Collecting my annual list of Must-Have iOS Apps is an exercise in analyzing the trends of the year and considering which ones had the most impact on how to use iPhone and iPad. Two years ago there were web services and open APIs; Last year, I focused on collaboration with the MacStories team and consistently made my workflow across devices; This year, there is no single overall theme behind this list, but rather a collection of trends and changes that I've observed in 2018.
First of all, I've switched to a subscription-based business model of some of my favorite apps. As we noted our view of the App Store's modern economy earlier this year, it is becoming increasingly challenging for indie developers ̵
A subscription seems like an obvious solution: New customers can try an app for free and decide later to subscribe; Long-term users of an app receive support for their favorite games over a longer period of time; Developers are more incentivized to continue to make an app better thanks to the financial security offered by an ongoing revenue stream. Repeated subscriptions for all apps launched two years ago just before WWDC, and it feels like we have just reached a point where more and more developers are willing to experiment with them. This big shift in appprising was not always beneficially benefited by long-term users of existing apps, which has resulted in developers testing different approaches such as optional subscriptions, bundles containing subscriptions and purchases in apps, or even more ways to unlock the same features. Looking at the apps included in this list, I was surprised at how many now include any kind of repeat subscription; I think this transition will only be more prominent in 2019.
The second trend I noticed in my use of third-party applications is a strong preference for those who fully embrace modern iOS technologies. From Siri shortcuts (by far the most important IOS developer frame of 2018) to Integration of files and support for external keyboards on iPad, I tend to prioritize programs that prevent proprietary features and adopt native APIs like iCloud, File Reader or Reminders. With iOS that grows more powerful and complex every year, I think it's only natural that I'm stuck with apps that are shy from Apple-delivered solutions as little as possible. These frames will always be more integrated with the rest of the system than any option a developer can come with, and I seek that level of integration because I enjoy the comfort of an ecosystem where all the parts work well together.  Finally, I noticed some overall changes in what types of apps I consider my iPhone and iPad needs. In the "pro" department, photography and development lists have grown to include programs like Lightroom, Scriptable, Darkroom and Halide – all new listings this year. One of my goals with the new iPad Pro is to use it as a workplace for editing images and programming my own little add-ons to iOS; I felt that my increased use of these apps justified some changes in annual picks. You'll also find more apps designed to interact with MacOS as a result of purchasing a Mac mini (which I use as a home server for different tasks) and various utility programs like some of the old ones have been replaced by shortcuts. An app, by the way, I can no longer include in this book because of my self-imposed rule of not having Apple apps because they are obvious choices for an iOS user (this also applies to Shazam, officially acquired by Apple this year) .
Below you will find a collection of the 60 apps that I consider my must-have on iPhone and iPad organized in nine categories; Whenever possible, I included links to original reviews and previous coverage on MacStories. What you want not finds is the regular list of Best New App and Best App Updates Prices, which we have restored as a layer competition under MacStories Select's Name this year. Instead, at the end of the story, you'll find my App of the Year, which also joins MacStories Selects as a prize recognizing an overall outstanding iOS app that had a great impact on the workflow during the past year, regardless of its release date.
Let's dig in.
Table of Contents
iA Writer. After changing the text editors several times over the years (I've been pleased with most of them since the editors were essentially interrupted), I hit a few months ago on iA Writer for a number of reasons. iA Writer is an excellent Markdown text editor with features designed for authors as a customizable keypad, focus mode and a family of monospaced and duospaced fonts designed by iA itself. iA Writer comes with a native syntax highlight mode that can be customized to mark adverb, adjectives and other parts of speech in a document's text; As a non-English speaker, I find this feature a great help for editing my articles.
There are several good details about iA Writer (I can mention its elegance, or support for versions, or the fact that it stores common text files in iCloud Drive), but what convinced me to switch is integration with external applications like Working Copy, thanks to iOS & # 39; & # 39; Open in the Place & # 39; directory function. As I described last month, I have been able to integrate iA Writer with GitHub through Working Copy, which enables me to keep a continuous backup of my documents in an external app, ready to be committed to GitHub and thus shared with my team. IA Writer may be an opinionated app, but when it comes to integrating with native iOS technologies, it's one of the best text editors I've found, and I like to type in it.
uploads. I do not think this needs an explanation. While i moved some of the work files to iCloud Drive, I still use Dropbox for critical work documents that require versions and entire folders I share with MacStories and Relay layers. I also trust Dropbox's open cloud automation API based on Zapier, which stores files in specific Dropbox folders, such as YouTube videos converted to 4K .web versions of my Mac mini. If Apple ever adds tools to recover deleted files, browse versions and share folders with other users via iCloud Drive, I might consider switching from Dropbox, but I do not think it will happen sometime soon.
Good Task. It has been a long journey, but after trying all the major task management services out there, I hit earlier Apple's reminders. The built-in iOS task management system has less friction than any other todo app when it comes to creating new tasks, as it is deeply integrated with Siri on Apple Watch and HomePod. Apple's reminders app, however, is terrible. If you're serious about Reminders and want to turn this system feature into a powerful task manager, you need GoodTask.
The reminder reminder is that it's an open API third party developer can build on their own customers and integrations. GoodTask is a full-featured, advanced reminder client that uses Reminders as a database and sync service for tasks, but enhances it with features like fast actions, smart lists, and custom display settings. GoodTask is OmniFocus of Reminders: All aspects of the experience can be customized and refined to suit your needs, to the point where it will not even feel that the app actually uses reminder under the hood.
For example, GoodTask can add hashtags to reminders, which can then be used as filters in complex rules to create smart reminder reminder based on multiple conditions. In my GoodTask setup, I have a "Write" smart list that looks at all the tasks contained in an "Articles" list, filtering them to extract the marked "write" and expire in the next three days, presenting them in a custom list of custom display options. These smart lists are great when you're working on big projects, as they let you break everything down in multiple areas without creating more reminder lists.
I could keep talking about what makes GoodTask special (did I mention you can customize notification actions as well as snooze settings per list?), But I'll just say this: If Apple ever restores reminder on iOS, they should take a serious look at PowerTools that GoodTask has implemented over the years. If you like to use reminders, but are tired of Apple's rudimentary app, you need GoodTask in your life. [Review]
FileBrowser for Business. My favorite FTP client for iOS after Transmit's death. At that time, I purchased FileBrowser for Business because it was the only version of the app that supported the SanDisk iXpand Lightning drive, but because SanDisk did not create a USB-C version of the drive, I do not use the original Lightning accessory anymore. These days, I use FileBrowser to connect to my remote server or Mac mini. FileBrowser's contextual menu offers many options for performing actions on selected files and folders, and even browsing through connected places in the iOS File Files can be added by adding FileBrowser as a third party placement. FileBrowser UI is not as pretty as Transmit, but it is updated regularly, packed with features and well-integrated with iOS, including support for Siri shortcuts in IOS 12. [Review]
Working Copy. The MacStories team would not work as effectively as it, without Anders Borum's working copy. Since we implemented GitHub in collaboration with Markdown two years ago, Working Copy has been at the center of our shared workflow to edit and send feedback on each other's articles. Working Copy is the app we use every week to save copies of the articles we work with in common GitHub archives, and that's how we can collect new issues with MacStories Weekly for club members each week.
Besides being a very good GitHub client for iOS, Working Copy is one of the applications in this collection that really taps into the power offered by modern iOS APIs. Working Copy supports drag and drop on both iPad and iPhone (in app), has an extension of document provider, operating with Siri shortcuts, has advanced x-callback url commands, and was one of the first apps that support iOS & # 39; Instead, open the & # 39; API for files and entire folders. If Apple adds a new iOS productivity feature, there's a good chance that working copy will be among the first apps that support it. This app is the definition of an "important work" for me and I can not imagine working with my team in a different way.
Hold it. I discovered Reinvented Software's Keep It earlier this year when I was looking for an alternative to DEVONthink. Developers at DEVONtechnologies seem to prioritize their Mac app instead of the iOS counterpart; I wanted to find a similar product with Platform Functionality – a reference management app that would allow me to organize the database with documents with tags, saved searches, subfolders, and other advanced features. Keep It turned out to be exactly what I was looking for. Think of it as a mix of DEVONthink and Evernote, but not as inflated as the latter, more integrated with iOS than before, and finer than both.
Keep It can save all kinds of documents, from PDF files and images to web archives, rich text and Markdown notes, and even videos. The app is synchronized with iCloud over platforms, and unlike DEVONthink, the iOS version supports almost all of the features available on macOS, including the ability to create saved searches, bundles, and shortcuts to favorite items. Keep It has a powerful URL form to create notes and add data to them, and it supports Siri shortcuts to open reopened notes; It also comes with extensive SiriKit integration to create notes and add text to them via voice.
Keep playing an important role in creating my iOS 12 review earlier this year and it's the app I use every day to save both personal and work-related documents that I can easily search (through full-text search) and scroll thanks Be rule based saved searches. It's also where I save "cold" bookmarks via a shortcut that lets me turn Safari web pages into offline .web archives stored in the app. I think Keep It has a bright future and I recommend it to anyone who is not happy with Evernote or just want to save documents in an app that is more flexible than files or notes.
Calendar 366. I switched to this third-party calendar a few months ago because, as was the case with Reminders, I'm tired of waiting for Apple to update the system appliance after many years of neglect. Two things are unique about Calendar 366: it supports many display settings and allows you to switch between calendar sets.
A set is a custom view that displays specific calendars and reminder lists that you can load with one touch, touching colored indicators in the app's bottom toolbar (or side panel on iPad). In my case, I've created a "Podcasts" set containing my Podcasts and AppStories calendars plus my Podcasts list in Reminders, and another "Personal" set that just uploads your family calendar and family, grocery and dog lists from reminders . With this approach, it is easy for me to get an overview of my coming week based on different areas of responsibility. It is also the perfect example of why sticking to the iOS native calendar and reminders framework unlocks an interoperability that would never be possible with third party task managers and proprietary systems.
Calendar 366 has some other useful features (I like the complications of the Watch app, and the Calendar view is useful), but I use it mostly just because of calendars, which is an excellent difference. I can switch back to Fantastical in the future if Flexibits ever brings calendar to iOS (Calendar 366 effectively copied this feature from Fantastical for Mac), but I also need a better calendar app today and Calendar 366 does the job well .
Displays. As the owner of a new Mac mini, I would be able to access it from my iPad to check the status of my Homebridge server or Hazel rules. Edovia's screens continue to be the most versatile, polished VNC client I've tried on iOS. The app starts quickly, supports track field mode, and can transfer the contents of the system clipboard between Mac and iOS. When I open monitors, starting to connect to my Mac and feeling a touch from Apple Watch because the device automatically unlocked the nearby desktop computer, I'm reminded of how nice and convenient Apple's hardware and software integration might be. Like the Luna Display, the displays are one of the most important tools in my arsenal of tools designed to utilize a Mac mini server that's always on. [Review and previous coverage]
Luna Display. There are times when I do not want to log in to my Mac mini but want to use iPad as a secondary screen for my Mac, or in some cases the primary screen to work in a shared macOS / iOS environment. I have tried different software-based solutions to make the iPad an external monitor without additional hardware, and in my experience none of them comes close to the performance, image quality, and reliability of Luna Display. This app requires a USB-C (or DisplayPort) adapter that you can connect to your Mac to "charge" that you connect a screen to it. In reality, the accessory works as a bridge for the Luna Display app running on iPad, which becomes the external screen that you can control your Mac.
Running the Luna Display on an iPad will first break with your brain. There are macOS, running in fullscreen and Retina quality on an iPad, just like any other apps you can open when needed. You can control MacOS with your fingers or pencils, and type with Smart Keyboard – as if iPad was always meant to emulate a Mac like that. But it's not emulation, neither is it magic. Luna uses native APIs and hardware acceleration to enable iPad to become a high-resolution display. I use Luna Display almost every day in two ways: When I podcasting, I hold iPad next to UltraFine 4K and use it as an additional display where I park Audio Hijack, Skype and QuickTime windows; Alternatively, when I need to get something done unsupported by iOS, I burn Luna on iPad, add an app window on the iPad screen with a hotkey and do what I need to do before returning to iOS.
I never thought I would have "macOS as an app" effective in my annual report, but I can now thank Luna Display. This small accessory is one of the most impressive hardware I own, and the iPad app has never knocked me down.
Spark. We switched to Spark as email client for the MacStories team earlier this year, and it has dramatically improved how we handle incoming messages about interesting news or app releases we want to cover. Thanks to Spark, we can share emails without forwarding them and even chatting at the bottom of an email without the original sender seeing what we're talking about. We struggled with the question of sharing emails in our team for years, and Spark finally gave an elegant solution that works well over iPhone, iPad and Mac. The app is not perfect (sharing a message to Reminders will not add a deadline as due date), but as someone working with a team of other people who also receive a lot of emails every day, it's better than anything else I have tried on iOS. I wish the app had a real rich text editor and support to see three columns at once on the 12.9 "iPad Pro, though. [Review and previous coverage]
Agenda. I consider Agenda as the most impressive apple of the year: the app was released in January (it was only Mac kun at that time) and offered a novel to take notes that combined the best aspects of Notes with Markdown and a computer-focused approach. Agenda later launched on iOS and developers have updated both versions in recent months , including a major update that provided support for attachments last week.
"Planning Your Notes" is not something you might think you need in your workflow, and it takes some time to understand what Agenda aims to achieve. When it's "click" though, Agenda reveals itself as a unique take on the note genre without being the same iOS. I use Agenda to take structured notes that may be encountered and due at some point in the future. These include display notes podcasts and d Skype meetings, sketches for articles I work with, and ideas for shortcuts I need to build for MacStories or the club. This article, for example, started as a note in Agenda that I exported as Markdown to iA Writer. Agenda is a note program for a particular type of user and I have found its approach to resonate with my research and writing habits this year. [Review and previous coverage]
Google Docs. See, I do not love Google Docs for iOS. I do not believe anyone moderate in line with what good iOS apps are able to appreciate the Google Docs app. It does not feel like home at iOS because of its weird text selection, popup windows asking you if you want to open links in Safari or Chrome, and consistently delayed support for new iOS devices and APIs. However, the Google Docs app is the only way to use the Google Docs service on iOS, and Google Docs is the best collaboration service I've ever tried (and trust me I've tried many over the years). There is a thorough link between the quality of Google Docs as a service and Google Docs as an iOS app, but there's nothing I can do about it.
Trello. On MacStories, we use Trello to organize our editorial calendar in the busiest seasons (like June, September and December), as well as planning parts of MacStories Weekly at the beginning of each week. I like Trello because it supports web automation via Zapier and Shortcuts. The trello app for iOS is not good (like Google Docs, Trello people are slow to support new iOS screens), but it's getting the job done and supporting launching of web-based schemes from a short note box that's perfect for my automation setup on iPad.
Airtable. If you are a member of Club MacStories, you should be familiar with Workflow Essentials Archive, a website showing all the shortcuts I have ever created for the Workflow Essentials section of MacStories Weekly. This website is generated by a shortcut that contacts the API interface, and displays a database for a Markdown document. Airtable makes it easy to create information-rich databases where each element contains the correct metadata, such as dates, on / off switches, images, interactive lists, and more – objects that will never be supported in a traditional spreadsheet app like Google Sheets or Numbers. The Airtable application, like Google Docs and Trello, is not the best iOS citizen – it's a okay solution to interact with a much better web app. I like working with the Airtable API via shortcuts, which I plan to explore on my spare time during the vacation.
Slack. Rounding off this unintentional subset of "barely passable iOS clients designed to access web apps" is the Slack, the communication service app I use everyday with MacStories and Relay FM teams. The only thing about Slack for iOS is that it supports iPad multitasking and external hotkeys. Everything else, from text selection to contextual menus and in-app notification banners, feels like Slack attempts to mimic the user interface of its Electron client in an iOS app.
1Password. This is one of the few apps that have always been included in this annual roundbook since I started publishing the series years ago. I do not need to explain why I use 1Password or why you should, so I'll just focus on how 1Password became even better in IOS 12. Thanks to Password AutoFill API, 1Password can be integrated with the QuickType keyboard on iPhone and iPad so you can fill in apps and sites with one click. Even better, loading the 1Password extension from the keyboard also copies one-time authentication codes to the clipboard, so you can paste the code directly without copying it yourself. 1Password integration with iOS 12 has increased my use of the app, and due to the adoption of two-factor authentication for the most widely used web services. [Review and previous coverage]
ithought. I do not make mind maps for all my articles, but when I do, I like to use iThoughts. Many years ago, I set up a template with a specific style on the brain card (San Francisco script, square angles, rainbow color theme with automatic magnitude) and I've used it every summer to outline chapters in the iOS review. IThoughts is full of great little details like lime links and pictures in nodes, and I'm particularly fond of the ability to use the app in Split View and drop text into a mind map. An upcoming update to the app will support the storage of maps in iCloud Drive and third party rooms in the File app, which I'm excited to try.
Yoink. I'm a big fan of iOS launch and drop functionality for iPad, but I remain convinced that the system needs a "shelf" or reimagined clipboard to temporarily hold bits of content drawn from apps. Yoink, long a Mac-only tool, made the jump to iOS with a mobile version that combines the aspects of shelf applications and clipboards in a coherent, powerful package.
Any file you're drawing on an iPad can be thrown into Yoink and picked up again later; For each dropped item, Yoink will retain more flavors of it in its own storage so that you can decide if you want to copy the URL or rich text hyperlink from the same element. But you can also paste items from the app's clipboard, or add them from an extension, widget, and Siri shortcuts. It's a custom keyboard to paste Yoink elements anywhere on the system, and you can also browse the items in a location in the File app. In addition, Yoink's synced chats between iPhone and iPad are synced with iCloud, and you can share them through Handoff with the Mac version of the app, which I've used a lot on my Mac mini. Yoink is the shelf Apple should have made for iOS 11, and I recommend it to anyone who processes multiple files and text clips on a daily basis. [Review and previous coverage]