Smartphones aren't cheap these days, and that's especially true of Apple's devices. Even if you opt for the iPhone XR, you're still spending $749 on a new phone — less expensive than the $999 iPhone XS to be sure, but still a pretty big chunk of change. If you're looking for ways to save on your mobile budget, why not start with apps? The App Store is loaded up with free options ready to fill up your new iPhone. Here are 40 free iOS apps that we think have earned a spot on your mobile device. (Photo Credit: Tom's Guide)
Noted turns your iPhone into a powerful audio recording and note-taking tool perfect for keeping track of lectures, meetings, interviews and other occasions. The app records audio, while also allowing users to type out notes (with rich text and image support), which are automatically time stamped with bookmark-like searchable "time tags" for easier navigation. Recordings and their accompanying notes can be synced through iCloud, organized into notebooks, and quickly searched through, with the help of time tags, audio scrubbing and fast playback. Noted's free tier has core functionality and lets you save up to five recordings, with premium plans removing that limit and adding features such as noise reduction and exporting notes to PDF.
What Noted is to audio notes, Scanbot is to documents. Scanbot turns your iPhone into a powerful portable scanning tool, allowing you to scan documents and QR codes and save them in high quality JPG or PDF files. The resulting scans can be saved locally, shared to the cloud or faxed from within the app. Automatic edge detection and a wide array of filters, tools, and settings help you get the clearest scan possible from your iPhone's camera. That, in turn, allows you to create clear, readable electronic versions of your important documents and notes. While the app is free to use, premium subscribers get extra features like optical character recognition, iCloud synchronization, support for a variety of file transfer protocols, editing, encryption, and passcode protection.
Otter Voice Notes is a smart transcription app that can automatically transcribe your work nearly in real-time, complete with punctuation, speaker ID, and searchable playback of your recordings, using only your iPhone's internal mic or a bluetooth device. Users can edit transcripts to fix any errors, exporting transcripts to text or to other apps; you also have the option of sharing transcripts with a group or through public, view-only links. Otter Voice Notes' free plan doesn't even hobble the experience, offering users 600 minutes of transcribed audio every month. A $9.99-per-month subscription ups that to 6,000 minutes. It's a great productivity aid for classes, meetings, brainstorming sessions and impromptu interviews.
Agile Tortoise makes a mean note-taking and quickfire writing app with the aptly named Drafts, now in its 5th iteration. Fire Drafts up, and the app throws you a quick blank page with keyboard at the ready. New entries and notes get placed into an Inbox for later tagging and sorting. Alternatively, you can use any of the dozens of useful quick actions and app integrations to turn your jotted-down text notes into documents, tweets, social media notes, emails or messages, while Inboxed notes can be tagged for sorting, flagged for importance, or archived. The text editor itself is highly customizable, allowing you to tweak everything from spacing, line heights, margins, and more. A premium subscription lets you add and edit quick actions; it also adds themes and icons while introducing workspaces and other handy productivity features.
Transit is a fantastic aid to your urban commute, helping you plan out the fastest public transport routes to your destination. The app provides routes that combine numerous transportation methods — such as trains, buses, and bike sharing — while also factoring in short walks to each stop and wait times. Transit can provide real-time data on arrival times of your bus or train, compare routes, step-by-step navigation, and notifications for service line disruptions. You can even book an Uber or reserve a car2go from within the app if public transport has failed you.
Google Trips turns your smartphone into an all-in-one travel assistant, consolidating travel itineraries and reservations from your emails into automatically sorted trips. Google automatically collates your flight details, hotel and car reservations, tour itineraries and other information available in your emails. The app then augments that with recommendations, suggested day plans, and related local sights based on your tastes, interests and local travel tips. Users can save their trip details locally to their iPhone, allowing for offline use away from local Wi-Fi or pricey roaming rates.
Visionist uses neural network magic to turn your photos into works of art, with a variety of style profiles offering varying levels of abstraction that you can customize and blend together as you see fit. In addition to setting the strength of each style and blending them together or with the original image, Visionist also takes advantage of the depth data recorded in the iPhone's Portrait mode, allowing you to adjust the focal point and selectively color, mix, or add spotlights to the stylized image based on depth. Visionist comes with 10 different styles to experiment with for free; an in-app purchase unlocks an additional 60 styles.