Best iPad and iPhone apps UK 2018: Travelling, dating, learning and more on iOS

The sheer number of apps for iOS can be dizzying, and Apple’s own lists only do so much to sort the wheat from the digital chaff.

To save your thumbs unnecessary effort of scrolling pages of mediocre software (exhausting, we know), we’ve picked the greatest apps available. Whether you’re planning to keep in shape or looking for a place to eat, here’s our selection of the best apps on iOS for 2018.

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Best apps for iPhone and iPad in 2018: Education

Duolingo (free)


Anyone that studied foreign languages at school knows how hard it can be to learn them, but Duolingo is the perfect tonic for that. It’s a fun app that helps you learn languages. Using a variety of gamified features, such as ‘levels’ in different subject areas and ‘hit-points’ for errors, it makes the process of learning enjoyable.

There are many languages offered, from the popular to a few fictional ones (if offers Klingon, for example), and each one is specifically tailored so skills are learnt in an order that makes sense for the language. 

Elevate – Brain Training (free)


Brain Training apps can be very hit and miss —some of them are just a collection of puzzles that assign you arbitrary scores upon completion. Elevate elevates itself above the competition because each puzzle is designed to teach you a specific skill or talent, such as speed-reading or omitting unnecessary words when writing, and when the app assesses you it helps you understand how to improve in those areas.

Like all Brain Training apps you have to pay to get the best out of the app, but even for free users it’s a fun way to develop important skills.

Best apps for iPhone and iPad in 2018: Photography

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 four-second loop for your own amusement.

VSCO Cam (free)


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.

Huji Cam (free)


Are you a bit basic? Do you like pretending your life is more chic and cool than it really is via social media? Of course you do, it’s 2018! Here at Alphr, we’re obsessed with the Polaroid-esque app du jour: Huji Cam. The app makes your iPhone snaps look like they were taken on an old school Polaroid camera, even emblazoning your pics with a 1998 date on the bottom, for added authenticity. 

Showcasing Huji’s magic is Tom Bruce of our sister publication Expert Reviews. His mixtape is expected imminently. Or at least Huji makes him look like it is. 

Best apps for iPhone and iPad in 2018: Editing

Afterlight 2 (£2.99)


Afterlight 2 isn’t for the faint-hearted Instagrammer. With so many features that your average editing app looks like Paint, and nuanced controls that’ll help you bring the colour and contrast out in any image, Afterlight 2 is one of the best editing apps around.

It does cost, unlike some of its competition, but that small investment will ensure your images look fantastic and stand out above the crowd. 

Splice (free)


Splice was originally created as an app to edit footage from GoPro devices, but it’s one of the best video editing apps for any footage. It has a range of functions that many video editing apps miss, such as text overlays or a library of stock footage to use in your video, and is simple enough that you can edit footage on the fly.

The best feature, however, is the ability to import video from social media and online file hosting sites, which means you can pinch footage straight from your Instagram page.

Best apps for iPhone and iPad in 2018: Productivity

Slack (free)


A useful business/social app to have in your arsenal, Slack is a snazzy-looking conversation platform aimed at the workplace.

The app supports both private and group conversations. It integrates with a number of tools including Dropbox and Google Docs, and lets you add images, videos and GIFs to your chats. It automatically syncs across all of your Slack accounts, making off-the-cuff collaboration possible even when you’re on the bus.

Buffer (free)


Buffer lets you line up social media posts for Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest. It’s a pretty essential tool if you’re running a publication or business, but can also be useful if you want to schedule regular updates or announcements from you personal accounts.

The app lets you pin posts to a custom schedule, and then offers a host of different analytics tools to judge how many people clicked, liked or shared your words or pictures.

Evernote (free)


Evernote is the app that promises to overhaul the way you organise personal and professional proects alike. It’s not just a facilitator for mindless note-taking; you can create to-do lists, save things you find online and sync everything between your phone, tablet and computer automatically. 

It even has a recommendation from the New York Times – talk about a glowing endorsement. 

Best apps for iPhone and iPad in 2018: Social and entertainment

Skype (free)


FaceTime may be the pillar of video chat on Apple devices, but Skype remains an indispensable tool for talking to friends, family and colleagues on Android and Windows phones.

This cross-platform app offers free messaging and video calls, and cheap calls to mobiles and landlines. Altogether, it’s a good thing to have installed on your iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch.

YouTube (Free)


So great is YouTube’s success that it has given rise to a handful of different subcultures. There are the YouTubers, yes, but the app is also a great place to watch everything from film trailers to explainers about quantum physics – to name a couple of example. A handy tool in the digital toolset. 

Best apps for iPhone and iPad in 2018: Health and Fitness

Strava Running and Cycling (free)


A fantastic app for mapping your run or cycle, Strava Running and Cycling uses GPS to accurately chart your exercise activity.

The app is also a great way to stoke your sense of competition, with filtered leaderboards, weekly time-based goals, detailed heart-rate analysis and integration with Facebook, Twitter and Apple’s in-built Health app.

Lifesum (free)


You can do all the push-ups and sun salutations you like, but it needs to be backed up with a healthy diet. Lifesum makes the task of tracking your meals as simple as possible, with a range of intuitive diet and exercise plans.

Whether you’re looking to lose weight, gain weight or just be healthier, Lifesum charts your food and water intake and gives you feedback on how to improve your diet. Integration with Apple Watch makes it even easier to keep on top of your meals.

Best apps for iPhone and iPad in 2018: Travel

Airbnb (free)


An essential tool to have in your box, Airbnb has had an enormous effect on the way travellers find accommodation in other cities. You probably don’t need me to tell you how Airbnb works: basically, you pay to rent out rooms from other users of the app. What I will say, however, is that having the app installed on your phone or tablet saves a lot of hassle when you need to reach your contacts on the move. You can search for places to stay, talk to hosts and arrange payments all with the app.

Skyscanner (free)


Whether you’re a holidaymaker or a regular flyer, Skyscanner is one of the easiest ways to find cheap flights.

The clean design of the app makes comparing prices a simple task, and when you’ve chosen flights the app will link you directly to the airline to purchase the tickets. Ultimately, this simplicity is why Skyscanner is one of the best flight-finder apps out there.

Best apps for iPhone and iPad in 2018: Going out

Yelp (free)


Yelp is a good place to check out reviews for restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars. Built up of millions of reviews of businesses, it’s a great tool for gauging places to eat, drink and shop before you head out.

OpenTable (free)


Whether you’re looking for restaurant recommendations or want to book a local favourite, OpenTable is a handy app for reservations on thousands of places to eat around the world.

Best apps for iPhone and iPad in 2018: Dating

Bumble (free)


The idea at the core of Bumble is that the woman has to make the first move. Swipe through people to decide whether you like or dislike them à la Tinder. If a match is made, the onus is on the woman to initiate the conversation (this doesn’t apply for same-sex couples). If no move is made within 24 hours, the connection disappears. It’s an interesting spin on the Tinder formula.

Hinge (free)


Pitched as a classier version of Tinder, Hinge uses your Facebook connections to offer up potential matches. The friend-of-friends angle, along with aspects such as being able to see whether users are already in relationships, means that Hinge is positioned less for short-term hookups and more for long-term connections. A bonus benefit is you can tell your kids you met “through a friend” while winking at each other, then looking at the camera before the next advert plays. That’s your life: a series of terrible adverts for apps. Get used to it.

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