This is it. Our favorite apps of 2012, the ones that took our devices to new levels of usefulness. Have your own picks? Tell us below in the comments!
10. Fantastical: What makes the iOS version of this Mac calendar app so great? Jennifer Allen says that it’s because of its natural language features. “Adding an event is a matter of tapping the plus button, like with many other calendar apps. Usually, this is where things get slow and cumbersome with users having to slide through times and dates to find the right one. Fantastical makes it so much easier. Users just type what’s going on. Meeting Joe for lunch tomorrow at 1pm? Type that in and the app understands perfectly. … Excluding typos, it’s tough to fool Fantastical, it’s that accurate.”
9. 1Password: Remembering passwords, especially secure ones, is difficult. Thankfully, version 4 of this password app is extremely easy to use and also comes with extra features for easily filling out private information. As David Rabinowitz says: “The sheer number of different types of information 1Password can remember is extremely impressive and comprehensive. It can store all of the usual things, like identities, credit cards, login information and such. But, it can also remember driver’s licenses, social security numbers, software licenses, wireless routers, and even notes if there is something to store that doesn’t fit in one of the many included categories. The app also has some really impressive advanced features, like syncing to iCloud or Dropbox.”
8. Pocket: Read It Later underwent a stylish renovation with a new name, and the result was this dramatically-improved experience that’s now one of the best cross-platform reading list apps available. The app is perfect for keeping up with longform articles, and its integration with apps like Tweetbot means that it's easy to save an article to Pocket from iPhone, and read it later on the iPad. It’s for more than just reading articles, videos work extremely well with it as well. Now, to just solve the problem of having too many saved things to get through.
7. Launch Center Pro: App Cubby expanded out their popular Launch Center application for easy access to actions on iOS with this new Pro version that brings new features and a much-improved interface. Angela LaFollette says “Launch Center Pro is ideal for users who like to save time and works perfectly sitting in the iPhone’s dock. Once you use it, you’ll never be able to stop. It’s packed with a lot of features, and its intuitive and sharp interface both make it attractive to all iOS users.”
6. Adobe Photoshop Touch: While a stripped-down Photoshop experience has been available on iOS for a while, this expanded experience is the photography enthusiast’s best friend. David Rabinowitz says that “ Although it doesn’t offer as much as its full-featured older brother on the desktop, it’s the best photo editing experience available for iOS. Beginners who have never used Photoshop before won’t feel overwhelmed by the app. The desktop version is known for being extremely powerful and full featured, with an at times cluttered and confusing interface, but the tablet version really only includes the essentials.”
5. The Magazine: Marco Arment’s bi-weekly magazine, with several original articles from talented writers, is probably the best justification for keeping Newsstand around at this point. It has a fantastic minimalistic design as well, which is to be expected from the creator of Instapaper. The topics are varied and provocative, great for a short-but-satisfying read, and it's only available on iOS.
4. Sparrow: Apple rarely approves third-party mail clients, so the fact that this one made its way to the App Store is a blessing for users. Sparrow makes it easy to navigate one’s inbox, quickly seeing unread emails, easily going from one mail to the next, and getting to see just who’s emailing with Facebook integration. It was so good that Gmail acquired the dev team, and the Gmail app is already seeing the dividends of the acquisition. While new feature development has stopped, Sparrow isn’t going away, thankfully: it recently got an update for the iPhone 5 and remains perhaps the best independent mail client on the App Store.
3. Google Maps: You never know what you have until it's gone, and such is the story of Google Maps. Ever since Apple’s mapping solution replaced the default Maps app in iOS, which was powered by Google, suddenly people missed Google’s solution. Well, splitting the app away into a third-party release proved to be a great move: while it is yet to see iPad support, the transit directions are a huge help, turn-by-turn navigation has been added to the app, and it's just generally a better experience than it was before.
2. Tweetbot for iPad: Tapbots brought their Twitter client from iPhone to iPad this year, and while the iPad experience is great enough on its own, the synchronization is the app’s real strength. Being able to easily sync unread position between iPhone, iPad, and even the later Mac version is just an amazing experience that works exactly as it says on paper. It’s the best Twitter experience available, period. Enjoy it while it lasts, thanks to Twitter limiting the number of users that an app can have using Twitter.
1. Paper by FiftyThree: This drawing app is incredibly beautiful, allowing for pieces that look incredibly realistic to be brought to life in the app’s virtual pages. But it may be the fact that it’s actually so easy to use, even for non-artists, that it is extremely compelling. Jennifer Allen says “Paper by FiftyThree does for sketching and artistry as iA Writer does for the writer. It’s simple and unsullied by menu bars and buttons. Instead it’s all about expressing creativity.”