Best iPhone social apps

Social networking has benefited hugely from the smartphone and its 3G goodness. Now you can post photos, send messages, communicate and tweet with friends all while on the go. The portability of social networks has also made them a lot more alive and rich with location sensitive posts and check-ins from friends explaining what is going on where. 

The problem is that maintaining a decent social profile online isn't easy, especially with so many different networks on offer.  So, our answer lies with this rather handy list of the very best iPhone social apps to download.

StumbleUpon

For those who haven’t used StumbleUpon’s original browser version before, then exactly where have you been? It’s a social bookmarking tool where you can effectively like and dislike web pages. On its own, that sounds rather dull but the fun part is that all of that information is collated and crunched by the StumbleUpon engine which will then profile all of the bookmarked pages by category as well as just how popular they are. You can then enjoy whole experience the other way around by asking Stumble to recommend to you web pages that it thinks you’ll like. Very nice and a sensational way to waste time on your computer.

The app, of course, means that the whole experience has been tailored for mobile and it offers pretty much everything you could need. There’s boiled down screens where you can choose subject material that you’re interested in, a decent UI with a menu bar at the bottom where you can like, dislike and share. Great on boring bus journeys, or even on the loo. Read more

iTunes: Link

Price: Free

Rating: 4/5

 

GroupMe

GroupMe is all about messaging in its most basic form. The app is designed to work on every platform possible, via everything from SMS to Wi-Fi and 3G. Contacts remain the same but the platform can operate on virtually everything. It is a much more private social network than most and is geared toward keeping contact with closer friends and family

Conference calls are also possible with the app, a particular cool function that isn't seen in many other social apps. It is possible to post location updates and post questions out to all your friends, useful if you are after an answer on where people are meeting or another topic altogether. 

iTunes: Link

Price: Free

Rating: 3/5

 

Foursquare

We all love a good bit of location based info sharing, Foursquare in particular being about the best out there. Frequent the local pub often? Then use Foursquare to make yourself the mayor. Not the real mayor but more a social one. An electronic leader of friends, family and strangers, thanks to the way the Foursquare works. At first this might seem relatively pointless, but the commenting and information left by others allows the app to build up a clever picture of what is good to see and what isn't. 

Foursquare continues to grow as an app, most recently benefitting from iOS 5 enhancements. The region monitoring built into the newest build of Apple's OS is a logical inclusion into the way Foursquare works. 

iTunes: Link

Price: Free

Rating: 3/5

 

AIM

Aol's instant messenger service is widely used around the world as a means to quickly send messages to friends. Think of it as a replacement for the SMS on the smartphone, it is a 3G powered way of communicating with contacts. The app has recently been redesigned from the ground up, granting greater access to chat groups and easier control over contacts and friends. 

AIM is heavily incorporated into a multitude of apps but tends to exist best in its own app form. Like most social apps it is simple and easy to use, allowing you to quickly share messages and information without anything nasty getting in the way. 

iTunes: Link

Price: Free

Rating: 4/5

 

Skype

One of the original internet based video calling services, Skype has found a rather cosy new home on the smartphone. The addition of a front facing camera on the iPhone 4 and 4S now gives Skype a much more genuine reason for being on your iPhone. It is now possible to call friends on the go, using Skype's video calling capabilities. 

Skype has now made its way onto multiple platforms including Android and the iPad. This means iPhone users need not be bound by FaceTime and iPhone to iPhone video calling. Cross platform interactivity is order of the day here, which is hugely necessary in making a good social app. After all not everyone has the same phone!

iTunes: Link

Price: Free

Rating: 4/5

 

Fring

Fring acts as a way to share messages and calls between other smartphone users over 3G and Wi-Fi networks. It allows you to phone friends for free and even make video calls, something which Apple's FaceTime can only manage over Wi-Fi. The app can also interact with other social networking services like AIM and Twitter, allowing one app to rule them all when it comes to communicating.

Fring actually boasts pretty decent video quality, especially when you have a good 3G connection and something like an iPhone 4S. You can even use the app to call desktop Skye clients. It is pretty special stuff and there isn't many social apps that can boast such cross network connectivity.

iTunes: Link

Price: Free

Rating: 4/5

 

Facebook Messenger

The app has been designed for the iPhone and the iPhone's 3.5-inch screen. It will work on the iPad, but it's not iPad friendly, which is disappointing - Facebook clearly didn't believe that you'd wanted to use the Apple tablet to message people. Punch in your login details, and you're connected. The app runs in the background and you can opt to have notifications either turned on or off, to alert you when you do in fact get a message. 

Some will question why you need a dedicated messaging app, but having used it for the morning it's clear to see why. Facebook is trying to get you from just shouting about what you are doing, to becoming a service that allows you to arrange and organise what you are doing - that means more people using the service more of the time. Read More

iTunesLink

Price: Free

Rating: 4/5

 

Google+ 

The app for Google's social network, Google+, is slick as anything, booting up and immediately offering instant access to all the usual Google+ functions.Notifications like circle adds are handled at the bottom, in a very very similar way to the iPhone Facebook app. You can also start huddles via names, emails or entire circles. Huddles run smooth and aren't a massive drain on battery, making them a useful mobile Skype replacement.

Having a smartphone app pretty much from the outset, especially one as slick as this, means that Google+ has got a serious head start in the app department over other rivalling networks currently launching. It still has a bit of catchup to do in order to play with the big boys but without the crashes, the Google+ iPhone app is one of the best social networking apps available. Read More.

iTunes: Link

Price: Free

Rating: 4/5

 

Touchnote

Touchnote is a nifty way of sending postcards to your loved ones from your smartphone. You can snap off a photo on your phone and transform it into a printed postcard that gets delivered by the postman at the other end. It’s a fusion of old world and new which is what we like about it. Touchnote gives you your first postcard free, but after that you’ll pay £1.49 for a single card, or you can buy in bulk (one free for a five-credit purchase; two free for a 10-credit purchase). You pay via PayPal or credit card, which is simple enough.

Bear in mind that there will be a data cost in sending the card, so if you are roaming then the real cost will be higher, unless you can find some local free Wi-Fi. Touchnote is a nice app to have sitting in your phone ready to use for those perfect picture-postcard moments. Yes, you will pay slightly more than getting a real card and stamp, but you can’t knock the convenience, or the simplicity, of the app. Read More

iTunes: Link

Price: Free (plus £1.49 for each postcard)

Rating: 4/5

 

Blurb Mobile

Blurb Mobile works by allowing you to create shareable photo and video layouts, complete with captions and even audio recordings. Once you open the app you will be asked to register and login, get this out of the way and you can immediately set about creating your first story. Once you are setup, you are going to want to start inserting photos and other content into the story. Do this by either shooting straight from iPhone camera to the app, or look through stored images on your handset.

You can then caption stills or recording audio to go along with the slideshow. Photos themselves can be rotated and cropped. Themes can also be selected to act as a background to your shots. The Blurb Mobile app is heavily social-centric, so once you have created a story you are proud of, you are going to want to tap share. You will be given the option to sign in with Facebook or Twitter or to simply email your creation to whoever you want. Read More

iTunes: Link

Price: Free

Rating: 4/5

 

Postcards

Sending postcards is part of your holiday. A tedious part, no doubt. You have to struggle with the cashier as you ask for stamps and then you need a postbox and you'll undoubtedly post it in the recycling bin. And that's just in Morecombe. Fortunately you no longer have to deal with these issues as your iPhone will swing into action with PostCards. It's an incredibly simple premise which involves you snapping off your own picture using the phone's camera. You can take a picture, or use one you already have on your device (so you could use it with an iPod touch too).

Once you have your pic, the app simply adds it to a virtual postcard. You can flip the postcard over and write a message as well as adding the address. The address will access your contacts so you don't have to plug in all the details, as well as a UK postcode address finder to make it simple to add new people. You then press send and away your postcard goes to eCards, who print it up into a regular postcard and stick it in the post – same day posting if they get your card before 4pm. You do have to pay, and this is via PayPal, with UK cards costing 99p and international cards costing £1.49, but at least the virtual postcards should make it home before you do - never a guarantee when using the postal system. Read More

iTunes: Link

Price: Free (but you have to pay for the service)

Rating: 3/5

 

Facebook

The most social of all the social networks is always going to be the biggest right? With access to Facebook  in its entirety and all its chat, messaging and photo functions, the Facebook app is one of the best social apps out there. From boot you can easily do things like post pictures or send friends message, the news feed also sits right at the apps start, keeping you up to date on other's activities. 

One of the best things about the Facebook app is how it is laid out, being incredibly simple to use and granting quick access to all the most important parts of the network. A constant stream of updates also means that the app is very rarely broken or buggy in any way. Better still, Facebook are constantly listening to and improving on its design, so it just gets better with every update. 

iTunes: Link

Price: Free

Rating: 4/5

 

On Voicefeed

With On Voicefeed it's all about personalisation. You can record different messages that will play to different contacts if you're unavailable, meaning that you can be all mushy to your lady, and super professional for your colleagues. Using a Google+ like approach to categorising your contacts, you create groups of people (family, friends, colleagues, etc.) and you can record different greetings for each set. In the free version you'll get three personalised greetings and the app will save your messages for 30 days. 

With the Premium setup (£6.99) you'll get an unlimited number of active customised greetings, unlimited storage duration of all your incoming voicemails and you can get MP3 copies of incoming voicemails sent directly to you via email. Another distinguishing feature is that you can type greetings that will be spoken if you're unavailable. Handy if you're in a meeting and can't record a message. You can even link in your Twitter or Facebook accounts to see what the people leaving you messages are up to. Read More

iTunesLink 

Price: Free

Rating: 3.5/5

 

Twitter

The official Twitter app is a very simple and easy way to interact with the speediest of the social networks. It will let you send out a 140 character tweet, upload pictures, search, read, reply and retweet, as well as send private messages. The real thing that makes the app work so well is its speed, as you can read through your feed incredibly fast and interact with followers very speedily.

iOS 5 brought proper Twitter integration with it, which allowed you to do things like Tweet photos straight from the camera app or post locations and status updates depending on where you were. A nice little bonus feature and definitely something we would like to see more of. 

iTunes: Link

Price: Free

iTunes: 4/5

 

LinkedIn

Despite being traditionally associated with business and networking, the LinkedIn app is actually one of the most enjoyable in its appearance and the way it is used. Contacts sit at the top of the screen with profile pictures that can be scrolled and clicked. You can tap your own name and open up a selection of four different app categories like profile and updates, these can then be tapped on and read. It is all very intuitive and makes for a nice seamless app experience.

The hi res retina display graphics are particularly juicy looking, as is the way that invitations and messages are managed. The actual updates feed is more like Twitter than the usual LinkedIn website, it being much easier just to click through and read what people are posting than on the conventional website. LinkedIn today sat at the top of the app shows you trending stories and posts related to your interests and contacts, very useful indeed. 

iTunes: Link

Price: Free

Rating: 3/5

 

Bump

We'll be the first to admit that there's a touch of the novelty about Bump but taking a popular, ghetto-style greeting and turning into something useful has actually been quite clever. At its heart, the app is a way of sharing information wirelessly from one handset to another and that's whether you're talking contacts, photos, music, events or even other apps.

All you have to do is select whatever the item is that you'd like to share and then physically bump your phone into another handset which also has Bump on it. The info is then sent up into Bump's servers in the cloud and back down to the receiving phone. Hey presto, you've shared and looked a bit pseudo cool at the same time. Of course, if you were really ghetto, you'd probably steal the other person's mobile and their trainers too.

iTunes: Link

Price: Free

Rating: 4/5

 

Qype

Qype is all about user-generated reviews. There are reviews of restaurants, bars, shops, attractions and even the odd park bench; anything basically. The idea of the app is that you can then access all of this information on the move with a particular weighting of relevance added to those nearby which you can view in a top down map mode.

What with the way of modern times, you can also use the app to check-in and follow the progress on earning your badges, if you're into that sort of thing. Finally, of course, you can also upload photos and reviews of things that you find on your travels.

iTunes: Link

Price: Free

Rating: 3.5/5

- Best iPhone photography apps

- Best iPhone games: puzzle