It's not hard to find great lists of the best apps to load into your iPhone and iPad, if you want to load up on crowd favorites such as Facebook, Instagram or Spotify. But the App Store conceals a wealth of apps that might not have gotten any widespread accolades. We searched through the App Store to bring you more hidden gems — apps that don't always get a lot of attention or headlines, but deliver great utility, interesting new features or fantastic experiences to your iPhone or iPad. Whether you've got a new iPhone or just want to freshen up your current model, give some of these overlooked iOS apps a try.
Agenda (Free, $9.99 pro unlock)
Featured in the 2018 Apple Design Awards, Agenda is a note-taking app that stands out on Mac and iOS devices. This app takes a date-oriented approach to organization, attaching timestamps to your notes so that you can easily view your progress and the evolution of your projects. You can organize your notes by project and category, and highlight specific items into your agenda to make them easier to find. Notes can be synced on iCloud or shared through print or a variety of formats like PDF. The app is free to use, with premium features like events and markdown editing unlocked through an in-app purchase.
iTranslate Converse ($4.99/mo)
Another Apple Design Awards winner, iTranslate Converse is a more nimble version of iTranslate's mobile app, focused entirely on two-way voice translation for 38 different languages, with automatic language detection. Speak into the phone mic, and the app quickly translates your speech into your selected language, complete with text and audio. Then, it's ready to listen for an answer and translate to the first language you used, and provide text transcripts. Converse's main virtue is its ease of use, with a simple interface and few extras to get in the way. The app subscriptions start at $4.99 per month, with a free 7-day trial.
Portrait mode on dual-lens iPhones like the iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X lets you take striking photos, but if you want more customizable effects and the ability to refocus images, consider Focos, which lets you adjust Bokeh effects with variant shapes, adjustable aperture and diaphragm settings, and added depth filters. You can even tweak your existing Portrait Mode photos after the fact. While Focos doesn't have the newer customizable lighting features of the stock camera's updated Portrait Mode, it's an excellent addition to your mobile photography bag of tricks.
Jot - Notes & Todos ($1.99)
Rather than throw in a whole mess of features you might not even use, note-taking app Jot focuses on the bare essentials: the quick creation of notes and to-do lists, presented in a simple feed style with swipe menus for pinning, archiving or sharing your notes. Don't come in expecting stickers, elaborate tagging, sketching or other bling; Jot's specialty is quick, distraction-free note taking.
Enlight Photofox (Free)
Enlight Photofox is the latest edition of the award-winning photo editing app, allowing users to create stunning double exposures and other artfully manipulated effects. The app comes with a wealth of tools to affect color and tone, with filters, masks and layer effects making it easy to stitch together photos using a variety of blending modes and tools to keep everything seamless. The app offers some effects free, with an unlimited subscription unlocking all features.
Calzy 3 ($1.99)
Calzy 3 takes a neat approach to calculator apps with a "Memory Area" for quickly saving and labeling calculations, variables, and other bits of data that you might want to store for easy reference across multiple sessions. The app also includes a configurable keyboard, 3D touch support, scientific functions, history and bookmarking, as well as multitasking support. It's an excellent all around calculator app, and it's no surprise that it got recognition in the 2018 Apple Design Awards.
Inside (Free, $6.99 for the full game)
Equal parts beautiful, haunting, and quietly mysterious Playdead's horror puzzle platformer game Inside has players stepping into the shoes of a boy fleeing through a shadowy dystopia of mind-controlled zombies. A spiritual successor to Playdead's Limbo, Inside builds on the minimalist design to build a short, unsettling but also disturbingly beautiful experience. It isn't for the faint of heart, but it's well worth the price of admission if you own a newer Apple device.
Cinder - Clean Your Contacts (Free)
Cinder - Clean Your Contacts gives iPhone users a brutally efficient way to sort through their contacts, removing older, unwanted entries. Taking a page from Tindes, Cinder shows your contacts as a series of cards that you swipe right to keep or left to flag for possible deletion. Once you're done, you review all of the contacts that you've flagged before permanently removing them from your list. You can download more advanced contact manager apps to your iPhone, but Cinder's simplicity makes it a great way to blitz through your address book.
Whose food reviews would you trust? A rando commenter, or a pro chef with a reputation to protect? Chefsfeed gives you the lowdown on the best dining spots and dishes in town courtesy of professional and celebrity chefs. Users can check out curated guides, restaurant reviews (and dish recommendations), view restaurant details and book reservations, making the app a handy companion to planning an evening out on town.
Deliveries is one of the best all-in-one package tracking apps available online, with support for a variety of services, including UPS, USPS, FedEx and DHL. A simple system allows you to enter package information through tracking numbers or via iCloud syncing that pulls delivery information from your emails and receipts to automatically populate your incoming deliveries list. You can then view a quick timeline summary of incoming and delivered packages and ETAs; you can even find the location of your packages on a map where available, or through the provider's online tracking portal. A Today widget keeps you informed of incoming packages and notifies you of package arrivals.
1Blocker takes advantage of iOS's content blocking features to provide powerful and highly configurable ad and content blocking. The app comes preloaded with an array of ad blocking presets while also providing users with the freedom to create their own content blocking rules. Users can easily block unsightly ads and social widgets with a flick of a switch; they can also whitelist specific pages if they want to let content through. Previously a paid app, 1Blocker is now free to try, with free users able to block one kind of content (ads, social widgets, and so forth). A premium upgrade provides unlimited blocking.
MyScript Nebo (Free)
MyScript's Nebo is a feature-rich note-taking app built with the iPad and the Apple Pencil in mind. Featuring MyScript's Interactive Ink technology, Nebo automatically parses your handwritten notes into text, while allowing you to easily format your text, add extras like emphasis, underlining, bullet points, diagrams, mathematical notations, and picture annotation. Users can write equations and calculate or export to LaTeX, export text into Microsoft Office documents or text files, and search through your notes to quickly find something you've scribbled down. If you're more about jotting down notes as opposed to typing them down, MyScript Nebo is an incredibly versatile note-taking tool.
Moleskine Timepage (iPhone, $4.99; iPad, $6.99)
Moleskine may be better known for its notebooks than its mobile apps, but the company's Timepage calendar app for iOS does a good job at being stylish and feature-packed. A smart calendar and day planner, Timepage works with existing calendar providers like iCloud, Facebook and Google, while providing some nifty calendar views and easy event creation. The base view provides a simple timeline of the day's coming appointments, with a date tab on the side for selecting specific days of the week. A month "heatmap" view quickly shows which days are free or busy, with filters surfacing particular events or calendars. Natural language parsing for event creation, maps and weather info, and natural language support are among the other additions. The iPad app provides expanded view modes and split-screen support.
Just Press Record ($4.99)
The stock Voice Memos app does an good job as a voice recorder, but if you're looking for something more muscular, try out Just Press Record, a one-tap recording app for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch that also adds some useful features like built-in transcription features for easy note taking. Users can record from a long press on the app icon, from a lockscreen or notification widget. The app can transcribe speech with support for a number of languages and spoken punctuation commands. Recordings are sorted by date and time, and can be manually renamed. The transcription also allows you to search through recordings for specific terms. You can sync recordings and transcriptions to iCloud, where they can be shared to a variety of apps.
Mobile devices are increasingly becoming valuable productivity tools for both business and creative work. They're also incredible sources of distraction. Enter Flowstate, a brutally focused writing app that uses a simple trick to keep you on track and working: It automatically erases all of your work if you exit early or stop typing for more than 5 seconds. Users set a timer for 5, 10, 15, or 30 minutes, and then the flow session begins, as you try to blaze through the entire thing, quick-fire typing to make sure that work isn't deleted by the app. Designed for writing blitzes to spew out content, with measured editing coming later, Flowstate is an effective, if pricey, tool for combating writer's block.
Astropad Studio ($11.99 per month)
The first Astropad app did a fantastic job of turning your iPad into a video graphics tablet for your Mac, making for an excellent companion for anybody using Adobe Photoshop and similar software. Astropad has since upped its game with the new Astropad Studio, a subscription version of the app aimed squarely at graphics professionals using the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil. Designed to work through Wi-Fi or a USB connection, Astropad Studio boasts improved responsiveness and features, shortcuts, gesture controls, and more. The app comes with a free 7-day trial, after which it will cost you $11.99 per month, or $79.99 for a year's subscription.
RunGo (Free, in-app purchases)
Jogging is a great way to get a bit of exercise, but unless you're a native that knows the lay of the land, it can be tough finding a good and safe jogging route when you're traveling. Enter RunGo, a mobile app that serves as run tracker and navigation aid, allowing users to discover new jogging routes, complete with voice navigation to help guide you through unfamiliar locales. Users can download routes for offline use, start routes halfway or create their own within the app. Coolest of all, premium subscribers can access "guided tours," verified routes created by local runners through safe and scenic areas, with the app announcing points of interest and other interesting information.
Clarity Money (Free)
Clarity Money is a free personal finance app that helps you manage your budget and save money through a variety of methods. Link your bank and card accounts to the app, and Clarity then analyzes your spending behavior, identifying opportunities to save money, such as discounts and coupons for your bills. The app also points out subscriptions that you might not be using and helps you build a budget to track your spending. You can also set a savings goal, with Clarity Money taking a set amount from your bank account periodically to deposit in a savings account.
Stuck trying to pick which flick to watch? Letterboxd is the cinefile's diary and social network that enables you to share film reviews and recommendations with friends. Not only can you keep a log of the movies you've seen, complete with ratings, reviews and tags, you can also follow friends, look up cast and crew data for movies and create shareable lists of favorite flicks and actors.
Depending on who you ask, RunPee is either silly or pure genius. The app keeps a database of movies, and then tells you the best time in the movie to head to the restroom. Each "PeeTime" tells you how far in the movie it is, as well as providing a handy reference line or scene. The PeeTime gives you how a window of time for how long you've got to heed nature's call before something good happens, and the app also comes with descriptions of whatever you've missed during your absence. Or you could just decide not to guzzle down that oil drum-sized soft drink before the movie.
Highball is a well-designed app for those who enjoy a well-made alcoholic beverage. It allows users to discover new recipes from a series of downloadable cards. This way, you can explain the intricate steps involved with making the crafty beverage when that attractive stranger at the bar asks you what you're drinking.
The Infatuation (Free)
If Yelp and Foursquare are too basic for you, this restaurant recommendations app may fit the bill. Built around original, unique and curated reviews of the best dining destinations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington DC, Austin and Denver, The Infatuation means you no longer need to give your trust to RandoFoodie23 or any anonymous reviewer who might skew a restaurant's ranking.
Carrot Weather ($3.99)
Snark is a wonderful way to make terrible forecasts easier on the ears. At least that's the premise behind Carrot Weather, the iOS weather forecasting app. Gamers familiar with the GLaDOS character from the Portal series will love Carrot Weather's narrator, as it mocks your misfortune for living through rain, sleet and excessive sun. And if you've upgraded to iOS 10, Carrot Weather now integrates with Messages to let you send snarky forecasts to your friends.
Every once and awhile, you may find yourself needing to use public Wi-Fi, even though you've read about how unsafe it is. This is why the Encrypt.me service for iOS is so important, as it protects your activity when browsing on unsecured and untrustworthy open networks. Formerly known as Cloak VPN, the app is a free download, but service plans start at $2.99 per month.
More iPhone Apps
Still looking for more app ideas? If gaming is up your alley, check out our best iOS games across a multitude of categories. Or if you'd prefer your apps to be free, we've got a roundup of the 40 best free options in the store. Think we're missing out on a gem of an iPhone app? Sound off in the comments.