The 60 best iPhone apps for designers

From sketching on the go to choosing colours and fonts, we present the best iPhone apps to speed up your workflow and help you make the right design choices.

We have selected the very best iPhone apps that you can download to Apple's smartphone right now.

Despite some strong competition from free Android apps, the iPhone continues to be the main smartphone of choice for the design world. It's not just the best iPad apps that can be of practical use to designers; Apple's pocket-sized marvel can be a pretty handy design tool too. Combined with the best iPhone apps it can pack some real punch in the studio - and more importantly, out of it.

So whether you plan to do some sketching on the move, are after a particular tool to aid your daily design work, or prefer to take things more seriously with something to help you manage your projects, time and money, you don't have to know how to build an app - there's a great selection of must-have apps right here.

01. Layers

Top iPhone apps
Layers for iPhone has everything you need to be creative on the go

Built on the feedback of mobile artists, Layers is a natural media painting application for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Featuring Photoshop compatibility, a selection of brushes, full colour, paint, erase and smudge tools and the ability to add five layers to your drawings, this nifty little app has everything you need to be creative on the go.

02. Picerty

Top iPhone apps
Picerty allows the creation of beautiful compositions from photos taken with your iPhone

Picerty is an app that allows the creation of beautiful compositions from photos taken with your iPhone. You select nine pre-shot images to be placed in a 3×3 grid, then you can tap-and-drag them into any of the nine positions for aesthetic effect.

There are 10 Instagram-esque filters and it's all very quick and simple to apply these effects. You can upload the Picerty to the community, but not a #tag. This makes the Explore function a bit tedious, since you can't search subjects. But you can share it on Facebook, Twitter, email, or even order greeting cards, posters or vinyl wall decal stickers.

03. Redacticam

Top iPhone apps
Redacticam allows you to take photos without GPS data attached

It's no secret that the iPhone's camera uses its GPS chip to add your location to your photography, and this isn't always wanted. Redacticam lets you either take photos without GPS data attached, or it will create copies of photos or videos from your Camera Roll with the location stripped.

04. Storyboard Composer

Top iPhone apps for designers
Get the look and pace of your film right before even picking up a camera
  • Developer: Cinemek
  • Price: $14.99/£10.49

The best films come from meticulous planning and preparation, and one of the most important stages in that is storyboarding. Getting the composition of your shots right before you start filming makes a massive difference to their eventual quality, but it's a lot of work.

Storyboard Composer makes it slightly easier by enabling you to take photos or import them into the app, and then add arrows and notes to indicate what should be happening on screen.

05. Iconical

best iphone apps for designers
Create icons for your apps with Iconical

Iconical's a crafty little app that, to an extent, enables you to create new app icons. That 'to an extent' bit's important, since you're only likely to be able to create new icons for a small proportion of your apps.

Mail, Maps, Messages, Phone and Safari are all supported within Iconical, and if you visit this page you'll find the special shortcuts you need to create icons for iTunes, App Store, Calendar, Music and other default apps. There's also support for a number of third-party apps, particularly the bigger-name ones.

06. PicLab HD

best iphone apps for designers
Create inspiring images for the internet

PicLab HD is a nifty app for creating those inspiring images that you get all over the internet these days. You know, the ones featuring a photo – probably with at least one retro filter applied – with a helpful aphorism layered over the top in an attractive, friendly typeface. PicLab HD makes them an absolute doddle, enabling you to either snap a photo or grab one from your photo library, then go to town on it.

07. Strata

best iphone apps for designers
Banish those flat design blues with the Strata game
  • Developer: Graveck
  • Price: $0.99/£0.69

So you've just updated to iOS 7 and you're not feeling the flat design? Are you missing a bit of the old skeuomorphism? Ease your withdrawal with iPhone game Strata!

It's a simple enough premise: you're presented with a small grid containing a pattern of coloured squares, and you have to strategically layer strips of ribbon so that when you're finished, the colours of the top layer of ribbons match the coloured squares below. Easy enough to start off with, but as you progress through the game the grids become larger, the patterns more complex and you have more colours to play with, making matters a whole lot trickier.

08. 3DMark

best iphone apps for designers
The real fun lies in running the benchmarking tests

3DMark's a benchmarking tool that's been putting PCs through their paces since the 1990s, and now there's an iOS version that'll give your iPhone (or your iPad or iPod) a proper 3D workout and award it a no-nonsense score.

The real fun lies in running the benchmarking tests, which are beautiful mock-ups of a detailed and action-packed 3D game. They're a delight to watch, and once they're done you can find out how many frames per second your device can manage and just how good it is at simulating 3D physics.

09. Photochop

best iphone apps for designers
Chop up your photos with this handy little hat

We probably like this app for its name as much as for its function. It's a cheap and cheerful little tool for mucking about with pictures; the latest in a long line of photo editing apps. Simply pick a snap from your iPhone's photo library, chop it up into a set of tiles and then go crazy.

10. Filmic Pro

Top iPhone apps
Packed with features, is this the ultimate iPhone video camera?

FiLMiC Pro is, quite simply, the answer to the frustrations filmmakers have with Apple's default camera app. The most obvious and immediately useful features are the ability to set the focus and exposure separately, to lock them individually, and to lock the white balance. They're all vital for getting the tone and mood of what you're filming right, and FiLMiC knows that.

Video nuts will find wide-eyed glee in the ability to specify not only what resolution it films at, but also the framerate and, best of all, the bitrate, so you can record at quality far beyond the Apple defaults – great if you're filming lots of motion.

11. Adobe Kuler

Kuler from Adobe is one of the best iPhone apps for colour picking
  • Developer: Adobe
  • Price: Free

Originally annouced in October 2011, Adobe recently released an iPhone version of its Kuler tool - and it's one of the best iPhone apps for colour picking around.

Its headline feature is that you can use it to generate colour themes using your iPhone camera. Kuler captures five points of colour in any scene, creating a swatch that you can then tweak, save and send to other Adobe tools such as Illustrator. Alternatively, you can extract colour from images in your own photo stream, Flickr, or the web.

The app offers a number of useful options to tweak swatches after a palette has been created, including a colour wheel, preset colour modes and RGB sliders. And, if you don't have an iPhone, colour palettes can also be uploaded to a new Kuler web-based interface, which launched alongside the app.

12. Adobe Ideas

The cool vector illustration app has been made free to download!
  • Developer: Adobe
  • Price: Free

Adobe's iOS companion to Illustrator is one of the best iPhone apps we've come across - and the best news is, Adobe has made it free to download.

The features in version 2.6 include the ability to customize your toolbar with your favourite brushes, draw more accurately, share your designs on Facebook and Twitter, and sync your colour themes with the Kuler website. If you have Creative Cloud membership you can also sync the app between your iPad, your iPhone and your desktop.

13. Path On

 Path On
Path On lets you add funky text to photos in unique ways
  • Developer: Peta Vision
  • Price: $1.99/£1.49

Path On lets you add funky text to photos in unique ways. You draw the path you'd like the words to take, then type in your message – the text then flows along the path.

The custom options are the real killer feature here, with you being able to adjust the font, the letter space, the alignment and much, much more. There's a good range of fonts, and playing around is fast and easy. The photo filters are best avoided, but sharing your photo is easy.

14. Repix

Repix allows you to 'paint' filter effects onto images to create brilliant effects
  • Developer: Sumoing Ltd
  • Price: Free

The problem with filters in many photo editors is that you're required to apply it to the whole image, or spend an age creating precise selections. Repix attempts to overcome this by letting you 'paint' filter effects onto your images to create brilliant effects.

A choice of nine brushes run along the bottom of the screen; they range from artistic effects such as Posterize and Charcoal to more creative effects such as Halftone patterns and Ink splats. There's also an eraser and an 'undoer' brush.

15. Behance

Big improvements have been made to the WIP feature
  • Developer: Behance
  • Price: Free

We're huge fans of online portfolio platform Behance at Creative Bloq, especially its super-slick iPhone app. So we were keen to check out the improvements made for the latest version, 2.25.

The main tweaks have been made to the 'Work in Progress' (WIP) feature, including new Flash controls added for the WIP Camera and image editing apps like Adobe Photoshop Touch can now push images into the Behance app as WIPs. Developers have also added a Pin functionality to the app, so you will now see a Pinterest button in the share menu.


16. Blux Camera Pro

 Blux Camera Pro
Blux Camera Pro app recommends what mode to shoot in, depending on the weather in your area
  • Developer: YIN XUE
  • Price: $2.99/£1.99

Tap a button in Blux Camera Pro and the app will work out where you are and pull the current local weather, then also look at the scene it's shooting and make a mode recommendation and optionally reading out the info that gets displayed on your screen. 

You can pair it with a separate 69p app called Blux Lens running over Wi-Fi on another iOS device so you can control its camera remotely; a fine idea, though Wi-Fi's limited range means this is possibly not ideal for, as the screenshots on the App Store suggest, taking photos of a pack of wild lionesses.

17. Drawnimal

Help your kids learn the alphabet with this adorable drawing app

An app for the little ones! Any designer will know that it all starts when you're a kid and this adorable new app from designer and animator Lucas Zanatto aims to motivate those budding youngsters. Not only does it encourage children to draw, it shows them the main features of the animals with animations to help them to learn the alphabet.

Drawnimal is available for iPhone and iPad, with over 30 different animated animals and sounds. You can also switch between four different languages.

18. Trovi London

Discover the hidden gems of London with Trovi

When visiting a new city, it's natural to want to know about the best places to discover. However, as a creative, you'll want to know the hidden gems, the design classics and a nice place to have an afternoon drink.

The perfect accompaniment to our Designer's Guide to London, Creative design agency Fiasco Design crafted Trovi London, which harnesses the power of geolocation to offer users exclusive deals, events and promotions based on their current location.

19. Design Duet

 Design Duet
Edit Photoshop on the go and remove the mobile device guesswork

Ever wanted to view your Photoshop canvas on the go? Well, this iPhone app enables you to view your Photoshop canvas live, on your iPhone, over WiFi! Design Duet is designed to help those involved in the process of creating apps and the like by removing the guesswork about how design elements are affected when viewed on a mobile.

But how does it work? It connects directly to Photoshop natively using Photoshop Remote Connections to create a live 'second screen'. Then, the changes made on your Photoshop canvas are automatically updated on Design Duet to preview your designs. It's super simple to use and will no doubt speed up your workflow.

20. Sketchbook Pro

 Sketchbook Pro
  • Developer: Autodesk
  • Price: $1.99/£1.69

SketchBook Pro by Autodesk is one of the most popular iPad art apps with you digital artists. The smaller screen version, SketchBook Mobile, is a brilliant addition to any designer's iPhone app collection.

There's a wide range of digital pencils, pens, markers, and airbrushes to choose from, all accessed via a simple but intuitive UI that lets you pin toolbars to the screen for easy access. You can work with layers, transparency options, annotations, and advanced blend modes and with Dropbox integration - what more could you want?

21. Sum05

  • Developer: Lia
  • Price: Free

Created by Austrian software artist Lia, this pattern creating iPhone/iPad app is perfect for any illustrators, designers and procrastinators. Sum05 invites the user to interact with the chosen device and requires no training to be used; you simply need to tilt, shake and tap to produce random colours, reposition curves, and more.

22. Marksta

Watermark your work with this brilliant app

Photojournalist John D McHugh was tired of people stealing photos he's posted online so he created Marksta, an app that enables you to watermark your work. Add your copyright information or logo to images direct from your iPhone before uploading them to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, or other sites.

23. Photoshop Touch

 Photoshop Touch
Work on your Photoshop projects while you're on the move
  • Developer: Adobe
  • Price: $4.99/£2.99

There comes a time in every designer's life when you're on the move, you haven't brought your iPad, and you need to do some last-minute fiddling with an image or design. For this reason, Adobe has released versions of its Photoshop Touch tablet app for the iPhone.

It's essentially the same as the iPad/Android tablet app but downsized for the smaller screen, offering the same core Photoshop features, including layers, selection tools, adjustments, and filters, plus you can use your smartphone's camera to fill an area on a layer with the 'Camera Fill' feature.

When you buy the new app, you get access to Adobe Creative Cloud and 2GB of free storage. That mean you can start a project on your smartphone and finish it on your tablet, or back in Photoshop on your Mac or PC (as long as you've bought all three tools, that is).

24. Geló

Geló is a great way to apply gradients to your iPhone photos
  • Developer: Fotosyn
  • Price: $0.99/£0.69

Gradients have become a lost art in iPhone photography, but Geló fills that gap in the market well.  Once you've taken or imported an image, you see a carousel of 'gels'. Cycle through to choose a colour, tap it, and then it's applied to your shot. Using the sliders you can tweak how the filter affects your shot, and it's this high level of control that makes Geló a winner.

You can tweak individual colours and the position of the effect until it gives you a realistic graduation (usually for a horizon), or you can get a bit arty and create vintage looks or use different shapes to add a 'gel collage' effect. You can also choose how the gel effect is applied, either a tint, a solid gel (Over) or mixed into the colour palette (Add). Coupled with contrast tweaks, you can create impressive images.

Create a 'business card' style website using your iPhone
  • Developer: M.Dot Inc
  • Price: Free (in-app purchases) enabless you to easily create a 'business card' style website on your iPhone using a template. There are several neat features. Alongside the ability to add About Me, Text, Blog and Gallery pages, you can add 'furniture' for every page, such as a logo, social media buttons (complete with your account embedded), and a splash image.

In addition, you can provide your business address and telephone number, and will add a useful 'Call Me' button and geographical map directions to your site. Images can be added from your Photo Library, or directly from the camera.

26. dotdotdot

Archive your digital reading with this new app

Dotdotdot enables you to manage and organise all of your eBooks, snippets of text and RSS feeds in one place, tag and locate your favourite passages quickly and easily, and share what you're reading with Twitter, Facebook and fellow dotdotdot users – including specific quotes and your comments on them.

27. MyPrice

MyPrice is the perfect app for a freelance beginner

An app that's perfect for rookie freelancers. It enables you to calculate how much you can charge for your creative services, taking under account factors like the project, client, location, as well as your education and experience.

28. Evernote

best iphone apps
Evernote allows you to store your inspiration

Evernote allows you to save your ideas, things you like, things you hear and things you see. You can access your inspiration anywhere as it works with nearly every computer, phone and mobile device out there. And to make things easier, you can search by keyword, tag or even printed and handwritten text inside images.

29. Instagram

best iphone apps
The Instagram profiles have recently launched too

Instagram is a photo-sharing app that enables its community to take pictures, apply digital filters to them, and share them on a variety of social networking services. It's a great source of inspiration: if you don't believe us check out these 8 amazing Instagram accounts.

30. Reminder

best iphone apps
Notifications messages will be shown even when the app isn't running

As busy creatives, we're all guilty of getting a bit overwhelmed by workflow from time to time. This app helps you to ensure all your deadlines are met. Notifications messages are shown even when the app isn't running so you've got no excuse!

Log in to Creative Bloq with your preferred social network to comment


Log in with your Creative Bloq account

site stat collection