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Best iPhone Apps of 2015

Ian Blair

2015 was a great year for iPhone users who love their apps; after all, the high quality iPhone apps, considered by many to be best in class, are what set the iOS platform apart from its competitors. And with Apple’s huge upgrade last year, there were so many outstanding, creative new apps released last year.

Of course, choosing from among the thousands of new apps and enhancements to find the must-haves is a job too large for the faint of heart, so we’ve done the hard work for you and selected the best of the best. Some are free, some aren’t; some are for productivity, some for play; some defy classification altogether, but all are apps you’ll want on your phone.

Without further ado, here are the best iPhone apps from 2015.

Productivity and Business

Microsoft Outlook – Free

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Image via iTunes

Apple does so many things right, but when it comes to email, its Mail app is more than a little stunted (forgive the heresy), and Gmail lacks the integration that makes a truly useful email app. Microsoft seems to have more than solved the problem with its new Outlook app.

Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Acompli has reinvigorated its legacy Outlook brand, giving its mobile app all the functionality and convenience of a desktop client on your iPhone. In addition to Microsoft’s suite (Exchange, Office365, etc.), Outlook supports iCloud, Gmail, Yahoo, and IMAP accounts. Better still, it integrates all your favorite services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Google Calendar, and Onedrive, as well.  The gesture-based interface is well designed and easy to use.

Fantastical 2 – $4.99 and up

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Image via iTunes

This calendaring app may just change your mind about digital calendars. Its easy-to-use scrolling glance feature (Fantastical calls this the DayTicker) and simple inputs place it at the top of calendar apps. It integrates with all your other calendars like iCloud, Google, Outlook, and even syncs with your Facebook contacts to import birthdays and events. Fantastical 2 is also available for Mac and Apple Watch.

Workflow – $2.99

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Image via iTunes

Workflow is an Apple Design Award winner for its outstanding use of iOS accessibility features, and if you’re currently using the Automator tool on your Mac OS X device, you’ll feel right at home using Workflow on your iPhone. Its drag-and-drop interface makes it simple to automate your more repetitive tasks; you can store an unlimited number of them. The only downside is that this app doesn’t sync across devices, which can be a major negative for some users.

Daylite 6 – Free (monthly charge for cloud services)

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Image via iTunes

For small business owners who use Marketcircles’s Daylite for Mac to handle their customer relationship, project management, and scheduling tasks, the new Daylite 6 app is a welcome addition. The Daylite 6 release is a major upgrade, adding the new Daylite Cloud service, which makes it easy to store and sync calendars, contacts, and tasks across devices. The new Daylite Cloud lowers barriers for users who just want to use the app version; setting up a Daylite server on your Mac is now optional.

Slash Keyboard – Free

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Image via iTunes

Slash Keyboard is integrated with 15 different apps and allows you to access and share links and information without switching between apps. The forward slash key (/) toggles partner apps like Foursquare, Contacts, Twitter, Messages, and WhatsApp based on your query and intentions. For example, if you sent a message saying, “Let’s have dinner,” Slash would present a series of choices by tapping into Foursquare. It can also share your location with friends.

RefME – Free

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Image via iTunes

RefME is an invaluable tool for students who write lots of papers. After you scan the barcodes from books and journals, the app generates citations and bibliographies in your choice of over 7,000 styles (APA and Harvard included, of course). You can also search using the book’s title or ISBN if you don’t have the barcode.

Personal Enrichment

Tandem – Free

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Image via iTunes

Trying to learn a new language but having trouble practicing and perfecting your new skills? Tandem pairs you with native speakers from around the world who are willing to chat with you and help you get your grammar, vocabulary, and accent on point. There’s a screening process during account set-up to weed out trolls and troublemakers to ensure a positive, useful experience; the app encourages linking to your Facebook profile. Tandem currently boasts over 3 million users worldwide.

Lark – Free

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Image via iTunes

Lark combines phone sensors and artificial intelligence to act as your personal health, fitness, and lifestyle coach. It tracks your sleep and fitness habits and initiates friendly conversations to help you make healthier choices. It also creates charts and graphs so you can visualize your activities and eating patterns and lets you compare your data against other iPhone users. It is integrated with the iPhone Health app and has an active social media community of regular users. Most people enjoy the two-way interaction and life-like chats; it simulates a personal coaching experience.

Fit Men Cook – $2.99

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Image via iTunes

This app was a Best of 2015 Apple award winner and with good reason. The app is an outgrowth of the Fit Men Cook online and Instagram community and is packed with healthy recipes, how-to video demonstrations, and beautiful photographs. The app integrates seamlessly with Apple’s HealthKit app and is designed to connect users with the over one million Instagram followers so they can cook, photograph, hashtag, and share their creations. The recipes are designed to be simple and easy on the budget, as well.

Robinhood – Free

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Image via iTunes

If you think paying $7 or $10 or $12 for a stock trade is too much, you’ll want Robinhood. This beautifully designed app delivers on its sole promise: Eliminating stock transaction fees altogether. Robinhood charges no account fees, has no minimum balance requirements, and really does execute your stock trades at no cost to you. Of course, they do offer broker-assisted transactions over the phone for $10, and $2 for paper confirmations, but these are optional services. The company is bringing on additional account options, including IRAs and custodial accounts, in addition to basic cash accounts.

Shopping and Commerce

Hopper – Free

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Image via iTunes

This travel planning tool is exclusive to iOS users and its claim to fame is finding the right day and time to travel for the best possible deal. The premise is simple: Just plug in a destination and Hopper returns flight costs in color-coded calendars based on whether the fares are a bargain or a rip-off. Hopper also makes money saving suggestions, such as alternate airports, alternate return dates or times, to help you economize on your trip.

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Jet – Free

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Image via iTunes

This shopping app is billed as the “ultimate shopping hack,” and it’s giving Amazon Prime and Prime Pantry a run for its money. This universal shopping platform consistently delivers lower prices than you might otherwise find online on just about anything you’d like to buy. Jet doesn’t make money on profits generated by sales, but on its $50 annual membership fee. Don’t let the fee put you off, however: Most users find the app more than pays for itself in relatively short order, especially since there are no shipping charges on Jet purchases.

Entertainment and Games

Prune – $3.99

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Image via iTunes

The developers call Prune a “love letter to trees,” and it won both TIME magazine’s Game of the Year award and Apple’s iPad Game of the Year award last year. Acclaimed for its truly stunning visuals and its artistic, slightly addictive qualities, Prune features several chapters of 12 levels each for virtually endless play. The fluid animations and calm, peaceful soundtrack lend a zen-like appeal to the game. There’s also an active social community and users can take screenshots of their tree creations to share with other players.

Pry – $2.99

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Image via iTunes

Pry was a 2015 finalist for Excellence in Narrative at the Independent Games Festival and it has already gained a reputation as a page-turning thrill ride. Pry is a new type of game, “a book to watch and a movie to touch,” according to its developers. Using the iPhones haptic gestures, players uncover—pry, actually—integrated rich content, such as videos, from the book/game’s text. The story is based on the experiences of James, a demolitions expert from the first Gulf War; readers mine his thoughts as they progress through this digital novella.

HBO Now – Free ($14.99 month subscription)

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Image via iTunes

HBO Now is taking its place beside Netflix and Amazon Video as a top video streaming app for iPhones this year. If you are ready to cut the cable cord but don’t want to give up your favorite blockbuster series like “Game of Thrones,” the HBO Now app is just the ticket. Its sleek design and eye-catching user interface earned it a spot on Apple’s Best of 2015 list.

Periscope – Free

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Image via iTunes

If Meerkat brought mobile live streaming to the nation’s consciousness, then Twitter-owned Periscope took it mainstream in record time. This platform is fast becoming a favorite with everyone from celebrities to activists, and it makes it simple for anyone to stream live broadcasts. Unsurprisingly, you need a Twitter account to sign up for Periscope, but you don’t need to follow anyone to view their streams. One of Periscope’s main advantages over rival Meerkat is that Periscope allows you to save your favorite broadcasts to view later. Periscope’s Global tab is somewhat addictive, allowing you to peek in at streams from users all over the world.

Triller – Free

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Image via iTunes

Celebrity music producer and co-creator Colin Tilley said of Triller, “My editing friends and I always knew the iPhone was gonna lead to some kind of game-changer in video editing,” and this app is it. Triller lets users easily create nearly professional quality music videos; its technology uses face recognition algorithms to let people lip synch their favorite songs, prompting them at the best time to cut or edit their videos. Choose your favorite song, pick the best part, and shoot your video—Triller does the rest, editing all your takes into a professional-looking music video. You can share your creations on all your favorite social media platforms with just a tap.

Useful and/or Fun

Paper – Free

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Image via iTunes

 

The original Paper for iPad was an App of the Year winner and its new iPhone version is proving to be a big hit, too. Combine it with the Pencil 53 stylus and you can literally take notes using Paper; take a picture and write a notation on it, make a sketch, jot down a checklist, or even create charts and graphs. Collect all your notes, papers, and ideas in one place and share them in a variety of formats, including professional PDFs and Powerpoint presentations.

Google Photos – Free

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Image via iTunes

Called “the best photo app on earth” by The Verge, and “the new essential picture app” by Wired, Google Photos is without a doubt the easiest and simplest way to store and organize your photos—and it comes with unlimited storage. This app has powerful editing tools, a visual search feature that allows you to find relevant photos without tagging, and instant sharing of up to 1,500 photos with a simple link. It even has a handy “free up space” feature that lets you move backed up photos from your device to make room for more with just the tap of a button.

Enlight – $3.99

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Image via iTunes

Enright is an all-in-one suite of traditional and highly artistic editing tools for your iPhone photos. Each of the eight categories (Canvas, Image, Filters, Tools, Artistic, Brushes, Text, and Finalize) boasts a multitude of tools; tap on any of them to expand your menu options. Other useful features include Instafit, which helps you size your photos to suit your favorite platforms such as Instagram, and Refit, which lets you crop your images from the inside so you can move objects closer together without losing important elements. Enlight is sure to replace just about every other photo editing app currently cluttering up your iPhone screens.

Ian Blair

BuildFire Co-Founder. I'm a digital marketer by trade and an entrepreneur at heart. I'm here to help businesses go mobile and build apps more efficiently than before.

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