playlists and 'trending' albums.
Apple's and Yahoo's weather apps both cull data from the same source: The Weather Channel's 'Weather Underground' service. While Apple's built-in weather app is simple, Yahoo's is much more beautiful to look at, since your unique city and weather conditions will give you a good idea of what it's like outside in your neck of the woods.
(Yahoo Weather, Free)
Apple's default web browser looks downright watered down compared to everything you can do in the Mercury web browser for iPhone. Not only will it sync all your Chrome or Firefox bookmarks, you can also choose a background theme, use real tabs (up to 10 can be open at once), browse webpages in full screen mode, screenshot and doodle on any website, browse privately, and so much more. It even supports a variety of extensions, like LastPass, Google Translate, and most importantly, Ad Block.
(Mercury Web Browser, Free)
Apple's Numbers app is helpful for creating charts, but Excel is still the best spreadsheet application out there -- and it will sync across all your devices. The iPhone app even has a special formula keyboard that lets you compute more quickly, which is much easier than working with a standard keyboard.
(Microsoft Excel, Free)
Apple's Pages has plenty of useful tools, but it's not always easy to read or format on the smaller iPhone screen. In bringing Word to the iPhone, Microsoft made sure it had built-in modes for easy reading versus the real document layout, and it's very easy to write and format your documents with text, photos, and equations -- and have it all look good on other devices, seamlessly.
(Microsoft Word, Free)
Keynote offers a basic slideshow creator and editor with plenty of transition animations and formatting options, but it doesn't hold a candle to PowerPoint. Microsoft's app lets you create slideshows that sync across all devices, but it also lets you view your notes as your presentation is beamed to a bigger screen, and you can even draw all over your presentation right from your iPhone in real-time.
(Microsoft PowerPoint, Free)
Videoshop makes it exceedingly simple to cut and combine your iPhone videos into one big movie -- you can also add filters, music, animated titles, and even apply slo-mo or fast-motion to your videos to get the desired effect. Once you're all done, sharing to your favourite social network is as easy as a button tap.
Apple's Health app more or less collects data from other apps, but it assumes you use a ton of fitness-tracking devices besides your iPhone, which can count steps and stairs by itself. MyFitnessPal, on the other hand, offers much more in the way of tracking your own fitness: It's easy to track your diet using its immense database of foods (you can even scan barcodes), and it also works with over 60 fitness-tracking devices and apps to give you a picture of your overall health. You can see your progress at a glance, and you can even add notes to your 'diary' for future reference. In general, it's just a much more complete app -- you can even share your progress to your favourite social network in case you need cheering on.
Apple's iTunes U app is great for students or interested learners that want to view full courses from leading universities, things like history or science or even foreign language. It also offers plenty of resources for teachers, too, but with so many options, it's not always easy to know where to start. Khan Academy offers many of the same features as iTunes U, but it's all brought together in an extremely intuitive interface that lets you first choose what you want to learn, and then hone in on certain subjects, courses, and videos. It even has a ton of resources for test preparation, whether you're getting ready to take your SATs or your MCATs.
(Khan Academy, Free)
Plenty of people will say they never asked for Apple's Stocks app, even though it's impossible to delete from their phone. But Stocks is child's play compared to StockTracker, which tracks indicies, currencies, futures, and even BitCoin -- all in real-time. (Apple's Stocks app updates every several seconds, but not nearly as quickly as StockTracker.) It also has a useful currency converter, you can set up alerts, and you can even check up on bullish or bearish signal scans for any given market, at home or abroad.