20 best iPhone 5 apps and games 2013
6th Mar 2013 | 15:30
Our pick of the apps that take advantage of the iPhone 5's improvements
When the iPhone 5 first appeared, pundits moaned about how it wasn't really much of a progression over previous iPhones, presumably because it wasn't a giant pyramid made from holograms.
In reality, there were some important changes: a widescreen display that was more vibrant; a faster chip (the A6) with superior graphics performance; and a better camera for stills and HD video recording.
Although all existing iPhone apps worked fine on the iPhone 5, it rapidly became obvious that for the best user experience, apps needed to be fully optimised for the new device.
In this post, we check out 20 of the best iPhone 5 apps for creating music and videos, editing photos, catching up on news, watching shows, being productive, and then having a break by slicing up giants, racing like a loon, and solving devious puzzles.
1. GarageBand (£2.99/$4.99)
Software instruments on which GarageBand relies are notoriously processor-intensive, and so the iPhone 5's added grunt makes for a stabler, faster, smoother music-making process. The wider screen is also beneficial, giving you a few extra keys when composing and enabling you to see more notes when editing MIDI.
2. iMovie (£2.99/$4.99)
One of the more ambitious apps on the iPhone, iMovie is a movie-making studio in your pocket. The iPhone 5's camera is great for shooting HD, and iMovie enables you to rapidly edit your creations and publish them to YouTube, Vimeo or Facebook.
3. Photogene for iPhone (£0.69/$0.99)
Photogene's interface is a mite quirky, but we prefer it to the rather opaque iPhoto for image-editing. The app includes a number of basic editing tools, export options, special effects and other features, and on an iPhone 5 it flies.
4. Camera+ (£0.69/$0.99)
The iPhone 5 includes the best iPhone camera yet, but Apple's Camera app is pretty basic. Camera+ is therefore worth investing in if you're serious about iPhone photography.
You'll get access to touch exposure and focus, a stabiliser, a surprisingly reasonable digital zoom, in-app cropping and effects, timers and burst-shooting.
5. iBooks (free)
Apple's iBooks might play second fiddle to Kindle in terms of selection and pricing, but it offers a wonderful reading experience on the iPhone 5. The high-quality screen combined with its revised height (thereby providing more words per 'page') makes it a no-brainer free download.
6. Flipboard (free)
Although perhaps better known on tablets, Flipboard is an essential download for iPhone 5 owners. With minimal set-up, it can become your personal news magazine, filled with beautiful imagery and engaging stories.
Again, the iPhone 5's taller screen enables you to see more of anything at any one time, and the device's A6 chip ensures perfect performance.
7. Reeder (£1.99/$2.99)
For any iPhone 5 owner wedded to text-based content, Reeder is a must-have download. The client works seamlessly with Fever, Readability and Google Reader, enabling you to easily keep up with your favourite websites. On Apple's latest smartphone, Reeder is blazing fast and looks wonderful.
8. Tweetbot (£1.99/$2.99)
Many smartphone owners would be lost without a Twitter client and Tweetbot is the best there is for iOS. The iPhone 5's taller screen improves the app from a usability standpoint, displaying more tweets and replies at any one time, along with giving the posting screen room to breathe.
9. BBC iPlayer (free)
BBC iPlayer has long been the standout on-demand TV app on iOS, and it's even better on the iPhone 5, where the picture fills the gorgeous widescreen display. It's also fantastic to see the BBC regularly trumpeting about AirPlay rather than, in the case of many of the corporation's rivals, hobbling it.
10. YouTube (free)
The Apple-created YouTube app was unceremoniously ditched from iOS 6, but Google rose to the challenge and created a replacement. On the iPhone 5, the tall screen's great for browsing, and when flipped 90 degrees, it's perfect for watching widescreen video. Like BBC iPlayer, YouTube also supports AirPlay.
11. Google Maps (free)
Google's data was also ousted from iOS 6, with Apple instead using its own data, with - to be charitable - decidedly mixed results. This free app is a better bet; it's fast and beautifully designed, and the iPhone 5's bigger screen is handy for browsing and also checking out step-by-step directions. On the move, turn-by-turn on 3G also proves effective.
12. Fantastical (£2.99/$4.99)
Apple's own Calendar app is fine, but Fantastical has two advantages: excellent natural input for events, and an emphasis on a list view, thereby making it easier to see upcoming appointments at a glance. Naturally, the iPhone 5 means being able to view more of these at once, which is fab (unless any of said events mention 'dentist').
13. Soulver (£1.99/$2.99)
With lots of people banging on about skeuomorphism in apps, it's perhaps surprising more products like Soulver don't exist. It rethinks and reinvents the calculator, making it relevant for modern computing, and the result is half spreadsheet, half 'back of an envelope'.
On the iPhone 4, it feels cramped, but on the iPhone 5 there's plenty of room for its line-based calculations.
14. 30/30 (free)
Task managers are commonplace on iOS, but we have a real sweet spot for 30/30. It's beautifully designed, and the straightforward manner in which you can set up task loops makes it perfect for Pomodoro-style time management. IAPs provide extra icons or a thank-you to the author, and the iPhone 5 screen really shows off the sleek interface.
15. Dropbox (free)
Apple's vision of the future is files existing within apps, which is fine if you only use few apps with few documents. For the rest of us, a file system is still required and Dropbox brings this to iOS. On the iPhone 5, the taller screen enables you to see more items at once, but even if Sir Jony Ive had given the device a two-inch square screen, we'd still be recommending Dropbox.
16. Infinity Blade II (£4.99/$6.99)
Swipey swordplay with RPG levelling up is what Infinity Blade II is all about. The visuals are gorgeous and the iPhone 5's full resolution is supported. Given the demanding nature of the app, you'll be grateful for that A6 chip, too.
17. Need for Speed Most Wanted (£2.99/$4.99)
The best arcade racer for iOS, Most Wanted is a stupid amount of fun as you speed about, smashing up cops, drifting for miles, and generally being a menace on wheels.
On slower hardware, though, dropped frames periodically pull you out of the experience; no such problems on the more powerful iPhone 5.
18. Super Hexagon (£1.99/$2.99)
The perfect twitch arcade experience, Super Hexagon is a bit like playing a wire loop game in fast-forward while being flung about the place on a merry-go-round.
Although visually simple, the game is far more fluid on the iPhone 5 than other iOS devices, and the widescreen display keeps your thumbs out of the way as you wrench your tiny ship left and right, avoiding infinite walls of doom.
19. Beyond Ynth (£1.49/$1.99)
iOS isn't what comes to mind when you think of platform games, and virtual controls often make us shudder, but Beyond Ynth bucks trends by being brilliant at both.
This puzzler/platformer is all about helping a bug traverse 2D levels. Its method of travel: increasingly complex boxes. On the iPhone 5, the game looks lovely, your thumbs cover less of the screen, and you see a fraction more of what's coming.
20. The Room Pocket (free)
The most atmospheric iPad game of recent times loses little in its translation to the widescreen iPhone 5. The demanding graphics means The Room's perfectly suited to Apple's newest smartphone, and the game is a masterpiece.
You're alone in a room with a strange box, left to become immersed in a creepy, frequently chilling few hours of discovery. Our advice: avoid the hints, wear headphones and play in a dark room. Just don't blame us when you leap out of your seat.