Best Free iPhone and Android Apps

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Apps have changed the world, allowing smartphones and tablet PCs to function in ways that both enhance and improve your life. And the truly amazing thing is that many of these applications are available free of charge – small wonder then that there are literally hundreds of thousands to download for Apple and Android devices. We’ve compiled a list of the 10 best free apps we’ve come across in the interest of helping you narrow down your wish list to a few essential picks. It’s possible your smartphone or tablet already has quite a few of these installed – because they are free and useful, it’s no wonder they’re also popular.

Instagram

The photo sharing app made big news when it was acquired by Facebook for $1 billion. So what’s it all about? Instagram lets you easily snap, share and explore photos from friends as well as others. It uses special filters and borders to enhance photos, bringing to mind the way developed pictures look.

Draw Something

Draw Something provides a way for two people to play a Pictionary style game head to head whenever they are able to play.  The program lets you “watch” the drawing being made, and then after you make your guess, you have a chance to draw a word for your partner. Although many criticize Draw Something for its lack of clear rules or overall goals (there’s nothing, for example, simply spell out the word you are drawing), the true appeal of this game is the way it appeals to all ages, and allows for gameplay to happen asynchronously, whenever it’s convenient for each player to take their turn.

Find my iPhone

If you misplace your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac, the Find My iPhone app will let you use another iOS device to find it and protect your data – as long as you’re using iCloud and took steps to enable the device before you lost it.  You can install the app on a different device, open it and sign in with your Apple ID to help you locate your missing device on a map.  You can then choose to remotely lock your device, erase’s it’s data or have it display a message or play a sound. For devices not connected to cellular network such as iPad with Wi-Fi or iPod touch, it’s also important to note that they must be connected to a Wi-Fi network in order to be located.

QR Reader for iPhone

QR codes, or Quick Response codes, allow users to point their mobile device’s camera at a square bar-code to automatically be taken to website, video or other online destination that has more information. The free QR Reader for iPhone provides you with the ability to see the destination address before visiting (to make sure you don’t get fooled by QR spam), and also allows you to create your own QR codes.

Words with Friends

The wildly popular Scrabble-style word game Words with Friends is available for free in a version that includes brief ads after every turn you make. If those annoy you, you can always upgrade to the paid version which removes them, but many (ourselves included) have learned that these brief ads are no big deal. Words with Friends is played head-to-head against others, and users take turns at their own pace. Some may play quickly, while others may take a few days to get back to you with your turn.  Although they may not be able to publicly admit, Words With Friends has Out-Scrabbled Scrabble and has the ultimate easy-to-play and connect free word game that’s an essential free app to have.

Groupon

As if getting Groupon offers via e-mail wasn’t enough, the company’s app help you track, purchase and even redeem coupons using only your smartphone. Using the power of groups, the company offers localized deals at steep discounts, but they must be purchased within a limited time period. By personalizing your prefences with the Groupon App helps you make sure you’ll never miss another deal again (as long as you’ve got your phone by your side).

Allrecipes DinnerSpinner

Finding recipes in a breeze with the free Allrecipes.com Dinner Spinner. Choose your mealtype, ingredient and amount of time you have, and this app quickly generates recipe ideas for you to peruse and select. If you don’t see the ingredient you’re looking for, you can add one, and the app will search it’s database for recipes that feature it.

Flipboard

If you’re feeling too busy to check in to all your social networks and news feeds, Flipboard is a great way to let you experience them all in one place. Using an upward swiping motion to “flip” stories and pictures up (like turning pages on a calendar), FlipBoard’s presentation, interface and quick user time may make it your preferred way to access your social networks.  It’s compatible with Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumbler, LinkedIn, 500PX and more, and also features its own channels of news and info separated by topic.

Doodlebuddy

We’ve yet to find a better free drawing app than Doodlebuddy, which allows for easy changing of brush size, color and backgrounds. Toddlers will love all the different ways they can draw, and even grown-ups can find it useful to quickly tweak or add text to photographs before sending them on to others. Doodlebuddy’s “stickers” are a particular favorite in the preschool circles we’ve seen.

FreeAppADay

If you love apps but don’t love spending money on them (which may explain why you’re reading this in the first place), make sure you download the FreeAppADay app. Because they are so popular, they’re able to get publishers of paid apps to partner with them for a day to provide their app for free. Publishers benefit by getting their work in more people’s hands, and users benefits by getting apps that most have to pay for free. Every time you check into FreeAppADay, you can see what they’re offering, but the app also offers push notifications to remind you of what’s available once per day.

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About author

Johner Riehl

Johner Riehl is a freelance writer focusing on families, technology and online safety. As founder and editorial director for FamilyFriendlyApps.com and FamilyFriendlyVideoGames.com, sites that provide reviews and recommendations geared towards families, he examines hundreds of family-friendly games and apps every year. He’s also host of Parent Savers, a podcast aimed at helping parents of newborns, infants and toddlers. TWITTER: @FamilyTechDad

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