If you’ve received a new iPhone or iPad for Christmas, then you’ll no doubt be looking for great apps to install. Alternatively, those who just want to breathe new life into their existing iOS device can do so by adding productivity, health, entertainment, or gaming apps.

We’ve put together a list of the essential software for iPhones and iPads, so that you get the maximum enjoyment out of those glowing rectangles.

Organisational apps

There are plenty of organisational apps on iOS that can take away the burden of having to juggle your schedule, or keep up to date with all your commitments. These are some of our favourites.

OneNote

Available from iTunes

Price: Free

Note-taking apps are ten-a-penny on iOS, with Apple’s own Notes pre-installed. The latter is fine, but doesn’t share well across platforms such as Android and Windows, so if you like freedom then we’d suggest OneNote instead.

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This excellent app allows you to create various notebooks into which you can clip webpages, store photos, and even draw or handwrite notes if you have an Apple Pencil and compatible device. The fact that it’s also completely free makes it very easy to recommend.

Office Lens

Available from iTunes

Price: Free

A great accompaniment to OneNote is Office Lens, which allows you take scan documents or even take a photograph of a whiteboard and have the whole thing flattened into a neat image, or converted into readable text.

best iphone and ipad apps

Essential for capturing and storing those items, documents, and ideas that would otherwise clutter up your office and home.

Todoist

Available on iTunes

Price: Free (Premium £28.49 per year)

One of the best ways to get organised is by using a To Do app. Again, Apple includes Reminders with iOS, but this can be a bit restricting. If you want to really take charge of your affairs then Todoist will be an invaluable tool.

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Featuring a clean, easy to use interface, Todoist makes creating task lists a doddle. Siri support means you can dictate them rather than typing. Recurring events are simple to schedule, and tasks can be colour coded so you can quickly know your priorities. 

Integration with Dropbox, Amazon Alexa, IFTT, and Slack also makes it easy to share your lists with others, or access them from a number of different devices.

For the best experience, you’ll want to invest in the Premium tier (£28.49 per year), but the basic free app is a great way to get started.

Health apps

MyFitnessPal

Available on iTunes

Price: Free

Being aware of the food you eat is one of the most important ways to guard your health. It’s all well and good pounding the running machine, but if you then eat high-calorie, or more importantly high-fat, food afterwards you could be negating all your hard work.

MyFitnessPal is an excellent way to log everything you eat, and thanks to its extensive database of UK foods you’ll know what kind of balance you’re achieving between the three main groups – carbohydrates, fat, and protein.

Best iPhone and iPad apps

It’s a very effective way of controlling your diet, losing weight, and motivating yourself to achieve your goals.

7 Minute Workout

Available on iTunes

Price: Free (In-app purchases available)

It can be hard to find time to go to the gym, and the cost of joining one is also a factor that can put many people off. That’s why 7 Minute Workout is such as great app. As the name suggests, it is built around short exercise sessions, all of which can be done in the home without the need for any equipment.  

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The workouts are challenging enough to get your heart pumping, but shouldn’t be too much for those returning to exercise. Achievement trackers keep you motivated, and when you conquer the routines included with the app there are additional ones that can be purchased for nominal amounts.

A great way to get back on the road to fitness, or top up your current regime.

Headspace

Available on iTunes

Price: Free (Premium Subscription of £9.99 p/m or £75 p/a)

We can often focus on the fitness of our body, but the mind is just as important. Headspace is a guided meditation app that encourages us to slow down, breathe deeply, and let the stresses of the day move aside for ten minutes or so each day.

 best iphone and ipad apps

The basic package is free and contains a 10-day meditation, but if you upgrade to the subscription model then you have access to a large number of plans focussed on different areas - be it stress, sleep, happiness, or a number of other important subjects.

It can look expensive at the outset, but how much would you be willing to pay for peace of mind?

Productivity apps

Microsoft Office apps

Available on iTunes

Price: Free

Whether it’s Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or OneNote, the Microsoft Office apps on iOS are an excellent way to turn your device into a productivity machine.

best iphone and ipad apps

iPad users will find these a particularly useful choice, as the interfaces have been honed to make use of the larger screen sizes.

If you want to create documents, spreadsheets, or presentations or your iOS device, then these are a must.

Adobe Photoshop Express

Available on iTunes

Price: Free

If you’re working with images on your iPhone or iPad then Adobe Photoshop Express is something you’ll want to look at.

best iphone and ipad apps

There’s basic editing features that allow you to crop, touch-up, straighten, and generally enhance your photos, plus the support for Google Photos, Dropbox, Facebook, and Creative Cloud mean importing images is a breeze.

Fantastical 2

Available on iTunes

Price: £4.99

A good calendar app can make the world of difference when you’re working on several projects and have a multitude of meetings for which you need to be prepared. Fantastical 2 is just that.

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Its clear and elegant layout means you can instantly see what and when you’re meant to be somewhere, and the integration with Apple’s Reminders app makes it a one-stop shop for appointments on your iOS device.

Games

Hidden Folks

Available on iTunes

Price: £3.99

There are thousands of games on iOS, but one of the most surprisingly addictive and fun ones is Hidden Folk. Essentially, it’s Where’s Wally but with animation. That shouldn’t really work, but it does, very well indeed.

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Recently voted the iPad game of the year, this is one to sit down and enjoy. Be warned though, you might be there for quite some time.

Minecraft

Available on iTunes

Price: £6.99

Minecraft is a phenomenon. Blocky graphics, hardly any fighting, and the need to build the world you play in. These could be criticisms to a lesser game. But, put them together in the way developer Mojang has, and you get one of the most popular games in modern history.

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The iPad version continues this tradition, with plenty to explore, create, and enjoy. It’s also a game you can give to the kids and know that it inspires their imagination rather than stunting it.

The Escapists

Available on iTunes

Price: £3.99

If you’ve ever fancied masterminding a prison break, then The Escapists is for you. The sandbox game allows players to come up with their own ways of evading the clutches of their captors, which could involve provoking a riot, digging tunnels, or disguising yourself as a guard an waltzing out the door.

best iphone and ipad apps  

New prisons are added periodically, so you’ll need to keep coming up with innovative escape plans, otherwise you’ll be doing a long stretch of bird.

Entertainment

Kindle

Available on iTunes

Price: Free

If you love books, then the Kindle app is an obligatory download for your iPhone or iPad. Amazon’s digital bookstore has an incredibly wide selection to choose from, and when you download them to your iOS device you’ll find a wonderfully simple and enjoyable reading experience.

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The original iPod was sold with the tagline ‘a thousand songs in your pocket’, Kindle can beat that, and it’ll take a bit longer to get through them all too.

Netflix

Available on iTunes

Price: From £5.99 p/m

Come on, it’s Netflix! For a measly monthly amount you have access to arguably some of the finest TV shows around at the moment, plus a regular influx of new movies too.

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The ability to download content so you can watch it offline is an excellent addition which turns your iOS device into the perfect companion on any long-haul flight. Worth every penny.

Comixology

Available on iTunes

Price: Free

Comic books and graphic novels are very much back in vogue, thanks mainly to the movie and TV franchises that have been attracting huge audiences. Now, you can see for yourself the origins of Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, and all of the other crime fighting heroes through Comixology.

 best iphone and ipad apps

Owned by Amazon, the app is a brilliant way to read comics, as you can see the detailed artwork in glorious colours, and zoom in and out with ease. A guided reading mode steps you through each panel, or you can keep it in the traditional page view that artists have used for years.

Issues can be bought from the Comixology website, and they are stored on your account, meaning you can deleted them and then download them as many times as you like.

So, there you have it. Some of the finest apps available for your iPhone or iPad. If you think we've missed some from the list, feel free to let us know in the comments.