Ten Essential Free iOS & iPadOS Apps

One of the best things about the iPhone and the iPad is the range of apps available to download. There's an app for almost everything, and many are free. Here we round up ten of the best for your mobile device. All are entirely without charge; no demos or in-app purchases are necessary.

Google Translate

Developer: Google LLC
System Req: iPhone 4S and later, iOS version 8 and later

Translate typed text into and out of up to 103 languages, download language packs for offline use and even translate on the fly by pointing your camera at a notice, sign or page. It’s a massive boon for holidaymakers and travellers.


Developer: Netflix, Inc.
System Req: iOS 12.0 or later

If you have a Netflix subscription (and these days, who hasn’t?), you can watch its streaming services on your mobile devices by downloading the Netflix app. It’s easy to use and great for entertainment away from home, but mind your data usage.


Developer: Ctrip.com international
System Req: iOS 9.0 or later

This one’s a must-install for regular train travellers. You can check train times all over the country, with up-to-date information on delayed and cancelled services, buy tickets from within the app and take advantage of savings by splitting your tickets.


Developer: Wikimedia Foundation
System Req: iOS 11.0 or later

Wikipedia is an online encyclopaedia that anyone can edit. As a result, it covers an incredible subject range, of both academic and cultural significance. If there’s something you want to know, Wikipedia is a great place to start.

Blue Mail

Developer: Blue Mail Inc.
System Req: iOS 11.0 or later

The iPhone’s and iPad’s own Mail app is great for email, but if you dislike Mail, or want a second app – maybe one for personal email and one for work – Blue Mail is free and feature-packed. It’s straightforward to set up and use, and it supports a range of providers.

BBC News

Developer: BBC Media Applications Technologies Limited
System Req: iOS 10.0 or later

If you want to keep tabs on the news wherever you are, download and use the BBC News app. It’s updated throughout the day, offers notifications for new stories, plus newsflashes for breaking news, and in-app videos to watch as well as articles to read.


Developer: Ookla
System Req: iOS 10.0 or later

Is your ISP giving you the broadband speeds for which you’re paying? Do your speeds diminish in certain areas of the house? Download and use Speedtest to check. Your download and upload speeds are tested and the results collated.


Developer: Apple, Inc.
System Req: iOS 12.0 or later

If you haven’t downloaded this excellent word processor yet, do so now. You might want to download its sister apps, the Numbers spreadsheet and Keynote presentation app, too. They’re all great, giving professional quality results on your mobile devices.


Developer: Dan Vogt
System Req: iOS 8.0 or later

There had to be a game in here somewhere. DATA WING is described as ‘a neon racing adventure’, and although simplistic, it’s great fun to play. It boasts a story lasting over two hours, with more than 40 levels, and its two-touch controls are ideal for iPhone.


Developer: OverDrive, Inc.
System Req: iOS 9.0 or later

Do you know you can borrow ebooks and audiobooks from your local library, without even leaving your armchair? Simply open the Libby app, enter your details from your library card, and enjoy your borrowed books on your iPad or iPhone. It’s easy to use too.

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Ian Osborne

Ian has worked on computer and video games magazines since the legendary Crash and Zzap! 64 in the early Nineties, so he’s seen many changes over the years (including an expanding waistline and receding hairline). A lifelong Mac user, he bought his first Mac in the year 2000. It’s a testament to the resilience of the Mac that his mother is still using that computer to this very day.

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