For the past four years, I’ve been running a series called My Must-Have Apps that, once a year, collects all the apps I find indispensable to get work done on my iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Considering changes to my daily life and workflow, this year only features my must-have iPad and iPhone apps.
There was a time when I thought that I could work entirely from my iPhone; after upgrading to a cellular iPad two years ago and once I began moving to an iPad-centric workflow, I realized that the tablet was the iOS device that I preferred for writing, reading, doing email, and watching movies. For millions of users, the iPhone turns into a mobile computer as soon as they step away from the comfort of a desk with a Mac. But I’ve come to realize that I’d rather have two iOS devices with me at all times – a smaller iPhone and a bigger iPad – than one that tries to do everything at once. Which is why, ultimately, I decided to go with an iPhone 6 and an iPad Air 2 this year.
In spite of my personal preference, though, I can’t deny the fact that, nowadays, it’s hard to find iOS apps – and especially utilities or productivity-related apps – that aren’t Universal. The trend of “iPad-only” and “iPhone-only” apps has been substantially downsized in recent years – none of the apps on my iPad Home screen are exclusive to the iPad at this point. So while I like and use the iPhone more for listening to music, taking pictures, or monitoring my health data, I still end up installing a text editor, a shortcut launcher, and a Python interpreter on my iPhone because they’re available and because why not. This isn’t an ideal scenario – too many developers are making iOS apps that simply scale across screen sizes without taking advantage of the unique features of each platform – but that’s beyond the scope of this series.
It was tough to compile a list of must-have iPhone apps this year: I’ve already covered most of them in my iPad article, and I don’t use the iPhone as much as my iPad. But at the same time, I realized that, for those times when I needed to work from my iPhone, those smaller iPad apps were absolutely necessary, even if not running on a screen size that I’m comfortable with. And, more importantly, I believe the article can be useful to readers who had no interest in iPad apps and my iPad workflow.
This year, I’ve only covered iPad and iPhone apps, as I practically don’t use a Mac anymore. For apps shared across my iPad and iPhone, I used the same base descriptions, with differences for the iPhone versions noted and rewritten where necessary. This is a remix and addendum to my must-have iPad apps.
In the list below, you’ll find apps organized in seven sections:
- Work Essentials
- Audio and Music
- Photos and Screenshots
At the end of the article, you’ll also find my iPhone App of the Year and a Runner-up. Each app has a direct iTunes link, and, where possible, I’ve included links to previous MacStories coverage as well.