A Complete Guide to Default iPhone Apps and What They Do

New to iPhone and wondering what all those pre-installed apps are? We’ve got you covered.

By Kevin Shaw - Editor
5 Min Read

Like most operating systems, iOS and iPadOS come loaded with a handful of default apps that cover all kinds of use cases: office work, web browsing, email, photo management, media consumption, and more.

While Apple has done a great job naming these apps, you may still be confused by what they do or whether you actually need some of them. This is especially true if you recently switched to iOS or iPadOS.

If you want to learn what all the apps are that come pre-installed on your iPhone or iPad, this guide is for you.

We’ll walk through all of the default iPhone and iPad apps, explain what they do, and whether you should care about them or not.

App Store: The App Store is a place to buy, download, and update apps.

Apple App Store

Books: The Books app is both a book reader and a bookstore. You can buy books from Apple or view EPUB and PDF files.

Apple Audio Book

Calculator (iPhone only): A basic calculator. You can easily use this app on a daily basis, whether to update personal budgets, calculate estimated tax payments, or just offload a bit of mental math. Put it into landscape orientation to see scientific functions.

Calendar: A calendar app that lets you manage your day-to-day tasks. The app can sync with iCloud, Google, and other calendaring services set up in Settings > Calendar > Accounts.

iPhone Calendar app

Camera: You use this to take photos and videos. You can swipe from right to left on the Lock screen to access it quickly. iPhones without Home buttons also have a shortcut button in the lower-left corner of the Lock screen.

An iPhone showing Camera app with four people in the viewfinder  

Clock: The Clock app lets you track multiple time zones, set alarms, and run a stopwatch or timer. Most of these functions can also be accessed through Siri.

Compass (iPhone only): The Compass app uses your iPhone’s sensors to act as a compass pointing to magnetic north. For maximum accuracy, use it outdoors away from anything magnetic.

iPhone Compass app

Contacts: A basic contact manager for phone numbers, email addresses, and other information. It syncs with iCloud and other online services—check Settings > Contacts > Accounts.

FaceTime: Use this app to make audio and video calls—primarily with other Apple users, but FaceTime now has web browser support so it also works in Android, Linux, and Windows.

An iPhone next to an iPad. Both devices show ongoing FaceTime video calls.  

Files: The Files app lets you browse files stored locally on your device, in iCloud Drive, or in supported cloud storage apps that support Files (most do). You can also connect to SMB fileservers on a local network.

Find My: The Find My app lets you share your location with others, view locations of others who have shared their location with you, track the location of your Apple devices, and see where your AirTags and other supported items are located.

Use Find My to find your AirPods, Apple Watch, and AirTag  

Fitness: A fitness tracker that collects your fitness metrics, most notably the move, exercise, and stand rings from your Apple Watch. It’s also used to access the Apple Fitness Apple Fitness video workout service.

Freeform: Apple’s whiteboard app that lets you collaborate on drawings with friends.

Health: Use Health to track multiple health metrics, either collected automatically from your devices or entered manually.

Home: The Home app is used to manage and control HomeKit home automation products. If you have a HomePod or smart home device, you can use the Home app to manage them all. You can quickly turn lights on and off, adjust your thermostat, and set up automations for your smart home with it.

iTunes Store: From here you can buy music, movies, and TV shows from Apple.

Journal: Introduced with iOS 17.2, Journal collects information from your other apps like photos and locations so you can quickly jot down a few memories of an event.

Magnifier: This app acts as a magnifying glass, and it also has features to help the vision-impaired detect objects in their environment.

Mail: The default app for managing email accounts and inboxes. Add email accounts in Settings > Mail > Accounts.

iPhone Mail app

Maps: Apple’s once-infamous Maps app, which is actually pretty great now. It lets you explore an area or get directions.

Man holding an iPhone using Maps app

Measure: The Measure app uses augmented reality technology to measure real-world objects (with questionable accuracy). It also uses iPhone sensors to act as a level.

Messages: This app lets you send and receive messages with iOS and Android users. With Messages you can send messages, photos, and files over your carrier’s SMS network (green bubbles) or Apple’s iMessage (blue bubbles).

Music: For managing your music library and listening to Apple radio stations, the Music app is the tool you need. You can create playlists, get song lyrics, and handle your tunes in one spot. You can listen to music you sync to your device through the macOS Finder or Windows File Explorer. You can also use iTunes MatchiTunes Match to sync music to the Music app.

Apple Music app

News: The Apple News app lets you stay up to date on local and international news headlines from sources around the world, though these days it’s mostly a vehicle for the subscription Apple News Apple News service.

Apple News

Notes: The Notes app let you take basic text notes, but it also supports rich formatting, images, handwriting, collaboration with iCloud users, and more.

iPhone Notes app

Phone (iPhone only): Make phone calls and listen to voicemails with the Phone app.

Photos : The Photos app lets you view the photos and videos you’ve taken with Camera. It’s also the default place where saved images go.

Podcasts: A basic podcast player. The app lets you browse for new podcasts, listen to episodes, create stations, and manage your library.

Reminders: A to-do app that can also be set to remind you to perform tasks at set times or in certain locations. It also lets you share reminder lists with other iCloud users.

Safari: It’s your iPhones’s and iPad’s default browser and thus your window to the internet. Safari has a lot of great features, like Reader View and browser extensions.

iPhone Safari page

Settings: Your device’s settings and the settings for many apps can be found in the Settings app.

Shortcuts: The Shortcuts app lets you create small programs to automate tasks.

Stocks: A basic stock market tracker with relevant news items linked from Apple News. If you work in finance or participate in investments, the Stocks app keeps you in the loop with the stock market.

Tips: The Tips app offers basic usage tips.

iPhone Tips app

Translate: The Translate app can translate text from one language to another. It also allows for real-time voice dictation and can translate text caught by the camera lens.

TV: The TV app lets you watch content purchased from the iTunes Store app, as well as Apple TV Apple TV , Apple’s video streaming service.

Voice Memos: The Voice Memos app lets you make quick audio recordings, handy for taking notes. Voice memos sync via iCloud to other Apple devices.

Wallet: As you might imagine, the Wallet app is a virtual wallet that holds event passes, credit and debit cards for Apple Pay, tickets, and even (in some states) driver’s licenses. It also lets you sign up for and use an Apple CashApple Cash card or an Apple CardApple Card in the United States.

Apple Wallet app

Watch (iPhone only): If you have an Apple Watch paired to your iPhone, you can use the Watch app to manage it.

Should You Delete Default Apps?

Some users might not know this, but you can delete many of Apple’s pre-installed apps. But should you? After all, these apps are there to help you get the most out of your iPhone.

Making the Most of Your iPhone’s and iPad’s Default Apps

This overview will help iPhone and iPad newcomers figure out what preinstalled apps on their devices are. While some of the default apps on iPhone and iPad are excellent, you probably won’t need a lot of others except in specific cases. Still, it’s always a good idea to know and understand what these apps do.

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By Kevin Shaw Editor
Kevin Shaw is a seasoned tech journalist based in Los Angeles with a penchant for all things Apple. He started writing about Apple products in 2007 and it's been a love affair ever since. He has spent over a decade testing and writing about iPhones, iPads, Macs, and other Apple products. In his spare time, he likes nothing more than catching up with the latest news and sports podcasts on the beach.
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