Upgrade Your Apps (Part 2) - January 2013

2/1/2013 9:21:32 AM

Instead of notes, try...Evernote

Notes is a short-term solution that's good for little more than quick thoughts and shopping lists. If you want something that'll serve up your notes and clippings on any device with ease, switch to Evernote (free, universal), the premiere cloud based option for such things. The basic service is free to use and also accommodates things like voice notes and images, plus a recent overhaul significantly enhanced the Ul. Premium users can pay a monthly sum for features like shared notebooks and an optional PIN lock.


Instead of clock, try...Alarm clock HD

Apple's Clock app gets the job done when it comes to setting alarms, but Alarm Clock HD ($0.99, universal) turns waking up into more than just a startling event. The LED-inspired aesthetic is an alluring blast from the past, but the app's most impressive feature is its ability to incorporate content from your Twitter or Facebook account or an RSS feed to serve you overnight information on the fly; plus, it'll use your location to deliver the day's weather. It also does a pretty good job of waking you up, but that's expected.

Alarm clock hd

Instead of mail, try...Sparrow

Sparrow's future development on the iOS platform might be cloudy after Google's acquisition, but a recent iPhone 5 update has us thinking the best third-party mail app's days aren't yet numbered. And thankfully so: Sparrow ($2.99, iPhone) is a vision of what we’d love the built-in Mail app to be. with an array of gestures used to flip between conversations and sort email with ease, plus many other little tweaks that spruce up the inbox and make it easier to use. A lack of push support is the only thing that may keep Sparrow off some users' iPhones; otherwise, make the switch!


Instead of safari, try…Chrome

Safari isn't wholly replaceable, since it'll always be the default browser, plus third-party options are at a disadvantage due to Apple forcing them to use UlWebView. But if you can bear the slight performance dip, Chrome (free, universal) is our everyday pick for an iPhone or iPad browser. Google's option does a fantastic job of delivering desktop features to the smaller screen, like the Omnibox for URLs and searches, plus private browsing and cloud sync for passwords, tabs, bookmarks, and more. Even if it can't be the default on our devices, Chrome is the default iOS browser in our hearts.

Instead of safari, try…Chrome

Instead of twitter, try...Tweetbot

If you stare at Twitter on your iPhone as much as we do, you may find it extremely difficult to adjust to a new app. Tweetbot ($2.99, iPhone/iPad) justifies its learning curve by outpacing the official app with a bevy of helpful features and a slick interface. Handy gestures make it easy to view entire conversations or dig into all of the little details behind a tweet, and image previews in the feed and integration with services like Favstar and Instapaper are appreciated tweaks. Plus you can sync your last-read tweets with the iPad and Mac versions—go all Tweetbot, everywhere!


instead of music, try...Ecoute

Sure, your tunes might sound the same pumping through Apple's built-in W Music app, but if you want a bit more visual pop to the navigation and a deeper set of options, Ecoute ($2.99, iPhone) is a great replacement pick. Ecoute drops the list-centric approach in favor of a smooth interface that highlights album covers, making it easy to flip through artists, albums, and tracks. AirPlay and ¡Tunes Match are both available, as is integrated support for, Twitter, and Facebook for sharing purposes, with quick access to lyrics being the cherry on top. For power listeners, it’s well worth three bucks.


Instead of messages, try...IMO messenger

Why use separate apps /. A for mobile to mobile V J notes, instant messaging, Facebook chat, and VOIP calls? Imo Messenger (free, iPhone) condenses a wide array of services into one extremely useful, free app, and it's bound to replace SMS for those who chat on the go with non-iOS users. In addition to looping in Google Talk, AIM, Skype, Facebook, Yahoo!, and many other platforms, Imo can be used to send text bursts and share images within its own service, plus it offers its own VOIP calls and the ability to pass quick voice IMs to others Carry on a chat wherever you are, however you want.

IMO messenger

Instead of maps try...Bing

We’ve come to grips with the current shortcomings of Apple’s Maps, but if you need a respite, our top pick isn’t exactly an app it’s the web version of Google Maps, which works solidly in Safari and Chrome, though an app version is on the horizon. If you need something native now and don’t want to spend a fortune, check out Bing (free, iPhone). Microsoft's all-in-one app includes a pretty solid maps option, complete with transit markers and directions, and it functions pretty similarly to Google Maps in many respects. Apple Maps haters should find it a fairly suitable short-term solution.


Instead of weather, try...Dark sky

The built-in Weather app has barely changed, adding hourly forecasts and auto-detecting your location, but that's about it. Dark Sky ($3.99, universal) keeps track of your location, watches storm radar, and can tell you via push notification within a couple of minutes when it’ll start raining exactly where you are. If you're trying to figure out when you should walk the dog, if a Little League game might be rained out, or if it's a good idea to line-dry your bedspread, nothing beats it.

Dark sky

Instead of podcasts try...Instacast

You won’t find a cheesy reel-to-reel tape animation here, and that's a good thing. Instacast ($4.99, universal) can play the podcasts you already have synced to your iOS device, or you can subscribe to new ones from right within the app. You can set myriad preferences per podcast: whether to download it or stream it, how long to keep it, playback speed, how far the forward and back buttons should skip, and more. It makes keeping up with podcasts effortless, no matter how many you're addicted to.


Instead of reminders, try...Clear

Now that Clear ($1.99, * iPhone) has finally made the leap to the Mac, the popular iPhone app is an even better choice for those averse to Apple's built-in Reminders. Clear gets the job done and looks great doing it, and now all of your reminders and to-do lists can be synced to your Mac via iCIoud, as well. You won't get the ability to create new reminders via Siri, but you can copy and paste text from emails to create new lists, which is almost as cool.


Instead of cards, try...Ink Cards

Apple’s free Cards app lets you send attractive letterpress cards customized with your photos and messages, through the mail, postage included. And while we love sending cards right from our phones that's where our photos and contacts live anyway we prefer the designs of Sincerely's Ink Cards (free, universal), plus they're only $1.99 mailed, while Cards charges $2.99. Ink Cards needs Contacts integration instead of just Facebook, and the option to send in envelopes rather than just as postcards. But we love it anyway.

Ink Cards


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