Best iPhone Apps – Top 50 of all time

With the App Store now 5 years old, and lots of new devices being opened over the holidays, we thought it a great time to look back at the best iPhone apps that have been launched in that time.

50 Posse

50 Posse

Okay, so this one demonstrates a little local bias, but we love the clean and cute design of this local Sydney app start-up.

49 Codecademy

49 Codecademy

A great app introducing people to the world of programming, with a one hour dynamic coding lesson.

48 Yelp

48 Yelp

Need a great restaurant in a new city, peer and expert reviews help you find it.

47 Kickstarter

47 Kickstarter

The platform that revolutionized startup funding, opening it up for the people, by the people, now accessible through a native iPhone app.

46 Flashlight

46 Flashlight

Some of the best ideas, are the simplest – none more so than this first mover, which turned everybody’s iPhones into a torch. So good, Apple built it into their OS with iOS7.

45 Plants vs. Zombies

45 Plants vs. Zombies

Originally a PC game, the game’s also enjoyed staggering success on the mobile platforms.

44 Tinder

44 Tinder

All about a beautifully simple user interface, refreshing Facebook’s precursor ‘Hot or Not’ and introducing it to a fresh generation.

43 Dots

43 Dots

At one time this year, it looked like it would be the iPhone’s Tetris, but the addictiveness of the gameplay hasn’t quite matched the beautiful design.

42 Viber

42 Viber

A modern, mobile Skype has enjoyed tremendous growth and controversy, as some users’ report bill shock as it’s VoiP calls chew into their data plans.

41 Pocket

41 Pocket

Interested by that article or video, but no time to read it now – put it in your Pocket, and read it on the train home later. Genius!

40 BBC News

40 BBC News

Whilst there are plenty of traditional media native apps, the licence funded independence of the BBC continues to be the gold standard.

39 Kindle

39 Kindle

Notable in Amazon’s success of being approved, whilst avoiding Apple’s 30% commission on sales, by diverting users to their web store.

38 Evernote

38 Evernote

The virtual notebook – perfect for recording and storing all those ideas, images and loves that you may wish to return to later.

37 Bump

37 Bump

Its early promise went unfulfilled, being acquired by Google in 2013 for $30million, but gets a mention for being one of the first apps to create a new and unique user experience – exchanging contact details through ‘bumping’ smartphones.

36 Cut the Rope

36 Cut the Rope

Enjoyed spectacular growth after launch, with its physics and swipe based gameplay making the most of its clever PR drive.

35 Skype

35 Skype

Whilst it won’t win any design contests, makes overseas voice and video conferencing amazingly cheap and easy from tablets and phones.

34 Jamie’s Recipes

34 Jamie's Recipes

Indie developer partners with World famous chef, and hugely successful app results – only got 20 minutes, Jamie’s got a recipe for that!

33 Fruit Ninja

33 Fruit Ninja

GO Aussie, GO. Brilliantly simplistic, mobile unique gameplay, has seen this app downloaded over 500 million times – that’s equivalent to the populations of the USA, UK and Australia with loads left over.

32 TED

32 TED

Need to be inspired – look no further than these talks from leaders and thinkers, as they strive to make the world a better place.

31 Hangouts

31 Hangouts

Google joins the messaging race, with this cleanly designed all in one communications client which looks to do to Skype and Viber, what they did to your cell provider.

30 Highlight

30 Highlight

In 2012, social discovery was the new social networking, but whilst it was a neat trick focused on the location abilities of native apps, it turns out that strangers may well be best left as that.

29 Grindr

29 Grindr

Before social discovery, there was sex discovery, with Grindr creating an easy way for men to meet other men.

28 Draw Something

28 Draw Something

OMG – this was so huge its owner was bought for over $200million by Zynga – then everyone got bored and went else where!

27 CSR Racing

27 CSR Racing

Does a car racing game need to involve steering? These guys answered with an emphatic ‘No’, with their enriched graphics obtaining them a pre-launch mention at WWDC in June 2012, which they followed up with $12million in revenues in a month!

26 Pandora Radio

26 Pandora Radio

Who needs a record collection, when Pandora can bring you the world’s music catalogue? Great for users, but is it applying the nails to the music industry’s coffin?

25 Flight Control

25 Flight Control

A pioneer in the mobile gaming space, swipe your fingers to successfully line up and glide your airport’s planes to a safe landing. Simple but remarkably addictive.

24 Clash of Clans

24 Clash of Clans

Has proven so successful, its Finnish owner is valued at over $3billion – this decade’s Sim City.

23 FlipBoard

23 FlipBoard

User curated magazines of topics that interest you most – whoever thought RSS would ever become this enriched. Fantastic user experience design.

22 Snapchat

22 Snapchat

Wasn’t the first ephemeral messaging app, but was certainly the lucky one – after a slow start, grew virally through LA High Schools. Won’t ever win a design award, but offers the ability to immediately forget.

21 Vine

21 Vine

There’s no doubt, video is killing it – bought by Twitter before it launched, Vine’s 6 second videos and easy to use editing tools, proved an immediate hit at launch.

20 Waze

20 Waze

The ‘Crowd’ is a popular start-up play these days, but was less so when this Israeli start-up decided to crowd source map and traffic data in 2008. Clever gamification of rewards, saw the crowd create enough Big data for Google to buy them for $1billion in 2013.

19 Podcasts

19 Podcasts

Originally the genre of Indie developers, Apple ultimately built their own Podcasting app which has a loyal following.

18 Nike+

18 Nike+

The second half of this decade, is likely to be all about Wearable tech and leading that march, Nike+ with their foot pods, fuelbands and beautifully designed companion apps.

17 Twitter

17 Twitter

A nicely designed app, and a platform that’s certainly been enhanced by ‘mobile’s always there’ nature, but not a mobile first company.

16 Facebook

16 Facebook

A competing platform to the internet itself, its mobile app is still poorly rated for all its engagement and of course, they famously got their first hybrid mobile strategy all wrong and had to start again.

15 Words With Friends

15 Words With Friends

In the same category of Draw Something, gameplay enjoyed amazing Viral growth, before it was sold and everbody forgot about it.

14 Find My iPhone

14 Find My iPhone

A magic use of location tracking, allowing Apple user’s to track their misplaced iPhones from their Apple account.

13 Newsstand

13 Newsstand

Makes the top 20, even though it hasn’t quite delivered on its promise of a library of digital magazines. Our theory why, the publishers became to focused on the other media i.e. (video ads!) they could cram into the app, instead of keeping it simple.

12 Candy Crush Saga

12 Candy Crush Saga

Rumored to be earning $1million a day, uses clever psychology in its simple match 3 gameplay, to keep users addicted. Making so much money, it’s supported by a television marketing campaign!

11 Google Maps

11 Google Maps

How did we ever know where we were going, before we had Google Maps on our phones? Incredibly powerful tool, but has suffered at the hands of Apple’s pre-installed competing mapping app.

10 Foursquare

10 Foursquare

Failed to deliver on its early promise, but makes the Top 10 as one of the first app’s to successfully target the geo-location tracking abilities of the mobile platform.

9 YouTube

9 YouTube

Whilst web first, makes the Top 10 simply because Video is killing it on mobile – users love it and are uploading and viewing ever increasing amounts.

8 Spotify

8 Spotify

The world’s music library on your smartphone, with clever Facebook tie ins enabling it to growth hack its way to great success.

7 Sleep Cycle

7 Sleep Cycle

Want to know how well you’re sleeping? Just place your iPhone on your matress and this app, through clever use of your phone’s motion sensors, will let you know.

6 Temple Run

6 Temple Run

High profile proof that the small indie developer team, can still make it happen in the app stores – its pop culture design, its unique ‘always running gameplay’ and swipe controls made it the breakout hit of 2011.

5 Uber

5 Uber

When’s a mobile app, not a moble app? When its Uber’s car service, come logistics company – it’s clever use of the mobile platform, empowering it to build a huge business.

4 Shazam

4 Shazam

Oh so clever – don’t recognize that song, allow Shazam to quickly identify it for you. Its simple user interface design remains a shining example to every designer today.

3 Instagram

3 Instagram

The first Billion $ App company, mixed traditional photography’s filters with social networking to create an immediate hit.

2 Whatsapp

2 Whatsapp

Clever use of technology saw these 2 former Yahoo engineer’s disrupt the traditional SMS and create a platform with over 350 million users.

1 Angry Birds

1 Angry Birds

Okay, we know you expected this, but it’s been downloaded over 1 Billion times!! A game so powerful, that it created a brand so valuable its owner makes more revenue from licensing than game sales.

We hope you enjoy all these apps.  If you have your own app idea, and would like to learn about how to go about making it, you can start a Free Trial of our Course.

Nicholas Wright wrote on

Nicholas is a co-founder and CEO of AppInstruct. Nic is actively involved in the start-up space, mentoring other founders with mobile, fundraising and legal advice. Nic's favorite app is WhatsApp, which allows him to remain in contact with family in America and England.