I refuse to pay for apps. There is just so much competition in this space, that if you want an app that serves a particular purpose, there’s no doubt that you can find a version of it for free somewhere in the App Store. (Sure, you’ll get served ads–but I always just learn to ignore them.)
I usually do a simple google search for “free version of _________ (app)” then check out a few reviews to make sure it’s actually legit/worth the 60-second download. If it’s crappy or doesn’t work after I open it, I just delete it from my phone and try the web’s next suggestion. It’s really not that much work, and saves you $1-$5 per app (you’d be surprised how app purchases add up when you’re not giving a second thought!).
So, want to know some really great free versions of popular apps that I’ve found? Here there are:
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Photo Editor by Aviary: Free
The Afterlight is the most popular photography app in the App Store. It has thousands of reviews with an average score of 4.4 out of 5 stars from photo enthusiasts for its dozens of photo filters, camera features and photo editing skills–but the free version, Photo Editor by Avery, is almost equally popular. It has a score of 9.3 on App Crawlr and has been named a “Best App” by the New York Times’ (“Best Apps for iOS 7″) and TIME Magazine’s (“50 Must-Have iPad Apps for 2013”). Plus, it’s free. Cha-ching.
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For airbrushing, slenderizing, whitening teeth, etc., on Instagram, people love Facetune (yes, there’s no shame in photoshopping your Instas these days). It has 4.5 stars on the App Store–but costs $3.99. The best free versions of the app are InstaBeauty, which as 4.5 stars on the App Store, BeFunky, which has a score of 9.9 on App Crawlr, and Perfect365, which also has really high reviews on the App Store and is very beauty-focused.
Couch to 5K: $1.99
Map My Run: Free
In the category of health & fitness, specifically on the topic of running and training for marathons, Couch to 5K is a really popular app. With 4.5 stars on the App Store, reviewers tend to agree that the app really helps you go from having no running experience at all to being able to run a 5K (hence, the name). If you want to do something like this, or just want a good running tracker app, the free version to get is Runkeeper, which you can also use for other fitness areas like walking, cycling, etc. Map My Run is also free and has an almost perfect 5-star rating on the App Store.