Those of you who know me in real life may know that I have an absurd amount of apps on my iPhone, meticulously organized into several folders over multiple pages. I try to stay on top of the app scene, and I’ll regularly check the top app lists and tech blogs for new apps to check out while getting rid of ones that I no longer use. Here are some of my current favorites, apps that I highly recommend if you’re an iOS user looking for some new functionality or simply something better than Apple’s default apps.
Pulse (Free) (Universal)
This is a really fantastic RSS feed reader app. Outside of Messages and checking email, this is probably my most used app – I use it for keeping up to date on all my favorite tech blogs, news sources, political websites, sports blogs, and more. The layout and organizational structure is perfect for quickly scanning all the latest articles from your favorite websites using quick swipes, and it’s made my news reading incredibly efficient. You can even save articles to Pocket (mentioned below) or another read-it-later app of your choice for your convenience. If you want a fast and efficient news reading experience, Pulse is highly recommended.
Yahoo! Weather (Free) (iPhone only)
iOS 7’s new weather app looks very similar, but Yahoo’s standalone weather app found in the App Store is still ultimately better. Apple’s new weather app has the hourly forecast and forecast for the week, but Yahoo’s not only uses nice Flickr backdrops customized via location, current time, and current weather conditions, but also includes a lot more information including extra weather details for the day, weather maps, precipitation, wind & pressure, and even sun & moon information for the day. Yahoo really outdid themselves with this app, and it fits iOS 7’s new flat aesthetic perfectly.
Osito (Free) (iPhone only)
Osito is a predictive intelligence app in the same vein as Google Now, which is also available to iOS users within the Google Search app. I love Google Now and what it’s capable of, but it does have some limitations due to it’s reliance on Google Calendar and other Google Services to pull relevant information for you. Osito on the other hand can pull information from the emails and calendars on your phone, regardless of whether you use Google or not to provide better predictive intelligence for you (although even Osito does currently work with Gmail to provide all it’s features). A few examples include traffic information before you head to a meeting, or flight information if you have a flight itinerary in your email. Between apps like Osito, NEXT (formerly Grokr), and Google Now, it looks like iOS users will have plenty of options for predictive intelligence in the future.
CARROT ($0.99) (iPhone only)
While other to-do list apps generally give you features like complete simplicity (Clear, $1.99) or a built-in procrastination ability (Do it (Tomorrow)), CARROT is unique in that it’s a to-do list with an attitude. Almost like a game, as you complete tasks you not only get to keep the psychotic AI happy, but you’re rewarded with new features and tools (over 400 unique rewards, according to the developers). Slack off for a period of time, and CARROT will call you out on it, and make you feel like a terrible person for thinking you could procrastinate on those tasks you held off until later to do. I found CARROT to be very creative and fun, and outside of a lack of customizable task lists, it makes for a great to-do list app.
Mailbox (Free) (Universal)
Mailbox has been getting plenty of great fanfare for some time now ever since it officially launched a few months ago. What makes it particularly special is that it has made email mobile-friendly, where you can use simple gestures to sort through your mail, add them to lists, shoo them away until later, and more to help you stay organized and as close as possible to that ever elusive inbox zero. It currently relies on Gmail to operate, and although Gmail has a great app in the App Store, Mailbox is an exceptional mobile-first experience that I recommend if you are a Gmail user.
Ness (Free) (iPhone only)
If you’re a foodie like me (or just lacking in culinary knowledge, like me) then you may benefit from a local restaurant guide to help steer you when you go out to eat. Ness is great in that it not only finds restaurants nearby which you can sort by culinary type, rating, and more, but Ness is particularly unique in that you can train it to learn your own personal food tastes, and get personalized results based on what it thinks you will like. The latest update not only lets you view places based on it’s predicted rating for you, but you can even see what your friends like and what people in general think about the restaurants near you as well. A very handy app to have whether you’re going out in your local area or exploring a new city.
Pocket (Free) (Universal)
Pocket has been around for a while, but along with Instapaper and Readability, these are still the three main read-it-later apps in the App Store. Out of the three I really like Pocket – not only is it free (Instapaper is the only one of the three that isn’t), but the design I find the most appealing compared to the other two, along with it’s compatibility with other apps such as Pulse and it’s sharing features. I can save articles on my computer, iPad, or iPhone, and view articles on any of the three devices. Very useful since often I’m rapidly browsing several articles on Pulse and find some that I just don’t have time to read that very moment.
VSCO Cam (Free) (iPhone only)
There are a lot of camera apps out there that allow you to add creative filters to your pictures, but VSCO Cam takes that model to a whole new level. This app is all about elaborate and intuitive photo editing and image processing. You can add several filters to an image, customize the intensity of each, and enhance a picture in more ways than any other app out there that I know of. While this may sound complicated to use, the app itself is actually very intuitive to use and features like the VSCO Journal can provide a lot of insight and inspiration. A great app for someone who wants a camera and an amazing editor in one package.
Thinglist ($1.99) (iPhone only)
Ever have an idea come to mind where you’d write it down in a notes app? How about someone telling you about a cool new song or book to check out, so you put it in your to-do list for later? Maybe you put information about what groceries you need to get in a reminders app? Now, you can do all of the above in a single place: Thinglist. You add a thing, give it a category, such as idea, place, movie, etc., then you can add in your own notes to give it more context or save more information for later. Instead of using Apple’s Notes app, I can now use Thinglist to save a lot of ideas in a much more organized fashion, and with a much more pleasing design.
Sunrise Calendar (Free) (iPhone only)
A smart calendar app that integrates with your Google Calendar and Facebook to provide a calendar to make your life easier. Navigation is slick, the layout allows you to see monthly and weekly view in portrait mode, and it has great features such as emailing invites to individuals from the app and temperatures for the locations that events take place. My only complaint is that it cannot integrate with your default iOS calendar app and events, but if you are a Google Calendar user then this app is excellent and an upgrade over the default iOS calendar app.
Dots (Free) (Universal)
Even amongst those who don’t game on their phones, Dots still has this fanciful ability to pull people in. By design, it is made to be addicting – from the simple yet gratifying sound effects to the 60 second limit on games; it’s currently the epitome of the “just one more game” style of addictive gameplay that works so well on iOS. Best of all, no need for in-app purchases to keep your addiction satiated – this is a free game that can be fully enjoyed without having to buy anything at all.
Ridiculous Fishing ($2.99) (Universal)
Another great mobile experience, built upon quick gameplay like Dots. Ridiculous Fishing is a game where you tilt your device to avoid fish on the way down, and when you hook a fish, your line pulls back up and you then have to hook as many fish to the hook as possible. You then fish them all out of the water, where you have to shoot them out of the sky to get points for each. The fun comes in the customizability, the tools and weapons you can outfit your fisherman with, the amount of fish you can find, and the different locations to fish in. Watch the video on their website for a quick primer – like Dots this game has already given me several hours of enjoyment.
Here are a few apps that deserve a brief mention, I love the concept of these but I just haven’t gotten into the habit of using any of them regularly.
Circa – Gives you truncated news articles, so that you can read the latest news by getting just the essential information out of articles quickly.
Swackett – A weather app that tells you how to dress for the day based on the day’s weather conditions.
Field Trip – A Google travel discovery app that provides information about points of interest in your area, including historical facts, restaurant recommendations, upcoming concerts and more.
Tempo – A smart calendar app made by the same folks who made Siri, Tempo connects with your social networks and finds all relevant information for an event in your emails and documents, finds addresses, and provides quick access to your contacts involved in the same event as well.
What did I miss? If you know of any cool apps that I should check out, please feel free to share by commenting below.