The best apps to get started on 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? Check out our great starter collection for Android apps.
TV and movies on the go
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.
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.
Flip through the news
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.
Text with all your friends
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 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.
Super fast voice search
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.
Share your shots
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.
Accurate, helpful weather reports
For checking the weather, look no further than Weather Underground (free). The app offers detailed, accurate, up-to-the-minute weather reports wherever you go. You can report conditions in your area to contribute to better reports. You can see satellite images, maps of temperatures nearby and hourly reports for conditions. It's comprehensive, reliable and has a useful widget for the Today menu.
A great kitchen companion
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.
Photo editing and filters
Camera+ ($2.99 | £1.99 | AU$3.79) 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.
Organize your notes and lists
Notability ($2.99 | £1.99 | AU$3.79) 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.
Get the best prices while shopping
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.
Lara Croft Go ($4.99) is a puzzle game set deep in the jungle. As you move Lara around, taking one step at a time, she'll encounter snakes, rotating blades and other hazards that try to kill her. Your objective is get her from point A to point B alive and find treasure along the way.
Alto's Adventure($2.99) is a downhill skiing game with a lot of heart and style. You zoom down slopes as many different characters (you unlock new ones as you play), avoiding obstacles and catching your llamas that have escaped their pen. Jump over rocks and chasms, grind on bunting and avoid the village elders who aren't impressed with your snowboarding skills.
The best in racing simulation
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.
Defend against an onslaught
Kingdom Rush: Origins ($2.99 - iPhone|$4.99 - iPad) is the latest version of 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.
The best first person shooter on mobile
Modern Combat 5: Blackout ($3.99) 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.
Explore a blocky landscape
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.