I feel like I should take the opportunity that the holiday break from work affords me to think back over the last year, and share some of the things that brought joy to my life in 2017.
There are so many apps that I could write about here. I spend a lot of time on my iPad, iPhone, Mac and Apple Watch. This isn’t a comprehensive look at what I use, just some high notes. For instance, I probably use my iPad about 35% of the time for reading across Reeder, Instapaper and the Kindle app, but that’s all the mention they get.
I’m writing this using Bear on my iPad. Bear has become the latest in a line of notepad apps that I have used as a junk drawer for my information. I occasionally take a quick look to see where Apple’s Notes and Simplenote are, both served this role for some time after I abandoned Evernote. Both offer the one thing that has made me reconsider Bear, a web interface to my text. (Bear has one currently under development, but with no announced release date.) What Bear does offer is a really nice clean interface, good tagging support, and first class apps on iPad, Mac and iPhone. It also offers a good community and developers who are actively working to improve the apps. It’s a joy to use, and I happily will let my subscription renew.
I’ve used a lot of weather apps over the years, but I have currently settled on Hello Weather. It offers a clean, uncluttered UI, but without redacting any of the information that I want my weather app to include.
I spent a lot of time this year trying out different podcast apps, but ultimately ended up back where I started, using Overcast. What drove me to look at the other options was the lack of a good working web player or desktop app for Mac. Overcast offers the best iOS app, bar none, in my opinion, and in the end, that won out over the presence of better web players from other developers for me. It would be nice if he made some quality of life enhancements to the web player, but I have taken to just always listening from my phone for now.
I have (I just counted.) 45 photography apps installed on my phone. Darkroom has become the default app for editing and touch ups once I have taken the shot and gotten the image onto my phone, if shot with a camera. It offers really clean workflow that matches how I think about editing images. I still also use VSCO, Priime, and am also trying out TouchRetouch.
I currently have a 429 day streak of checking Timehop. This lovely little app lets me look into what I was doing in previous years across social media and the photos on my device. Most of my social time is spent using Tweetbot and Instagram. Tweetbot offers fantastic list support and I use Twitter in a very list-centric manner, so it maps well for me on all my devices. I continue to miss the days of 3rd party Instagram apps for the iPad. I’ve taken to using their web site on my iPad instead of blowing their iPhone app up 2x.
As a lot of this year was dedicated to fitness, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Activity app from Apple is something I use religiously. My wife and I share our activity goal data, allowing us to encourage each other to do well. I can’t understate the big help that this app and the Apple Watch have been for me as I try to push myself to become more fit and healthy. Late in the year, after I got my Series 3 Apple Watch, I also started using HeartWatch and AutoSleep. Both offer more data than the base Activity app, specifically around sleep efficiency and heart rate data.
In a related vein, since I listen to music while working out, Spotify has become a key app on my phone and my main music app. I maintain a subscription to Apple Music as well, and use SoundCloud and Mixcloud for DJ mixes predominantly, but Spotify rules the day because of it’s device support, social features and better recommendation engine. I could play Spotify through my new living room home entertainment gear on the day it arrived without any additional hardware or effort. If I had to drop a subscription, it would be Apple Music. They just haven’t improved it enough since launch.
Which brings me to games. Two games have remained on my home screen throughout the year, and probably will stay there for some time to come. I’ve been playing Hearthstone since launch, and still enjoy the most recent expansions. Blizzard have done a great job of fostering new content. When I want to get a little more tappy and engaged, I fire up VainGlory. I mostly play their Battle Royale mode. They have built a very responsive MOBA, and I look forward to the release of 5v5 play in January.