Forget blown-up iPhone 5 apps – these crackers have all been optimised for your shiny new device…
So you’ve had five months with your new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and by now you’ll have noticed they have bigger screens. Great!
Except that most of the apps you own now scale themselves to the full size of the bigger display, making you feel like a tiny person with a gargantuan iPhone.
But don’t despair, because app developers are scurrying to make use of the improved screen size and power of the newer devices, combined with all the loveliness of iOS 8. The magic phrase you need to keep an eye out for on the App Store is “This app is optimised for iPhone 5, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus”.
But before you dive into the murky depths of the App Store yourself, jump right to these 20 great apps, and get downloading. Because they’re all fantastic.
1. TRANSMIT IOS (£7.99)
Before now, file management on iOS was a major pain, and overly reliant on Dropbox, given that many apps integrated with it to some extent. With extensible Share sheets on iOS 8, however, the entire OS is opened up like never before.
Transmit brings the smarts from Panic’s OS X app to the iPhone, merges it with a beautiful and minimal interface, and also makes use of the iPhone 6 Plus in landscape by giving you a dual-pane view.
FTP, SFTP WebDAV, and S3 are supported, giving you the ability to use compatible apps to create your own virtual cloud storage in seconds.
2. SKY GUIDE (£1.99)
When it comes to stargazing with an iPhone, Sky Guide is unquestionably the most usable and beautiful app of its kind. The interface is elegant, and the app is packed full of information, enabling you to dig deep into the facts, or just meander about the night sky. It also takes full advantage of Apple’s latest kit: along with being fully optimised for new iPhones, a handy Today view Notification Center widget provides rise/set times for the sun, moon and planets.
3. TWITTERRIFIC 5 (£FREE)
Elegance is also the watchword of Twitterrific 5. While Tweetbot is awesomely powerful, Twitterrific has an unparalleled sense of design, with beautiful themes, typography and a lightness of touch that works perfectly with Apple’s larger iPhones.
That’s not to say it’s lacking in features, though: Twitterrific has live streaming, list management, gestural controls, filtering and muting, timeline sync, and more. It’s also a free download, with some affordable IAP available to those who want push notifications and no adverts.
4. MR. CRAB (£FREE)
If we’re honest, we never thought we’d be singing the praises of Mr. Crab as a must-have game for the iPhone 6, but here we are. This one-thumb platform game utilises Metal in iOS 8, making for a beautiful visual experience, and is also one of the very few games to properly reformat itself for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. It helps that it plays well, too, your leaping auto-running crab finding his way through increasingly complex and dizzying levels that are wrapped around gigantic poles.
5. Day One (£3.99)
Journalling app Day One’s had a bunch of rewards thrown in its general direction by Apple, and that comes as no surprise when you start using it. This is a sleek, beautifully designed app that’s very usable and ensures your content shines through.
For the new iPhones, you get a properly optimised interface that simply shows more stuff; and for iOS 8, there’s integration with Touch ID, Share sheets and a Today view widget in Notification Center.
6. GoodReader (£3.99)
When we recently spoke to app devs about their hopes for the iPhone 6 Plus and iOS 8, the CEO of GoodReader developer Good.iWare remarked that bigger screens are better for reading and annotating. It should therefore come as no surprise to see GoodReader quickly updated to support the new iPhone screen sizes. There’s also support for Handoff (for sending what you’re reading between devices), and the means to import from and export to iCloud Drive.
7. iMovie (£free with new device)
Naturally, Apple updated the bulk of its apps to make full use of the new iPhone displays, and iMovie is perhaps the most interesting. More space on the screen means more space for editing and previewing your content. But also the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are better video cameras than ever.
This combination of hardware and software results in a tiny pocket video recorder/edit suite you can use to shoot, edit and share full movies – and now all without squinting at edit points! (Note that if you’ve bought a 64 GB or 128 GB iPhone 6/6 Plus, iMovie will be preinstalled.)
8. PCalc (£7.99)
First and foremost, PCalc is a great calculator with a very long heritage – the original Mac version appeared way back in 1992. On the iPhone, it’s the platform’s best traditional calculator by far, and this latest update is fully optimised for Apple’s new displays. It also rolls in a handy Notification Center widget and editing for your button layout, including the means to create dedicated buttons for performing conversions or running functions.
9. Asphalt 8: Airborne (£free)
There’s more than a whiff of freemium grind about Asphalt 8, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the best arcade racers on the platform. It’s fast, furious and a little bit bonkers, with you zooming through surreal takes on real-world cities.
With iOS 8’s Metal, you get suitably over-the-top visual effects – Flames! Air-drag! – but iPhone 6 and 6 Plus owners also enjoy an exclusive season that pits you against three times as many opposing cars. (iPhone 5s and iPad Air owners are also grudgingly invited to this party.)
10. Fantastical 2 (£2.99)
It doesn’t matter how big Apple makes your iPhone, the Calendar and Reminders apps are still going to be rubbish. You’re better off replacing them with the far superior Fantastical 2, which has a straightforward list view for appointments (that you can see more of on larger devices), excellent natural-language input for events, and the kind of usable week view you just want to tape to Jony Ive’s forehead, to show him how it should have been done in-house.
11. Deliveries (£3.99)
If you order a lot of things online, as we imagine quite a few Stuff readers do, it pays to keep track of them as they slowly work their way towards your home. Deliveries has long been our favourite app for doing this.
You get a list of what’s on the way and expected delivery times, along with a map if locations are known. In iOS 8, there’s a Today view widget, and if you’ve an iPhone 6 Plus, there’s an iPad-like landscape two-pane view.
12. Infuse (from £free)
If you have a bigger iPhone, video starts to become a more interesting prospect. Of course, many of the major players (such as BBC iPlayer and Netflix) now offer apps optimised for newer iPhones, but Infuse 3 gains an entry in this list through enabling you to watch pretty much any format on your iPhone without conversion, even streaming footage from a networked PC or NAS.
13. Workflow (£3.99)
Workflow’s a perfect app for tinkerers. It’s jam-packed full of actions that you can combine into workflows that save you time by automating processes. These can then be added to your home screen, or accessed from Share sheets.
If you’re feeling especially lazy, you can pilfer what others have done instead from a handy online repository. With larger screens, you get the benefit of seeing more at any given time, potentially making crafting those workflows a whole lot easier.
14. Shadowmatic (£2.29)
Shadowmatic is a fairly noodly, ambient game, reminiscent of iOS classic Zen Bound. But instead of wrapping rope around objects, here you spin levitating abstract shapes to form recognisable silhouettes within projected shadows.
It’s one of the most visually striking games on iOS, and this kind of tactile experience simply feels so much better on a larger screen.
15. GarageBand (£3.99)
GarageBand hits that sweet spot in being surprisingly powerful for musicians, but also extremely accessible for newbs. So whether you favour plugging in a guitar to blow up your ears through crazy distortion, tinkling digital ivories, or dragging and dropping loops, you’re covered.
On the iPhone 5s, though, you needed to file down your fingers to a point, to get at all of the interface; on a larger iPhone, even the banana-thumbed can attempt to trouble the charts in no time.
16. Duolingo (£free)
Some updates aren’t about making radical changes for new hardware, but they remain just as impressive all the same. Duolingo was always a first-rate app, providing bite-sized lessons for learning languages in a fun and painless manner.
If you’ve a larger iPhone, the lean-back experience is improved, and the graphics, interface and green owl’s tears (when you run out of lives – the horror!) are all pin-sharp.
17. Canabalt (£2.29)
When you consider gaming on an iPhone 6 Plus, you might gravitate towards complex fare, but even simple titles can benefit from all that extra screen space.
Canabalt’s as basic as they come – the original endless runner has a hero escaping citywide destruction by leaping across rooftops until he very abruptly doesn’t (largely by smacking into a wall). With the larger display, you get fractions of a second more notice regarding impending brick-based death.
18. Drafts 4 (£7.99)
The notion of writing on an iPhone once seemed really quite mad, but larger models – and especially the iPhone 6 Plus – aim to become your ‘everything’ device.
What you need, then, is a fully-optimised app that can cope with jotting down quick ideas, help you fashion long-form structured copy with Markdown, and then fling whatever you’ve penned to pretty much any conceivable service or app. In short: you need Drafts 4.
19. MindNode (£7.99)
OK, so we’re doffing our ‘business’ hat a bit for this one, in that the idea of mind-mapping evokes thoughts of conference rooms and wanting to drown yourself in coffee just to escape from endless meeting hell.
But wait! MindNode is *lovely* to use, and is really fantastic for sketching out ideas for just about anything. Export options are plentiful, and you get loads of room to work on a larger iPhone.
20. 1Password (£free)
Although iCloud Keychain enables you to share login and payment details across Apple kit, 1Password’s a better bet. It’s cross-platform, stores way more info (including secure notes, software licences and multiple identities), and allows you to easily edit all your information right on your iPhone.
For the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, the interface is optimised to make it more generally usable, and you can see far more entries at any given time – handy when managing dozens of logins or editing your notes.