50 Best Free iPhone Apps for 2012
When the Safari browser that came pre-installed on your iPhone simply won't load, Opera Mini wins. The first true alternative browser for Apple's iPhone isn't a better browser than Mobile Safari—at least most of the time—but when AT&T's network totally collapses on you, Opera Mini pulls Web pages out where Apple's own browser stalls. Opera Mini is different than other so-called browsers. As a proxy browser, it doesn't actually load Web pages at all. Rather, it sends a request to Opera's servers, which loads the page, compresses it by 80 to 90 percent, and sends your phone a compressed image of the page.
Pay With Square
Pay With Square is a mobile payment app from a company called Square that makes another product/service, also known simply as Square, which small businesses can use to turn their iPads into credit card processing machines. Any merchant that uses Square can accept payments from wallet-less app-lovers, like myself, who carry Pay With Square on their smartphones. What makes Pay With Square unique is it's available at a lot of small businesses, from boutique shops to independent coffee houses, unlike Google Wallet (only available on select Android devices), which is mostly supported in large, corporate chain stores. Pay With Square works on iPhone and iPod touch running iOS 4.1 and later, as well as Android phones running version 2.2 and later (although "small screen" Android phones are not supported).
Many (oh so many!) television and movie streaming apps say they're free, but then they require a subscription or membership fee. Not PBS. The Public Broadcasting Network brings TV to your iPhone, 100 percent free. You can watch NOVA, Frontline, The Secret Lives of Scientists, Antiques Roadshow, several children's shows, and my favorite, all the old Julia Child: Lessons with Master Chefs episodes.
RedLaser – Barcode Scanner and QR Code Reader
RedLaser, an app that turns your iPhone's camera into a barcode scanner, has long been on every new iPhone owner's list of free apps to download. Over time, the app has only improved, and it's now a multi-functional scanner that works on QR codes, too. When shopping, scan any item with a barcode, and RedLaser delivers detailed information about the product, including whether you can buy it at a better price nearby.
Remember the Milk
One of the draws of the to-do list maker Remember the Milk is that it works with Apple's Siri—on the iPhone 4S only. For earlier-generation phones, it's still a great little app for keeping your tasks organized. Remember The Milk also syncs with a bunch of major Web apps, such as Outlook, iCal, Gmail, and Google Calendar.
Runners, fitness enthusiasts, and anyone trying to shed a few pounds might know that the iPhone is an incredibly powerful tool at helping you track your exercise. With the RunKeeper app, one of the most popular apps among outdoor runners in particular, you can tap into the phone's GPS technology to map where you've run, jogged, or walked. (You can also manually enter information from indoor runs.) RunKeeper figures out more statistics for you, like your pace, total distance covered, and so on. All your data is synced to RunKeeper.com, where you can view a history of all your activities. The app also has a coaching feature if you want audio some encouragement while you're working out.
If you hear a song and don't know what it is (or for the life of you, can't remember who sings it)—Shazam to the rescue! Launch Shazam and hold it as close as you can to the speakers, then let her rip. Within a few seconds, the app will tell you the title, artist, and sometimes even find the album art, too. Shazam is a whiz with most radio-play songs, new and old, originals and covers, but it occasionally gets stumped by obscure b-sides.
Skype is one of the best free communication tools for the iPhone. As of version 3.0, the app lets you make video calls. As with other versions, Skype for iPhone lets call or chat with other Skype users at no charge, or buy credit to call any other phone number, landline or mobile.
When I ask my colleagues at PCMag which music streaming service they like best, someone always mentions Slacker Radio, and everyone else's heads start nodding. The same outstanding service you'll find in Slacker Radio's online version is on the iPhone and has been for a long enough time for the company to have massaged the interface and performance to the point that you can appreciate it audibly.
StumbleUpon, one of the most sophisticated and fun ways to explore new content on the Web, delivers an excellent experience on the iPhone, if you can cope with the inherent limitations of the small screen. Without a native mobile-optimized viewing option, it's a little less than ideal on the iPhone. —Next: Apps 41-50 >