When Steve Jobs introduced the App Store for the iPhone, I knew it would be huge. I could not wait to try it (the first app I downloaded was Angry Birds). Still, besides my calendar and contacts, it never occurred to me that I would do many other things with that beautiful piece of glass and metal. I’m not sure anyone truly realized what had just started.
People can’t live without apps today – myself included. I rely on apps to get me to where I’m going, remind me to pick up milk, help me organize projects, and even write this blog entry. While there are always Angry Birds (or whatever games are hugely popular at the time), apps that help make my life easier are the apps that I really rely on now. So here is a list of five of my top apps.
I’ve used this app since it hit the internet, and it’s only gotten better with time. In the last few years, they went to subscription format but honored the people who bought it to keep working the way it always had. I was so in love with the new features that I subscribed, and it’s become one of my most-used apps. Not only is it a calendaring app, but I also connect Apple Reminders for my daily reminders and Todoist, which I use for project management. It shows me all my calendars and all my to-dos and bring everything into one place, so I’m not app hoping. I can customize what calendars and lists I want to see and switch between views. I use Fantastical on all my devices and heavily rely on their Mac quick calendar from the menu bar and IOS widgets. These both provide quick glances at precisely what I have to and let me add and check off items. The thought of paying for a calendar app seems crazy. Still, Fantastical is so good at what it does that it’s worth the cost. It keeps my life, social media calendars, work projects, personal projects, and more in one area for easy access.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Lightroom. Adobe Lightroom is a powerful photo editing app (also subscription-based). I’ve used Lightroom on the Mac since Apple killed Aperture. The first few years of Lightroom mobile (now CC) were iffy at best. The app did not function well and was not easy to edit on. These days Lightroom CC is my preferred editing platform on my iPad Pro. I also use the phone app in a pinch, but I edit primarily on my iPad. Lightroom integrates with the Apple Pencil for a powerful tool for editing photos on the go or sitting on the couch watching tv. Almost all the tools in the desktop Lightroom Classic are in Lightroom CC. I used to travel with a laptop and hard drives, but now I just take my iPad and Apple Pencil, and I know I’ll be able to edit everything. Even when I’m home, I chose to edit on my iPad over my computer.
Evernote is the program I love to hate, and I’ve been using it since 2008. Evernote has so many features that I don’t use, and I feel like I’m paying for so much more than I need. Still, I’ve tested every Evernote alternative, and there is truly nothing like it. They do have a free tier, but it’s so limiting that it’s not really worth it unless you are using one device. However, if you are looking for a place to store crazy amounts of stuff, then Evernote is the best. I’m constantly scouring the web for inspiration for graphic design, web design, photography and video ideas, quotes, and so many other things. Evernote makes it easy to grab whole pages, parts of pages, just text, or even a snippet that I can throw all kinds of inspiration into it. A few things I keep in Evernote: Graphic Design ideas, favorite quotes, receipts, kindle notes, recipes, interior design ideas for my new house, web site ideas. I also write blog posts, work out project notes, keep Instagram keyword research, and more. I’m hoping in a few more years that Apple notes might be enough for my needs. If I used my iPad and iPhone exclusively, I could use Apple notes and be happy. But the way I grad screen captures and Evernote’s web clippers right now, it is hard to beat. I’m even typing this blog entry in Evernote.
I’ve used Apple mail since it has existed. Sure, I have played with other apps and gone to Gmail for a while, but I love the simplicity of Apple Mail. All my devices are Apple, so it’s easy to use across all my devices. I don’t use my iCloud email, nor do I use Gmail. I pay for my email to be hosted with my website, so I use an IMAP account that works beautifully with Apple Mail. I don’t need crazy features with my email account, so simple is my default, and it works great.
Apple Reminders –
My history with Apple reminders is very much a love/hate. I love how easy it is to use but always hated how simple it was (yes – I know). I needed a bit more of a task manager and less of a reminders app. Still, the Siri integration was so crucial for me. I used (and still use for work) Todoist for the longest time (I’m a Grand Master level for those who know what that means). Recently, Apple has been beefing up Reminders. Now with subtasks and being able to set a time on those, I’ve been using it for personal tasks and personal creative undertakings. I still find that I need Todoist, but I think with the new IOS releasing this fall, that might go away with tags and smart lists….I think it might push Apple reminders to the top of the to-do list again. If Todoist just disappeared, I could easily transition all my tasks to Apple Reminders and be happy.
There are a million apps in the App Store, and the productivity field has fierce completion. It seems almost every day, there is a new app for tasks in the long list that is already out there (notion, things, roam research, obsidian, and so many more). For me, I find that simplicity is always the best option. I’ve done the flipping in between apps, and I always end up going back to my basics. The key is to find what you trust and what works and to stick with it.