The release of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite this year brought the Apple ecosystem closer together. My workflow has evolved through the past year and my app usage has changed as a result. Here are my top ten apps of 2014 in no particular order. The platforms that I use them are listed in the brackets.
1. Slack (iOS/Mac/Web)
Matt and I used to communicate via messaging apps such as iMessage, Facebook Messenger and Google Hangouts. It was a mess and keeping track of the different topics was a nightmare. We decided to give Slack a go and it has transformed our communications.
By being able to segregate our conversations into different channels, it helps us easily follow the multiple topics. One feature I really like is the ability to view a list of link shared in a channel. This is important since we are constantly dumping links for each other to consume.
2. VSCO Cam (iOS/Mac)
This is the only camera app you will ever need. I have tried hundreds of camera apps ever since I got my first iPhone back in 2009. The only app that I felt came close was Hipstamatic. I used Hipstamatic a lot but found the skeumorphism too distracting. When I tried VSCO Cam, I was sold and it was not long before I ditched Hipstamatic and most of my camera apps.
3. Instagram (iPhone)
This is the only social network app that gets a space on my home screen. I won’t count VSCO Cam as one. This is an interesting shift in how I engage social media, especially since I deleted Facebook from my phone.
I find Instagram posts requiring me to be less invested. Look at a photo, scroll to the next. Tap to like or comment if I have something to say. As opposed to seeing links on my Facebook news feed and getting sucked in when I open the link. In this sense, Facebook Paper allows me to browse my news feed in a manner more akin to Instagram. The ability to easily share from Facebook Paper to Pocket helped keep me from going down the rabbit hole, since I can save to Pocket instead of reading it the link there and then.
4. PhotoDesk (Mac)
The best app for browsing Instagram on Mac OS X. PhotoDesk, formerly InstaDesk, is a powerful Instagram client. It supports multiple accounts, allows you to sort your feed, lets you like many images with one click, and lists your favourite users and informs you if there are new photos from your favourite users. Power users will appreciate the ability to create comment templates for canned responses.
5. 1Password (iOS/Mac)
The many hacking incidents and password leaks in 2014 show that password security is something not to be taken lightly. The best way to avoid multiple compromises would be to avoid reusing passwords. This is where password managers help make your life easier and your passwords more secure. I have not tried the other alternative password manager. However, my experience with 1Password has been fantastic.
The app can create a unique password for each service and website you use. Since you don’t have to remember the password, you can generate passwords with high entropy. You don’t key in the password as 1Password inserts the password for you, thus circumventing the risk of key loggers.
6. Mail (iOS/Mac)
I used to rely on Sparrow for emails. However, since its demise after bring bought over by Google, I have been searching for a replacement. I tried Mailbox on iOS and it has proven to be useful for powering through my unread items. Airmail is a worthy successor to Sparrow on the Mac. However, due to bugs with Airmail, I switched back to the default Mail app.
The Mail app has improved tremendously since the last time I tried it back on OS X Lion. In fact, it has comfortably become the only email app that I use. The only thing I miss is the ability to sort through Gmail tabs, but the lack of such a feature does not stop me from using it.
7. Reeder (iOS/Mac)
Ever since Reeder was released on iOS, I have been using it to browse my RSS feeds. When Google Reader was closed down by Google, Reeder did not work until it was updated to support other feed syndicators. During that period, I tried options such as Feedly and Digg Reader, but I didn’t like them. When Reeder 2 for iOS was launched, it immediately became the only RSS feed reader on my iPhone and iPad. Reeder 2 for Mac was released a year later, an agonising wait during which I had to rely on other apps.
8. Pocket (iOS/Mac/Web)
Pocket has become such an integral part of my content consumption workflow, and a big aid in improving my productivity and reducing distractions. I save articles and videos to Pocket, instead of opening them to read and end up being distracted. Content from all sources are funnelled into Pocket, be it from emails, Reeder or links my friends share.
9. IFTTT (iOS/Web)
Automation takes repetitive tasks out of our hands and frees up time. IFTTT plays an important role in sharing content across platforms, such as automatically posting my Instagram photo on Twitter as an image.
10. MarsEdit (Mac)
This entry was drafted in MarsEdit. If you are a blogger, or create content for a blogging system, you should consider MarsEdit. It has transformed the way I blog and spurred me on to blog more frequently. I really like how I get live preview of my entries alongside the editor. The preview is configured to pull CSS from my sites so I get to see exactly how the articles would look like as I type. Markdown support is a plus.