While there aren't as many ways to customize your iPhone like there is on Android, there are still a lot of apps out there that can help streamline and enhance your experience beyond Apple's own default options — and we've hand-picked over 100 essentials.
No matter if you've been using an iPhone for years or just picked up an iPhone X, these are the third-party apps you should have right now on iOS 11. Of course, you should only install ones that fit your daily workflow and style, but we've included everything from automation tools to hot games and replacements for Mail, Camera, Safari, and more, so there's something for everyone here.
Automation Apps (2)
While there is no real iOS alternative to MacroDroid or Tasker for Android, there are few automation tools you should definitely be using on your iPhone to automate tasks between services you use on a daily basis.
Third-Party Keyboards (5)
Apple's stock keyboard is fairly good, especially with QuickType embedded, but it's not perfect by any means — especially with all of the autocorrect bugs that have been happening. Plus, you still can't swipe to type, a huge disadvantage to some of the ones below. Once you install one, make sure to enable it in your settings.
- Fleksy: Has swipe gestures and lots of extensions and free themes.
- Gboard: My favorite keyboard with swipe typing, GIFs, and Google search.
- GO Keyboard: Swipe typing, re-sizeable keyboard, themes, and stickers.
- Grammarly: Amazing keyboard when you're worried about looking like an idiot.
- SwiftKey: Swipe typing, personal predictions, accurate, bilingual, and themes.
Mail Alternatives (5)
One of the worst things about Apple's default Mail app is that you can't bulk delete, so it's hard to keep a tidy inbox. Some of the email clients below let you do just that, and there are even a few unique features like scheduling emails, themes, and snoozing emails to make Mail look outdated.
- Email - Edison Mail: Fast, unsubscribe option, smart notifications, and more.
- Inbox by Gmail: Great for those who only use Gmail or Google Apps accounts.
- Microsoft Outlook: Smart inbox, scheduled emails, and reliable.
- myMail: Supports all email accounts with a friendly interface.
- Spark: Smart inbox, more swipes customization, scheduled emails, and themes.
Safari Alternatives (5)
Yes, all of the third-party web browsers for iOS are required to use Apple's WebKit, so they end up being like wrappers for Safari, but that doesn't mean they aren't better depending on how you browse. You may want to pick a browser that you also use on your computer to sync data or one that is more privacy-focused.
- Aloha Browser: Has privacy/security in mind with free VPN service.
- Firefox: Sync between Firefox on desktop, has modern design, "no image" mode.
- Google Chrome: Great if you use Chrome on desktop, to sync between devices.
- Microsoft Edge: Windows users only, can pick up where you left off on your PC.
- Onion Browser: Tor-powered, continually updated, great for visiting .onion sites.
Content Blockers (4)
iOS 9 added support for content blockers in Safari, which means you can install one of these apps, activate it, then never see another ad while browsing the web. Alternatively, some ad blockers use Apple's VPN system to block ads in every app on your phone, but these can add extra battery drain.
- Crystal Adblock: Block ads in Safari with our favorite content blocker.
- AdGuard: Blocks ads system-wide, but uses a VPN to do so.
- Firefox Focus: A private browser that also offers a content blocker for Safari.
- 1Blocker: Content blocker for Safari that even works for the most annoying ads.
Apple Maps Alternatives (3)
Apple Maps has gotten only better over the years, especially with its indoor maps for malls and airports, but it still has a lot of catching up to do compared to other navigation apps. When I lived in Los Angeles, it hardly ever failed me, but after moving to the Midwest, it has a hard time keeping up with me en route and doesn't always tell me the right thing to do, which has led me to some of the below apps for driving directions.
- Google Maps: Collected more data, so more detailed maps and accuracy.
- HERE WeGo: A solid alternative with smart planning before a trip and more.
- Waze: Great for finding shortcuts around deadlocked rush hour traffic.
More Travel Apps (3)
Traveling isn't just about looking at a map — sometimes, you'll need to catch a ride, see the cheapest gas prices, or just find something cool to do while you're out on your journey.
Photos Alternatives (3)
Whether you're worried about iCloud getting hacked or you just want a different layout when viewing and managing your photos, these gallery apps are the best of the best.
- Google Photos: High-quality cloud backup for free with Google's AI behind it all.
- Flickr: A full terabyte of free cloud storage, plus a nice UI.
- Prime Photos: Amazon's Google Photos clone is getting pretty good these days.
Other Photo Apps (2)
That last set of apps was all about replacing the primary functionality in Apple's Photos app: Organizing your photo library. These next app, on the other hand, are great for actually editing your pictures.
- Motion Stills: Turn your Live Photos into sharable GIFs and more.
- Snapseed: Simple UI with plenty of unique features.
Camera Alternatives (4)
Apple's stock Camera app is a pretty great app for general iPhone users, even with the new Portrait Lighting modes baked in for newer iPhone models. However, if you want more control over your photos, you'll want to go with a third-party option, even if it costs a few bucks.
- Halide ($2.99): Pro RAW photo-taking tools for killer control over your pics.
- Microsoft Pix: All of the features from Apple's Camera app and then some.
- VSCO: Powerful camera app with a strong social community behind it.
- Camera+ ($2.99): Several great "Scene" modes and a "Clarity" feature that will have your pictures looking crisp.
Weather Alternatives (3)
Apple's Weather app is quite nice, but if you want more information, more accurate forecasts, or even just a weather radar, you'll get plenty of use out of any of these alternatives.
- Dark Sky ($3.99): Hyper-local weather, down to the nearest weather station.
- Weather Underground: Personalized interface with lots of data to browse.
- Yahoo Weather: Very similar to Apple's Weather app, but with backgrounds pulled from Flickr.
iCloud Drive Alternatives (5)
Now that iOS 11 has a Files app that consolidates cloud storage services (to some degree), it's a good idea to max out your amount of free storage available, even if that means using different services. iCloud Drive only gives you 5 GB of free storage, which could be toast fairly quickly with backups and emails. So try using the following cloud services in combination with iCloud Drive, all of which can be accessed in the Files app.
- Adobe Creative Cloud: 2 GB free, with more free based on your subscription.
- Box: 10 GB free, but restricts files to 250 MB max size each.
- Dropbox: 2 GB free, but you can get up to 20 GB more free completing actions.
- Google Drive: 15 GB free per account, shared with Gmail and Google Photos.
- Microsoft OneDrive: 5 GB free, $2/month for 50 GB, or more than 1 TB with Office 365 subscription.
Messages Alternatives (3)
iMessages are awesome, but everyone has at least one friend who runs Android, which means you have to deal with plain old SMS when talking to them. These apps offer similar functionality to Apple's default messenger, but they work on all mobile devices.
Security Necessities (3)
Smartphones are among the worst things to ever happen to personal privacy — they're digital windows into every aspect of our lives. If you're not a fan of Big Brother looking over your shoulder, you can still reclaim a bit of privacy and security by using the following apps.
- LastPass: Must-have for strong passwords with easy access at your fingertips.
- ProtonMail: When you need encrypted emails, this is how you do it.
- Signal: A secure messaging app when you need to protect your privacy.
Social Apps (6)
The internet is a beautiful thing. It has taught us so much about humankind and has now become the driving force behind many of the latest trends. At the heart of it all are these social media apps, where the internet happens.
- Facebook: The social network. Learn the basics here.
- Instagram: Facebook's photo-oriented social media service. Learn more.
- LinkedIn: A social media service for employers and employees.
- Reddit Official: The best way to read The Front Page of the Internet on iOS.
- Snapchat: The "in" social network with lots of cool features.
- Twitter: The official Twitter client will help you keep your finger on the internet's pulse.
Apple Music Alternatives (5)
Apple Music is the only streaming music service that you can purchase directly from your iPhone, but if you sign up for one of these services from your computer, you may find that they're a better fit for you.
- Google Play Music: Very similar to Apple Music, but comes with YouTube Red.
- Pandora Music: One of the first streaming services and still one of the best.
- Spotify Music: The #1 music streaming service by subscriber count.
- YouTube Music: A music-focused version of YouTube — watch or just listen.
- Amazon Music: Stream free music with your Prime account, pay to get more, or upload your own.
Other Music Apps (2)
Music isn't just about listening — there's an entire culture behind it. These next apps will help you find the name of any song that's playing and even catch your favorite band's next show.
- Bandsintown Concerts: Scans your music and tells you when bands play.
- Shazam: Music recognition service that Apple just purchased.
Movie, TV & Video Apps (8)
You just can't beat Apple's Retina displays — aside from its smaller stature, the screen on your iPhone is likely the nicest display you own. So put down your laptop, turn off your TV, and start consuming some content on that gorgeous mobile display with these great streaming apps.
- HBO NOW: Watch Game of Thrones without a cable subscription.
- Hulu: Disney owns a majority stake in Hulu now, but the service is still great.
- Netflix: One of those apps everyone should have on their phone.
- YouTube: The single-biggest video sharing site just keeps getting better.
- YouTube TV: Google's new streaming cable app has a slick UI.
- Sling TV: Dish Network's app that kicked off the streaming cable craze.
- PlayStation Vue: The app isn't the greatest, but the service itself is top-notch.
- Amazon Prime Video: If you have Amazon Prime, you're throwing away money if you don't have this app.
A modern smartphone is like a digital Swiss Army knife — there's virtually nothing it can't do. This next set of apps will help you leverage that power by making sure your device is running as it should while even branching out into real-world handyman territory.
- Geekbench 4 ($0.99): Make sure your iPhone is performing like it should.
- Speedtest: Suspect slow Wi-Fi speeds? This will confirm or deny it.
- Watts Up?: Converts cooking instructions to your specific microwave.
- Measure: Get super-precise measurements through your phone's camera thanks to Apple's new Augmented Reality API, ARKit.
Whether it's cryptocurrency like Bitcoin or just plain-old hard-earned cash, these next apps will go a long way towards getting your finances in order.
- Coinbase: The single-best wallet app for all your cryptocurrency needs.
- Mint: Link your accounts, then Mint will help get your finances in order.
Free Games (5)
We've been comparing some of the best games available on iOS over the last year in categories such as action, puzzles, shooters, trivia, and word games, and these were at the top of our lists of free games.
- Critical Ops: Multiplayer first-person shooter akin to Counter-Strike.
- Into the Dead 2: First-person running game against zombies.
- Scale: Incredibly simple yet challenging puzzler in a box.
- QuizUp: Single or multiplayer trivia game with tons of unique topics.
- Words with Friends 2: New version with daily prizes, more words, etc.
Paid Games (5)
Just like with the free games above, there are some standout games in the action, puzzles, shooters, trivia, and word games categories that we've dug into when it comes to iPhone games. These games won't make you regret a purchase in the App Store, for sure.
- Death Road to Canada ($10.99): Action-packed zombie basher with great story.
- Hitman Sniper ($0.99): Stealthy shooting game with great graphics.
- Monument Valley 2 ($4.99): Optical-illusion puzzle better than the original.
- Pointless Quiz ($1.99): Test your knowledge of obscure trivia.
- W.E.L.D.E.R. ($1.99): An oldie-but-goodie word game good for solo play.
Some apps can actually help with your real-world endeavors, whether that's a burgeoning hobby or something you've been into for all of your life.
- IMDb Movies & TV: The end-all, be-all app for movie lovers.
- Pinterest: A great source for ideas — the internet's home for arts and crafts.
- Fishbrain: The world's largest crowd-sourced fishing app.
- BigOven: More than 350,000 recipes to cover all your cooking needs.
- GrowIt!: Join a large community of gardeners that will help you learn and plan.
- Sky Guide AR: Experience the sky above you like never before, complete with a widget and Apple Watch integration.
When you swipe right on your home or lock screen, you can view the Today view which houses all your widgets. By default, you'll see a lot of Apple ones in there, but if you hit "Edit" at the bottom of the page, you can see all of the widgets available that are baked into your other apps, and add them to the view. (You can also use 3D Touch to add widgets.) Some of these apps are useful just for their widgets, while others are great apps themselves with a widget bonus.
- My Verizon: Lets you see exactly how much data you have left in your cycle.
- Wifi Widget: Test your network and view and share your password easily.
- Copied: Keep a clipboard history to save all of the text you've copied recently.
If the stock wallpapers that came with your iPhone aren't cutting it anymore, you could search around on the internet to find images that are perfectly-formatted for your screen — or, you could just grab one of these apps as a source for quality iPhone-friendly backgrounds.
- Notcho: One of a few different ways to hide the notch on your iPhone X.
- Vellum: A collection of stunning, hand-picked iPhone wallpapers.
- WLPPR: Beautiful images of the universe with the option to blur photos before you apply them.
News Alternatives (3)
Apple's default news app is absolutely fantastic. But if you're constantly craving content, these next three apps are worth an install. While there may be some overlap with Apple's News app, the sources and curation used in these apps are different, at the very least.
- Yahoo Newsroom: News from all over with stories you can only find on Yahoo.
- Google News: Very similar to Apple's News app, but with Google's styling.
- NPR News: Local and national news, plus live streams of NPR radio stations.
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