Score a new iPhone? Download these 12 apps

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Were you lucky enough to get a new iPhone for the holidays? Well, here are some things you should know about your new Apple phone.
Marc Saltzman, USA TODAY

You’ve excitedly unwrapped a new iPhone, and are eager to test out its features.

So you snap a few holiday pics and videos, stream music to your earbuds, and tap through a few fun games.

But when it comes to apps – a way to truly customize your new iPhone with downloadable software – you’re not entirely sure where to start.

In fact, there are literally millions of apps available at Apple’s App Store, and so you’re understandably overwhelmed.

Not including games, the following are a dozen hot picks, divided into gotta-have-it “classic” apps that have been around for a while and newer 2017 downloads.

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‘Classic’ apps

Evernote

Whether you need a more effective way to stay organized or simply want to jot down ideas wherever life takes you,  Evernote (free for basic, subscription for more features and multiple devices) lets you create, view, organize, search, and share your ideas — sort of like a digital version of yellow sticky notes — but also with the option to include voice notes, photos, web clippings, and videos, too. An auto-sync cloud feature means your notes are automatically saved and accessible on other Evernote platforms, such as the web, personal computer, or other mobile devices.

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Google Translate

Recently updated and expanded to an incredible 103 languages (for text translation), Google Translate (free) is a traveler’s dream for its ease of use, offline support (for 59 languages), and many ways to translate one language into another. For example, use the iPhone’s microphone for speech translation, handwriting support, bilingual conversations, a quick-access phrasebook, and even an augmented reality feature: translate text in images instantly by just pointing your phone’s camera at a sign, menu, or photo (38 languages).

Netflix

If you’re a Netflix subscriber (from $7.99), you can bring your favorite videos with you in your pocket. Stream or download many thousands of TV shows and movies – including awesome exclusives, like Stranger Things 2 and El Chapo. Browse by category, search by keyword, or see recommended content based on your previous selections. Start watching on your iPhone and pick up where you last left off (even on another device, like a Smart TV). Other great video streaming apps include Amazon Prime Video, HBO GO, Hulu Plus, and Crackle.

More: 10 handy things you probably don’t know Netflix can do

Spotify

While there are several music services available for iPhone – including Apple’s own Apple Music – Spotify remains a favorite among many music fans (including yours truly). Now with about 140 million monthly active users, you can stream millions of tracks (search or browse), add or create playlists, and access songs on multiple devices. Along with the ability to download music to listen to offline, Spotify Premium subscribers ($9.99/month) can enjoy music ad-free, higher-quality audio, and other features. 

More: You’re probably not using Spotify the right way

Garageband

Speaking of music, Apple’s GarageBand is a stellar (and free) music creation app and portable recording studio. Whether you’re a budding musician or seasoned professional, you can connect real instruments to record and mix music, plus there are several virtual instruments ready for play (with automated chords and riffs), including pianos and synthesizers, drums, guitar, and bass. You can even add vocals on top of your musical creation.

Waze

You’ve heard of Google Maps, but drivers should consider loading up Waze on their smartphone as it’s the world’s largest community-based navigation app. By crowd-sourcing traffic and road info from millions of Waze users (“Wazers”), you get real-time info on the roads around you, such as accidents, construction zones, and speed traps, to give you the fastest route to your destination. Find the cheapest gas prices along your route. Say “OK Waze” and use your voice to navigate, report traffic, and more.

Other “must have” oldies include Duolingo, TuneIn, Pic Collage, Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), Pocket, Facebook, Twitter, Flipboard, Google Maps, Yelp, Uber and Lyft, UberEATS, Plex, Mint, and FaceTime.

More: Apps that made me say wow in 2017

Best new apps

Libby, by OverDrive

Of course, you’re aware you can buy ebooks and audiobooks for your iPhone. But did you know you can also borrow them from your local library? Yes, for free, and with no late fees. So long as you have your library card and the new (and free) Libby app installed on your iPhone, there are tens of thousands of supported libraries worldwide. It’s not just old classics, but many of the newer New York Times bestsellers, too. Libby has an impressive built-in ebook reader, graphic novel viewer, and audiobook player.

Grammarly Keyboard

Looking to improve your written communication with friends, family or coworkers? With the free Grammarly Keyboard or iPhone, your words are checked for grammar, spelling, and punctuation — in real time – along with an integrated synonym finder, and more. It’s your own personal (and portable) editor that works with multiple apps, whether you’re chatting via instant messenger, sending an important work email, or thoughtful Facebook post.  

Afterlight 2

Love taking photos on your iPhone? Of course you do. And there’s an inexpensive way to get way more out of your pics. Afterlight 2 ($2.99) is the sequel to one of the most popular and powerful photo editors. Along with a regularly updated list of high-quality filters (created by photographers), there are multiple artwork and text options, double-exposure shots, and new tools, including overlays, curves, hue/saturation tweaks, and more.

FaceApp

One of the most buzzworthy iPhone apps of 2017, Wireless Lab OOO’s FaceApp: Neural Face Magic transforms your face with the help of A.I. (artificial intelligence). While a little creepy because of how well it works, you can add a natural smile to your face, look older or younger, change genders, and also tweak your selfies with some fun filters, collage options, animated GIFs, and more. Starting at $1.99, FaceApp Pro subscriptions fold in additional features, such as exclusive style filters that add different smiles, make-up, and more.

More: These were the most downloaded Apple apps of 2017

Leapfrog Academy

Designed for kids ages 3 through 6, Leapfrog Academy ($7.99/month) is a collection of more than 1,500 interactive learning activities, games, videos, and ebooks. Along with an animated (and playable) 3D home screen, the platform offers traditional school subjects – including the ABCs and 123s – as well as problem solving, science, creativity, and life skills (like feelings). Based on how well the child comprehends the content, the difficulty level can scale up or pare down, as needed. A Parent Dashboard gives mom or dad a glimpse into their child’s favorite games and progress.  This interactive learning app is playable on multiple devices.

Comic Zeal 9

The best comics reader for iPhone, the 9th version of Comic Zeal ($4.99) lets you organize and view your collection however you like, plus it can automatically sort comics into their proper series for you. Import your PDF, CBR or CBZ comics in one of four ways: iTunes (through USB or Wi-Fi), cloud account (such as Dropbox and iCloud), AirDrop (from a Mac), or Wi-Fi (via a computer). Features include fast and smooth reading – whether you opt for two-page mode or assisted panning – along with support for rotation, quick search functions, and an optional parental lock for individual series.

Also consider Enlight Videoleap, Prisma, Fantastical 2, Carrot Weather, Quik, Air Video HD, iA Writer, Sky Guide AR, Cosmic Watch, 1Password, CamScammer, Player Piano 3D, and Yummly.

Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_saltzman. E-mail him at askmarcsaltzman@gmail.com.

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