SLIDESHOW

The Best Free iPhone and iPad Apps of 2011

Many useful, innovative, or just plain fun apps can be found for iPhone and iPad with the perfect price tag: free. Check out our roundup.

This Year’s Best Crop

The Apple App Store for iPhone and iPads garnered more than half million apps this year, and a big chunk of these are free -- which makes them great value, because so many are useful, innovative, or plain fun. Click on for a look at this year's best free apps for iPhones and iPads. Just give them a go; they're free!

Dolphin Browser

Give Safari a break and try a new browsing experience on your iPhone or iPad. Dolphin browser is a full-fledged Web browser with some extra perks, including a downloads manager, private and full-screen browsing modes. The best bit comes via customizable gestures that you draw on the screen and open a particular page or perform a particular action.

Download free for iPhone or iPad

Temple Run

Temple Run is a fun running adventure game that is easy to play yet hard to master. You control your character in a jungle world with swipes and tilt controls, as the game will keep you entertained for hours (the gameplay is endless). There’s integration with Game Center Leaderboards and Achievements too, so you can challenge your friends to a run in the jungle.

Download free for iPhone and iPad

Facebook Messenger

Facebook’s dedicated messaging app allows you to send messages and texts to your friends in real time. You can send messages to your Facebook friends, who will receive them in their inbox and directly on their phone if they have the app too (also available for Android and Blackberry), as well as send photos and get push notifications for your messages (with a great muting feature).

Download free for iphone

Facebook

Facebook also did a great job with its official app, which is now universal for iPhone and iPads -- meaning there’s finally an official Facebook iPad app, too. A new navigation scheme is introduced via a sliding panel on the left, games you play on Facebook are integrated with their App Store counterparts, and you can browse photos in full screen on the iPad.

Download free for iPhone and iPad

Photosynth

Microsoft’s Photosynth app allows you capture the world around you with your iPhone in spectacular 3D panoramas. The app stitches your pictures together in 360-degree panoramas that you can show off on your phone, or you can share them via Photosynth's online service and on Facebook.

Download free for iphone

GLMPS

GLMPS brings a new kind of visual status update that's more than a photo, but not quite like a video, either. The apps automatically captures a short video clip with every picture you take, resulting in a special glimpse of the moment. GLMPS integrates with Twitter and Facebook, and you can also follow other friends who use the app and see their shared glimpses.

Download free for iPhone

Frisbee Forever

Frisbee Forever is a challenging game where you have to steer through obstacles, and collect stars. Simple, delightful, and entertaining, the game is one of the latest must-have apps for both iPhone and iPad.

Download free for iPhone and iPad

Thermo

Thermo brings a different take on weather apps -- it's like a pocket thermometer on your iPhone, showing you not only the temperature outside now, but also readings from the previous day for comparison. It's a simple yet effective app, which gives you the weather info you need at a glance.

Download free for iPhone

Adobe Reader

Instead of using iBooks to store your PDFs, give Adobe’s official Reader app a try. You can open files from e-mail, the Web, or other apps; see text annotations; e-mail PDF files as attachments; and access encrypted or password-protected files from a dedicated apps, apart from your book purchases.

Download free for iPhone and iPad

Vimeo

Vimeo's iPhone app goes beyond the standard uploading and browsing features -- You can capture videos (with video controls and grid alignments) and edit them on the fly, anding add transitions, titles, and music before you share them with the world.

Download free for iPhone

Oink

Oink allows you to rate just about anything, just as you would on Yelp. So, for example, before going to a restaurant, you can check out Oink for the top rated dishes on the menu, instead of a getting general rating for the whole restaurant. To work effectively, Oink needs a considerable user base; but nevertheless, the apps brings an interesting concept to the table.

Download free for iPhone

500px

500px is a similar photo pool to Flickr, but filters all the less appealing photos, and has become the go-to place for talented photographers from across the world. The app is essentially an extension of the site that allows you browse in full-screen glory the best photos submissions, which you can share with friends and add to your favorites in a never-ending source of fantastic pictures.

Download free for iPad and iPhone

Apple Store

Apple's Store app is not just a regular shopping app. Of course, you can order and customize Apple gear and buy it straight from the app, but the fun part comes with the 2.0 update. You can now buy within the app and choose to pick up your order at any Apple store (usually within the hour). Apple also offers EasyPay, which allows you to self-checkout certain accessories in store by paying for them from within the app.

Download free for iPhone

The Eatery

The Eatery aims to improve your eating habits, not by counting calories but by giving you a second opinion on the healthfulness of your meals. You snap photos of your food and then the app will help you identify your eating habits, such as determining where you eat your best and worst meals. Friends can also join, and you can keep each other on your toes to eat better.

Download free for iPhone

SoundCloud

SoundCloud's newest update brings iPad compatibility and also turns the app into an AirPlay-compatible streaming music player. You can follow independent and established artists and bands, blogs, and magazines, which share their favorite tunes in a Twitter fashion so that you can stay on top of the latest up-and-coming tracks.

Download free for iPhone and iPad

Google+

As part of Google's push into social networking, the Google+ app gives you access the search giant's new social network. Just like the Web version, the app allows you to organize and share with your circles of friends and followers, alongside Messenger, which is an instant group-messaging feature. The coolest bit about Google+ for iPhone is the Mobile Hangouts feature, which allows you to video chat with up to nine friends from your phone.

Download free for iPhone

Instagram

Instagram's 2.0 release this year added several improvements to possibly the most popular social mobile photography app. It adds a bunch of new filters and finally lets you save photos at higher resolution (but this function is available for iPhone 4 and 4S only). Also new are live effects, so you can select a filter and hold the camera to the subject and preview how the final photo will look like, instead of applying effects after you take a photo.

Download free for iPhone

Words With Friends HD Free

Words With Friends HD Free is Zynga's addictive Scrabble clone, with a great social layer that allows you to play multiple turn-based games at once with up to 20 friends (if you’re low on friends, Facebook integration is available to help with that). You can also chat with your opponents and push notifications will tell you when it's your turn. The paid version gets rid of the ads, which are not particularly intrusive.

Download free for iPhone and iPad

Flipboard

Flipboard, the app that lets you browse articles posted by your friends on Twitter and Facebook in a sleek magazine layout, has partnered with several content providers this year, so the app now displays articles from the likes of USA Today, Forbes, and The New Yorker in customized layouts, with bigger photos and full text (and ads).

Download free for iPad

Tiny Tower

Tiny Tower might not charge you anything to get in, this addictive 8-bit-style game will cost you a lot of time. You're in charge of a residential or business block of towers and you can build floors in order to attract "bitizens" to live in your apartment and manage their lives (similar to SimCity). The app uses gameplay elements made popular by other games such as FarmVille, so, for example, you can go to sleep while the construction crew takes eight hours to build a new floor to your tower.

Download free for iPhone and iPad