The perfect app. It serves its purpose and does its job well, but it also features a user interface that it unique, intuitive and beautiful. Too many software developers forget (or ignore) good design in their apps, so I want to make sure that we reward the developers who make the extra effort to dazzle users.
There are thousands of great apps for iOS and Android out there that are worthy of praise for their design, and hopefully over time we can cover them all here on BGR.
To get things started, the following is a list of 5 absolutely gorgeous iPhone apps that you really should check out right now.
Gist is a news app that might have been built specifically for me.
All day every day, I read tech news. When I wake up, I read tech news. While I work, I read tech news. During lunch, more tech news. At night after I’m done with work, more tech news.
I pretty much read tech news all the time. It’s ok if you feel sorry for me.
In the few moments each day when I want to actually read other news — it’s occasionally nice to know what’s going on in the world, after all — my goal is to take in as much as I can in as little time as possible.
There are a number of different apps and services that look to provide readers with bite-sized news, and my favorite option right now is Gist.
Created by Michael Mamiye, Gist is a beautifully-designed app that fits perfectly with the look and feel of iOS 7. It pulls in stories from Google News and feeds users lists of headlines broken into 10 different categories such as top stories, U.S. news, sports and entertainment.
Instead of leading to the article itself, tapping each headline brings the user to a quick 5-sentence summary intended to give the reader the “gist” of the story.
Got everything you need from the summary? Swipe to go back and move on.
Want to know more? A single tap loads the full article.
The app also supports Pocket, one of several “read later” services out there, but I don’t use it with Pocket. I use it to get a quick fix of non-tech news before diving back in head-first.
And yes, for those interested, Gist indeed has a technology section.
With the advent of custom streaming radio services like Pandora and Spotify, traditional Internet radio has been all but forgotten.
Radium is trying to help keep it alive.
As impressive as machine-programmed music streams have become, sometimes it’s nice to listen to a variety of music that is chosen in sequence by an actual human. Maybe I’m just nostalgic.
Other nostalgic music fans out there will find Radium to be an excellent streaming radio client. The design is fantastic and well-suited for iOS 7 devices, and it’s also very simple to use. Search for a genre or region, tap a result and away you go.
The app also supports a favorite function so stations you want to come back to are saved in a single list. As for content, the app indexes more than 10,000 radio stations, so finding a variety of good stations is no problem at all.
Radium is a free download in the iOS App Store.
Sometimes the best apps are simple. “Do one thing and do it well,” as they say.
Matchbook does one thing, and it does it quite well.
In the good ol’ days when life was simpler and the Internet wasn’t even a twinkle in Al Gore’s eye, people kept track of restaurants they enjoyed by grabbing a matchbook on the way out.
Matchbook for iOS is like that, but for the digital age.
The app’s sole purpose is to keep track of the restaurants you enjoy. If you’re in a restaurant, the app will use your location to find nearby establishments so you can add the one you’re in quickly and easily. You can also search by name if you want to add a restaurant after the fact.
Each saved eatery has space for notes — in case there’s one dish in particular you’d like to remember, for example — and you can split entries into two lists, “places I love” and “places I want to try.”
And in keeping with the theme of this post, of course, Matchbook features a unique and refreshing design.
Matchbook is completely free and can be downloaded from the App Store.
Harmony, stylized as “har•mo•ny,” is really the only game that I play regularly on my iPhone.
The idea is simple, but the game can get quite complex at times. Here is how the app’s developer, BorderLeap, explains the objective:
har•mo•ny the addictive puzzler is pleasing to the eye, music to the ears and challenging to the brain! Your objective is simple, yet deceivingly complex: rearrange the blocks according to a palette of colors that blend together in harmony. Blocks may only move horizontally or vertically and each block must use up all its moves. Sophisticated color palettes range from simple boards with 3 colors up to incredibly challenging 10-color boards. As levels increase, so does the intricacy and beauty of each color palette.
There are 1,000 levels and each time I advance to a new one, I’m saddened to think I am one step closer to ending the game. Luckily, I’m only in the low 200s right now so I still have a long way to go.
Peek Calendar is a beautiful new way to schedule your life.
Sometimes mobile calendar apps stray too far from convention in an effort to be different, and sometimes they’re so obvious that they’re boring. Peek strikes a good balance between the two ends of the spectrum by providing unique new interfaces and controls, but also including familiar calendar and planner layouts so as to not confuse users as they adjust to the app.
By the developer’s own admission, Peek is not intended for “power users” who need to see as much information as possible with each glance. Instead, it balances utility with stunning modern graphics so that users can access the information they need and enjoy a beautiful interface while they do.
A few highlights from the app’s list of features:
An interface that is clean and content focused
Unified timeline view
Expanded current week: Today, Tomorrow and the rest of the week
Tap and hold on any day to add a new event
Drag or swipe to the right to peek and view the length and the location of events