The only 28 apps you need to have on your iPhone home screen

Which are the best apps you should be using?

We scoured the home screens of a dozen tech executives and sifted through the 100 best apps you can download to find the 28 essential apps for your homescreen.

Assuming you don’t sort your apps into folders, and assuming you have a big iPhone like the 6S Plus, that’s how many Apple allows you to see before having to flick to the next page of apps (six rows of four with four additional apps permanently stuck on the bottom of the screen).

You’ll want to personalise some of our picks based on your habits. For example, you may want to use Hailo instead of Uber if you live in Europe. And you may want to use Chase instead of Mint if that’s where you specifically bank.

Here are the best of the best apps, which deserve the most coveted real estate on your iPhone.

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First, to download all these apps, you're going to want to have the Apple App Store handy, which is an app in and of itself. So go ahead and stick that on your home screen.

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The official Apple App Store will let you download or update any app on your device. So keep this shortcut handy.

Price: Free

Available on: iOS. It comes pre-loaded on your phone once it's activated.

You might as well keep the native Settings App on your homescreen too. You'll constantly need it to change things like location settings or to add WiFi information. Also keep the 'Safari,' 'Phone,' 'Camera' and 'Messages' native apps on your home screen, because you'll use these for most text messages, web-browsing, and to place most calls.

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Use these apps for basic phone functions, like setting your alarm, connecting to WiFi, sending text messages and calling friends. There are some substitute apps you could swap. For example you could use the Rise alarm clock app, but most people enjoy using Apple's native alarm clock app well enough.

There are a few other native Apple apps you'll want to keep on your home screen. Calendar is one of them, although you could sub a calendar alternative like Fantastical 2.


Fantastical 2 is an easy-t0-use iPhone calendar app if you're not satisfied with the native Apple calendar app. It will keep you organised and it will turn whatever you type into a calendar date.

For example you can type, 'Meet with Alyson for lunch at Business Insider at noon and Fantastical will plug it in.

Price: $2.99 for Fantastical 2

Available: iOS

Facebook Messenger will help you easily chat with friends, even if their numbers aren't in your phone book.


Facebook's decision to break Messenger out of its main app in 2014 turned out to be a very smart move. Messenger now has 700 million users worldwide, and it's become much more than a way to send text messages to friends.

Messenger can now send money, make video and phone calls over the internet, and send stickers and animated GIFs with ease. When Facebook's virtual assistant 'M' becomes available outside of San Francisco, Messenger will be able to do anything from order a pair of shoes to call your cable company for you.

If the future is one app that does everything, Messenger is poised to be a big winner.

Price: Free

Available on: iOS, Android, web

Instagram is the best way to see what's going on with your friends, and with the people you wish were your friends.


Even after its acquisition by Facebook for $1 billion in 2012, Instagram has proven that it's focused on what's gotten it this far: the community.

'Calling Instagram a photo-sharing app is like calling a newspaper a letter-sharing book, or a Mozart grand era symphony a series of notes,' Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom recently told The Guardian. 'Instagram is less about the medium and more about the network.'

Price: Free

Available on: iOS, Android, web

WhatsApp is the most popular way to talk with people around the world.

A screenshot of the site in September 2009

WhatsApp is used by over 900 million people around the world, and a whopping 30 billion messages have been sent through its servers. Its popularity took off because it uses an internet connection to send messages instead of traditional cellular networks, so messages don't count against the allotment from your wireless carrier.

Another reason WhatsApp spread quickly around the world is that it populates your friends list with phone numbers already on your phone -- you can find a contact that works without having to look up a separate email address or username.

Price: Free

Available on: iOS, Android

For any photo or conversation you don't want to leave a trace of, use a more secure messaging app like Telegram, Confide, or Snapchat. Snapchat is the most popular solution and it gives you additional features, like video chatting, Stories, and news on Discover.

Getty Images/Clemens Bilan

With more than 100 million daily active users and a primary audience of 18 to 24-year-olds, Snapchat is nothing short of a cultural phenomenon.

The app's Discover section also features interactive content from a range of publishers, including BuzzFeed, Mashable, CNN, People, and Vice. The goal seems to be keeping Snapchat's users in the app as long as possible -- and it's working.

Price: Free

Available on: iOS, Android

If you're a newshound and you want to know about something the moment it happens, there's nothing better than Twitter.

Bethany Clarke/Getty Images
Photo illustration of Twitter logo in front of stock graph

Whether you use it or not, there's no denying that Twitter has changed the way news is spread and reported. When the riots in Ferguson, Missouri began, people on the ground shared firsthand accounts of what was happening there on Twitter. And when events like the recent presidential primary debates take place, Twitter lights up with commentary, jokes, GIFs, and quick analysis.

We'll see if Moments, the company's latest endeavour into curating the news and making the service appeal to a wider audience, will catch on.

Price: Free

Available on:
iOS, Android

If you're single, you'll probably want to keep a dating app like Tinder or Hinge accessible.


Let's face it: For better or for worse, no app has revolutionised dating like Tinder. Its simple swipe-right-to-like, swipe-left-to-dislike interface has exposed the darker sides of hookup culture, but has also led to marriages.

Price: Free

Available on:
iOS, Android

For your commute and in order to not get stranded in general, you'll want to have Uber or another preferred on-demand car service at your finger tips.

Getty / Oli Scarff

Uber made hailing a ride with a smartphone app go mainstream. Tap a button to summon a car, tell it where you want to go in the app, and pay for the ride with your credit card stored in the app.

If the company has its say, Uber could eventually become the way we get everything from our packages to our groceries.

Price: Free

Available on: iOS, Android

To stay productive when you're on the go, keep whatever chat messenger your company uses on your home screen -- like the Slack app.


Think of Slack like the modern equivalent of an internet chat room that eliminates the need for email. Log in to communicate with your colleagues in public channels or private groups, share files, and more.

The app is geared toward businesses large and small that need a way for their employees to communicate internally, and it's hugely popular. Other apps and services can integrate directly with Slack too, which makes it kind of like a command center for getting stuff done at work.

Price: Free

Available on: iOS, Android, web

If you want to know when it's about to rain in your town, it's worth downloading Dark Sky, the best weather app $4 can buy.

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Most weather apps give you a basic forecast. But Dark Sky takes it a step further with notifications that warn you when it's about to rain or snow in your exact location. It's also an excellent app with a beautifully minimalist design and access to weather radar.

It's like having a weather psychic in your pocket, and you'll be glad you bought it the next time you almost get caught in the rain.

Price: $3.99

Available on: iOS

Honestly, the native Apple mail app stinks. So you should download either Gmail or Microsoft Outlook to manage all your inboxes. We prefer Outlook.

Devan Joseph

Leave it to Microsoft to take one of the most despised corporate email platforms, Exchange, and give it one of the best mobile email apps.

Thanks to its acquisition of the email app Acompli late last year, the Microsoft Outlook app has become quite good. It integrates with Exchange (of course), Office 365,, Apple's iCloud, Gmail, and Yahoo Mail. There's a built-in calendar view, quick access to files stored in attachments, and some smart filters that once you use, you find hard to live without.

It's simply the best email app you can use.

Price: Free

Available on:
iOS, Android

Venmo makes sending money to friends as easy as sending a text message.

Venmo via YouTube

Venmo syncs with your checking account or debit card for transactions. Soon you'll be able to set up groups in the app for managing transactions you want shared between people -- perfect for paying rent.

Venmo is also a mini-social network. You can see what other people are paying each other for along with playful emoji descriptions. Just don't get 'Venvy.' (And yes, you can make private payments).

Price: Free

Available on: iOS, Android, web

For your downtime, get yourself Netflix and watch almost anything on demand.

Getty Images

If you haven't spent a weekend binge-watching a Netflix original series like 'House of Cards' or 'Orange is the New Black,' you're missing out. For a base monthly subscription (plans start at $7.99, but most popular is the $9.99 per month plan), you get access to all of the shows and movies on Netflix, and you can watch them on pretty much any device.

Price: Prices vary, but start at $7.99 per month

Available on: iOS, Android

Music is another must-have on your home screen. Apple's Music app is OK if you're still using iTunes, but you should upgrade to something like Spotify if you want to listen to tons of new music without having to pay to own every song. People also like Pandora, which is better for personalised play lists and music discovery.

App Store

Spotify is the best streaming music service for most people. As competition in the streaming music space has heated up -- Apple's long-awaited Apple Music service launched over the summer -- Spotify has been adding some great new features. One of those is Discover Weekly, which builds a custom playlist each week for every Spotify user.

The app supports free listening on shuffle with ads, while a Spotify Premium subscription unlocks everything, including offline mode for when you can't stream.

Price: Free ($9.99 per month optional subscription)

Available on: iOS, Android

Dropbox is an easy way to store files in the cloud.

App Annie

Dropbox is a reliable and well-designed cloud storage app that works well on multiple devices.

You can automatically upload photos from your phone and store them in Dropbox, comment on documents you have shared with other people, and of course browse everything you have stored online.

Price: Free

Available on: iOS, Android

When you're hungry and don't feel like cooking, Seamless is a popular ordering solution for local venues, particularly on the east coast of the US. There may be a more popular take-out app in your area, like GrubHub or Munchery, you'll want to download instead.


Seamless changed takeout by allowing people to order food through their computer and smartphone instead of calling a restaurant. The service, which is part of the online and mobile food ordering company GrubHub, allows people to order from around 35,000 restaurants in more than 900 cities.

Price: Free

Available on:
iOS, Android

Pinterest helps you figure out what to shop for, and you can lose hours just scrolling through pretty photos of things you didn't even know you wanted. It's particularly helpful in planning big life moments, like how to decorate a new home or how to plan for a wedding.

Pinterest describes itself as 'a visual bookmarking tool that helps you discover and save creative ideas.' Users can 'pin' images to the service and share them in collections, or 'boards,' that other users can follow.

The social network has 100 million monthly active users, the majority of which are women.

Price: Free

Available on:
iOS, Android

Evernote lets you quickly take notes and access them in the cloud from anywhere, even someone else's computer.


Evernote is one of the best note-taking apps available, and it stores everything in the cloud so you can access it from any device. Keep grocery lists or do some journaling. It lets you take voice notes and store other files too.

Price: Free

Available on: Android, iOS, Windows Phone, PC, Mac, Google Chrome, and the Web

Use Mint to manage all your bank accounts and bills in one place.


If you ever want to know your networth, just open up Mint and it tells you right at the top of the app. Mint lets you connect to all your bank accounts, and it divides what you're spending each month into categories so you can curb your buying and manage bills as they pop up.

Price: Free

Available on: iOS, Android

To stay entertained, download hit games like Candy Crush. Other popular games right now are Trivia Crack and 1010!

There may be no game more addicting in the history of iPhone apps, and Candy Crush seems to withstand the test of time.

Candy Crush is like Bejeweled with some hints of Tetris. You're constantly matching similar candies together to try and beat the goal of each level.

Price: Free, but there are a lot of in-app purchase options

Available on: on iOS and Android

Google Maps is essential for being able to find your way around, whether you're walking, driving, or taking the subway.


Google Maps blows Apple Maps away, so it's worth upgrading from Apple's native app here. Your blue blinking dot will show you if you're facing north, east, south or west if you're walking so you can head the right direction down the street.

Google Maps also has driving directions and public transportation directions with times detailing when each train will arrive so you can more easily make connections and plan trips.

Price: Free

Available on: Android, iOS

BONUS: Maybe you're more of a reader than a photo or social networking person. In that case, try swapping a Pinterest or an Instagram for something like Pocket, which lets you save articles for later, or NYT Now. NYT Now is great for digesting the news and it curates stories from multiple publications (including Business Insider!)


The New York Times exemplifies how to make a great news app with NYT Now. The app is run by a dedicated team at the Times and updated throughout the day with breaking news, features, stories from other publications, and easily digestible breakdowns of the day's news highlights. Even better, you can use it for free, even if you don't subscribe to The New York Times.

Price: Free

Available on: iOS

When you're done, your recommended iPhone homescreen should look something like this:

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  1. Settings (comes pre-loaded)
  2. Phone (comes pre-loaded)
  3. Messages (comes pre-loaded)
  4. App Store (comes pre-loaded)
  5. Safari (comes pre-loaded, or you could sub it for the Google Chrome app)
  6. Clock (comes pre-loaded, or you could try an app like Rise)
  7. Camera (comes pre-loaded)
  8. Facebook Messenger
  9. Instagram
  10. WhatsApp
  11. Snapchat
  12. Twitter
  13. Tinder (or Hinge)
  14. Uber (or another on-demand substitute for your area, like Didi, Hailo or Lyft)
  15. Seamless (or another local delivery substitute for your area, like Munchery)
  16. Slack
  17. Dark Sky
  18. Microsoft Outlook (or sub Gmail)
  19. Venmo
  20. Netflix
  21. Spotify (or Pandora)
  22. Dropbox
  23. Vine
  24. Pinterest
  25. Evernote
  26. Mint
  27. Google Maps
  28. Candy Crush
  29. Bonus: Pocket and/or NYT Now

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