We hope you got all you wanted this Christmas. If an iOS device was one of those items, then congratulations, because that’s quite a gift. A new iPhone, or iPad is great, but it can be a whole lot better with the power of the App Store. We’re here to help you make the most of your new gift with the first apps to install on your new device.
Again, Merry Christmas, and we hope you keep coming back to Apple’N’Apps to get the most out of your new gift.
Apple Apps: Apple makes a number of apps that aren’t standard in iOS, but have to be installed separately. Do yourself a favor, and install as many as you can based upon your interests. The first time you open the App store on your new device, there’s a pop-up allowing you to download all of Apple apps for free with one button. Whether it’s iBooks, iTunes U, Podcasts, Find My Friends, or Find My iPhone, they’re great downlods. Apple is taking it a step further in 2014, as your new iOS device gets you Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iPhoto, iMovie, and GarageBand all for free. iMovie seems to be the best suited to take advantage of the power of your device both on the processor, and camera side.
Mailbox (Free, Universal) [Review]: Mailbox took the iPhone by storm in February with a brand new way to interact with your email inbox. Mailbox is just so effortless to use with a gesture driven interface allowing you to swipe across messages to assign them to different locations. You can archive, delete, snooze, or add to lists all from swiping left and right as either short or long swipes. The snooze functionality is one of the most powerful functions of the app, allowing you to be reminded about a message later on with multiple choices for when. Everything you do in the app is about getting your inbox to zero, but there are other valuable features as well including chain conversation view, push notifications, and great speed of new emails.
Evernote (Free, Universal) [Update]: Evernote is the definitive note taking app in the App Store that syncs your notes across every platform, and lets you add text, photo, location, and audio notes. Give Evernote a download right away, as the app is free, and one of the best there is.
Workflow ($2.99, Universal) [Review]: The developers of Workflow have taken full advantage of iOS 8 to truly deliver automation on iOS. There are over 100 actions included to let your iOS device perform tasks with just a couple of taps. You can set-up workflows to get directions to an upcoming meeting, send a message of your ETA to home, tweet what you’re listening to, post a full note to Evernote, and so much more. There’s a gallery of pre-made actions to get you up, and running with some valuable autonomous tasks. That’s just scratching the surface, as you can create your own with a whole arsenal of potential actions to customize into your iOS workflow.
Hyperlapse (Free, Universal) [Review]: Time lapse from the makers of Instagram. The process couldn’t be simpler, but that simplicity doesn’t detract from the professional quality that is provided. The time lapse videos look absolutely amazing, and that’s mainly because of the auto stabilization. Rather than requiring a tripod, or extremely steady hand, the app can account for walking, running, jumping, driving, flying, and any type of motion. The resulting videos are silky smooth despite the motion, and it allows for all new potential time lapse creations. No longer are you limited to a fixed position, and instead can show distances, and changing angles, while providing the speed of time lapse. There’s so much creative potential, and the results look absolutely gorgeous to get your mind thinking about what else you can do with Hyperlapse.
KitCamera. ($2.99, Universal) [Review]: If you want to take pictures with your iPhone, but still have professional level controls, then you have come to the right place. Kit Camera offers a complete professional package that not only offers a full camera suite, but also includes a deluxe photo editing suite after you take your pictures. KitCamera offers almost every single camera feature you could possibly think of, and it’s all accessible through quickly accessible trays. The tray at the far right gives you access to 16 different lens types, 51 unique filtered film styles, and 40 frames, all with live previews. The next tray over provides real time adjustments to exposure, and white balance through a slider based interface. KitCamera offers standard photos, HD video, continuous shooting, high speed shooting, image stabilization, timed photos, multi-exposure, multi-shot, timelaps, long shutter, light-trail, and night snap, and for all you can set separate focus, and exposure points.
Pixelmator ($9.99, iPad) [Review]: The Mac app has been built from the ground up for iPad to emphasize a touch interface, while at the same time delivering an extensive feature set. You can edit photos, compose collages, create images from scratch, and fully interact with photos on a professional level all with just your fingertips. One of the best parts of the Pixelmator on the iPad is the interface with most functions available via a drop down bar at the top of the screen. While it doesn’t fully replace desktop photo editing, it’s the closest yet on iPad, while offering a smooth touch interface that is a joy to interact with.
Pulse (Free, Universal) / Zite (Free, Universal): Pulse, and Zite are the best news apps in the App Store because they provide personalized stories with wonderful interfaces. If you ever like to read the news, Pulse and Zite go hand in hand to deliver every angle. You can read the news from multiple sources and categories, and they’re all effortless to set up with news you care about. Pulse provides a thumbnail grid of the sources you specifically add, while Zite delivers intelligent news aggregation based on your preferences, and article feedback.
Yahoo Weather (Free, Universal) [Review]: The app delicately balances the ability to offer a quick glance weather forecast, and more in-depth weather information, all in one seamless design. The main screen offers beautifully photography that ties into location, time, and current conditions to provide a photo that fits. You’re then given a translucent overlay over the background photo to present the current conditions, a 24 hour line chart forecast, a ten day forecast, descriptive details of the conditions, wind/sunrise/sunset/moon phase chart, and interactive radar map.
Day One ($4.99, Universal) [Review] The best journal app in the App Store thanks to a beautiful interface that offers the ability to type, add photos, and import location, weather, Foursquare places, and links (including video). The highlight though, is the iCloud support so your journal entries are synced across iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and saved in case you delete the apps.
Notability ($2.99, iPad) [Review]: The app has stormed ahead to become the leader of the pack for iPad note taking apps with the 4.0 update. It has everything you could want in a note taking app in an extremely well designed and easy to use package. Penultimate has been the standard for finger based handwriting, but Notability matches, and then adds typing, audio, and PDF import too. There are a few iPad note takers that excel at each individual feature, but none combine all of them into one seamless app. Notability is a must buy for the low price that is the go to app for taking notes on your iPad under any circumstances.
Health Mate (Free, iPhone): A great health utility to track your weight, sleep, steps, heart rate, and more. This app is a great example of using the new iOS 8 health kit functionality. Health Mate works as a stand alone to track various health statistics, as well drawing in information from what the Apple Health app gathers from the various on board iOS device sensors. It’s great to have all of this health information in one dashboard to constantly stay on top of.
Themeboard (Free, Universal) [Review]: Third party keyboards are a big part of iOS *, and Themeboard is keyboard app that focuses on customizing the look of your keyboard above all else. The app sources keyboards from multiple designers to essentially give you a marketplace of various keyboard designs. One of the best parts is that most of the keyboards are given away completely for free, and you can unlock many others by simply sharing them. The most important thing is that all of the new designs still maintain the functions of Apple’s stock keyboard including the QuickType bar. There are also subtle enhancements including a built-in emoji bar at the top, three speed delete, and keyboards being cognizant of numbers, emails, and urls.
Star Walk 2 ($2.99, Universal) [Review]: A sequel, which provides the same star gazing style, but redesigned in every way. The most noticeable changes revolve around the graphic design to depict the sky complete with high resolution artwork, 3D low poly constellations, and atmospheric effects. Not only is there a new look, but there’s a new interface as well which is updated to today’s standards to emphasize minimalism. The entire screen is filled with a depiction of the sky unless you call up one of the menus to dive into the deep information of the stars. The neatest feature is the location tracking, and gyroscope integration to precisely locate your device, and show the exact sky that you’re looking at as you spin around 360 degrees.
Dropbox (Free, Universal): If you ever want to transfer files between your devices then Dropbox is a great choice. Apple’s iCloud is Apple’s own valuable automatic cloud resource, but is mainly for use between iPhone, iPad, and Mac, so beyond those device Dropbox steps in beautifully.
Launch Center Pro 2 ($2.99 -> $0.99, iPhone / ($4.99 -> $0.99, iPad) [Review]: The app is advertised as a speed dial for action, and that is an apt description as it lets you launch tasks, and not just apps. Launch Center Pro lets you do a wide variety of quick actions so that instead of launching the phone app you’re dialing a contact, rather than opening messages you’re sending a message to a particular person, and the same goes for e-mail. Everything is designed to quickly launch you into getting things done, rather than just opening the front to then dive into get things done. Launch Center Pro isn’t just about Apple’s stock apps, but also connects to a wide variety of third party apps. For instance, you can go straight to the camera in Instagram, directly to creating a new Task in Clear, right to a new event in Fantastical 2, and many more.
Auxy (Free, iPad) [Review]: An app that is all about making electronic music with layer bass, drum kit, and synths. Auxy gets rid of the barrier of entry to let anyone start tapping around to create their own great sounding beats. The app is first, and foremost made for touch allowing you to tap the grid to place notes, drag to lengthen notes, and then tap and hold to rearrange. All of it is so touch friendly, and it’s so simple to just start tapping around until you have something that sounds good. The main highlight of Auxy is that it’s just fun to hear a beat come together while experimenting with such simple tools. Despite how easy it is to control, you still have professional sounding quality that can be exported to e-mail, other apps, or iTunes. There’s such a powerful music engine included, and fashioned for the iPad for anyone to use, and that fact can’t be understated.
AirVideo ($2.99, Universal): The app works with all of your videos no matter the type. You can convert video files live, and the video don’t need to be in special iTunes format. AirVideo also works with AirPlay to send full HD video to the Apple TV. Infuseis a valuable alternative.
Netflix/Hulu Plus: We would be remised not to mention Netflix and Hulu Plus for subscribers of either service. Granted the streaming selection on both is limited with Netflix only offering select items to stream, and Hulu Plus restricted to certain shows.
Pandora/Spotify/Songza/Rdio/Mog/Slacker/iheartradio: If you want to listen to tunes outside of your iTunes library, then you have tons of choices. All are various music streaming services focusing on different factors, and all vying for your attention. As they all compete, you win. Of course, you can also listen to iTunes Radio right within the stock music app.
Planetary (Free, iPad) [Review]: It’s somehow free, which is just mind boggling, and should be downloaded by all iPad owners. In fact, Apple should just replace the stock iPad music player with Planetary. There’s not any better way to listen to music on the iPad than with Planetary, making it an absolute must for free.