The iPhone has the largest selection of apps in the mobile sphere, but that means it’s also the most frustrating platform when it comes to making worthwhile choices. For our fourth annual Lifehacker Pack for iPhone, we’re highlighting the apps that help you stay productive, connected, informed and entertained.
The Lifehacker Pack is a yearly snapshot of our favourite, must-have applications for each major computing and mobile platform. If you’re curious to see how things have changed this year, here’s last years Lifehacker pack for iPhone.
- Music, Photos, Video
- Food And Entertainment
The email game has changed significantly over the last year, and we’ve seen a lot of new email clients released recently. Still, even though it’s no longer supported, Sparrow is our favourite email client for the iPhone if you’re using anything that isn’t Gmail. Nobody else has quite figured out how to do email as well as Sparrow. Sparrow is clean, easy to use, and features a good blend of power user options and simplicity. If you are using Gmail, our pick goes to Mailbox. Mailbox is incredibly fast, easy to navigate, and you can blaze through your email in just a few simple steps. As well, Mailbox is free, so even if you don’t end up liking how it works you’re not out any cash.
There’s no shortage of great calendar options on the iPhone, but our favourite is Fantastical. The reason is simple: it’s incredibly easy to use, but still powerful. You can add new dates in plain English (“lunch with mum tomorrow”), the gesture navigation is intuitive, you can easily edit any dates, and the variety of view options mean you’ll always know what’s going on.
We adore Drafts as a note-taking app because it manages to blend simplicity with plenty of power user options. Drafts operates as a central hub for all your text notes, and it works with lots of other services. For example, if you’re a fan of Simplenote, you can use Drafts to write up a quick note and send it to Simplenote right inside Drafts. Prefer Evernote? Drafts can instantly export there as well. Drafts is about the quick capture of notes and ideas, and it’s incredibly good at doing both.
Orchestra is a simple to-do management app that you can use by yourself or with others. It’s handy because it works equally well either way, and collaboration with others is as simple as sending an email. Orchestra has a stack of great features that help it knock other to-do options out of the running. What makes it great is the fact it’s easy to understand but still useful.
If This Then That is already one of our favourite web apps, and the iPhone app is just as powerful. Not only can you create any ‘recipe’ for a common task you want on the go, you can also tap directly into the iPhone’s contacts, photos, reminders, and more to automate whatever happens on your phone.
Bookmarking services are great on the desktop, but they really excel on mobile devices. Save articles wherever you find them, and you get access on your phone so you can read when you’re bored. Each service has its own set of benefits and downsides, but they’re all terrific in their own right. So, pick one and run with it.
Google Reader might be dead, but Reeder for iPhone is still our favourite RSS reader. With a recent update, Reeder added support for a few third-party RSS readers, including Feedly. Reeder is incredibly clean, and you can quickly save articles for later viewing, sync everything up, or just browse your feeds in its simple interface.
Third-party browsers on the iPhone get a bad rap because Apple restricts them from being as fast as Safari, but that doesn’t mean Chrome doesn’t have its share of advantages. In fact, if you’re a Chrome user on your desktop computer, Chrome’s syncing features alone make it a stellar replacement for Safari. Chrome’s packed with some great stuff, including a desktop view, a solid incognito mode, and the speed dial to quickly access your favourite sites. If Chrome isn’t your thing, you have a few other good options as well.
Skype has long been the king of video calling, but Google’s recently introduced Google Hangouts is giving it a run for its money. The reason is simple: almost everyone already has a Google account, and that’s all your need to use Google Hangouts. With it, you can make video calls instantly, and it doesn’t cost you a cent. That said, Skype is still the king of VOIP, and it’s widely used enough that most people have it. Both work well for video chats, so pick whichever suits you best.
These days you have plenty of options for instant messaging on the iPhone. What makes Imo useful is the fact it supports most of those options. With it, you can IM with Facebook Chat, Google Talk, MSN, AIM, Steam and plenty of others. Even though it supports a stack of different clients, Imo is still easy to use and navigate. If you use IM, Imo is the way to do it on your iPhone.
The official Facebook app does a good job of providing you with a solid mobile experience, but it’s especially handy on your phone for when you need to double-check event locations, get a friend’s phone number, or just update your profile when you’re standing in line.
Tweetbot is our favourite Twitter client on the iPhone because it manages to provide you lots of options without being overwhelming. Tweetbot also has a powerful interface that allows you to control your Twitter experience.
Simply put:Google Maps is the best turn-by-turn navigation app on the iPhone. It’s free, has a fantastic location search, and offers a wide variety of routing options. It even includes public transit and walking directions right in the app so you don’t have to worry about flipping between apps.
Checkmark is the app that Reminders should have been. It’s a location-based reminders app where you can create a reminder in just a few simple taps, and then sort your to-do list by all sorts of variables. If you’re a fan of the built-in iOS Reminders app but wish it had more functionality, Checkmark is the app you’re looking for.
Find My iPhone has been a staple of iOS for a long time, but that doesn’t make it any less worthwhile. With it, you can track down your iPhone if it’s stolen, or if you’ve simply misplaced your phone. If you’re the type to leave your phone sitting around, Find My iPhone is a must-have.
Jailbreaking certainly isn’t for everyone, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in awesome tweaks and downloads. To get those tweaks, you’ll need to jailbreak your device and install Cydia. Cydia is often labelled as the “jailbreak app store” and once you’re in, you’ll be able to customise your iPhone in all sorts of ways.
Dropbox is already a fantastic cloud storage service, but what really sets it above the competition is its mobile app. While it used to be nothing more than a file browser, nowadays you can instantly upload all your pictures, edit files, and easily share anything in your Dropbox through a wide variety of services.
Music, Photos, Video
Listening to podcasts on your iPhone is a fantastic way to pass the time, but Apple’s built-in option is less than perfect. We’re big fans of Downcast, because once you set it up it automates almost everything for you. It downloads all your podcasts directly in the app, it works over the air or Wi-Fi, or you can set it up so it only streams content. It’s a powerful podcast app that’s a heck of a lot more useful than the other options out there.
Apple is working on native music streaming in iOS 7, but for now your best option is still Pandora. It’s a great app that does exactly what it’s supposed to do: provide you a stream of music that you don’t need to think that much about. Relative newcomer Spotify also excels on iOS.
The default Music app on the iPhone is fine, but it lacks power-user features. Depending on what you’re looking for, we’re fans of both Panamp and Track 8. Panamp is great for people who want better search options, a more dynamic queue, and solid gesture controls. Track 8 is more about a clean interface and social features. Regardless of which you choose, you’ll definitely get more out of them then you will with the default app.
Plex turns your iPhone into a place where you can easily stream your media right from your computer. Working in conjunction with the desktop app, Plex lets you stream your videos from pretty much anywhere. The best part is the ability to watch something at home and then pick it up right where you left off on your mobile.
Due to Apple’s restrictions, most video player apps can’t compare to the default Videos app, but PlayerXtreme HD still manages to be our favorite. It supports numerous different video formats, and enables streaming through a variety of methods. It’s a very capable media player, so if Apple’s default Videos app leaves you wanting for more, PlayerXtreme HD is your best choice.
It’s hard to really differentiate between any of the ereader apps on the iPhone because they’re all pretty similar. They all let you read books on your phone, and most of them are tied to an account on the the store they’re part of. If you’re using iBooks on another device, then that’s the logical choice. The same goes for the Kindle app. Pick the ebook app that works best for you.
Camera+ turns your boring iPhone camera into a feature-rich point-and-shoot camera. It’s fast and it takes great photos. On top of that, you can also enhance pictures, get rid of red eye, add special effects, and many more features. It’s well worth the $1.99 if you take a lot of pictures on your phone.
Food and Entertainment
We’ve all been in the situation where we’re sitting around having a conversation and we can’t think of an actor or movie title. IMDb takes the guesswork out of that and gets you the answer to your strange movie trivia questions quickly.
If you eat out often then the Yelp app is very useful. As well as reviews, it’s a good source up-to-date information about opening hours, specials and BYO options.