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The best free iPhone apps of 2020

The best free iPhone apps
(Image credit: Tru Luv Media)

You've got an iPhone, and have ventured into the melee of Apple's App Store, which has well over a million apps.

Great news! Many of them are free. Not so great news! You've got to sift through them to work out the very best. Fortunately, that's what we're here for, listing them here.

Our selection’s sorted into handy categories, so whether you need a no-cost photo editor, translation app, sat-nav or anything else, you can just jump straight to the relevant category.

Click through to the following pages for each category, but first check out our free iPhone app of the last two weeks below, and make sure you give this page a cheeky bookmark so you can keep up with our latest free iPhone app pick every fourteen days.

Free iPhone app of the week: Documents by Readdle

(Image credit: Readdle Inc)

Documents by Readdle gives you an alternative to Apple’s Files on your iPhone. With its new Plus button, you can quickly import documents from a range of networked and cloud services, and subsequently manage them within the app. Many formats can be previewed, and ZIP archives can be created and sent elsewhere. There’s a built-in browser as well, which has standard and private tabs, and proves effective and responsive in operation. 

With the improvements that came to Apple’s Files app in iOS 12 and iOS 13, Documents is perhaps now less essential, but we reckon it’s still handy. Many actions within the app are faster and more user-friendly than in Apple’s, and it offers secure file storage and browsing if you otherwise want to keep Files and Safari unlocked. Given the lack of a price tag, it’s well worth checking out, in case you might find it useful too.

The best free iPhone video editors and animation apps

These are our favorite free iPhone apps for quickly editing videos, GIFs and Live Photos, and for creating stop-motion animation.

(Image credit: Animo Apps Ltd)

Plays: animation design kit

Plays claims it can “elevate your self-expression” and “make your content beautiful”. In reality, it’s a free iPhone app that lets you type in a tiny missive (140 characters or fewer, like old-school Twitter), and then hurl the letters about the place.

This isn’t freeform animation – you don’t need to know anything about keyframes and paths. Instead, you select a font, an animation style, a background pattern (which also animates), and an image to sit underneath everything. By default, you get an Instagram-friendly square composition, but a button lets you cycle through a range of alternatives.

Quite a few of the animation styles result in questionable legibility. But work with some of the subtler options – and the rather nice backgrounds – and you can end up with a visually arresting video to share online.

(Image credit: Future)

Splice

Splice sits in a space between traditional movie-making software and quick-fix video editors. 

As with products geared towards quickly fashioning something for social networking, Splice is keen to get you started. Select some videos or stills from your iPhone, drag to arrange the thumbnails, select an aspect ratio, and you essentially have an edit.

However, the app gives you plenty of options for taking things further. You can add titles, effects, text overlays, and audio. Individual clips can be trimmed, cropped, and have filters added to them. Naturally, in-progress projects are saved so you can return to them later.

Throughout, layout and workflow resemble the kind of thing you’ll be familiar with if you’ve ventured into desktop editing – only streamlined for mobile, and without a price-tag attached.

Enlight Pixaloop

Enlight Pixaloop enables you to animate your photos. This is achieved through you manually drawing ‘path’ arrows to define the direction of animation, and setting anchors to keep other areas of your image rooted to the spot. Tap the play button and you get something akin to a cinemagraph – only based on a single still image, rather than dozens of shots or a video.

Whatever you create can be exported to Photos as a video (sadly, there’s no animated GIF option), but there’s plenty more you can add first, including camera wobble, overlay effects and automated moving skies. Some of those features work better than others, but the entire package is a great way to bring your photos to life. Note that there’s subscription IAP lurking, although you don’t need to pay to get a lot out of this app.

Moodelizer

Moodelizer is a one-trick pony – but it’s quite a trick. It enables you to add custom soundtracks to videos – and all you need is a single finger.

You select a genre, and ‘rehearse’ playback by dragging your finger around the square viewfinder. Move up to increase the music’s intensity increases and move right to adjust variation. You can perform rehearsals using the viewfinder or with an existing video loaded from your Camera Roll.

Just messing about with the audio alone is fun, but it all properly comes together when making a video. Now, when you’re shooting yet another clip of your cat being mildly amusing, Moodelizer can add much-needed excitement by way of rousing club music or head-banging guitar riffs.

Vue

Vue is a video editor whose initial incarnation was an odd mix of intriguing and ridiculous. In short, it was designed to give you six seconds of fame by snapping an ultra-short video comprising three shots.

Fortunately, Vue is relaxed a bit now – and all the better for it. The app still prefers brevity, but will allow movies of up to three minutes in length and can load existing videos from your iPhone, too. Once your miniature masterpiece is done, it’s possible to add filters and stickers, overlay subtitles, and mess around with zooming and adjustment sliders.

The app still feels a touch rigid compared to the likes of Clips, but Vue’s sense of focus and style – along with the sharing network that underpins everything – makes it worth checking out.

Clips

Clips is a video-editing app geared towards making content for sharing on social media. To that end, it eschews convention (widescreen, standard titles, typical editing tracks) and attempts to infuse plenty of fun into a streamlined, straightforward editing process.

You can record directly in the app or import existing videos. In either case, you can overlay stickers and live captions that appear as the subject speaks, and apply filters for a different look. Posters serve as a replacement for titles, helping with pacing and context in a way that’s much more interesting, animated and editable.

For iPhone X users, there’s an extra treat: animated 3D selfie scenes. These can transport you into a number of stylized landscapes, including neon cityscapes and ships from Star Wars. The effect is mesmerizing to the point where the app’s worth picking up for selfie scenes alone.

Motion Stills

Motion Stills aims to help you do more with the Live Photos you shoot on your iPhone. Apple’s own Photos app, of course, provides options for adjusting how these images animate – but this Google offering does far more.

On giving the app permission to view your photos, it will display a scrollable feed of pictures that animate as you browse. This alone makes Motion Stills worth a download, not least because the app applies stabilization technology to your Live Photos, eradicating wobble.

But with a few quick swipes you can quickly select a number of Live Photos, which can then be transformed into a tiny movie. Alternatively, you can turn Live Photos into collages, or add text and emoji to your favorites. In short, Motion Stills feels like the Live Photos editor Apple forgot to make itself.

Quik

If you like the idea of editing home movies but are a modern-day being with no time or attention span, try Quik. The app automates the entire process, enabling you to create beautiful videos with a few taps and show off to your friends without needing talent - surely the epitome of today's #hashtag generation.

All you need do is select some videos and photos, and choose a style. Quik then edits them into a great-looking video you can share with friends and family. But if your inner filmmaker hankers for a little more control, you can adjust the style, music, format and pace, along with trimming clips, reordering items, and adding titles to get the effect you desire.

Cementing its friendly nature, Quik offers a little pairs minigame for you to mess about with while the app renders your masterpiece. And there's even a weekly 'For You' video Quik compiles without you lifting a finger.

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