Best free iPhone apps of all time

by Phil Hornshaw

What are the best free iPhone apps worth downloading right now? Although there are a lot of great free iPhone apps to choose from, time is money and here we are recommending the best free iPhone apps of all time.

Skype

Used to be that Skype was cool but not particularly useful. It allowed users to make phone calls to computers for free, which was nice, but in many ways it was a replacement phone service, with users buying minutes to make calls to other phones. No more, however -- Skype received a massive update in early 2011 that added free Skype-to-Skype video calling that has totally changed the game. Users can use their iPhones to video conference with users who are on their computers, or even other iOS and Skype-enabled TVs. In fact, all Skype-to-Skype calls are now free, and calls work over a Wi-Fi connection or using your phone’s 3G Internet connection. Instead of being stuck finding a Wi-Fi connection to have a video conference call, Skype lets you do it no matter where you are.

Pandora Radio

Free, streaming Internet radio is Pandora’s bag, but it’s set apart from other services, such as AOL Radio, because Pandora generates “stations” based on your specifications and preferences. The more time spent with Pandora, rating songs and making stations, the better the service gets at predicting songs you’ll like and playing them. It’s a good way to get turned on to new music and an alternative to eating up iPhone hard drive space with music files.

Dropbox

There are services with a Dropbox account you can pay for, but the bare bones – an online space in which you can drop files from your computer and retrieve them on your phone – is all free and works great. It’s an especially handy way to upload items that get saved on your phone (like photos) to free up memory space. Add music and movie files to your online Dropbox account and you can retrieve them, and play them, on your phone too.

NPR News

If you only choose one news app, make it NPR’s well-rounded, overflowing offering. Not only does it include standard text stories like you’d find in other apps, you can stream the radio network’s broadcasts. The app also links up to various NPR programs and blogs, and lets you save your favorite local NPR stations so you can listen to them anywhere and stay up-to-date on national and world events.

Amazon Mobile

Speaking of shopping, Amazon’s app easily condenses everything cool about the online marketplace into one handheld, easily navigable place. The app’s search feature is especially handy when you see something in the real world and want to order it immediately, but you can also save items for later consideration. A home page that links you up to daily Gold Box deals is a thoughtful touch, and it’s all blessedly simple.

Evernote

You’ve got your iPhone with you pretty much all the time, right? So if you have an idea or need to remember something, what better item to use to document it? Evernote makes taking and keeping notes ludicrously easy, and in several forms: as lone text, as voice recording, or even coupled with a photo. Notes can be saved and searched, as well as synced online with a web-based Evernote account.

Facebook

Users of the social media website will find everything necessary to stay connected with this app. Its home page is your Facebook news feed, but posting status updates or searching for friends’ profiles each require touching only one button. This app offers a ton of social connectivity and continues to get regularly updated to include new Facebook features like the Timelines, integration with Places so you can check-in when you're out and about, plus better photo sharing capabilities.

Yelp

You’ll find yourself jumping into the Yelp app every time you’re considering a new restaurant or wondering if a service or store is worth your time. Especially in larger cities, this database of reviews for businesses is enormous and will save time and energy determining things like where to take your car for a tune-up or where to get a delicious and cheap meal. There are also lots of ways to interact with other users to find and keep track of the best businesses in your area.

Kindle

Amazon’s e-book business doesn’t require the use of the company’s Kindle e-reader if you’ve got an iPhone -- it just requires the free Kindle app. With it, users can purchase books straight from Amazon’s book store and read them right in the app. Even better, all the books you purchase are downloaded from Amazon’s digital locker stored online, so you can use the same Kindle account on multiple devices, including an actual Kindle reader, an iPad or an Android device. The app also keeps track of your progress through your books over all your Kindle apps.

Instagram

The winner of Apple's coveted "best app of 2011" award, Instagram is a huge hit which has revolutionized sharing photos via iPhone and iPad. While the regular camera on your iPhone does a decent job, Instagram helps spruce-up your images by applying lots of cool filters and lens effects to give your images a unique look and feel. But what makes Instagram a success is its sharing capabilities. Once you're happy with your retro-looking shot, it's easy to upload it and it share it quickly with friends. Instagram makes the whole process simple and seamless, offering unlimited uploads for iPhone users who love to document their day with pictures.

Others in this series:

1. Best paid iPhone apps of all time

2. Best free iPhone games of all time

3. Best paid iPhone games of all time