50 Best Free iPhone Apps for 2012
Adaptu Wallet for iPhone is great for entry- to mid-level budgeting enthusiasts, packing many unique features. It's both free and ad-free. And it's the closest thing to a mobile wallet on an iPhone yet (though that may change with iOS and the new Passbook app that will be included with the operating system). Not only does the app display your latest account balances in real-time and send you bill reminders, Adaptu also tracks loyalty programs, forecasts your spending, and lets you photograph and store images of all the loose ends in your wallet, like your insurance, Social Security, and business cards. All of this sits under bank-grade security, which is more than you can say for your physical wallet.
Adobe Photoshop Express
Digital photography editing, until very recently, has been a task best suited for desktop and laptop computers, but Adobe proved that it could be done in the mobile space with Photoshop Express, a free photo-editing application for the iPhone and other iOS devices. Photoshop Express is a powerhouse of a mobile app, and can even handle noise reduction (extraneous particles that show up on photos). All in all, Adobe Photoshop Express is a solid tool for making light photo edits on your iPhone.
The free AirPort Utility manager from Apple lets you control your Wi-Fi network and AirPort base stations, including AirPort Express, AirPort Extreme, and Time Capsule, right from your iPhone. When you launch the app, you'll see a pictorial representation of your network and devices that will tell you what's connected to what and how. You can change the network and Wi-Fi settings, start or restore a base station, access networking information (like DNS server, router address, IP address), and more.
Amazon.com sells practically anything you might need, from toilet paper to dog food to magazine subscriptions. The mobile shopping app makes sure you can buy it anytime. The app contains a barcode scanner and photo tool, so if you're in a store deliberating the cost of an item, you can snap a picture or scan the barcode and see if Amazon has it for less.
Among news apps, The BBC's has one of the best interfaces—clean, with relevant headlines, good photos, and no advertisements. (Whether you agree with its angles and choice of coverage is another matter.) As far as international news organizations go, though, the BBC really does have correspondents in every corner of the globe, as well as varied and widespread topics. Another perk is that you can elect to view some news in other languages, such as Urdu, Arabic, and two kinds of Chinese.
When Apple introduced its Cards app for iPhone (free to download; cards $2.99 each U.S., $4.99 international including shipping), it created a very good tool in a particularly niche-y space, one that's easy to overlook but actually provides a lot of value to the average consumer. Using the Cards app to buy and mail customized greeting cards, with your own photos and text, is surprisingly cost effective, given that birthday cards and whatnot easily cost more than $3 at retail, not including postage. With the app, you can choose from a good number of well designed templates across several occasions—congratulations, thank-you, birthday. The cards themselves are beautifully constructed.
Chrome for iPhone is just Safari with a better interface and a few more features, but it's a must-have app for desktop Chrome users. Anyone who has fallen in love with the "Omnibox," or combined URL address bar and search bar, won't want to use anything else.
This all-in-one calculation app, Converter Plus, delivers numbers on nearly everything, from currency conversions to loan-interest figures. It converts metric to imperial measurements for temperature, cooking volumes, length, and more.
If your files live all over the place—your office computer, home desktop, laptop—having a dependable syncing program is a must. Dropbox, the service and productivity tool that lets you store your files in the cloud and access them from anywhere you have a signal, fills that role nicely with a Dropbox iPhone app. It has a simple interface, easy uploading, and swift syncing across all accounts.
Epicurious is a recipe app, and I'll openly admit that it's not my favorite (I'm a fan of Cook's Illustrated, which requires a paid membership, and the $2.99 AllRecipes.com Dinner Spinner Pro), but among the free options, it's the best. This app from Condé Nast pulls recipes from a huge catalog, including the archives of Bon Appétit and the now closedGourmet magazine. You can search by ingredient or by the type of dish you want to make, such as appetizers and "weeknight dinners." —Next: Apps 11-20 >