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My iOS Apps, 2014 Edition


So, the list of Mac apps hasn’t changed all that much since I last did this in 2012.  I’m still using many of the same iOS apps, but there’s been more churn there, and so I’m going to re-do the list from scratch, but using the same categories as the 2012 list. New entries are marked with an asterisk.


First, though, my current iOS hardware. I am still on the every-other-year plan for most of these, and so this year I just got an iPhone 6.  I am still using last year’s iPad, though, a 1st-generation iPad Air. I’ve made some comments about the phone elsewhere and I’m still in love with the iPad Air, which is just a fantastic little machine. When I really need a keyboard for the iPad I just use the little AmazonBasics Bluetooth keyboard, which is portably small but does not have the keys in weird places like many other small bluetooth keyboards (in particular, many of them have the “up arrow” key next to the “shift” key in such a way that mistyping up arrow for shift is simply way too common.

5 Must-Haves

These are the apps I’d miss the most if they went away:

  • GoodReader. It is still true that the thing I most do on my iPad is read, especially journal manuscripts and student papers. I still love this for marking up PDFs and the developer has not only done a great job of keeping up with the latest iOS stuff, but it’s now a universal app for both iPad and iPhone, which is a real win.
  • OmniOutliner 2.  Still one of the greatest pieces of software on the Mac (that and BBEdit), and while the iPad version is still not quite all I would want it to be, it’s still a vital tool for me. The added bonus is that an iPhone version is planned for 2015—I’m really looking forward to that.
  • 1Password. Still the king of password management, working across iOS and MacOS in a seamless way. Rocks the house.
  • Check the Weather. Still my favorite weather app, though the free Forecast.io site is now pretty reasonable competition.
  • Decked Builder. What can I say, I’m an MTG nerd.


Some of the best other apps I use work on both iPhone and iPad, and I use them both places. Some of them you actually have to download two apps, one for each device, but some of these “just work” on both. In cases where there is more than one version, the link goes to whichever device I use the app on most. This is in alphabetical order, not by priority or anything.

  • Drafts 4. I actually find this version slightly worse than Drafts 3, but the things that make it worse are just violations of my own personal preferences (I don’t want to let Facebook crap all over my address book by linking it to the OS).  Otherwise, still great. Oh, what is it, you ask? It’s a text utility—you get a blank page, start writing, and then later figure out where you want the text to go, such as Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, email, etc.
  • Draw Pad Pro. If you need a quick sketch with your finger, this is the way to go on iOS. The 3.0 update was a real advance, and now I like it better than Penultimate.
  • Evernote.* Since I dumped SpringPad, this is the new cross-platform note system of choice.
  • Movies by Flixster. Still my go-to app for movies.
  • Parcel.* I use this to track deliveries. I’ve heard good things about the “Deliveries” app as well, but Parcel was free.  I’ve since upgraded to a premium subscription, but that’s still cheaper.
  • PCalc. There might be other calculator apps out there, and they might be good. But PCalc is awesome and has been awesome for a really long time, and I have no plans to go another way unless the developer shuts down.
  • Prizmo.* I don’t use this a lot, but I’m always glad to have it when I need it. Great little OCR app.
  • SoundHound.  I’ll say what I said in 2012: I know Shazam is more popular for identifying songs, but I seem to get better results with SoundHound. There is both a free and a paid version of this app, and I got the paid version when it was either free or $1. Not sure what the difference is, but the one I have does what I want.
  • theScore.*  I used to use ESPN’s “ScoreCenter” to track sports scores, but the iPad version sucked very hard, and when it started to require an account, meh.  theScore is actually only OK.  The UI is good, but the server it uses is unreliable.  Open for other suggestions on this one.
  • Tweetbot.  This used to be on my “must-have” list but the free Twitter client has caught up a lot, and the iPad version of this is lagging pretty far behind, so if I were to start today I’m not sure if I would buy this or not.
  • Wikipanion. If I’m at my computer and have my iPad handy, it’s a tossup which I’ll use to look something up on Wikipedia. A very nice front end, and free.

Notably absent from this list is Notesy, which used to be a favorite but is in dire need of an update for iOS 8.  And again, while I have OmniFocus on both devices, I’m really still looking for a good to-do list app, as OmniFocus seems a little too much for me.  I also have the Apple suite of Pages, Numbers, etc. but I don’t use them very often under iOS.  And like in 2012, I rely on Dropbox as a service, but I rarely actually use the app.

iPhone Only

There are more changes here than anywhere else, driven in no small part by the step-tracking ability of my most recent phone.

  • Camera+. I still usually take pictures with the built-in app, but there are times when I want this because it’s easier to shoot one-handed with this than the default app.  Also, with iOS 8, Camera+’s filters are available in Apple’s photos app, and that alone is worth the price.  And still some of the best release notes anywhere.
  • Fantastical 2.*  This is available for iPad as well, but there I find Apple’s calendar to be just fine there, but on the iPhone Apple’s calendar just isn’t even close to Fantastical.
  • FitPort.*  Yes, I actually paid money for what is basically a better presentation of Apple’s health data.  Decent software is worth money, so I don’t mind this at all.
  • United.*  Pretty good airline app.  I fly almost exclusively on United because I live in one of their hub cities, and while lots of people seem to like Southwest, I’ve consistently had bad experiences with them.  United is actually pretty awful, too, but at least their iPhone app doesn’t suck.
  • Walkmeter.*  OK, so one of the big changes for me this year is that we now have a family dog.  I really enjoy walking her, and am shooting for 3 miles a day.  Best tracking app I’ve found, though most of them I delete right away since they either require a log in or ask for personal information, neither of which are in any way necessary for performing the function of GPS tracking a walk route, so they all got deleted immediately.

iPad Only

  • iBooks.  Still my favorite ebook platform, but again, I don’t read much on my phone.
  • Instapaper.  Still my favorite “read later” service, and again, while there is an iPhone version of it, I never use it there.
  • Feedly.*  Since Google Reader died, I just use Feedly.  I dislike their Web app on the desktop and use ReadKit there, but on the iPad their free reader is good enough.
  • MacJournal.  This app is getting to feel long in the tooth with its archaic Wifi sync and separate iPhone and iPad versions, but I still use it regularly, so here it is.  If Day One supported encryption, I’d probably drop this, but it doesn’t, so I haven’t.
  • Twitch.*  I know I mentioned earlier that I’m an MTG nerd, and this app is now stable enough that I’m willing to list it.  Already missing Legacy on Sunday nights from SCG. <sigh>

Under Consideration

There are a few pieces of software I’m considering buying, or have recently installed and am considering whether or not they deserve more prime-time love.

  • Editorial.  Supposed to be the hot editor on the iPad now, and with Notesy bowing out of the game, this might become my go-to.
  • Launch Center Pro.  I got this on sale for $1 and it looks intriguing, but maybe not enough of a win to bother with configuration, which could be time-consuming.
  • Todoist. Giving this a try as a to-do list manager.  Pretty unthrilled with the Mac desktop version so far, but the iOS version seems better.

I’m not going to bother with a full “Games” category this time since it’s pretty much just Ascension and Civilization Revolution 2 on the iPad and very little else these days.

So, what critical things am I missing?  Anyone got a to-do list manager that they love (not including OmniFocus, Things, or Clear, all of which I’ve tried and am just not into)?

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