In prehistoric times, before Steve Jobs revealed the iPhone, primitive mobile phones and Palm Pilots ruled the earth. These devices came with simple games, utilities, and other small computer programs called applications (or “apps” for short). It was also possible to buy additional apps, which were usually sold by the wireless carrier or offered by the device manufacturer.
But after the iPhone was launched in 2007, followed by the iPod touch in 2008, the iPad in 2010, and the Apple Watch in 2015, Apple took apps to a whole new level. The company made it possible for independent computer programmers to create powerful apps for use with the touch screen interface and sell them for any price (or give them away for free). Consumers could quickly download the apps from Apple’s App Store.
The result was an explosion of apps. Besides the obvious (games, expense trackers, mobile newspapers, Facebook, etc.) a torrent of niche apps that anyone can download is available. They include:
- Shopping apps for retail stores and e-commerce companies.
- Social apps such as Facebook, and dating apps such as Tinder.
- Games, from arcade classics to puzzle apps.
- News apps that show articles and videos from local and international news organizations.
- Banking apps that let users scan checks and make deposits, without ever visiting the bank or mailing a check to a processing office.
- Streaming music and video.
- Sports apps for professional teams and fantasy leagues.
- Workout apps for custom routines and tracking.
- Calculators, scanners, expense trackers, and other utilities.
There are now hundreds of thousands of apps that are actively maintained by the programmers or companies that created them.
Pre-installed Apple apps
A new iPhone comes with more than 20 preinstalled apps that were developed by Apple. They include:
- App Store. Download paid and free apps.
- Calculator. In landscape mode, it switches to a scientific calculator.
- A simple calendar app that lets you set appointments and alerts. This can be synced with your Google, Yahoo, and Outlook calendars in the Settings app.
- Camera. This app takes photos and videos, and allows simple editing of videos.
- Clock. This app shows the time zones of your choosing. Alarm and stopwatch functions can be activated in the app or via Siri.
- Contacts. This app organizes your contacts, including phone numbers and email addresses. It can be synced with Microsoft Exchange/Outlook accounts and Gmail.
- FaceTime. Live video chat with other iPhone/iPad/iPod touch users.
- Health. The app gathers health-related data from the iPhone, connected apps, and connected devices including the Apple Watch and various third-party fitness trackers.
- Mail. This powerful email program can handle personal and corporate email.
- Apple’s Maps app looks great, and is integrated with Siri. An alternative is the Google Maps app.
- Messages. A texting app that is integrated with your phone number and contact list.
- News. This app lets you select favorite news sources and topics, which are then presented to you in a clean list of headlines and photos.
- Notes. Take simple text notes with this app, using the virtual keyboard or Dictation.
- Photos. View photographs, videos, and screen captures taken with your iPhone.
- Safari, Apple’s mobile Web browser. An alternative is the Chrome app.
- Settings. Manage hardware and software settings.
- Apple Wallet. This app works with apps from airlines, hotels, retailers, and other companies to display and process coupons, boarding passes, and vouchers. Wallet is also used to change Apple Pay settings.
- A no-frills Weather app that automatically shows the local weather if you are connected to a Wi-Fi or carrier network.
Superior alternatives to many of these apps (including Calculator and Weather) can be found in the Apple App Store.
(This post was excerpted from an IN 30 MINUTES guide that I wrote.)