Don’t settle for second-best. Here’s our pick of the best free and paid-for iPhone and iPad apps.

Creativity and Photography


This South Korean Snapchat clone is finding fans among western teens, who use its huge array of animated filters to augment photos. The results self-destruct like its rival’s – albeit after 24 hours. [iOS and Android, free]


Ever wondered what your favourite portraits would look like as Warhol-esque works of LEGO art? Brickshots imports your pics and a brick-by-brick instructions. You’ll have to provide your own LEGO, but you can tweak the colour scheme and number of pieces. [iOS and Android, free]


This pocket mixing-studio makes it easier than ever for wannabe producers to create their own beats. Its clever interface breaks tracks into small chunks which can be layered up and have effects applied. Auxy’s simple, visual way to make music also won it the Apple Design Award at WWDC 2016. [iOS, free]


Prisma harnesses deep neural networks to reinterpret your smartphone photos as works of art. Current graphical starting points include Roy Lichtenstein, Edvard Munch and Katsushika Hokusai, with new artists added regularly. Results can be hit-and-miss, but are always surprising. [iOS and Android, free ]


The photo album gets rebooted with Kindeo, which lets families  pass down memories from generation to generation. Record video through the app and store it so that future relatives will never be able to escape those embarrassing baby photos. [iOS, free.]


Hyperspektiv is a video- and photo-editing app for those who need something more extreme than Ludwig or Clarendon. The app lets you change images and video beyond recognition. Swipe your fingers across the screen to create glitches and kaleidoscopes and distort colour to extreme levels. Perfect for DIY artists. [iOS, £1.49]

Le Déserteur

This iPad-only art installation consists of two “rooms”, each containing 12 works from artists, photographers, writers and singers. It bears repeated viewing, with exclusive artwork regularly updated for each user. [iOS, $9.99]

Cardboard Camera

Cardboard Camera converts panoramic photos into a format which can be viewed through Google Cardboard VR viewers. Send photos and audio to family and friends or keep an album to relive awe-inspiring moments. [Android, free]

Paper for iPhone

The popular iPad drawing app comes to the small(er) screen, with a range of new features including text, photos and to-do lists to extend its appeal beyond artists and designers. [iOS, free]


Enlight is one of the smartest photo-editing tools around. As well as a raft of regular features, you can add text in multiple fonts and turn photos into graphics or LOLtastic memes. [iOS, £2.99]


Handpick harvests recipes from food blogs and Instagram and allows the user to browse based on ingredients. It’s packed with beautiful photography and inspiring ideas. [iOS, Android, free]


If you have a passion for citizen science or cartography, Mapillary – a crowdsourced version of Google Street View – might appeal. Supply photos through your smartphone as you go about your business. [iOS, Android and Windows Phone, free]


Effectively capturing a moment in a single frame is a serious photographic challenge. But why use one frame to tell a story when you can use three? Nutshell animates a moment by combining three shots into a short, shareable video. [iOS, free]


Are you Jamie Oliver? Or Mary Berry? We thought not. But you can pretend to be with Simmer, which lets you create and share recipes and short how-to cooking videos from the comfort of your own kitchen. The Great WIRED Bake-Off, anyone? [iOS, free]


We’re slightly annoyed that we like this app – yes, we at WIRED can be just as vain as everyone else. With Facetune, the airbrushing, teeth-whitening and skin-smoothing of our pasty faces is just a swipe away. [Android, iOS, £2.99]

Productivity and Tools


SpaceHub uses real-time video feeds and GPS to keep amateur space-watchers up-to-date with astronauts and asteroids. It also aggregates tweets from industry insiders into a single feed. [Android, free]


The beloved writing software, which splits manuscripts into multiple blocks, is finally available for iPhone and iPad. All the desktop features cherished by writers – scriptwriting, different trash cans for different documents, etc – are there. It’s not cheap, but serious wordsmiths will love it. [iOS, £14.99]


Amateur podcasters rejoice: ZCast makes it possible to broadcast straight from your smartphone. The app harnesses existing messaging software at parent company Zula and links to Twitter to help would-be Sarah Koenigs reach new audiences. Handily, co-hosts can join the show live while on location. [iOS, free]


This calendar app uses animations and a circular design to let you see your day, week and year in a single swipe. It’s probably easier to set a date using your normal calendar, but Rolo is still a worthwhile accessory, especially if you’re interested in seeing how life divides into work and play. [iOS, free]


This note-taking tool ensures total concentration from writers by deleting every word they’ve written if their fingers leave the keyboard for more than seven seconds. With this looming threat, Flowstate helps people get in the “flow”, and resist the distractions popping up elsewhere. [iOS, £7.99]

Mimicker Alarm

Snoozing is impossible with this sadistic alarm clock, which makes you play games to prove you are awake. The default puzzle is to take a selfie while pulling a face. Built by Microsoft’s Garage Team – using APIs from UK-based Project Oxford – the app’s facial recognition software detects your expression. [Android, free]


Slash replaces the QWERTY keyboard on your smartphone and turns it into a search engine, removing the need to jump between apps when searching for videos, maps, photos and music-streaming services. It works with apps such asTwitter, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram. [iOS, free]


Design your next 3D-printed car using this sketching app. Draft an outline on uMake, then manipulate the design to create a 3D model. Ideal for designers who want to prototype and amateurs who want to play around. [iOS, free]


This smart contacts manager keeps itself up to date by tracking changes to your friends, family and co-workers’ contact details – as long as they’re addappt users.[iOS, Android, free]


Collaborate Kanban-style with this task app from the creators of Mindmeister. Share checklists, attachments and progress updates across unlimited projects. [iOS, free]


This is a visual to-do list for people who want to use their cameras to create reminders. Attached to each snap is a tag such as “Buy”, “Watch” and “Go”, giving you a distinct list of actions to take. The app also geotags the pictures, allowing you to remember where you were when you captured the photo. [iOS, free]


If you’re already familiar with WeTransfer, then you’ll know how useful this file-sending service is. This smartphone version is perfect for those who operate across multiple devices. [iOS, Android, free]

Khan Academy

Online education organisation Khan Academy already had an app, but this iPad version bundles all of its 150,000-plus lessons and videos together for the first time. The series is just as accessible in interactive app form as it is on the web. [iOS, free]

Social and Messaging

MoodCast Diary

MoodCast Diary is an app that tracks your mood by allowing you to input diary entries throughout the day. Once it collects enough data on your day-to-day emotions, it can offer advice as to trends in your happiness or unhappiness. The ‘intelligent mood prediction’ might make it a bit easier to combat the bad-weather blues. Android, Free with in-app purchases.


Bumble has been lauded as the female-friendly version of Tinder, mainly due to the reason that once two people swipe right on the app, a conversation can’t begin unless the woman says something first. It’s been out on iPhone for a while but has recently been released on Android. If you’re looking for love in the run up to Valentines Day, this might be the app for you. iOS, Android, Free with in-app purchases.


In an age where we like to show affection through emoji and likes, sometimes a little contact is needed. Spoonr helps its network find nearby strangers to cuddle, no strings attached. [iOS, Android, free]


This app removes the legwork from dating. Swipe to find potential partners, then Whim will pick a night and suggest locations based on both daters’ calendars and preferences. [iOS, free]


Tired of Tinder? Lime matches your stored health data and suggests similarly sedentary or active people for you to date. [iOS and Android, free]

Mood Chat

For when emojis just don’t cut it, artist Tom Galle has created an app to help you express yourself through cheesy background music. His audio keyboard lets you select from dozens of ditties to add emphasis to your chats. [iOS, free.]


Followers are the currency of social networks – but what if a stranger actually followed you around? This app grants you a real-life follower for the day, who watches you from afar. Successful applicants will be notified the morning they’re about to be stalked. [iOS, free]


“The Tinder of…” has become a well-worn phrase in tech circles, but Hey! VINA can lay claim to being the Tinder of female friendship. Peripatetic women swipe through potential friends’ profiles to find their perfect companion from people matched on similar personalities and hobbies. [iOS, free]


It’s hard to keep track of every new social-media app out there, but Peach is worth watching. The app, from Vine co-founder Dom Hofmann, features “magic words” that help you GIFs and images and share the music you’re listening to. Its news feed reads like a stream of teen consciousness. [iOS, free]


Messaging app Traces bridges the gap between the physical and virtual worlds by allowing you to leave digital surprises in real-world locations. Instead of sending a picture to a friend, you send it to a physical place, and the recipient then has to visit that location with their phone to collect it. [iOS, free]


There are lots of matchmaking tools for humans; now it’s dogs’ turn. Tindog lets you find other dogs (and their owners) around you, giving you and your canine the opportunity to make friends. Once you’ve matched with another owner you can chat and share photos with one another. [iOS, Android, free]


When words aren’t enough to tell friends or family how you feel, there is now an app. Givvit lets you send goodies such as snacks or cinema tickets via Givvit’s “Treat Partners” to anyone capable of redeeming an on-screen gift voucher. [Android, iOS, free]


A simple way to aggregate all your friends’ social-network updates into one app. Starlike breaks little ground in terms of features, but does one useful thing very nicely indeed: stalking those you cherish the most a little more conveniently. [Android, iOS, free]

Games and Distractions

Egg, Inc

Join the chicken gold rush in this incremental clicker game, which asks you to sell eggs, build henhouses and commission farm research. [iOS, Android, free]


Create AI for your robots! Refine a strategy and crush your rivals! This is a smart insight into character programming. [Android, free]


Turn your smartphone into a lab item. Select chemicals to start experiments and witness reactions, right down to the “bang”. [iOS and Android, free]


Celebrity AI IBM Watson turns therapist with Eliza, an app that analyses voice memos for emotional sentiment to let you know how you’re really feeling. [iOS, Android, free]

Sea Hero Quest

Neuroscientists hope this game will help them to understand dementia, by creating a benchmark for the navigational ability of healthy people. The app collects player data, which is then fed to scientists at UCL and UEA. [iOS, Android, free]

The app formerly known as H _ _ r

This app takes in ambient noise and creates something more acoustically pleasing. Choose from seven options, including Happy, Relax and Talk, to turn annoying chatter into mood-lifting music. [iOS, free.]

The Westport Independent

Worried about the decline of print media? Try taking control of your own newspaper. As well as managing marketing budgets and deciding the headline, this game examines your ability to fight for a free press under pressure from a propaganda-pushing government. [iOS, Android, £3.99]

Architecture of Radio

This app reveals the data all around us. By visualising open data sets from cell towers, Wi-Fi routers and satellites, Architecture of Radio can plot wired and wireless data in a 360º map that is both captivating and informative. [Android, iOS, £2.29]

Churchill Solitaire

Churchill used his own, fiendishly difficult version of Solitaire to keep his mind sharp – and now former US secretary of defence Donald Rumsfeld has helped develop the two-deck card game as an app. [iOS, free]


Describing itself as “a love letter to trees”, Prune’s beautifully minimalistic design is matched with elegantly simple gameplay in which you swipe your finger to help a virtual tree grow into the sunlight. [ iOS, £2.99]

The Everything Machine

Designed for kids but fun for adults too, this app lets you combine your device’s hardware elements to build creative machines, from a stop-motion camera to a kaleidoscope. [iOS, £2.49]

Don’t Starve

In this remake, the player takes on the role of Wilson, “an intrepid gentleman scientist” trapped in a strange wilderness. Learn how to exploit its resources and inhabitants to survive. [iOS, £3.99]

My Idol — 3D Avatar Creator

This app turns your selfies into animated characters. Dress up in digital outfits and share your dancing avatar. One problem (for UK users): it’s in Mandarin. [iOS, Android, free]

Materials Library

From the Institute of Making comes this searchable database of materials. Along with images and text, there’s now video and audio content to augment the catalogue’s contents. [iOS, free]

Funny or Die Weather

Comedy site Funny or Die and meteorology might not seem like an obvious collaboration. But to WIRED’s surprise, the merging of the two has resulted in an elegant, user-friendly weather app with bonus facts and funnies. [iOS, free]

Yoga 15

Yoga 15 is your personal yoga coach. The aim is to spend a manageable 15 minutes every day relaxing, energising and improving your mobility, strength and flexibility. There are more than 100 videos available, the first six of which are free. [iOS, free]



Find books with tips from your favourite cultural figures. Swipe through suggestions, add books to your library and read straight from your phone. iOS, free


Have you always wanted an emoji of a sobbing Kim Kardashian to express your emotions? If so, the official Kimoji app gives you access to over 500 emoji’s, stickers and GIF’s all pertaining to Kim Kardashian West. A recent update includes a family pack to include other members of the Kardashian brood. Android, iOS, £1.99 with other packages available to purchase.

The Pickle Index

The ten-part story of a circus troupe attempting to break their ringmaster out of prison, The Pickle Index uses mini-games and a recipe network to tell a tale of life under a surreal, fermented-goods-based dictatorship. Clunky functionality and a difficult narrative are part of the (literary) point. [iOS, £3.99]


This list app with a twist means you’ll never be lacking things to do. Soon lets you curate the films, books and places you’ve been meaning to watch, read and visit. Its trending section is great for inspiration. [iOS, free]

Cosmic Watch

Explore the Earth, solar system and constellations in real time with the Cosmic Watch app. It includes an eclipse mapper and a tool for adjusting telescopes. [Android, £3.35, iOS, £2.99]


Dive into the meaning behind your favourite songs with Genius’s new app for Android, which allows you to access crowdsourced lyrics and annotations for more than 1.7 million tracks on the go. [Android, iOS, free]


VRSE offers an ever-expanding range of virtual-reality content, which can be viewed with or without Google Cardboard. If you want to see what all the virtual-reality fuss is about, this is your chance to do so without shelling out. [iOS, Android, free]


Jump the queue for tables at London’s most popular restaurants, including Yauatcha and the legendary Le Gavroche, with Uncover, which lets you grab last-minute reservations when they become available. [iOS, free]

Useful Tools


The Shazam of gardening lets you take a photo of a plant and it tells you what it is. Connect with other gardeners for tips. [iOS, Android, free]

Look up

Nigerian-American artist Ekene Ijeoma wants New Yorkers to engage with their city instead of looking down at their phones. His app runs in the background and, once you reach a busy street intersection, alerts you to “look up” and allow something serendipitous to happen. [Android, free]


This Y Combinator-funded developer tool is an app for making apps. Its open-source framework enables you to build native apps for iOS and Android while coding in JavaScript and React Native. Founder Charlie Cheever is one of the co-founders of knowledge-market Quora. [iOS and Android, free]

A walk through dementia

Alzheimer’s Research UK simulates the experience of life with dementia with this VR app, designed for Google Cardboard. [Android, free]


This is designed to help you cram more episodes of your favourite podcast into the commute – by training the brain to listen faster. Start at 2x speed and use the app’s Automatic Speed Ramping feature. [iOS, £2.29]


EquiTable bridges the wage gap by splitting restaurant bills based on each person’s race and gender. The app uses labour statistics to adjust for income inequality, calculating how much each person should contribute. Feel unfairly burdened? Never fear, the app has a “protest” button. [iOS, free]


This musical journalling app keeps a digital record of how you feel each day. Begin by choosing from six base emotions – playful, calm, longing, clouded, gentle and struggling – before layering melodies using a simple interface. Each unique song can be kept as a personal record or shared with friends and family. [iOS, free]


Hangover takes away the horror of waking up to find embarrassing photos from your night out plastered all over social media. It makes selected albums and short videos “disappear” into inaccessible folders when friends leave the “circle of trust” – a space defined according to the proximity of their smartphones. [iOS, free]


Looking for restaurant tips based on what people really think? Twizoo analyses millions of tweets to show you which eateries are trending nearby. It uses a traffic-light system to indicate which to check out – or avoid. [iOS, Android, free]


Donate your spare mobile processing power to the fight against cancer with this app, which downloads genetic sequencing profiles and processes them during the night when phones aren’t in use. [Android, free]


If you’ve wondered what goes on in your house when you’re not in it, Perch is the answer. Connect your phone with a strategically placed laptop, tablet or phone camera and watch live from anywhere. [Android, free]


With Safari integration, this content blocker prevents website ads from loading, resulting in a claimed 4x increase in browsing speeds and 50 per cent reduction in data usage. [iOS, free]

The Stream App

No more nagging your friends for their Facebook photo uploads: this app creates an event-specific stream, with your group’s photos automatically uploaded as they are taken. [iOS, free]


Takeaways have never been more appealing since the launch of Deliveroo, which lets you order food from hundreds of restaurants and then have it delivered to you. It has built relationships with many of the UK’s most popular restaurants in 14 cities. Delivery is £2.50 – often less than the cost of a tip. [iOS, free]

Great Little Place

This swipe-and-discover app is a great tool for discovering cool places to eat and drink that are off the beaten track. We particularly like the Shortlist and Little Black Book features. [iOS, free]


Scroll through endless fashion designs from major high-street names, including Selfridges and Zara, and swipe right on your favourite items to see a personalised feed. Save the items you love and you’ll be notified when they drop in price. [iOS, Android, free]


As VR becomes more accessible, more newspapers will incorporate it. The New York Times’ VR app turns its international reporting into Google cardboard-compatible videos. Android and iOS, free


Stack tests your timing. As a block tessellates across the screen, you tap at the moment it, building a larger ombre structure. Its beautiful palette and soundtrack make it all the more enticing. Android and iOS, free

Focus Keeper

Based on the Pomodoro Technique, Focus Keeper breaks down working into intervals of 25 minutes, with a five-minute break between. The “goal” feature will encourage the competitive to stay focused. iOS, £1.49

I love fur

This app lets you stroke the scales, fur or spikes of creatures until you (or they) are satisfied. Complete a challenge to unlock other characters, such as Bipolar Bear or Fire Intolerant Dragon. Strangely therapeutic. iOS, free


This app lets you create abstract panoramic landscapes for others to experience in virtual reality. Use the phone’s gyroscope to overlay images. Android, free


Doo is a task list/reminder hybrid that lets you create lists, which can be linked to specific deadlines. Items can be delayed until the following day – or swiped away when the deed is done. iOS, £2.99


Animatic lets you embrace your inner cartoonist by placing drawings after each other to create animations. It shows the outline of the previous frame to ensure greater accuracy. iOS and Android, free


Like flashcards? This game from language-learning app DuoLingo uses them to help you learn faster and test you on topics from sign language to Greek gods. iOS and Android, free


This new take on pinball comes from the team behind Lumino City. Move the ball around the screen to release bursts of ink and traces of its route, creating custom art to print or share. iOS, £1.49


This dark, narrative puzzle begins with a chemical explosion. The game challenges the player to make sense of jumbled words, after the explosion leaves them unable to construct sentences. Simple, original and unnerving. iOS, £2.29


SportsHero is a social network that lets users compete while predicting the results of sports games against real odds, using a points system. Players can earn money by passing on their wisdom. Android and iOS, free


Launched in secret by Meerkat, Houseparty aims to make livestreaming a more personal affair. Launching it opens your smartphone’s front camera and pings up to seven friends to join you. iOS and Android, free


Find something for dinner and learn to cook – using gifs. This app pairs recipes with videos that display ingredients and cooking times. Swiping displays new recipes, making it a more satisfying version of Tinder. Android, free

WIRED is the magazine about what's next – bringing you the people, the trends and the big ideas that will change our lives. Each month, through thought-provoking features and stunning photography, we explore the next big ideas in science, culture, business – wherever innovation and new thinking are reshaping our world.

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