My Favorite Apps of 2017

Favorite Apps

Recently, when I posted my iPhone X’s home screen, I shared about how Simplenote had just been replaced by Bear on my iPhone’s bottom row*

And as I was writing about that, it dawned on me that I’d been using Simplenote for nearly a decade. (!)

It’s already pretty incredible that the iPhone is 10 years old. But it’s even more wild to me that there are some iOS apps — such as Simplenote — which were available on the App Store in those very early days and have stood the test of time.

With my move from Simplenote to Bear, it dawned on me just how rarely I change up the apps I use. For the most part, I am settled in with my day-to-day apps and workflows. Like a pair of well-worn sneakers, I’ve become quite comfortable with what I’m using.

Sticking with the same apps and workflows has its advantages and disadvantages. The good is that you get really used to things, and you can just kinda fly around getting stuff done. The bad, is that you could totally be using an outdated set of tools and not even realize it.

This year I made a few big changes to a few major apps. And after years and years of using certain apps, a few new-to-me apps in particular really transformed the way I work…


I (re)discovered Ulysses this year, and it has massively transformed my daily writing routing.

Having a single spot for all ideas, articles, research, thoughts, notes, quotes, and more has been a huge benefit. Moreover, I’m just a big fan of the app. It’s well designed, easy to use, and extremely powerful.

Basecamp 3

My team and I went all in with Basecamp earlier this year after attending one of their workshops in Chicago and it’s been so helpful. We used to be on a combination of Dropbox, Slack, email, an iMessage. Now we are entirely on Basecamp and it’s so much easier.

Things 3

After 7 years with OmniFocus, I switched back over to Things when version 3 came out earlier this spring.

I realize that no task-management app is perfect. There are great features about OmniFocus that I wish Things had, and vice versa. Also: Ditto for Todoist.

Things 3 is beautiful, and there are a lot of very helpful details all throughout it. I’ve really been enjoying it, and have re-written all of my OmniFocus Applescripts to now work with Things.

iCloud Drive

While I haven’t yet gone all in with iCloud Drive (from Dropbox) I’m just about there. There are 3 huge competitive advantages I see with iCloud:

  • 2TB of storage for $99/year (which is 2x the storage of Dropbox).
  • iCloud Photo Library built into Photos. (Unless I’m missing something, this is pretty much the dream: all my photos and videos are always available and synced automatically on all my devices).
  • Much better syncing and sharing integration on Mac and iOS compared to Dropbox, since it’s built in at the OS level.

Fortunately, it’s not that hard to use Dropbox and iCloud Drive. You just have to remember which folder exists on which cloud service when hunting for it on iOS.

Right now the only big competitive advantage that Dropbox has is shared folders, and so I’m having a hard time wondering how much longer I’ll be paying that extra $99 each year for Dropbox Plus.

Other Awesome Apps

Here are the apps I’m still using just about every day (on iOS and/or Mac): Apple Music, Instapaper, VSCO, Tweetbot, Overcast, Day One, Keyboard Maestro, LaunchBar, 1Password.

Bonus: A Few Games

So I kinda got into gaming a little bit this year. I still don’t own a Nintendo (sigh), but here are a few games on iOS that I discovered and that are a lot of fun:

  • Causality was great at really pissing me off.
  • The Kingdom Rush games continue to be some of my favorites of all time.
  • I really enjoyed Leo’s Fortune on the Apple TV.
  • Returner 77 on iPad was a beautiful and clever first-person puzzler.
  • And Twofold inc is a blast without being a commitment.

* I’m not yet sure I’ll stick with Bear, there are a few things that irk me about it, but it does to a LOT of stuff right. But more on that another day.

My Favorite Apps of 2017