Got a new iPhone? You should look at these essential apps from the App Store

Posted:
in iOS edited December 2018
Everybody's different but there are some apps that can help us all. Apple makes plenty of these essentials, and is getting better at including most on the phone -- but there are more. AppleInsider picks the apps that should be on your new iPhone.

Icons for Pages, Numbers, Keynote and Siri Shortcuts


Editor's note: we published this when the iPhone XR was released. Given the volume of new iPhones that are being opened today, taking a look again made sense. Merry Christmas!

This has the word legal written all over it. For years, Apple made certain key iPhone apps yet didn't install them. You had to know they existed and then deliberately go download them yourself. It's probably a legacy of when some of these apps were paid purchases and now they're free, but whatever the reason, it was a pain.

Things are much better since the iPhone 6 and in particular phones with greater storage capacity. Starting with the 64GB version of the 6, Apple installed the iWork apps on larger iPhones. Today it officially installs them on everything.

All the extra apps Apple makes


That's officially, though. In practice you may not notice if you're an existing iPhone user. Unless you choose to setup your shiny iPhone XR, XS or XS Max as a new phone, each time you move to a new one you bring along your previous apps.

And it's not as if the days of Apple choosing to hide great apps is over: just try looking for the Siri Shortcuts app on your new phone.

Then alongside the Apple-made apps, there are some essential apps -- or categories of app -- to get every iPhone ready for serious use.

About that Shortcuts app

It's a mystery why Apple would tout this app as one of the key new features of iOS 12 and then not give it to you. Go get it yourself from here.

Apple's Siri Shortcuts app


To be fair, Shortcuts is a slightly schizophrenic feature for iOS 12 in that it's deeply embedded into Siri whether you have this app or not. It's just that without it, you're severely limited as to what you can create a shortcut to do.

Specifically, you're limited to what Siri believes would be useful and then offers to you. Many apps include features to help setup Siri Shortcuts but the sole way to create one from scratch is via this Apple app that you haven't got.






You'll take a time to really grasp all Shortcuts can do for you: first you have to notice something you do repeatedly and that takes several steps. Then you need to see how you can tell Shortcuts those steps.

If you've used Workflow on iOS or something like Automator on Mac then this will be familiar. If you haven't, you'll just have to experiment. Open the Shortcuts app and tap on Gallery at bottom right. This will show you what uses other people have found for the feature -- and how they did it.

Hidden or ignored

If that iPhone XR, XS or XS Max is your very first iPhone then you're lucky in so many ways. One of them, though, is that you definitely escape an issue that can affect those of us who move from iPhone to iPhone. If you always choose Restore from Backup then you won't have the iWork apps installed on your phone.

Apple's new iPhones


These are the word processor Pages, the spreadsheet Numbers and the presentation software Keynote

Ironically, when you do have these apps you tend to ignore them specifically because they're pre-installed. There is a perception that Pages, for instance, is inferior to Microsoft Word. That's partly because it genuinely isn't as powerful and partly because Apple hides features to avoid distractions. Yet it's also because it's provided free just like the Weather and Stocks apps.

You can see why Apple might have left the iWork apps off back when it used to sell iPhones with just 8GB of storage space, which it did until the iPhone 6 in 2014. Then, too, you could easily argue that it wasn't practical to run Pages, Numbers or Keynote on an iPhone with a small screen.

We did, though, and especially with an external keyboard we did it often. Now that we have the iPhone X range's size and quality of display, however, you can genuinely do all the work you used to do on a laptop.

Get them while you can

If you haven't got them, download all three the next time you're on Wi-Fi. These are the apps that will help you get serious work done when you find yourself stuck without a MacBook.

You can't download apps larger than 150MB unless you're on Wi-Fi


Only, you must get them when you're on Wi-Fi. Numbers, for instance, is currently 476.7MB which is astonishingly small for a spreadsheet -- but it's more than Apple will let you download over cellular. The ceiling for that is 150MB so you can't download Pages (511MB) or Keynote (691MB) either.

Apple's oddities

You could download Apple's Music Memos app which comes in at just 102.2MB. It's not an essential for everyone: this is an app that lets you quickly take down ideas for songs or other music by recording yourself humming or playing an instrument.

However, it's also an app that is like the iWork ones: made by Apple specifically for iPhones and free. It's more like Siri Shortcuts, though: it is still not installed with iOS.

Apple's Music Memos


If you are a musician then also check that GarageBand has been installed on your iPhone: if it isn't there, you can get it now. Note that it's 1.7GB, though.

That is substantial and if you also had to grab iMovie you'd need another 707.1MB. Get iMovie, GarageBand, Music Memos plus the iWork trio and you're looking at 4.2GB.

If you have them but just never launch any of them, you could save yourself some room on your iPhone. It's just that as 4.2GB goes, these are very productive apps.

They're also ones that typically provide most people with most things they need to do to get working. You can write any document you need in Pages, and export it to Word later it you want. You can do any spreadsheet work and export to Excel,

You can do any presentation work in Keynote and then later regret exporting it to PowerPoint when you see how bad Microsoft's software is.

If it's about getting maximum use for your iPhone then we'd want Siri Shortcuts installed and make the Stocks app be one you have to download.

Maximum use

There are apps that will show off what your iPhone can do and there are ones that you will simply relish using. However, there are two more that you must look at: two that we would see baked into iPhones if we possibly could.

It's really two categories of app and the first is a password manager. We didn't say these were exciting. What we said was that you must look at them and we mean you must pick one and install it.

A password manager is a secure app that creates strong passwords for you and remembers them, too. Increasingly Safari is doing this but a password manager app can also hold your bank details, your credit card ones and all your app login or licence details.

Security is one great thing but the sheer speed and convenience of access to your private details is another. Password managers make logging into a site or paying for something with your credit card be startlingly fast.

It's still a couple of steps but your new iPhone comes with iOS 12 which has added a feature called AutoFill to help you use password managers more readily.

The four main password managers for iOS are 1Password, LastPass, Dashlane and Keeper.

Have iPhone, will travel

You are not going to confine your iPhone to your home or office. It is a tool you'll carry with you everywhere and, what's more, that you'll use everywhere too. With having that great technology at your display, though, comes an issue of security.

That airport Wi-Fi network you just joined could belong to the airline. However, it could belong to the suspicious person who's been sitting in Departures for a long time. Before you do anything on your phone that sends sensitive information like logins and passwords out across Wi-Fi, get a VPN.

It stands for Virtual Private Network but it's a case where knowing what the words are doesn't explain what it does. VPNs often get described instead as tunnels: they connect you from your iPhone to the site or service you want to use and they do it in such a way that nobody else can see.

Really, they encrypt all the data you're sending or receiving over the internet. So you could be using that fake airport Wi-Fi to check your online banking and you'd still be safe.

A byproduct of this security is that VPNs also mask where you are. To the site or service you're using, you're logging in from one of the VPN company's servers and that could be anywhere across the world.

That means you can escape geographic restrictions. Say you're a US Hulu subscriber just waiting for the new series of Veronica Mars but you're currently visiting the UK on an extended holiday. You're paying Hulu so you should be able to watch it, but because you're outside your home region, it won't work.

Unless you use a VPN.

It's not guaranteed: Netflix now tries to identify and block traffic coming in from a VPN but then this is a byproduct of the tunnelling technology, it's not the main aim.

TunnelBear VPN's range of prices


There are dozens of VPN services for iOS and Mac. Try NordVPN which provides this service for $3.99 per month or TunnelBear which is free for light use with in-app purchases starting at $6.99.

The main aim

You should be able to get your iPhone set up and letting you do serious work on it right from the start. That means being secure and having the best apps available.

Seriously, we wonder about why Siri Shortcuts isn't pre-installed. Still, we're relieved to see that Apple's main iWork apps now usually are.



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,100member
    While I am in fact a 1Password user, I'm not especially sure that most people need these sorts of services anymore. While Keychain is a very slightly less elegant way to work with passwords, its autofill is excellent now in iOS 12 and pretty good on Mac as well. The main advantage the others have over it IMO these days is the menubar quick access (for Mac) that 1P and others have that keychain doesn't.

    If you have need of anything more than the most basic level of password generation and autofill, consider a password manager, but if not -- keychain is an adequate substitute for both those functions.
    PetrolDavemacpluspluswatto_cobraDeelrondewmebackstabphilboogie
  • Reply 2 of 20
    One other issue is that using a password manager like 1Password on iOS 12 can the AutoFill process clunky. If you enable 1Password's autofill feature, then every time you need it you're then asked if you want to use it OR use Apple's KeyChain Manager.
    macpluspluswatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 20
    To be fair, Shortcuts is a slightly schizophrenic feature for iOS 12 in that it's deeply embedded into Siri whether you have this app or not. It's just that without it, you're severely limited as to what you can create a shortcut to do.

    Specifically, you're limited to what Siri believes would be useful and then offers to you. Many apps include features to help setup Siri Shortcuts but the sole way to create one from scratch is via this Apple app that you haven't got.

    Uh... What?


  • Reply 4 of 20
    If that iPhone XR, XS or XS Max is your very first iPhone then you're lucky in so many ways. One of them, though, is that you definitely escape an issue that can affect those of us who move from iPhone to iPhone. If you always choose Restore from Backup then you won't have the iWork apps installed on your phone.

    Wait what? This article is so bizarre. I’ve always restored from backup and have never not had the iWork apps carry over to a new iPhone. 
    netmagecommentsfStrangeDays
  • Reply 5 of 20
    chasm said:
    While I am in fact a 1Password user, I'm not especially sure that most people need these sorts of services anymore. While Keychain is a very slightly less elegant way to work with passwords, its autofill is excellent now in iOS 12 and pretty good on Mac as well. The main advantage the others have over it IMO these days is the menubar quick access (for Mac) that 1P and others have that keychain doesn't.

    If you have need of anything more than the most basic level of password generation and autofill, consider a password manager, but if not -- keychain is an adequate substitute for both those functions.
    I agree...I have used 1Password on all my devices and then switched to DashLane. Both were good. 1PassWord and DashLane are a little expensive but  both worked really well, especially syncing across devices.

    I'm now just using Apple's Keychain, which for Apple has a surprisingly bad interface. As with most things Apple, I expect improvements to come out eventually.  :)
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 20
    I like Musicmemos app to get ideas down fast. Infinite tagging options, ability to write text notes atop each audio file, etc etc. In short, it’s not perfect, especially in diatonic translation, but far more versatile than most give credit for, once you delve behind its first layer.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 20

    hmlongco said:
    One other issue is that using a password manager like 1Password on iOS 12 can the AutoFill process clunky. If you enable 1Password's autofill feature, then every time you need it you're then asked if you want to use it OR use Apple's KeyChain Manager.
    I did find this also...it was confusing.  I just ended up hitting 'save' on everything.

     It was another reason I just decided to go with Apple's KeyChain, inelegant as it is. :)



    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 20

    I've restored from an iPhone X backup to my new iPhone XS Max last weekend and the one thing that is most frustrating is that all the songs in my library need to be re-downloaded. I don't have my full library on my iPhone, but it still had over a 100GB of songs.


    I have a fast enough internet connection to download them without too much hassle, but the other problem is that there is no option to download all the songs at once. I went to the Songs option on Apple Music and it has no "download all" option. I had to do it album by album, which was a real pain.

    The alternative was to delete everything and copy the albums from my local copies on iTunes.


    Luckily, the hooks were all there, since I am subscribed to iTunes Match. So all my concerts and rare albums were all there, just waiting to be downloaded.


    I need to come up with some strategy for the best way to put my music library back for the next iPhone launch.


    On a positive note, my custom Memojis were successfully transferred from the X to the Max without any issues!

    edited October 2018 watto_cobranetmagemuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 9 of 20
    I think Dark Sky is essential,for local weather. Wouldn’t want to be without it.
    watto_cobranetmage
  • Reply 10 of 20
    You need the or you don't. I rarely needed any Apple applicatins of this type on iPhone. I prefer them not to be installed by default and I try to delete them as they take space. There are very few apps I use on iPhone (unlike on iPad... and no I deleted Facebok at the first time it asked me if it could use my phone number - that was too much). That is communication device and not productivity or monitoring device as I consider.... at least for my use. Messaging, Facetime, Skype and few convience apps for car key find or car related app is okay. Maybe Waze comes handy with Google Maps. The rest is just for mojo fans on small mobile devices - not for me.
  • Reply 11 of 20
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 1,966member
    hmlongco said:
    One other issue is that using a password manager like 1Password on iOS 12 can the AutoFill process clunky. If you enable 1Password's autofill feature, then every time you need it you're then asked if you want to use it OR use Apple's KeyChain Manager.
    I use Lastpass, and I unchecked Keychain. So only the 1 is now used. I've been using LastPass for a number of years. Especially important as I'm on either iOS or Windows. before iOS12, and the poor password manager support, I'd save the passwords I was using in Lastpass and let Keychain remember them as it made things much simpler, then all the going back and forth. With iOS12, it works quite well. It's really nice with FaceID as I don't have to keep touching the Home Key for TouchID.
  • Reply 12 of 20
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,900member

    I've restored from an iPhone X backup to my new iPhone XS Max last weekend and the one thing that is most frustrating is that all the songs in my library need to be re-downloaded. I don't have my full library on my iPhone, but it still had over a 100GB of songs.


    I have a fast enough internet connection to download them without too much hassle, but the other problem is that there is no option to download all the songs at once. I went to the Songs option on Apple Music and it has no "download all" option. I had to do it album by album, which was a real pain.

    The alternative was to delete everything and copy the albums from my local copies on iTunes.


    Luckily, the hooks were all there, since I am subscribed to iTunes Match. So all my concerts and rare albums were all there, just waiting to be downloaded.


    I need to come up with some strategy for the best way to put my music library back for the next iPhone launch.


    On a positive note, my custom Memojis were successfully transferred from the X to the Max without any issues!

    Yeah, the lack of a "download all" command is a pain. This is one area where the neutering of iTunes created a problem for those of us with crap Internet service. The workaround for the lack of "download all" is to create a Playlist (which I named "All Music") that has Rules to Match enabled <music> <Media Kind> <is> <Music> and <Live Updating> enabled. You can then click on the ellipses on the upper right on the playlist and select Download command. 
    netmage
  • Reply 13 of 20
    jbdragon said:

    It's really nice with FaceID as I don't have to keep touching the Home Key for TouchID.
    You can turn off authentication for passwords in Settings. I don't share my phone so I have it turned off.
  • Reply 14 of 20
    To be fair, Shortcuts is a slightly schizophrenic feature for iOS 12 in that it's deeply embedded into Siri whether you have this app or not. It's just that without it, you're severely limited as to what you can create a shortcut to do.

    Specifically, you're limited to what Siri believes would be useful and then offers to you. Many apps include features to help setup Siri Shortcuts but the sole way to create one from scratch is via this Apple app that you haven't got.

    Uh... What?


    LOL. Due to the fact that I've been using this App for a while now, I know just what the author is saying here.
    But, yeah... the way he wrote it... :s
  • Reply 15 of 20

    I've restored from an iPhone X backup to my new iPhone XS Max last weekend and the one thing that is most frustrating is that all the songs in my library need to be re-downloaded. I don't have my full library on my iPhone, but it still had over a 100GB of songs.


    I have a fast enough internet connection to download them without too much hassle, but the other problem is that there is no option to download all the songs at once. I went to the Songs option on Apple Music and it has no "download all" option. I had to do it album by album, which was a real pain.

    The alternative was to delete everything and copy the albums from my local copies on iTunes.


    Luckily, the hooks were all there, since I am subscribed to iTunes Match. So all my concerts and rare albums were all there, just waiting to be downloaded.


    I need to come up with some strategy for the best way to put my music library back for the next iPhone launch.


    On a positive note, my custom Memojis were successfully transferred from the X to the Max without any issues!

    Math: (so someone else doesn’t have to)
    5MB/song = 200 songs/GB 
    100GB = 20,000 songs

    Song length varies as does compression & quality... but dam that’s a lot of songs & dollars (at $1/song)

    No wonder musicians do like streaming music services... that’s enough to play for 160+ years of Apple Music.

    Might want to put your music collection in your will.
    edited December 2018
  • Reply 16 of 20
    If that iPhone XR, XS or XS Max is your very first iPhone then you're lucky in so many ways. One of them, though, is that you definitely escape an issue that can affect those of us who move from iPhone to iPhone. If you always choose Restore from Backup then you won't have the iWork apps installed on your phone.

    Wait what? This article is so bizarre. I’ve always restored from backup and have never not had the iWork apps carry over to a new iPhone. 
    "This article is so bizarre." Oh my god yes. That's exactly what I thought when I read it. I mean, if this is going to be an list of "Essential apps", where's is it? They are all mentioned scarred all over the article ;)
  • Reply 17 of 20
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,007member
    Not sure why you would necessarily want iWork installed on your iPhone. On an iPad definitely, but the thought of using numbers on an iPhone makes me cringe. Ditto the comments on keychain. I used it years ago, then Apple inexplicably yanked mobile me syncing out from under users' feet. I switched to 1Password and have been quite happy with it. Better syncing and easier to use than keychain. My main complaint is the lack of coordination with keychain; it would be nice if Apple would let apps like 1Password share data with the keychain. Apple added back keychain syncing a few years ago, but at that point I had all my data on 1Password. Problem is now there are 2 competing systems...
  • Reply 18 of 20
    Got the XS but wanted the max for size.  Had a 7 plus.  First one didn’t work so had to exchange for another XS.  Face ID was a lot easier to get used to than I thought.  Don’t really miss Touch ID.  Hate hate hate the notch.  Stupid stupid stupid.  Could have a small bezel like the iPad Pro.  It really makes the screen smaller.  Just because apple makes it doesn’t meant it’s a good idea.  My 2 cents.  Hope it’s toast in the future phone and it can be buried under the screen.
  • Reply 19 of 20
    hmlongco said:
    One other issue is that using a password manager like 1Password on iOS 12 can the AutoFill process clunky. If you enable 1Password's autofill feature, then every time you need it you're then asked if you want to use it OR use Apple's KeyChain Manager.
    Just turn off iCloud Keychain in Passwords & Accounts --> Autofill Passwords. Problem solved.
    fastasleep
  • Reply 20 of 20
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 2,302member
    MplsP said:
    Not sure why you would necessarily want iWork installed on your iPhone. On an iPad definitely, but the thought of using numbers on an iPhone makes me cringe. Ditto the comments on keychain. I used it years ago, then Apple inexplicably yanked mobile me syncing out from under users' feet. I switched to 1Password and have been quite happy with it. Better syncing and easier to use than keychain. My main complaint is the lack of coordination with keychain; it would be nice if Apple would let apps like 1Password share data with the keychain. Apple added back keychain syncing a few years ago, but at that point I had all my data on 1Password. Problem is now there are 2 competing systems...
    iCloud Keychain has been around since 2013. As far as competing with 1Password, they can be complementary. Keychain doesn't only handle web passwords, it handles your payment methods, wifi passwords, app passwords, etc. 1Password comes in handy for many other things that keychain doesn't handle, or if you use other browsers outside of Safari (I use Firefox Developer Edition for work) in which case Keychain doesn't really help. I don't really have a problem using both side by side.
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