Apple has done a remarkable job putting together the collection of apps that come preinstalled on all iPhone, iPad, and iPad mini devices. Right out of the box, your phone or tablet is capable of handling a wide range of tasks. However, from the App Store, there are more than 700,000 apps currently available. Many iPhone and hybrid iPhone/iPad apps have been updated to support the iPhone 5’s larger Retina display, while there are more than 275,000 iPad-specific apps that were designed specifically for the iPad and iPad mini (that don’t run on the iPhone).
To help you expand the capabilities of your iPhone, iPad, or iPad mini, let’s take a look at ten “must have” apps that are optional and available from the App Store. To find any of these apps (or apps like them), launch the App Store app on your iOS mobile device (while Internet access is available), and enter the app’s title into the Search field. From the App Store app on the iPhone, tap on the Search button that’s displayed along the bottom of the screen. On the iPad and iPad mini, the Search field is located in the upper-right corner of the screen.
On the surface, Evernote may seem like a text editing app that’s suitable for note taking using your phone or tablet. However, Evernote has evolved into a feature-packed and extremely versatile app that allows users to create, organize, print, and share information that includes text, photos, graphics, audio clips, video clips, and other content.
In addition to an iPhone and iPad version of Evernote, there’s also a fully-compatible Evernote app available for Macs, PCs, and Android mobile devices, for example. As a result, you can easily sync content created using this app with your other computers or devices, plus share content with others via email or Dropbox, for example.
While you can use your iPhone or iPad’s virtual keyboard to input content into Evernote, you can also use the device’s camera to include photos or video clips, the built-in microphones to include audio clips, or take advantage of iOS 6’s Dictation feature to speak into your device and have it translate what you say into text that gets inserted into your Evernote document.
The creators of Evernote have also teamed up with Moleskine to create special paper-based notebooks, called Evernote Smart Notebooks. Using any pen or pencil, you can write in these notebooks and then use a specialized app (provided for free) that takes advantage of your iPhone or iPad’s rear-facing camera to scan your written pages directly into the Evernote app.
If you have information, notes, ideas, or content to organize, view, share, and/or print, the Evernote app offers a free and highly customizable solution.
Currently, more than one billion people around the world are active on the Facebook online social networking service. While Apple has integrated some Facebook functionality directly into the iOS 6 operating system, if you want to manage all aspects of your Facebook account from your iPhone or iPad, you’ll need to download and install the official Facebook app.
The official Facebook app allows you to chat with your online Facebook friends, send/receive messages, share photos, access fan pages, read your News Feed, update your Status, check-in and share your current location with your online friends, find and add online friends, respond to friend requests, view your Facebook calendar, and more.
Facebook continues to improve the functionality of the official Facebook app for the iPhone and iPad, giving you a powerful tool for staying in contact with your online friends using a 3G/4G (LTE) or Wi-Fi Internet connection.
There are a wide range of apps offered by TV networks, cable service providers, and streaming programming services (like Netflix) that allow you to stream TV show episodes and movies from the Internet to watch on your iPhone or iPad. Unlike when you acquire TV show episodes or movies from the iTunes Store (using the iTunes app), the video content you stream from the Internet does not get stored within your mobile device. Thus, a constant 3G/4G (LTE) or Wi-Fi Internet connection is needed to view this content.
If you already subscribe to the HBO television network via your cable TV service provider, you can download the free HBO Go app and stream episodes of all HBO original TV series, as well as an ever-changing selection of movies directly to your iPhone or iPad, and watch any of this programming on an on-demand basis from virtually anywhere within the United States.
Keep in mind, if you use this or any other app to stream video content via a 3G/4G (LTE) Internet connection, this will utilize a tremendous amount of your monthly wireless data allocation provided by your wireless service provider. So, unless you subscribe to an unlimited wireless 3G/4G (LTE) service plan, your best option is to use HBO Go (or similar apps from other television networks) with a Wi-Fi Internet connection.
Developed by Apple, iBooks (version 3) does not come preinstalled with iOS 6, but it’s available for free from the App Store. iBooks transforms your phone or tablet into a powerful eBook reader. The app is also used to access Apple’s online-based iBookstore, which offers one of the world’s largest collections of eBooks that are formatted for use with the iBooks app. In addition to bestsellers and works by well-known authors and publishers that must be purchased, iBookstore offers a vast selection of free eBooks.
Once you begin reading eBooks using the iBooks app, you can format the on-screen text by choosing a font, font size, and theme, for example. It’s also possible to annotate eBooks as you’re reading, create bookmarks to mark pages, look up the definition of words, highlight text, search the text, and handle a variety of other useful tasks.
The iBooks app can also be used for viewing PDF files on your iPhone or iPad. You can create PDF files on your iOS mobile device using certain apps, such as Pages, Numbers, or Keynote, for example. However, you can also import PDF files into your device via email, iCloud, or the iTunes Sync process.
If you already have an Amazon Kindle or Barnes & Noble Nook eBook reader, it’s possible to download and install the free Kindle or Nook app from the App Store and then import your existing eBook library into your iPhone or iPad. The Kindle app allows you to import eBooks purchased through Amazon.com or those formatted for the Kindle eBook readers, while the Nook app allows you to import eBooks purchased through BN.com or those formatted for the Nook eBook readers.
The rear-facing camera that’s built into the iPhone 5, 3rd and 4th generation iPad, and the iPad mini is truly state-of-the-art, and when used with the Camera app, it allows you to capture high-resolution digital photos from just about anywhere. While the Photos app that comes preinstalled with iOS 6 allows you to view, edit, organize, enhance, print, and share your digital photos, the editing and photo enhancement tools built into this app are somewhat limited.
The optional iPhoto app ($4.99) from Apple, however, provides a much more robust collection of photo editing and image enhancing tools that can be used directly from your iPhone or iPad. Thus, you can take photos, edit them using powerful tools, and then share your photos with your friends via email, Facebook, Twitter, or an iCloud Shared Photo Stream, for example, without ever having to first transfer your images to your primary computer in order to properly edit them.
iPhoto is one of many photography-related apps available from the App Store that allow you to edit, enhance, print, organize, and share your digital photos. Each third-party photo app offers a different collection of editing tools, image filters, and special effects that you can incorporate into your photos. Beyond iPhoto, some of the more powerful, yet easy-to-use photo editing apps include: Photogene, PS Touch, Snapseed, CameraBag, Luminance, Camera+, Alt Photo, Retouch, and CloneCamera. The free Instagram app is ideal for taking, editing, and then sharing photos using your iPhone or iPad in conjunction with the free Instagram online service, which also integrates with Facebook and Twitter.
Apple has teamed up with some of the most respected educators, lecturers, colleges, universities, museums, and philanthropic organizations around the world to provide a vast library of free online courses and personal enrichment programs which you can access and participate in from anywhere, anytime, using your iPhone or iPad in conjunction with the free iTunes U app.
Regardless of what topic you’re interested in learning more about, or what skill you’d like to acquire or fine-tune, changes are you’ll discover a free online course, lecture, or workshop available that you can experience at your leisure. These classes utilize video, audio, eBook-based texts, narrated digital slide presentations, photos, and other multimedia content that is produced by top-notch educational institutions, like Stanford, Harvard, Yale, MIT, Oxford, MoMA, the New York Public Library, and National Geographic.
The iTunes U library is constantly expanding and currently includes more than 500,000 lectures, classes, and workshops that can be downloaded and used in conjunction with the iTunes U app. You’ll find educational and personal enrichment content that’s targeted to all ages and education levels. iTunes U is one of the most under-publicized resources available on the Internet. It is available for free, on an unlimited basis, to all Apple iPhone, iPad, iPad mini, iPod touch, and Mac users.
myAT&T / My Verizon Mobile / Sprint Zone
No matter which wireless service provider you use in conjunction with your iPhone and/or iPad, there’s a free app available from that service provider to help you manage your account and avoid overages. If you’re an AT&T Wireless customer, download the free myAT&T app. Verizon Wireless users should install the free My Verizon Wireless app, while Sprint PCS customers should download and install the Sprint Zone app.
Any of these apps allow you to manage your account directly from your mobile device, pay your monthly bill, and monitor your usage. For iPhone users, for example, you can track your monthly talk time, how many text messages you’ve sent and received, and track your wireless data usage with a few taps on the screen. It’s also possible to set up free alerts to notify you of a due bill or when you’re close to using up your talk time, text messaging, or wireless data allocation.
There are a handful of full-featured word processing apps available for the iPhone and iPad, and many of them are Microsoft Word compatible. For example, there’s QuickOffice Pro ($19.99), Documents To Go ($9.99 - $16.99), and Apple’s own Pages app ($9.99). All of these apps, and others, allow you to import, view, edit, print, and share Microsoft Word documents. It’s also possible to create documents from scratch on your iPhone or iPad that can be transferred to any Mac running Pages, or PC or Mac that’s running Microsoft Word.
The Pages app, however, was designed by Apple to fully integrate with the other iWork for iOS apps (including Numbers and Keynote), as well as several of your device’s other preinstalled apps, and the features and functions that are built into iOS 6. Pages is also fully iCloud compatible, so your documents can remain synced, in real-time, with your other iOS mobile devices and/or Mac.
Pages is a full-featured word processor that offers many of the features you’re probably familiar with using Microsoft Word (or another word processor) on your primary computer. If you need to get writing done while on-the-go, or read and edit documents from your iPhone or iPad, the Pages app is extremely powerful. It offers a vast collection of useful features that allows you to format text, import photos and graphics, and create professional-looking documents with ease.
While FaceTime is an ideal app for participating in free video conferences with other Apple users, the Skype app allows you to video conference with any other Skype user, whether they’re on a PC, Mac, iOS mobile device, or Android device, for example. Plus, Skype allows you to make and receive calls using voice-over-IP (Internet-based) technology, as well as communicate via text messaging with other Skype users.
All Skype-to-Skype voice, videoconferencing, or text-based communication is always free. For iPhone users, Skype allows you to make international calls for pennies per minute, as long as your phone is connected to the Internet (a Wi-Fi connection is preferred, although the service works with a 3G/4G/LTE connection). For iPad users, you can make and receive calls, using a unique phone number, for a very low fee.
Skype dramatically expands how you can use your iPhone or iPad as a low-cost communications tool from anywhere in the world. When traveling overseas, you can save a fortune calling back to the United States using Skype. The Skype app is free, and setting up an account takes just minutes. A small monthly fee is charged to obtain a unique Skype phone number, and other low fees apply to make domestic or international calls from Skype to any landline or cell phone number.
As you begin using the newly revamped Maps app that comes preinstalled with iOS 6, you’ll notice that when you look up restaurants, local businesses, and popular landmarks, some of the information the Maps app provides comes from the Yelp! online service. This also applies when you use Siri to obtain information about restaurants, businesses, and popular destinations.
To expand upon the information that’s provided by the Maps app and Siri, download and install the free Yelp! app, which can also be used as a stand-alone app to provide you with a vast amount of information, especially when it comes to finding nearby restaurants and businesses, no matter where in the world you happen to be. Yelp! requires an Internet connection and takes full advantage of the Location Services feature built into your iPhoto or iPad in order to determine your current location and then help you navigate the world around you in order to find exactly what you’re looking for.