Posts tagged best apps of 2014
Nobody can doubt that we have entered a new era of technology: one recent study showed that the world now has 7.1 billion cellphone subscribers, 90% of the global population. By 2015, the study says, the number of cell subscriptions will surpass the number of humans buying them.
Increasingly, as complete the transition from the flip phone era to the smartphone era, we approach a point where you can’t really live without one. And what makes an OS for a smartphone good? The apps. Apps are the single and only thing that brings the best parts of an OS alive, giving you the freedom to do an almost infinite amount of things with your phone. So, with an enormous market, low barriers to entry, (e.g., a $100 Apple developer account and some programming experience) and the ability to go whatever your creative mind wants, there’s no telling how many great apps will pop up. Well, let me tell you: there are tons. So many good apps, in fact almost too many, that you really do need to search for the very best of them. So here I have listed my favorite apps from 2014, all ones I like and use frequently:
Everyone has heard of the privacy and security scandals of this year: Sony, the NSA, iCloud – the list goes on and on and has made many nervous about their online security. If you’re like many, you probably changed your bank password and moved on. But in the back of your mind, you know having unique, strong passwords for each of your online accounts would greatly help your security. That’s where 1Password comes in.
The app is available on your computer, as a browser plugin, and as an app, and will let you enter all of your passwords, concealed all under one single, very strong password of your choice. Hence, “1Password.” Once you input your passwords, credit card info, and logins, 1Password will securely hold them for your use, making them available at your fingertips (literally – since you can enable Apple’s TouchID as an alternative login to the app). The software can even generate a extremely secure password whenever you need to change passwords or create new accounts. I use it all the time, and it’s a great alternative to just remembering them. As it gets easier and easier to hack into personal information, it’s important to have secure passwords, and 1Password will certainly help you do that.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Instagram is one of the most well-designed and user-friendly social apps in the App Store. As someone who uses Instagram on a regular basis, I’ve found that there isn’t much that I dislike about the iPhone app. While some just don’t get the appeal of constant photo-sharing, and I get that, but what makes Instagram so great for me is that I can connect not only with my network of friends, but also follow artists, sports teams and other interesting personalities.
But there are so many features that make the app so great: the top-class photo editing software; easy DMs; the ability to tag and comment people; the list goes on. I’m going to make this short, but if you want to read more on Instagram, read my full reviews HERE and HERE. But, in brief, assuming that you know at least 10-20 people already on the app, all the great social interaction features will surely make Instagram your favorite social media for interacting with friends.
#3. Monument Valley
This Escher-style groundbreaking game defies the common thought that video games can’t really be artistically beautiful. All the amazing optical illusions in this game really works your brain as you seemingly fly through a plethora of amazing scenes and places in the storyline. The great story combined with the beautiful art and easy gameplay makes, in my opinion, Monument Valley one of the best games ever for mobile. In fact, the only one thing bad about it is the short play length; playing non-stop, you can finish it in a couple of hours. Although, most of these complaints were squashed when the creators released an extra eight-level add-on called The Forgotten Shores. The game doesn’t have very much replay value, but while you are playing it, you feel like you’re reading a classic, timeless book. Only better.
To start, I have to mention: Drafts is one of my most used apps, earning its position in my dock. There couldn’t be an easier app to take your thoughts, ideas and notes and export and send them wherever on the Internet you need. Simply, the amount of places you can quickly and easily take your plain-text notes and export them (e.g., as emails, as messages, to Twitter, to Evernote, to Dropbox, etc) is incredibly helpful and customizable, so much so that I rarely spend more than 10 seconds during each use, saving an incredible amount of time. It’s what productivity apps are supposed to do, and Drafts does it perfectly: saving your in-between time for working, relaxing or socializing, and making it easier to get your notes and ideas wherever you need them.
#5. Pocket Casts
I bet you’ve heard of the Serial podcast, and maybe even Start Up. Both are podcasts, one about a murder and the other an ongoing story of a startup podcast company. These two shows have reached far more people than the traditional podcast audience, with Serial even featuring in recent SNL and Funny Or Die parodies. I listen to both, and while I am, I’m realizing that there are many more podcasts available about pretty much anything, many of them very well produced. Thus my need for an app that helps me find, download, organize, and listen to them. My favorite is Pocket Casts.
Pocket Casts easily lets you find new podcasts, subscribe to them (alerting you and even auto-downloads the new podcasts) and listen to them, complete with reviews and summaries. A medium such as podcasts demands an app that’s easy to navigate, because just like music and TV, you want to get to your content as fast as possible, and Pocket Casts does a great job of doing that.
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kAs technology gradually becomes more and more integrated into our daily lives, the amount of interaction that we have with computers and mobile devices is going up. A big part of the time you spend glued to your computer is transitions between actually doing work. Formatting documents, sending emails, calculating, etc. All the time you spend on small tasks like these can be reduced, and that’s where the Utilities and Productivity category comes in. These apps will make doing unimportant tasks easy and fast, making your life more streamlined, easier and altogether better.
It may seem odd, but Drafts is actually one of my most used and helpful apps on my phone. Basically, the app is a note taking apps, with an added feature of exporting to pretty much everywhere. After you type your short note, writing draft, whatever, you can take that and immediately export it to many different places using the pop out sidebar. For example, you can text your writing, email it to a specific preset person, put it in Evernote, tweet it, post it to many different social media sites, set a reminder, save to Dropbox, add an event in Google Calendar, and more. I use the app mostly to email and text myself ideas and reminders, but Drafts has so much potential to be used for so much more. To me, if utilities and productivity apps needed to pick one app to represent the whole category, I would pick Drafts, as it does exactly what utility and productivity apps should: make what would otherwise take a short amount of time instantaneous and easy.
Runner Up: Phlo
There are pretty much two search engines that dominate the gigantic internet market: Google and Bing. But really, we all know that Google has the lion’s share of the market. But, when moving to mobile, there are more options to search from, as your objectives are different, most likely to find a specific piece of information, and fast. So, using only one search engine may not cut it maybe you want to search Wikipedia or Google Images or Youtube. That’s what Phlo does: make it easy, via one search, for you to browse all different sources. It’s like a regular search engine, except with a customizable bar on the side for switching to pretty much any site that might help you. It’s like Google, Bing, Wikipedia, Duck Duck Go, Amazon, Youtube, Google Images, and more all rolled into one. An Internet-wide search engine.
Other Best Utilities And Productivity Apps:
Workflow has been in the news recently, and that’s probably because of it’s ingenious and new design. The app, which is meant to help you get stuff done, lets you take from a plethora of actions involving many of your phone’s features and some third party actions to create a custom workflow. A workflow is a set of these actions that completes a certain objective, like calculates a tip or makes a custom gif. There is an incredible amount of things you could do with the app, but to be honest, I really only used the tip calculator on a regular basis. You can certainly come up with other uses and workflows, but I didn’t find it necessary to use any of the workflows besides for the ones that come with the app. Still, I’m sure this app is incredibly useful to many people, and holds so much possibility for easy and quick usage of the Internet and everything it can do.
Slated is a great use of iOS 8’s new custom keyboard function, allowing you to seamlessly text and type in a completely different language. All you have to do it type out what you want, select the language, and then just tap the bar right above the keyboard. Your text will then change to the language of your choice, and you’re set! And for any of you out there who have to text in another language, I know this is a lifesaver for you, as I am one of those people. But if you aren’t one of those people, it’s still always handy to have all the languages under your tool belt, and as the world is constantly getting more connected over the internet, you may very well need it.
If the App Store is a library, and each app was a book, that would be a pretty dang big library. And unlike books, apps can be updated, social, multiplayer, and iCloud compatible. Even in their own category, apps can bring you a completely different experience from other apps. It’s only logical that something with the same enormity as the App Store would have some good apps, and that’s certainly the case. There are many top-class apps out there, but like I said, there are a lot of them. So, I will pick the ones I used, the ones I like, to review under each category for 2014. To start off, I’ve picked the Social Media category, probably the most used category on the App Store as a whole. Just be forewarned – I don’t use Facebook, so that won’t be on here.
Everybody knows Instagram. The 7th most popular social media app and site out there, the makers of Instagram perfected the photo sharing social media app. Literally there isn’t much more they could possible add. There is an easy direct messaging feature, easy integration with many third party photo apps, easy uploading and taking photos, and great aesthetics. The overall design is great, everything from the like button to the small orange semi-circle indicating you have a notification completes the look seamlessly. This app connects you to your friends, and lets them have a peek into your life and what you do, along with interacting with them via likes and direct messaging. Of course, the main thing that makes a social media app or site is the amount of users they have, and Instagram certainly isn’t short on those, with a current total of approximately 100 million. Great design, great user base, great app.
Although, in the current, popular definition of “social media”, Youtube is on the outer edge, I’ll still put it in here. With a incredible 1 billion average active users, Youtube has built such a following that it is one of the staples of the Internet itself, almost as much as Google. Which makes sense, as Google owns YouTube. As much as a website can, YouTube is a perfect site. And for this article’s sake, I should mention that the app is definitely as good, with a great mobile interface and design.
The ability to create media, such as video, and put it on a platform with so much attention that it makes, with enough hard work and good videos, it easy to become popular over the course of a couple years, is astounding. We live in an age of global information and sharing, and YouTube is just a great example of that. And besides all that, there is a gigantic wealth of information on YouTube in any topic, wether it’s educational, comedy, instructional, entertainment, music, vlogs, or whatever. It’s something that mankind has never had before, and should make full and deserving use of.
Other Best Apps:
Unlike YouTube, Vine is definitely for pretty much entertainment only, as there’s not much you can say that’s educational in only 6 seconds. But, that time limit does make the app very addicting and appealing, as you can scroll for hours on end just watching these small clips of most likely comedy. At least, the 6 second limit gives it a unique quality of a definite social media, one that can be used by anyone, and even to communicate with friends. My personal favorite feature is, although it is not unique to Vine, but that you can pause, start and easily edit your videos. This gives way to many more interesting possibilities, and you can search Zach King, someone who makes full use of that feature. Overall, although Vine isn’t my favorite of all social media, it does have it’s redeeming qualities that make it great for certain purposes.
Quora, a smaller, lesser known social media site, is actually one of my favorite social media sites. The site and app is used as a social query platform. If you have a question that can’t be Googled, or needs the opinion of other people, you can put it on Quora. If it’s a reasonably good question, you can usually expect it to be answered. And if you know the answer to a question on the site, or just want to give your opinion, you can just as easily add your answer to the list of other people answers. Many fairly famous people are on the site, such as Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, and some other celebrities that have sprouted in the Quora community. The amount of interesting opinions, real facts you wouldn’t have otherwise known, personal stories, and tons and tons of questions is what makes Quora a nice, quality social network.
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