Even when the paid version of an app only costs a few bucks up front, there’s something about paying up for a service you’ve been using for free that can feel like a bridge too far.
Flash sales, where apps are discounted or free for a limited time, are great for getting apps you’ve been eying but won’t shell out hard-earned cash for — and for discovering new tools to increase your productivity (or waste your time more enjoyably). Even if they simply take up space after a single use, free means zero commitment and zero guilt. The trick is to catch those deals while they last.
Unsurprisingly, there are (free) apps for doing just that. Here’s where to start.
Apps Gone Free/AppAdvice Daily (iOS)
Use AppAdvice Daily, formerly known as AppsGoneFree, to find paid iOS apps available to download for free. AppAdvice Daily also curates its choices based on audience and offers its own ratings and reviews, and you can view the archives by day to find deals that are still active.
AppsFree is curated by AppSales and tracks apps gone free for Android. You can filter to see only the categories of apps you care about, and the list is updated in real time. There’s also an AppSales version that shows discounted — but still paid — apps as well as the list of “Now Free” apps.
If you don’t want to download an app to find more apps, you can view the same deals on their websites or follow them on social media. If you’re an iOS user, there are other apps such as Price Tag and sites such as AppShopper that allow you to search for apps, create wishlists, and set up push notifications for price drops.
Trying to find the perfect iOS apps can be tough, and we’re willing to bet that your iPhone or iPad is full of pages and pages of apps. There’s just so much out there, it’s hard to come up with a short list of favourites. We understand. Allow us to help you with our freshly updated Lifehacker Pack for iOS.
iOSnoops does a daily roundup of iOS apps gone free. This one doesn’t have an app version, but you can view the deals on their mobile site and click through to the App Store. You can also see deals from previous days. If the deal is still active, you’ll see a green icon next to the word Status. Once it has expired, the icon will appear red.
iOSnoops also has a real-time update for sales, apps gone free and new releases, so you don’t have to wait for the daily roundup.
How to Find Actually Free Apps
Of course, there are thousands and thousands of always-free-to-download apps for iOS and Android. Note that Apple no longer labels apps as “free” — while there are many you can download at no cost, they may require in-app purchases, such as subscriptions, to unlock some functions or make full use of features. On iOS, any app with a “Get” button is free to download but not necessarily free to use or play. Paid apps have their prices in place of “Get”.
On Android, free apps have an “Install” button, while paid apps show the price and “Buy”. Free Android apps may also have in-app purchases.
To find free apps on iOS, open the App Store and tap Apps at the bottom of the screen. From there, scroll down to the Top Free section and tap See All. Once you’re on the Top Charts screen, you can toggle back and forth between free and paid apps.
If you’re looking for a particular app but aren’t sure if it’s free, you can search for it by clicking Search on the bottom right of the App Store, entering the app name in the search bar, and looking for the “Get” button next to the app name.
On Android, open the Google Play Store app and navigate to Top Charts at the top of the screen. You’ll be able to see Top Free Apps as one option, and you can also search for specific apps to find out if they’re free.