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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Six Colors Staff

Our favorite things: iOS apps

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

From quick-check iPhone apps to super-deep ones for the iPad Pro, there’s a broad spectrum of iOS apps out there, and a bunch that we love. Here’s a look at 18 of our favorite iOS apps of 2015.



It doesn’t seem right to say positive things about Microsoft Outlook. Outlook has been a Mac bogeyman for so long, the word that Windows-focused IT pros utter when they want to crush the spirit of Mac users beneath a boot of incompatibility. But times change, and while the current version of Outlook for Mac is a lot better than its predecessors, outlook for iOS is positively spectacular. It’s a mail client that interoperates effortlessly with non-Microsoft servers such as Gmail, offers a filtered view to show you your most important mail first, and integrates a calendar in the same app. All of Microsoft’s iOS apps are impressive (and way better than Google’s, by the way), but Outlook might be my favorite.—JS (Free)



If you’re not using two-factor authentication, you really should be. If you are, you really should be using Authy. It’s the best way I’ve found to keep track of all those various accounts, so that you don’t have to receive a billion text messages and remember which one is from where. Plus, with Touch ID support and automatic backup, you can be sure that your authentication tokens are secure, and that you won’t lose them and have to start from scratch.—DM (Free)


I love 1Password on both Mac and iOS, but in the past year (as I’ve added an iPad that supports Touch ID to my life) I’ve come to appreciate the iOS version even more. Now that I can unlock my 1Password vault from almost any iOS app via a Share extension and a quick read of my fingerprint, I’ve gone from deferring requests to log into web services until I’m back on my Mac to just diving in and getting business done right on my iPad.—JS (Free, pro features $6)



In the last month or so my family has changed grocery lists and adopted AnyList as our grocery list of choice. It lacks the whizzy bar-code-scanning feature that we got from Grocery IQ, which I listed here last year, but it’s a more attractive and modern app and, most importantly, integrates well with Siri. Now my wife and I can say, “Hey Siri, add crunchy peanut butter to my grocery list” and that item will be added to the list automatically (via clever integration with Reminders).—JS (Free, optional monthly or annual subscriptions)

Dark Sky


Weather apps are a dime-a-dozen on iOS, but Dark Sky‘s still my favorite. Its hyperlocal forecasts and push notifications of when precipitation is about to start are more often than not frighteningly accurate. And its latest major update, which brought a daily weather forecast notification and the ability to more finely tune alerts, has just made a great app even better.—DM ($4)



Let us praise the iOS Notes app. It was used constantly, even though it wasn’t very good. Then, with iOS 9, Apple finally made it good. It’s got iCloud syncing, drawing support (including fantastic Apple Pencil support on the iPad Pro), styled text, checkboxes and outlining, and a whole lot more. I use this app all the time—well, truth be told, I used it a lot before iOS 9, but now I use it even more. —JS (included with iOS)



I don’t always do great at getting my 10,000 daily steps, but Pedometer++ at least does a good job of tracking them. It’s a simple app, but it’s the little touches that count, like the red, orange, and green tints to the interface, depending on how many steps you’ve racked up; the explosion of confetti when you reach your goal; and the third-party complication for the Apple Watch. It’s also an incredibly smart app that can use data from both your Watch and your iPhone to provide a more accurate picture of your activity.—DM (Free)


I’ve traveled a decent amount in 2015, and the app that’s helped me the most for getting around has got to be Citymapper. It covers most of the major cities in the U.S. as well as a decent number of places around the world, and handles subway lines, bus lines, foot travel, and so on. It’s also got one of the better Apple Watch apps out there.—DM (Free)



Google Maps and Apple Maps are fine, but they’re devoted to driving, not hiking. I had trail maps for some of the hiking trails around our community, and a phone capable of GPS, but no way to put the two together so I could see my current GPS location on a trail map. That problem was solved by Maplets, a friendly app that lets you download from a directory of more than 11,000 maps that have been coded with GPS information. I was able to quickly find the trail maps for my town and load them in, and now when I go on hikes I know exactly where we are on the trail map. Fantastic stuff.—JS ($3)


The gentlemen over at Studio Neat have created lots of great real-world doodads, but they’ve also made a few nice apps, including Highball. As the name suggests, it’s for storing cocktail recipes, but you can also exchange them with friends, create your own, and search their drink library.—DM (Free)



Never know when you might need an SSH client on your iOS device. Prompt, from the fine folks at Panic, is capable and good-looking to boot. It handles private key generation, offers Touch ID security, and syncs your saved server entries between your iPhone and iPad. In particular, I love its customizable keyboard for saving frequently used snippets.—DM ($8)


The Slack service made our list of favorite services, and this was truly the year Slack became indispensable for me. But the Slack iOS app deserves a mention. It’s got quirks, but I’m using it constantly and once I discovered that I could do a three-finger swipe to switch between different Slack accounts, I was a much happier user.—JS (free)

Ferrite Recording Studio

As I’ve written about before, Ferrite is the first audio editor that has made me feel like I could switch to the iPad to edit podcasts. Its interface feels natural and designed for touch, rather than ported from a janky PC version. I tend to use it with an external keyboard because a few features still take too long to execute with touch alone, but I have hopes that this brand-new app will just keep getting better. —JS (free with two $10 in-app purchases for higher-end features)

Amazon Video

I prefer Netflix’s content catalog and probably Hulu’s, too, but you’ve got to hand it to Amazon Instant Video—it’s got a killer feature that neither of those competitors can match. That’s support for downloadable, offline video, meaning that if I’m about to go on a long plane ride, I’m downloading episodes of “Man in the High Castle” or “Catastrophe” rather than “Jessica Jones” and “Master of None.” Sometimes people are offline, Netflix—get with the program. —JS (free, media for rent, purchase, or with annual Prime membership)



Like I said, I’ve been doing a lot of traveling. FlightTrack is my favorite way of keeping track of flights—both mine and other people’s. In the former case, it helps me keep track of whether my flight is delayed; in the latter, it keeps me updated so I know when I have to leave for the airport to pick them up. I really enjoy its cool visuals, overlaying a plane on a satellite map, and its built-in information, including maps, of origin and destination airports.—DM ($1)


Most of the stuff I’ve been writing on the iPad Pro has been in 1Writer, a Markdown text editor I heard about from Federico Viticci. It’s quite good, with multitasking support and JavaScript-based scripting support. The iOS text editor market is surprisingly competitive, but right now on iPad Pro 1Writer has a leg up. —JS ($5)



Marco Arment’s podcast player Overcast was one of my favorite iOS apps last year, and this year things haven’t changed much. Version 2 of Overcast adds support for chapter marks and makes most of its best features, such as Smart Speed and Voice Boost, free. —JS (Free, with requested donation)



Another holdover from last year’s list, Nuzzel uses the links in my Twitter and Facebook feeds to construct a list of top headlines. This is my newsreader of choice, and has been for more than a year. Nuzzel also works great with Twitter lists, so I can add a bunch of interesting people to an interest area such as sports or space, and sit back as the links roll in.—JS (Free)

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