Tech  |  Lists

10 Great Apps for Your New Mobile Device

January 2, 2013  |  9:57am

Whether you’re running Android or iOS, 2012 was a great year for the advancement of apps. With the return of some old favorites on iOS (Google Maps: distance indeed made the heart grow fonder…) and some amazing newcomers like my new personal favorite, Paper, we’ve taken the time to rank our 10 favorite. List yours in the comment box below.

10. Simplenote
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This is a cloud-based note-taking app that’s elegant in its simplicity. It syncs with a number of different desktop/laptop note-taking apps (I sync mine with the minimalist Notational Velocity), and ensures that whatever notes you take on the road will be there for you when you return to your home computer, and vice versa.—George Howard

9. Phraseology
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A tablet would never be my first choice for writing or editing, but when I’m in a pickle Phraseology makes it work. It’s a smartly designed word processor app that lets me shuttle words, sentences and paragraphs around with ease. It also lists more stats than a baseball card, running down my word count, my total characters, my average number of words per sentences, and more. It’s still awkward typing on a virtual keyboard, but even without a keyboard attachment Phraseology is a useful little writing app.—Garrett Martin

8. Viggle
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If you love getting punch cards at restaurants and coffee shops, you’ll love Viggle. Viggle is a television loyalty-rewards app that “checks-in” users to shows. Once Viggle magically confirms that you are indeed watching a show on your television, you’ll immediately begin to rack up Viggle points that you can eventually spend on rewards like gift cards and even a free month of Hulu Plus. It seems a bit hokey at first, but in the era of television streaming, Viggle is a noble attempt to get people back in front of their TVs and watching their shows together in community. Plus, who else has ever offered you free stuff just for watching TV?—Luke Larsen

7. Pocket (Formerly Read It Later)
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Pocket is a complete revamp of the now-familiar Read It Later service, complete with a name change and a new interface that allows video and photos to be saved for later. And we’re not talking about simply aggregating a list of virtual bookmarks; Pocket caches all your content (outside of video) so it’s all available offline. This handy service works across Android and iOS devices, as well as computers. It’s easy to use and it’s got an interface that makes Instapaper feel a little dated. But Pocket isn’t interested in competing with Instapaper; one is for text and one is for multimedia. Pocket is great at what it does, and comes highly recommended.—Luke Larsen

6. The Magazine
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The Magazine, developed by Marco Arment (who also created Instapaper and kicked off the read-it-later trend), finally gave me a good reason to use the Newsstand feature of iOS. It’s an entirely digital magazine, covering topics from achieving the perfect wet shave to the Tour de France, with an issue every two weeks. Originally written for geeks by geeks, The Magazine continues broadening its scope and embracing more and more variety as it grows. Subscribing costs $1.99/month, and each issue comes with four to six articles for your perusal. The user interface is beautifully intuitive; it’s so easy to use that many people have suggested the app is re-inventing what a digital magazine should look like. 8-ball says that might be true!—Nathan Snelgrove

5. Clear
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Clear is nothing more than a to-do list. You can make tasks, rename them, reorder them, and delete them. That’s it. However, the success of Clear speaks to the real purpose behind these things we call “apps”—especially the things we call “productivity apps”. Clear doesn’t just make tasks fun—it has actually made me more productive. In the most intuitive and beautiful way possible, this app does exactly what it promises: cuts out all the extra baggage that most productivity apps pile on and leaves you with a clear view of your tasks at hand.—Luke Larsen

4. Flipboard
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Flipboard didn’t debut in 2012, but it did expand its wings this year to devices beyond its iPad and iPhone origins and embrace Android devices. Flipboard has been the killer app for news aggregation on the go for two years ago, and that claim has only solidified this year. Integration with Facebook, Twitter, and your RSS Feeds make it the perfect way to get news. Beyond that, though, the Flipboard team started experimenting with in-app advertising. At this point, you’ve probably noticed the full-page glossy-style advertising that seems like it’s been ripped straight from a real magazine. But beyond that, Levi’s was the first to take advantage of a Flipboard catalogue in September, a first for a mobile app. Flipboard’s approach to advertising may be in-your-face compared to some of their competitors, but it’s working for them and users seem to actually enjoy it. And those pageflips!—Nathan Snelgrove

3. Paper
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It’s always the apps that are built from the ground-up with a specific device in mind that feel the most intuitive. In that way, Paper for the iPad seems like a no-brainer. Paper is the simplest painting app imaginable. No menu of tools and brushes — just a single brush and the blank white canvas to start off with. Paper’s limited tools will definitely force you to use your imagination but in a world dominated by software like Photoshop and Microsoft Word, the limitations are a breathe of fresh air. With Paper, less is definitely more — and we couldn’t be happier about it.—Luke Larsen

2. Figure
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Media consumption dominates so much of what smartphone and tablets users do on their devices. That’s why when an app as beautiful and fun to play with as Figure comes around, we should all pay attention. And who better to make a miniature synth sequencer than Propellerhead, the creators of the industry standard MIDI sequencing software Reason? But Figure is more than just a bite-sized Reason. It is simplified, but it’s also an incredibly satisfying new way to create beats and loops. Hit record and you might just be a few swipes away from your next big single.—Luke Larsen

1. Google Maps
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Under the direction of Tim Cook and Scott Forstall, 2012 was going to be the year that Apple would finally release itself from Google’s hold on map and GPS services on their devices. Instead, Apple ended up making of their biggest software blunders in recent memory and left iPhone users wondering if Android users really were better off. Fortunately, Google released Google Maps—the best iOS app they’ve ever made. It features a superb UI, turn-by-turn voice navigation, and some very snappy new vector-based maps. If you still need proof that Google knows UI just as well as it knows algorithms, look no further. Most importantly though, iPhone users will no longer be driving around completely lost screaming into their phones.—Luke Larsen

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