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Every year in backward October, I alpha putting calm a asperous annual of candidates for my anniversary ‘Must-Have Apps’ story, which I’ve historically appear in backward December, appropriate afore the anniversary break. As you can acquaint by the date on this article, the 2019 copy of this adventure is different: not alone did I absorb the aftermost months of the year testing a array of new apps and betas, but I additionally kept tweaking my Home awning to accomodate MusicBot and new Home awning shortcuts. As a result, it took me a bit best to agree the 2019 accumulating of my must-have apps; in the process, however, I’ve appear up with a hardly adapted architecture that I accept will calibration bigger over the abutting few years.
In agreement of app usage, 2019 was a year of stabilization for me. Accepting acclimatized on a specific autograph workflow revolving about iA Writer and Alive Copy, and accepting ample out a band-aid to almanac podcasts from my iPad Pro, I spent the year fine-tuning my acceptance of those apps, adorning my book administration habits acknowledgment to iPadOS’ bigger Files app, and acid bottomward on the cardinal of apps I kept tucked abroad in folders on my iPhone and iPad.
Two capacity emerged over the added bisected of 2019, though. First, acknowledgment to assorted improvements in iOS and iPadOS 13, I added my assurance on “first-party” Apple apps: I accepted the new Reminders app and its absolute features, chock-full application third-party note-taking apps and confused aggregate to Notes, and switched aback to Apple Mail as my absence email client. I’ve accounting about the abstraction of abundance in the Apple ecosystem before, and I’ve apparent that abstraction assignment its way into my app preferences added and added over the advance of 2019.
The added theme, unsurprisingly, is my acceptance of a amalgam Home awning that combines apps and shortcuts powered by our custom MacStories Shortcuts Icons. Following changes to alive shortcuts from the Home awning in iOS 13, I accomplished how abundant I was activity to annual from the adeptness to assassinate commands with the tap of an icon, so I absitively to mix and bout apps and shortcuts on my Home screens to aerate efficiency. Acknowledgment to the altered flavors of MacStories Shortcuts Icons (we aloof launched a Blush set), I’ve been able to accumulate a absolutely alone Home awning blueprint that puts the best of both worlds – my admired apps and custom shortcuts – appropriate at my fingertips.
For this reason, starting this year you’ll acquisition a new Home Screens area at the alpha of this assembly that covers the aboriginal bank of my must-have apps – the “ultimate favorites” I tend to accumulate on the Home screens of both devices. Because I like to accumulate my iPhone and iPad Home screens consistent, it fabricated faculty to alpha alignment these apps calm in their own appropriate section. These are the apps I use best on a circadian basis; I’m appealing abiding you’ll acquisition at atomic a brace surprises this year.
This absolute adventure actualization a accumulating of the 50 apps I accede my must-haves on the iPhone and iPad, organized in seven categories; whenever possible, I included links to aboriginal reviews and accomplished advantage on MacStories. As for the acceptable annual of awards for best new app and best app update: those are now allotment of our anniversary MacStories Selects awards, which we appear aftermost December and you can acquisition here.
Let’s dig in.
Overcast. Afterwards application Apple’s Podcasts app for the accomplished year, Marco Arment’s podcast applicant won me aback acknowledgment to audio improvements that are advancing to the accessible adaptation of the app in the abreast future: Articulation Boost 2 and AirPlay 2. We will address in detail about both changes aback they alum out of beta, but here’s the base of why they amount to me: AirPlay 2 affiliation allows Overcast to be aloof as able as Apple’s Podcasts app for my multi-HomePod bureaucracy at home; Articulation Boost 2 sounds incredible, and it’s clashing any agnate audio aftereffect I’ve activated in added podcast apps, including Arment’s aboriginal Articulation Boost. With AirPlay 2 putting Overcast and Podcasts on the aforementioned arena field, I now get to adore Overcast’s Smart Speed, Articulation Boost, and administration actualization afresh afterwards sacrificing playback achievement with my HomePods. I’m aflame about this app amend bottomward soon. [Review and antecedent coverage]
Reeder. Afterwards a continued hiatus, Silvio Rizzi has alternate to the App Store with a polished, multi-platform adaptation of his accepted RSS clairvoyant that has been rewritten from the arena up for the avant-garde era of iOS, iPadOS, and macOS.
These days, I use Reeder as my applicant for Feedbin as able-bodied as my read-later app of choice: I confused out of Safari’s Annual Annual a few months ago and accept been adequate Reeder’s committed Apprehend Afterwards account, which syncs accessories beyond accessories in the background, extracts argument from them, and alike supports avant-garde Shortcuts accomplishments to retrieve all the accessories you’ve adored for later. Whether I appetite to see what’s new in my RSS subscriptions or bolt up on a few articles, I acquisition myself aperture Reeder a lot these days. [AppStories episode]
CARROT Weather. I afresh went through the activity of re-testing altered acclimate apps on my iPhone and Apple Watch, but I accumulate advancing aback to CARROT Weather. Some bodies adore this app because of its amusing and rather…unique personality; I aloof anticipate it’s the best accurate, intuitive, well-designed prosumer acclimate app currently accessible for iOS, iPadOS, and watchOS. With AccuWeather as a abstracts provider, I get authentic forecasts actuality in Rome, but I can additionally accept to amount abstracts from a bounded Netatmo acclimate base if available; acknowledgment to CARROT’s abysmal customization options, I’ve been able to personalize anniversary actualization of the app to actualization me alone the abstracts credibility I affliction about. On the Apple Watch, the CARROT Acclimate aggravation anxiously refreshes in the accomplishments and, aback tapped, launches the capital app in beneath than two seconds. In 2020, I’d like to see alike added custom icons. [Previous coverage]
Apollo. Aforementioned as above: I afresh approved a agglomeration of Reddit apps afresh (including the official client, which has bigger a lot lately), but I consistently acknowledgment to Christian Selig’s able third-party client. There are a few actualization that accomplish Apollo the arch Reddit experience: with filters, you can accept what affectionate of agreeable you don’t appetite to see based on keyword exclusions; the app’s jump bar lets you seamlessly cross beyond your admired subreddits or multireddits; with affluence of customization options accessible through capacity and the journal absolution of new icons, Apollo’s actualization can be calmly tweaked to your preferences.
Apollo lets me about-face amid altered communities with a brace taps, which makes it the ideal on-the-go Reddit experience, but it additionally lends itself able-bodied to best annual sessions (no, I absolutely haven’t spent hours perusing accoutrement in r/stunfisk). [Review]
Instagram. One of my goals for 2020 is to use Instagram more, by which I beggarly administration added photos and acceptance on a circadian basis. (You can acquisition me on Instagram here.) Besides the administration component, however, I acquisition Instagram a affable anchorage of acquittal from the connected administration of hot takes/criticisms/sarcasm/terrible apple annual that takes abode on Twitter nowadays. I adore scrolling through a timeline of my friends’ shots and blockage out what they’ve been up to. Lately, I’ve additionally been adequate the simple act of browsing Instagram to ascertain new accounts that allotment photos of tattoos, old videogames, and dogs – you know, the actual best things in life.
Twitter. That’s not to say I don’t use Twitter anymore: in fact, I absolutely get a lot of annual from Twitter as a “professional” amusing arrangement that lets me acquaint with readers and get in blow with developers alive on new apps. As a apparatus to advance my assignment at MacStories, Club MacStories, and AppStories, Twitter is still my best option; I aloof don’t like the company’s delusional acceptance that Twitter is the best abode to ascertain annual aback its “news” generally boils bottomward to abortive trending hashtags or heedless hot takes.
The actuality that the iPad app now consistently showcases this agreeable in the aftereffect (an arrant decay of space) doesn’t help. That said, there are still affluence of affidavit to use the official Twitter app instead of third-party clients, which, at atomic for me, no best reflect the real, avant-garde Twitter experience. As accession who’s been accepting into aggressive Pokémon afterwards years abroad from the series, I additionally appetite to point out how acceptable it is to about-face amid lists from the capital timeline; aback I’m not in the affection to apprehend the latest opinions about Apple and tech, I about-face to my Pokémon timeline, which brightens my day immediately.
Timery. The best new app of 2019 has become a basal of my Home screen: I acquisition time tracking capital to accept area my time is going, and Timery makes it accessible to alpha a timer by allotment from lists of presets or contempo activities. Over the accomplished few months, I’ve additionally added shortcuts based on Timery’s time tracking accomplishments to my Home screens application our own MacStories Shortcuts Icons. In accession to the app and its shortcuts, I additionally await on the accoutrement to see which timer is alive and, if necessary, stop it. If you use Toggl to clue your time, Timery is the best way to admission the annual on the iPhone and iPad. I achievement developer Joe Hribar adds abutment for letters and archive in 2020. [Review]
iA Writer. There’s little I can say about iA Writer that I haven’t already accounting abroad several times before.
iA Writer is my admired Markdown argument editor because it’s acutely chip with the Files app and framework, which allows added apps to acquaint with it by way of iCloud Drive and the book bookmarks technology. iA Writer supports Agreeable Blocks, which are ideal for autograph multi-chapter acceptance that advertence alien files or that charge to amount assets (such as images) from assets amid in sub-directories; with custom templates, I can examination my accessories aloof as they’d attending on MacStories. The app keeps accepting better, too: aloof a few weeks ago, iA Writer was adapted with a new bounded advancement affection (which has adored me from iCloud Drive accompany issues assorted times already) and a alive ambience agenda that puts certificate accomplishments avant-garde and center. It would be actual difficult for added argument editors to attempt with iA Writer at this point. [Previous coverage]
WhatsApp. I don’t adulation WhatsApp and I fundamentally abhor its ancestor company, but I accept to use this app if I appetite to accept a amusing activity and acquaint with friends. Yes, I’ve approved to argue them to use Telegram and iMessage, but WhatsApp is so acutely abiding in our amusing conventions at this point, it’s a ashen effort. At atomic the WhatsApp aggregation has fabricated the app somewhat bigger in the accomplished year; based on my experience, notifications now amount angel previews anxiously and the affection of articulation calls seems to accept improved. WhatsApp doesn’t accept an iPad adaptation still, but its web applicant can be accessed with iPadOS’ Safari now.
Slack. We use Slack to acquaint at MacStories and, aloof like WhatsApp, I don’t decidedly like this app, but I accept to use it because I don’t accept the brainy activity or backbone to apprentice commodity else. Clashing WhatsApp, though, Slack seems to be accepting worse over time: the best contempo archetype is the beheld argument editor, which has removed all the accessibility of the old Markdown-like syntax and replaced it with the cruft of a Microsoft Word-like alteration environment. If Slack anytime alcove the point of actuality abstract for my taste, I will accept to acquisition the activity to about-face to accession product, but I don’t appetite to anticipate about it now.
Fantastical. I’ll accept added to say about Fantastical soon, but in short: I’m application the app afresh because it combines two casework I’m already application (iCloud Agenda and Reminders) into a distinct dashboard. I still use the standalone Reminders app (particularly because of its Today and Scheduled views), but I like the overview provided by Fantastical as it encompasses both tasks and events. Like I said though: added on this app soon.
Working Copy. Anders Borum’s Git applicant has apparent a abiding beck of improvements in 2019, best conspicuously with the acceptance of parameter-based shortcuts, aphotic mode, and multiwindow in iOS 13. Alive Copy continues to be the amount of our Markdown accord workflow at MacStories, and I can’t brainstorm application annihilation abroad at this point. [Previous coverage]
Raindrop.io. My admired new Home awning admission of 2019, which I’ve been extenuative for this article, is the built-in app for the Raindrop.io bookmarking service. A bookmarking annual in 2020? Well, yes – let me explain.
As allotment of accepting aback to arena aggressive Pokémon over the aftermost few months, I started extenuative all kinds of links about cardinal plays, aggregation builds, and VGC basics in Apple Addendum as affluent links. Afterwards a while, I accomplished that Addendum wasn’t authoritative it accessible for me to adapt these links and chase in their titles to acquisition commodity I’d archived before. I knew I bare to acquisition a committed bookmarking arrangement for my Pokémon links, but:
To sum up: I capital to acquisition an app/service that would advice me save links from the web, adapt them with folders or tags application a attractive UI, and acquisition them afresh with ease. Raindrop.io, which has been about for several years at this point and is in alive development, ticks all these boxes: it’s a web annual that comes with a desktop web app, browser extensions, and built-in adaptable apps; links are automatically adored with affluent thumbnails and descriptions extracted from the aboriginal webpage; you can adapt links in collections, tag them, and accept from assorted actualization and array options; you can additionally adapt the attending of a accumulating by allotment from bags of icons. Here’s area it gets bigger and why Raindrop.io is ideal for my needs: on iOS, links accessible with Safari Actualization Controller, not a custom web view; and, if you pay for the Pro version, you’ll be able to upload your own images, actualize nested collections, and await on the annual to acquisition alike or burst links for you.
I’ve adored hundreds of links in Raindrop.io, and I’ve anxiously sorted them in nested collections and tagged them so I can acquisition them bound aback I charge them. There are several capacity I like about this service, such as the way the chase bar includes filters to acquisition accessories or videos, or the arrangement acclimated to actuate whether an old articulation is “broken”. I’ve enjoyed application Raindrop.io so abundant for my Pokémon links, I’ve additionally started collections for non-Pokémon agreeable such as movies to watch on Netflix and FLAC albums I appetite to buy. It’s not a dealbreaker, but the app still doesn’t abutment built-in aphotic approach or multiwindow in iOS and iPadOS 13, which I achievement the developer will fix in 2020.
LaunchCuts. As anon as I got my easily on the aboriginal beta of LaunchCuts aftermost December, the app instantly acquired a atom on my Home screens. LaunchCuts is a meta-utility for the Shortcuts app that lets you adapt your shortcuts in folders, giving you a way to accumulation accompanying shortcuts calm and acquisition what you’re attractive for added quickly. If you’re a abundant Shortcuts user with added than 30 shortcuts in the app, LaunchCuts is the annual for you: the app has been advised to accommodate a band-aid to problems that Apple hasn’t anchored yet; its developer Adam Tow has paid abutting absorption to accepted requests in the Shortcuts association (such as the adeptness to clarify shortcuts by blazon or input), and alien an app that serves as the absolute accompaniment to Shortcuts. It may be based on a (well executed) workaround, but until Apple builds built-in folders and filters into the Shortcuts app, LaunchCuts is the best way to adapt and run shortcuts I’ve acclimated to date. [Review]
As you may accept noticed from screenshots at the top of this story, both my iPhone and iPad Home screens are now heavily based on custom adjustment icons. Specifically, both Home screens run a aggregate of icons from the MacStories Shortcuts Icons Archetypal set as able-bodied as the just-launched Blush set.
As I wrote aback we alien the Archetypal set of MacStories Shortcuts Icons in September, alive shortcuts from the Home awning has gotten abundant bigger in iOS 13, but I was activity let bottomward by the bound figure options provided by Apple in the Shortcuts app, so we absitively to architecture our own figure set. What I like about MacStories Shortcuts Icons – and the acumen I use them myself – is the adaptability accepted by Silvia’s admirable glyphs as able-bodied as the new Blush set.
With the Archetypal set, I was able to install added shortcuts on my Home awning while befitting their aboriginal accomplishments color. With the new Blush set, however, I’ve been able to use multi-color glyphs with white and atramentous backgrounds, creating some absorbing furnishings on my Home screens such as the “sidebar” of folders on my iPad Pro, pictured below.
As a ancillary note: if you purchased the Archetypal figure set in September and are absorbed in the new Blush set, you can acquirement the added set at $6 (instead of $14.99) for a bound time only. For instructions on how to get your discount, analysis your email or apprehend the FAQ here.
If you don’t own any adaptation of MacStories Shortcuts Icons yet, now’s a abundant time to jump in: we aloof alien a appropriate Bundle adaptation that contains both sets, accessible at $20.99 here.
Secure ShellFish. The ability abaft this app by Anders Borum isn’t the actuality that it connects to SFTP servers, which several added apps do – it’s that it brings alien admission to the Files app and Shortcuts. With Defended ShellFish, I can admission the capacity of my claimed FTP server from Files, so I can move and upload files as if it were aloof accession built-in area of Files. Alike better, Shortcuts affiliation agency I can now upload files to my alien server in a brace seconds, afterwards accepting to accord with complicated web requests or affidavit because Defended ShellFish offers native, beheld accomplishments powered by parameters. This is a must-have for anyone who wants to admission a alien server from an iPhone or iPad. [Review]
Google Docs. Despite the improvements to desktop-class browsing in Safari for iPadOS, I still accumulate the built-in Google Docs app on my iPad because I’ve noticed some odd issues with scrolling and formatting in Safari beneath iPadOS 13.3. Also, I accept to use the Google Docs app on my iPhone aback I’m alive on actualization addendum for my podcasts on the go.
Trello. We use Trello at MacStories to plan our beat agenda at altered times of the year as able-bodied as to adapt the altered sections of our MacStories Weekly newsletter. Trello’s built-in app isn’t abundant (for instance, it alone supports a subset of the power-ups accessible for desktop browsers), but the annual is so good, we accumulate application it, and it’s been alive able-bodied for us. I decidedly acknowledge that Trello integrates with Zapier, which has accustomed me to put calm some absorbing automations that, for example, accelerate me a Pushcut notification whenever a specific characterization is added to a Trello card.
Kodex. I use this chargeless argument editor for iPhone and iPad whenever I accept to accessible a ample argument book (usually in .json or .txt formats) that added apps would about asphyxiate on. While Kodex doesn’t activity all the actualization of able desktop editors such as BBEdit or SublimeText, it is a acceptable approximation of them acknowledgment to its mini-map, customizable keybindings, and several syntax highlighting modes.
More importantly, Kodex combines these archetypal desktop actualization with an iOS-first approach: the app uses the Files certificate browser to accessible and adapt documents, which agency it can adapt any book on your accessory acknowledgment to the latest open-in-place APIs.
1Password. Apple’s iCloud Keychain continues to get bigger every year, and if the aggregation anytime turns the affection into a standalone app with two-factor affidavit abutment and Family Administration integration, I could see myself switching from 1Password. But that hasn’t happened yet, which agency our domiciliary still uses 1Password for aggregate security-related, from accounts to defended addendum and documents. For over a decade now, 1Password has been reliable and served me well.
MindNode. I don’t actualize apperception maps for all my articles, but I consistently do for my longform stories, such as Beyond the Tablet and the iOS 13 Analysis from 2019. Afterwards years of application iThoughts, I switched to MindNode aftermost year (primarily because of its abutment for alien displays), and I’ve accepted the app’s affiliation with keyboard shortcuts on iPad, stickers to highlight nodes, and iCloud Drive-based versions. I plan on application MindNode afresh for my longform acceptance this year; Beheld Tags, a new affection in adaptation 7 of the app, looks aloof like the affectionate of alignment apparatus I’ve consistently capital to accept in my beyond apperception maps. [Review]
Jayson. In putting calm avant-garde shortcuts that acquaint with web APIs, I generally accept to accord with circuitous responses alternate as JSON objects. On iOS and iPadOS, there’s no bigger way to examination and browse the anatomy of JSON abstracts than Simon Støvring’s added absurd app, Jayson.
Unlike cipher editors that alone syntax-highlight JSON code, Jayson uses a book manager-like interface to let you browse assorted layers of key:value pairs application beheld elements such as columns and in-app breach views. Alike better, Jayson comes with built-in Shortcuts accomplishments that let you canyon abstracts from a adjustment to the app, which additionally supports abyssal JSON agreeable central a affluent notification. Jayson is a must-have apparatus in my armory of Shortcuts utilities. [Review]
Toolbox Pro. Speaking of Shortcuts-enabled apps, Alex Hay’s Toolbox Pro is absolutely congenital on the abstraction that ambit in iOS 13 can let third-party apps become built-in apparatus of Shortcuts. Added than an “app”, Toolbox Pro is a alembic of avant-garde accomplishments that you can alone use in Shortcuts – it’s a new affectionate of meta-utility that alone makes faculty in the ambience of extending Apple’s Shortcuts app with added actions. As I explained in my review, not alone does Toolbox Pro enhance Shortcuts with quality-of-life improvements that atone for the abridgement of basal accomplishments in Apple’s app, but it additionally brings new avant-garde accomplishments such as abysmal Apple Music integration, all-around variables that accompany with iCloud, affluent menus, and more. Some of my added avant-garde shortcuts these canicule (including MusicBot Pro) were fabricated accessible by Toolbox Pro, and I can’t delay to see area developer Alex Hay takes the app in 2020. [Review]
Pushcut. Accession app that is best accomplished as an accession to Shortcuts, Pushcut by Simon Leeb lets you configure advance notifications that can be delivered to your devices; aback expanded, these notifications can accommodate added accomplishments in the anatomy of alive a specific shortcut, triggering a HomeKit scene, or alike assuming a web appeal in the background.
I wrote about how I use Pushcut with my HomeKit-enabled Dyson fan here; lately, I’ve additionally started application Pushcut in aggregate with Trello and Zapier. The adaptability accepted by Pushcut’s notification architecture apparatus is unparalleled on Apple’s platforms, which makes it one of the apps to accumulate an eye on in 2020.
TransferWise. I chock-full application PayPal to accelerate money to accompany and writers, and I adulation how TransferWise makes it accessible to about-face amid US Dollars and Euros with reasonable alteration rates. The app can accredit affairs with Face ID, uses notifications to verify your annual on added devices, and it’s powered by a clean, affected architecture that’s accessible to understand.
Skype. I don’t adulation the Skype app, but anytime back I ample out a arrangement to almanac podcasts from my iPad Pro, it’s what I charge to use if I accept to almanac a actualization afterwards my Mac. Abounding of the hacks I await aloft to almanac podcasts with an iPad Pro could be removed if alone Microsoft added abutment for outputting a locally-recorded clue from the Skype app, but I’m not captivation my animation on this one.
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