This is a list of apps that I use regularly that I feel are uniquely interesting in some really cool ways. They each have features and aspects that, I feel, are worth paying attention to. Without any further delay:
1. OmniFocus 3
OmniFocus is a todo list manager that is great for Getting Things Done (GTD). It syncs between phone, iPad and Mac, has a liberal tagging system, you can add attachments to tasks and put them in projects and sub-projects. Tasks can be delayed and/or hidden until they’re relevant. This is a great tool for managing your personal tasks for work and at home.
2. Monzo Bank
Monzo (formally Mondo) is a relatively young challenger bank from London. If you have a good credit history they (currently) have nothing to offer in the traditional sense as you can get better rewards, loans, overdrafts, interest rates and credit cards elsewhere. What you get however, is an excellent place to manage your money from. When you open the app, you’re directly taken to your recent transactions. Your current balance and daily spending are right at the top in big letters with a line graph that illustrates your dwindling funds over the course of the month. Expenditure is automatically categorised so you can see how much you’re spending, and on what. Statement items show company logos, and opening them reveals the location of the store (if relevant) on a map.
Right after your first purchase when travelling you get a notification welcoming you to the country, with a very clear exchange rate. Every overseas purchase will list the local currency cost with the amount taken after conversion, they’ve really nailed down foreign transactions.
Monzo has multiple methods for sending and requesting money, but the way they handle traditional account number + sort code transactions is sublime. For any incoming transfer, the account details of the sender will be saved automatically, so if you ever need to pay them for a pizza further down the line you can do it without even asking for details. Outgoing transfers are similarly easy to setup, sort-codes are automatically parsed and the logo of the target bank is displayed which just adds an extra level of comfort that you’re typing the correct numbers. If the other person has a Monzo account then they’ll already be in your contacts, complete with a profile picture!
If you’re a developer working for a different banking app then please pay attention to Monzo, their app has close to everything you would want in a banking app without being gaudy (looking at you Sterling).
3. Tweetbot 5 for Twitter
Tweetbot 5 is an unofficial client for Twitter. It provides a cleaner, more iOS like experience for viewing Twitter. It has satisfying gestures for liking, or otherwise interacting with a tweet and supports multiple accounts with rapid hot-switching. It’s fast, and just about everything is 3d touchable so you can have a quick peek at people’s profiles without interrupting your flow when reading your timeline.
In the tab bar at the bottom, they have this crazy long press for extra tab options thing going on, so the final 2 tabs are actually 5 tabs, and you can customise both. It’s definitely an interesting way of having way more tabs of content, though I’m not sure it’s one I would want to use personally.
4. Castro Podcast Player
What I like about Castro more than anything is that it demonstrates how much is possible without a backend to manage accounts and send push notifications. New episodes are identified in background processing mode, and the rich notifications are triggered then. The inside of the app is extremely well geared to the role of playing podcasts with careful thought applied towards what people will want to do when listening. The bottom, like Apple Music, has the current playing status which can be swiped up from anywhere in the app. There’s an ever-present airplay button, which I’m a big fan of (looking at you YouTube, why would anyone want to play audio/video on a different device right?). Playback speed can be increased, voices can be picked out and enhanced and lengthy gaps of deafening silence can be automagically trimmed. The UI throughout can generally be described as big and bubbly.
5. CARROT Weather
Elegant, joyous, amusing and useful; CARROT Weather is one of those rare apps that has it all. When you open the app, you’re immediately shown the current conditions for your area right at the top of the screen. The next section of the screen is dedicated to changing weather conditions over the next 9 or so hours, again everything is presented with lucid clarity. At the bottom, you have the changing conditions over the next few days, and you even get a witty, often topical and sometimes homicidal, remark thrown into the mix. All of this is packaged in wonderfully beautiful illustrations that echo the current weather.
If the app ended there it would be perfect, but the developer here clearly has too much time on their hands. The Apple Watch app is equally as elegant, there’s an AR mode where the weather can be presented by CARROT, you can rewind to previous weather conditions, there are achievements and there are also secret locations that are mostly (entirely?) based on movies. CARROT Weather makes the weather fun, which as a British sparks joy.
I have no doubt that Babylon is the future of GP appointments in the UK. The app is a bit of a jumbled mess with far too many sections that should have been culled at the planning stage, but it’s functional. Booking an appointment is relatively straight forward and you can generally get a video appointment for the same day with little effort. The video calls work, and on the conclusion of your call the app will provide you with a transcript of everything that was discussed complete with any actions that you may need to take. If your medical issue needs to be escalated then you can be referred in the same manner as a traditional GP.
7. Halide Camera
Halide Camera is an app for taking pictures but unlike the default camera app Halide offers far more control. Launch the app and you’re looking at a camera preview. Swipe across the bottom and you’re manually adjusting the focus. Tap the top right and you’re setting the exposure. Everything is quickly in reach. Further to this you can use portrait mode to take depth maps at the same time that you’re taking an image, and you can view the results in augmented reality! What is more impressive however is how fast the developer of Halide adjusted to the notch paradigm. I believe it was before the release of the iPhone X that the developer had already shown the EV indicator occupying the top right notch. I have yet to see another app utilise this narrow slice of real-estate so effectively.
8. Apollo for Reddit
Apollo for Reddit is like Tweetbot for Twitter, but for Reddit. I frankly spend too much time browsing memes in Apollo, and I can’t imagine a better interface for Reddit than this (and it seems that Reddit can’t either).