If you're one of the lucky people to receive a new iOS device over the holidays, I have put together a great collection of iOS apps to get you started.
Great starting apps for iOS
If you're one of the lucky people who received a new iOS device over the holidays, we have a great collection of iOS apps to get you started. There are both free and paid apps here, but all are tried and true selections for everything from gaming and movie making to photography and cooking. Without further ado, make sure your Apple account is set up with the App Store first, then get your iOS device ready for downloading and browse some of my favorite apps for new devices in this slideshow.
This is in no way a definitive list of the best or most essential apps to download, but simply a collection of great titles to get you started with your new iOS device.
Looking for apps for a new Android device? Sarah Mitroff has a great starter collection for Android apps here.
Flipboard (free) is one of the best on iOS for swiping through the news. It's fully customizable so you can just view the news categories you want, and you can even add social networks like Facebook and Twitter to read the latest updates. If you want an elegant way to swipe through the news on your iOS device, Flipboard is a great option.
Food Network In the Kitchen ($1.99) gives you tons of recipes you can browse and even categorizes recipes by the star chefs on the Food Network. Obviously, you'll need to be careful not to spill on your new iOS device, but if you like cooking (or want to learn), this app is excellent, with step-by-step directions and big colorful photos.
Another great cooking app for your iOS device is AllRecipes Dinner Spinner (Free). The primary focus of this cooking app is the Dinner Spinner, which gives you a slot-machine-style interface to help you search for -- or just stumble upon -- new meal possibilities by rotating horizontal spinners to choose a recipe by meal type, ingredient, or cook time. But in addition to the main gimmick, you can search through thousands of recipes and browse by category to find just about anything you might want to try.
Haze ($2.99) is a weather app for iOS, which probably seems redundant when you already have a weather app that comes with your device. But Haze takes checking the weather to a whole new and more elegant level with tons of weather info, flowing bright colors that symbolize the current conditions, and a delightfully touchable interface. While this app isn't a necessity, think of it as a luxury item to check the weather in style.
Jasmine (Free) is a client designed to make it easier and more fun to browse YouTube. You could always download the official YouTube app, but with Jasmine you get a much sleeker design with more features to help you find the videos you want to watch. I particularly like how easy it is with Jasmine to use the hierarchical navigation menus to quickly browse featured, trending, and popular videos.
WhatsApp Messenger (Free) is a third-party texting app that gives you unlimited free texting with anyone. But, you might be wondering, why wouldn't you just use the Messages app that comes with your iOS device? The problem is, Messages is only free when chatting with other iOS users, otherwise, you'll be eating into your texting plan every time you chat with someone with a different type of smartphone. Whatsapp Messenger makes it possible to text with anyone and you'll never pay for individual texts. The only catch is training yourself (and your friends) to reach for the Whatsapp icon when you want to send a text instead of using Messages.
While you could use the Maps app that comes with your iOS device, Google Maps (Free) is a joy to use with neat features like Street View and often has more information about locations than Apple's offering. You can also enter certain stores and restaurants and look around.
Instagram (Free) needs little in the way of introduction, but is an excellent way to turn mundane images and video into cool-looking projects you can share with friends. Longtime Instagram fans will probably download this app right away, but even those who have never ventured into this social photography site should definitely check it out, even if just to browse.
The Google Search app (free) gives you access to many of Google's apps and lets you have the worlds most popular search engine at your fingertips. What's really impressive with the Google search app is the voice search, where you can say "OK Google" and the app immediately starts listening while you ask a question. The app returns lightning-fast results and will speak the answer back to you.
While Siri (included on all new iOS devices) is an excellent search assistant in many of the same ways, Google search is free to try, and I think once you try it, you'll like the performance.
While your new iOS device comes with a great streaming radio service with iTunes Radio, you might also want to check out Pandora (Free), which creates stations of similar artists and songs using an algorithm based on the Music Genome Project. Just search for your favorite song or artist and you'll get great playlists of similar music. Perfect for both general listening and music discovery, the one drawback to this veteran streaming service is the advertising in the free version. Still, it's worth checking out for the spot-on playlists that seem to magically know what you'll like.
Camera+ ($1.99) is a longtime favorite of mine for adding effects and filters to photos, simply because of the sheer number of things you can do to an image. Once you take a picture, you can browse through several effects and filters by category, or use digital-camera-like scenes to apply common camera effects in specific situations like simulated flash, sunset, backlit images, and portraits.
Netflix (free) brings a sizable library of television and movie content you can stream directly to your iOS device as long as you have an account. Though the digital offerings are not on par with the company's DVD-by-mail library, you can almost always find something you want to watch. And when you're away from home and just want to catch up on a few TV episodes or watch a movie, this app can be a savior.
Notability ($1.99) helps you organize your notes for work meetings, college classes, or even just ideas you want to jot down. The interface is dead simple, and lets you categorize notes so you can quickly get back to them when you need them.
Shop Savvy ($1.99) offers some unique features to make it a handy shopping companion when checking prices. The app lets you use your iPhone camera to "scan" a bar code then view the item and prices from various locations giving you a chance to save some money. Shop Savvy also has featured items for big discounts within the app and seasonal features for smart shopping during the holidays.
SkyView - Explore the Universe ($1.99) is like a window into the night sky, using your GPS location and the iPad's accelerometer to correctly identify the stars you're looking at above. Simply point your iOS device to the sky and look to see the paths of planets, artfully drawn constellations, and other heavenly bodies. If you've ever wanted to be able to look up and identify the stars above (whether indoors or outdoors), this app will help you do just that.
Real Racing 3 (free) is probably the best racing sim in the App Store, with real world cars and tracks as you compete through several racing series. This app is free-to-play with in app purchases, but the freemium model stays mostly out of your way once you get a little bit into the game.
Kingdom Rush: Frontiers ($2.99 - iPhone|$4.99 - iPad) is one of the best tower defense games and makes for an excellent time waster. Build defensive towers along the edges of the road and try to defeat wave after wave of enemies to complete the level. With tons of different monster types, complex maps with unique challenges, and several tower upgrades, this strategy game requires both careful planning and quick reaction times to keep the enemies at bay.
Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour ($6.99) is the latest installment from Gameloft's hit first-person-shooter franchise, and while it borrows heavily from the Call of Duty games, you can't beat the nonstop action and smooth, realistic graphics. Play single-player campaign mode or try your luck against other players in a fully fleshed-out online multiplayer mode. Watch out, though, some of those guys are good.
While still at the top of its genre, this game has been around for quite a while. But until Modern Combat 5 comes out early next year, this is your best bet for first-person shooting action.
Ski Safari (99 cents) is an escape game that has you shooshing down a powdery mountain to avoid an avalanche. To keep a fast pace, you'll need to ride the mountain's various wildlife including penguins, eagles, and friendly yetis.
Ski Safari has received numerous major updates since its launch with several new themed mountains, new wildlife, new vehicles, and more that give the game an enormous amount of replayability. Be careful though, this game is extremely addictive.
Minecraft Pocket Edition ($6.99) brings the mega-popular building, mining, and survival game to the touch screen. Create your home base, craft tools, mine the depths, and watch out for monsters when traveling at night. Great for both kids and adults, this game is truly a classic, and gets more and more features with frequent updates.