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Free means free in this selection of quality apps

Too often, you’ll download a free app, only to find it’s functionally limited – or even entirely useless – unless you pay a subscription. The apps in this round-up are different.

Each one has generously been released for full, entirely for free. We’ve also made sure to only include apps without intrusive advertising. Enjoy!

Note: We’ve omitted Apple apps from our selection. But do grab them for quality music production (GarageBand), video editing (iMovie, Clips), and office work (Pages, Numbers, Keynote).

Atlas Obscura

Discover unique places with a travel app that focuses on the unexpected. Dig into backstories and build lists of favorites to visit. And if you one day find a curiosity of your own, contribute your own entry.

Get Atlas Obscura

AudioKit Synth One

Make some noise with this synth that’s packed full of high-end features and presets. Sculpt audio with dials, sliders and pads, and delve into gorgeous and ear-smashing sounds created by a range of famous producers.

Get AudioKit Synth One

Figure

More noise terror – of the accessible sort. Craft short loops comprising drum, bass and lead parts, all manipulated by a single finger. Try exporting audio to GarageBand and turning your loop into a unique custom ringtone.

Get Figure

Google Maps

Apple Maps is fine. Google Maps is great. It offers superior info about local points of interest, fuller street view coverage, better transit info, and a useful offline mode that lets you use turn-by-turn even without an internet connection.

Get Google Maps

Highlighted

This app isn’t alone in letting you scan pages from books and highlight important quotes you can later peruse, tag and share. But it is unique in doing all this in a polished, modern interface – and all without charging you.

Get Highlighted

Keyword Search

Power up Safari by kicking off searches directly from the address bar. Typing ‘w apple’ would get you right to the Wikipedia ‘apple’ page. Several shortcuts are built-in, and you can easily add your own.

Get Keyword Search

Khan Academy

Getting educated needn’t require cash. Khan Academy provides dozens of courses across math, science, the arts, and more. Sign up to track progress across multiple devices, and download content for offline use when you’ve no internet connection.

Get Khan Academy

Microsoft Math Solver

Apple gives you a calculator. Microsoft gives you a math solver. Write or photograph a problem and the app gives you the answer – and how to get there, in step-by-step fashion. Great for learning. Don’t use it to cheat, mind.

Get Microsoft Math Solver

Mission to Mars AR

If you’ve an interest in the Red Planet, this app is ideal. You can spin a virtual Mars before your eyes, delve into facts and pictures, and drive AR rovers about your house or street.

Get Mission to Mars AR

NetNewsWire

Never miss a story again by subscribing to favorite websites and reading articles in NetNewsWire’s stripped-back, no-nonsense interface. Extensions allow you to integrate Twitter and Reddit feeds, and iCloud syncs read status between devices.

Get NetNewsWire

Nike Training Club

Apple Fitness+ is great, but costs money. Nike’s equivalent used to, but the company has since made its premium content free. That means access to dozens of workouts and loads of wellness guidance – and no excuses for not getting started.

Get Nike Training Club

Sketchbook

This drawing app is premium fare on the desktop, yet free on iPhone and iPad. But free doesn’t mean cut back – it’s full of brushes, guides and tools to help you fashion dazzling slices of digital art.

Get Sketchbook

Smiling Mind

Your wellbeing impacts on you and people around you. Smiling Mind can help you be in the moment and improve openness, emotional balance, concentration and empathy. It’s suitable for all ages and however much free time you have to spare.

Get Smiling Mind

Snapseed

You can perform basic edits to snaps in Photos. Snapseed lets you take things further, with powerful effects and tuning tools. Edits are non-destructive and favorite combinations of tools can be saved as single-tap filters.

Get Snapseed

Unhabit

It’s easy to waste time on the same websites. Unhabit aims to break such addiction by blocking them. Settings let you unblock sites on specific days – or temporarily after a ‘think twice’ countdown completes.

Get Unhabit

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