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State of the Apps 2018

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It’s a new year! It’s been to long, so it’s time to get my app recommendations rolling again!

In the sprit of CGP Grey, it’s time to do another one of these! A lot of 2016 is still relevant (RIP ProTube…), and I’ll repeat some of them here as I don’t want anyone to miss something truly great!

I’m going to also be a lot more wordy and verbose instead of using images this time, if an app sounds interesting to you, click through the link and you’ll be in the App Store to see more details about any app that may spark your interest! If an app isn’t on the App Store for any reason, the link will redirect to the website created for the app.

On that note, let’s get started!

Mac

Gestimer – A menu bar app that you drag down to create timers. Simple but extremely useful app that I use daily! It also integrates with reminders as well so notifications can carry on to all your apple devices.

Mac Bartender – As you get more apps on your mac, the menu bar can start to get a little crowded, this app gives you full control of what you want to appear, and if you want your apps hidden by default or hidden forever. Bartender 3 is a free update for owners of Bartender 2, and was rewritten with swift and looks to have a bright future!

Pixelmator Pro – New app from the creators of Pixelmator. Designed to give a simpler workflow to image creation and processing, it has a crazy amount of power that you can utilize and is pretty simple to do so. A feature I never knew until using that I loved was the fact that it uses machine learning to predict what’s in your photos, in order to name your layers if you start using them. That is a very nice attention to detail!

Dash – An oldie but a goodie! It’s a bit niche but very useful for anyone who has to work with online documentation. You can download the documentation for hundreds of languages locally to your system and search them for what you need. Especially useful if working on a project where you’re not sure about your internet connection

Popclip – Another app I personally see as mandatory on Macs. You know that black menu that appears over text when highlighted on iOS devices? This gives you that capability on your Mac but is infinitely more customizable with extensions from their website!

For example, I have an extension to turn any highlighted text into a task in Todoist. I can see this app being a little strange to see how it will work into your workflow, luckily they offer a free trial on their website that allows a certain number of uses for free. With that being the case, I see no reason not to give it a spin.

Subscription based Mac – Setapp

Setapp is a service that I was a bit hesitant on at first, but now that I’ve used it and have had new mac newcomers I know use it, I have become a huge fan of it! you pay 10 USD a month or 100 USD a year for access to all the apps they license through the platform, with your subscription revenue being split between the apps you use the most.

Here are the some of the apps within Setapp I’d recommend, with links to buy separately if you’d rather own them outright!

Ulysses – I do all of my writing in Ulysses now, and it has completely changed how i am able to get that work done. There are so many little niceties that add up to make the best writing experience that I’ve ever had. As an extra bonus, having a Setapp subscription also carries over the ability to use the apps on your iPhone or iPad for free as well!

Unarchiver – Free but wanted to share anyway! A great app to open up file formats that your Mac may be unable to do by default.

IThoughtsX – a great mindmapping utility that has a lot of power user features, such as importing and exporting your mindmaps in Markdown. This one is now on windows as well!

iStat Menus – In my opinion this app is mandatory for any mac user. It’s a series of menu widgets that tell you everything you’d ever want to know about what’s happening on your mac, from network activity, to memory, cpu, temperature, battery, and everything in between. The newest version here also includes integration with Dark Sky to get weather data.

Downie – If you are trying to get offline copies of videos you’re watching on YouTube or other sites this app combined with its browser extensions is fantastically simple! A lot of this functionality can be used with Youtube-DL, but its nice sometimes to have a nice GUI wrapped around these utilities!

Permute – in the style of Downie above ( and actually from the same developer!) this app is a very clean GUI around ffmpeg utilities, but is great to have around! A very simple drag and drop media converting app

iOS

MindNode 5 (Mac, iOS) – A beautiful and very easy to use MindMapping program on both the mac and iOS. I stuck it here in the iOS category as its where i use it the most, as well as the feature parity (as far as I can tell) is identical between the two platforms. It’s my app of choice for these kinds of outlines, as it makes everything simple to work with.

Fantastical (Mac, iPhone, iPad) – My favorite calendar app which is great for its natural language processing tech. I can type in something like “Crossfit tomorrow 6pm /Home” and the appointment is perfectly added to my Home calendar! All versions are great, but I’d recommend starting with the iPhone one first to see if it fits your needs as its the cheapest of the three!

Things 3 (Mac, iPhone, iPad) – Super clean user interface for task management, taking out what you don’t need any using what you will. Its pricey, but very versatile! If looking for lower cost and still very powerful (but not as pretty) check out Todoist

Friendly+ – Best app hands down for Facebook on your iPhone and iPad! Its a web wrapper to cleanly display the browser edition of Facebook allowing you to message and post (no need for the messages app anymore!) as well as the ability to filter out any post by keywords.

I linked the paid version as it also includes an integrated ad blocker that is heavenly to use with facebook. It’s absolutely worth the premium to get the ad blocker!

Dash – You remember me talking about that awesome documentation browser for the Mac? It’s finally back on iOS again, and its free here!

Workflow – Automation for iOS. I’m just going to copy what I said in my last recommendation article as I find it still fully relevant for its power.

Best way I would describe workflow is “Drag and Drop” scripting automation. You can drag actions and inputs from hundreds of ios applications and websites to create custom workflows to do pretty much anything you could think of. Items such as

I highly recommend MacSparky's Video Field Guide and MacStories for good documentation of the full powers you can utilize with this application. Federico Viticci, the founder of MacStories also just started a 3 part podcast on editorial on his iOS productivity podcast Canvas I would recommend checking out as well.

The best part now is since the company was acquired by apple, Workflow is now free!

Gladys – (iPad only) With iOS 11, drag and drop is now an awesome feature included on iPads. It can be a pain though sometimes to see where you’d want to drag some text or a number to if you don’t have that app open yet. Gladys comes in here to be a “shelf” to hold all your drag and drop items for safekeeping until you find its final destination.

The way drag and drop works on iOS is depending on what app you’re dropping the text to, a certain kind of content is what is sent in based on what the OS believes you want (such as plain text, rich text, numbers, map links etc.). Gladys lets you see every kind of variant of text that could be dropped and then lets you use that as you wish!

It’s free for storing up to 10 items, then there’s an in app purchase to unlock unlimited items and lists. I highly recommend this utility for any iPad owner!

Affinity Photo (iPad only) – Think of this as photoshop for your iPad. It’s a near perfect 1:1 port of their image editor to the iOS platform. Worth every penny!

Opener – one headache of iOS is not being able to choose default apps, as well as some links opening in safari instead of the app (looking at you youtube videos!) Opener is an incredible extension that lets you open any link in you’re preferred application based on what it is.

For example, I may get a link to a reddit thread, that sends me to the mobile reddit site begging me to get the default reddit client. I just open the share extension, click opener, then I’m in that thread in Narwhal or Apollo (my preferred Reddit clients)!

Especially Optimized for iPhone X

Some apps have done some incredible things with the iPhone X “Notch Design” and tech features, so I wanted to mention two of them here!

Halide – a separate extra powerful RAW camera editor. On the iPhone X, settings and histograms are in the notches!

Animoji Studio – The Animoji are one of the most popular silly features of the phone, however it’s only an iMessage application, that restricts recording to 10 seconds at a time. A clever developer found the private framework that powers Animoji and created an app allowing you to make recordings as long as you want, as well as being able to do karaoke with Spotify integration!

Since its using a private framework, the only way to load this application is to side load it on your phone using Xcode from a Mac. If you are able to do this though, it’s worth it!

Apple Watch

I wanted to feature some apps I use daily for their widgets or their information they provide

All the Rings – An app that is able to give much more granular detail on the Activity rings you fill on the watch.

Waterminder – A great app to remind you to keep your water intake up, sitting next to my rings on my widgets to keep me reminded of drinking water

Carrot Weather – Bar none, the best weather app! Includes in incredibly powerful widget constantly updating the weather for you. There is a separate subscription required for the widget but its worth it. The fee is due to the much more frequent updates of weather data that comes with being on the watch, which the developer has to pay for out of pocket on every check.

Windows

Royal TS – Hands down, the best server remote utility on any platform!

iThoughts – That power user Mac mind mapping program in Setapp I linked to earlier in this article? It’s now on windows as well!

Affinity Photo – Powerful Photoshop replacement

Affinity Designer – Powerful Illustrator replacement

I hope to add a few more in the future that I find, but in the meantime, here’s what I recommended last time around and still sticks!

Velocity – Like the idea of Dash, but don't have a Mac? Don't worry! Funny story, the developer of Dash actually gave this developer access to all the DocSets he uses to make the Dash app function, since he didn't want to focus on the Windows side. You won't have some of the same things such as finder integration that you would get on OSX, however the main core is here for you to enjoy!

Breevy – Been around for quite some time, if the idea of Text Expander's annual subscription makes you sick to your stomach, this app should take care of all of your needs there!

Android

As I’m not a daily driver of android, I don’t have as many as I’d like to put here, but I will add in the future as I find more. In the meantime here are 3 strong recommendations from me:

Fenix 2 – Powerful 3rd party twitter client

Friendly – My favorite Facebook client substitute is on android too! The ad blocker this time around is an in-app purchase, and highly recommended to get the most out of Friendly!

Nova Launcher Prime – The best, most customizable launcher out there still!

Services

To wrap things up, I’m going to throw services and apps that feel should be considered as services to be thrown in here.

IFTTT – Easy to use automation, leaning towards the home and power user. Completely free to use as an end user, and they recently created a Maker account for free that anyone can use, allowing much more powerful automation.

Zapier – Automation aimed more at business and enterprises, but still extremely useful for everyone! It can start to get pricey quick in the paid plans, but for the occasional automation, the free tier should be sufficient to give it a spin!

Microsoft Flow – The newest entry into the ring! Think of it as Microsoft’s answer to Zapier. They don’t yet have as many services and applications that work with it as Zapier does, but that gap is starting to close more and more rapidly. Their free tier is much more generous as well as having a lower cost paid plan if you need to go that route.

Todoist – My task manager of choice, and believe me I’ve tried all of them! What keeps me coming back is that It works absolutely everywhere and is very easy to use with different automations. If you’re not sure which task manager to start with, I can’t recommend enough giving Todoist a try!

1Password – Do you use a password manager? If not, you really need to be using one! Having used most of them, I find 1password to be the easiest to use, with the cleanest software and nicest features!

YNAB – Short for You Need A Budget. The best budgeting application I’ve ever used and at keeps getting better as time goes on. I’m likely going to go into more detail on the service and the philosophy in the future, but suffice it to say, if budgeting is in your new year resolutions, use it!

And with that, I’m out for now! It’s been too long since I’ve made a post, but I plan to rectify that this year. Any of these your favorite? Have an app you’d recommend I didn’t cover? Please mention it in the comments!

Here’s to a fantastic 2018!

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