70 best iPhone and iPad apps of 2016 – Photos, games, work, dating and more

Here's our selection of the greatest apps available on iOS

Browsing the App Store can sometimes feel like fighting against a tidal wave of tiles, all clamouring for your attention and data. To help you decide what truly deserves a place on your iPhoneiPad or Apple Watch, we’ve served up a platter of the very best on offer. From photography and games to work and dating, here’s our choice of the greatest apps on iOS for 2016.

This article will be updated over the coming weeks and months. If you have any apps that you think deserve a place in our chart, get in touch using the comments section below or via Twitter @alphr.  

If you want to test your app knowledge, play our super-difficult icon quiz. 

Best iPhone and iPad apps 2016: Photography

Adobe Photoshop Fix (Free)

Photoshop has long been the mainstay of designers, photographers and internet meme makers. This free iOS app is in no way a replacement for the in-depth editing tools that come with the full Photoshop release, but it’s one hell of a starting point for beginners.

Angled towards patching up photos, the app has tools that give you the ability to warp faces, “heal” pictures by removing imperfections (or unwanted people in the shot), as well as tweak a range of colour, focus and tone options. You can export layers to Photoshop CC, making it both a great ancillary tool and quickfire editor. The fact that all of these features are free is mind-blowing.

Boomerang (free)

There are many variations on the looping-video format but Boomerang is by far one of the most entertaining. The app works by taking a burst of 10 photos then automatically stitches these together into a 1-second video that rolls back and forth in perpetuity. The jerky aesthetic of the shot clips gives them a rough charm – a bit like the dancers in the video for Pulp’s Common People.

The app is made by Instagram, so it naturally offers a prominent button for sharing the videos there, as well as on Facebook. You can also choose to save the clip on your camera roll as a 4-second loop for your own amusement. 

Hyperlapse (free)

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Hyperlapse is a fun photography app from Instagram that lets you shoot time-lapse videos without the need for expensive equipment. Automatic stabilisation means you end up with polished, cinematic-feeling footage. Whether you speed up a sunrise or train journey, compressing long videos into short clips is a satisfying way to capture the world around you.  

Layout (free)

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Also by Instagram, Layout is a useful collage-making app that lets you combine your photos into creative composites. There are similar apps out there but none are as polished as this, and the connection to Instagram offers easy integration between the two.

Fragment (£1.49)

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This app lets you turn your photos into almost every album cover ever to have graced the front page of Pitchfork. You can turn your images into geometric patterns, and there’s a lot of fun to be had experimenting with different shapes and collages.

VSCO Cam (free)

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VSCO Cam upgrades the standard iPhone camera app to give photography enthusiasts full control over the shutter speed, ISO and white balance – as well as letting you choose focus and exposure values from separate areas of your frame.

Once you've captured the perfect image, you can apply a range of filters with adjustable strength. Manual post-processing tools let you apply exposure correction, deskew images, adjust colour temperature and more. What makes VSCO Cam stand out is that these edits are non-destructive, so you have full freedom to experiment and perfect your image. When you're done, you can share your creations on an online gallery.

The iPad app doesn't offer the full range of manual camera controls, but images can be synced between multiple devices, so you can shoot on your iPhone then edit on the big screen.

DSCO (Free) 

This app from VSCO lets you make GIFs, add a bunch of simple filters and share via VSCO and your social network of choice. Point the camera, hold down the screen and you’ll record a looping clip of up to 2.5 seconds. After you’ve published, the GIF will be saved on your camera roll both as a GIF and as an MP4 video.

In practice it works a bit like a cross between Vine and Snapchat – with a simple user interface that lets you hit the ground running. The minimalist design can sometimes be paradoxically confusing, but there’s something inherently charming about jittery GIFS that keeps them popular on the internet, and this app is ultimately a useful tool for making your own. 

Glitché (£0.79)

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What used to happen for free with crappy VHS players is now the subject of an app that lets you turn photos into glitchy works of art. For less than a quid you get a sizeable range of tools, from databending to turning pictures into a grid of emoji. There’s definitely a book waiting to be written about the popularity of the glitch as an aesthetic – originally something accidental and broken; now something purposeful and constructed – but it’s probably best not to think too hard and just enjoy making your photos freaky.

There are more than enough tools included in the base version to impress and terrify your followers, although if you’re here for hi-res exports you’ll need to shell out £2.29 for the Pro version.

EyeEm (Free)

While the 24 photo filters and editing tools that come with EyeEm are appealing enough, what really sets the app apart from its similarly clothed kin is the presence of an integrated marketplace. EyeEm Market is a place to upload your best shots, where they have a chance of being picked up by brands and publishers. Throw in an active community with this ability to make a bit of extra money and you’ve got a winner.

Instagram (free)

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The best-known photography app is also the easiest to use, and a great starting point for amateur photographers. Aside from the ever-present selfies, Instagram offers a surprising amount of flexibility when editing photos, from choosing filters to adjusting more twiddly settings such as brightness, contrast and highlights.

Like Twitter and Facebook, this is probably already on your iPhone. If not, get it now and start snapping.

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