Every Mac, iPhone, and iPad customer has favorite applications, including yours truly. For me, I categorize my app choices as captive or chosen. Captive apps are those from Apple. Most of us use Safari, Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Messages, et al, because they’re good and cross platform.
What about non-Apple and non-Microsoft and non-Adobe applications? It’s likely we have a few favorites there, too; some cross platform, some so good they’re worth buying a Mac to use, and others just the best at what they do. Here’s my list of the best macOS and iOS apps for 2017.
Apps For Mac
Mac360 started life back in 2004 so we’ve been churning out reviews and commentary for more than 13 years. When it comes to reviews of Mac apps all of the staff’s writers are of a single mind. We choose applications we like, apps we would use, and apps we would recommend to family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers– with the obvious caveat of some support built-in to the recommendation.
Firefox – we live in the golden age of Mac browsers, but Firefox Quantum comes visibly faster but with most of the extension and add-on options Mozilla’s Firefox users appreciate. Even the runners up list is notable with Opera and the free VPN and Brave’s built-in ad and tracker blockers.
News Explorer – Yes, RSS is a thing and it still works but better than ever. There is no faster, better, easier, more efficient method to browse through dozens to hundreds of websites than News Explorer, and it runs everywhere– Mac, iPhone, iPad, even Apple TV.
Pixelmator – The non-Photoshop but Photoshop-like category of photo and image enhancement apps is growing with many contenders and most are very good, come with Photoshop-like features, a much lower price tag, and are worthy of consideration if you don’t want to pay money to Adobe every month. Pixelmator wins by a nose over Affinity Photo and Acorn.
Spark – Email is a much hated exercise in futility a required evil. Apple’s Mail is decent, especially because it has a built-in junk mail filter, but if that’s not a problem the best cross platform email app is Spark. If Apple could start over and build a better email app it would be Spark.
SuperDuper! – Yes, I used iCloud to back up Photos and critical files on my Macs, iPhone, and iPad, but when it comes to the critical cloning operation it’s a near tie between Carbon Copy Cloner, SuperDuper!, and ChronoSync. SuperDuper! is the easiest to setup and use so it gets the nod, but ChronoSync is a more flexible backup tool.
Apps For iOS
There are a few crossovers here. Firefox Quantum does not yet run on iPhone or iPad, and neither does SuperDuper! But News Explorer, Spark, and Pixelmator have iOS versions.
Things & 2Do – Sorry, sometimes there is no clear winner. Things is an excellent to-do manager, as is 2Do and both run on Mac, iPhone, and iPad with ease and sync up quickly. Either one is a good choice.
Ulysses & Scrivener – Any Apple customer who writes for a living knows the value of a good app but there just isn’t one– there are many, and Ulysses and Scrivener are at the top of the list, especially for cross platform device users. The similarities are striking but so are differences what with that whole right-brain, left-brain thing. They’re priced differently, too. Think up front price tag vs. subscription model.
1Password & Enpass – Everyone has usernames and passwords to manage and if you don’t mind the price tag, 1Password is the best, most comprehensive available. It runs and synchronizes well between Mac, iPhone, and iPad. Guess what? Enpass does much the same thing for much less. It even imports 1Password records, and both have an option to login to websites via Safari, Chrome, Firefox, et al.
Waze & Google Maps – As much as I hate anything from Google, Apple Maps, while decent and on an improvement incline for a few years, traffic and mapped details are better on Waze and Google Maps. I hate Google.
Cardiogram – This is the odd app out. Cardiogram is for iPhone, yes, but it’s really for Apple Watch because it uses the built-in Watch heart rate monitor. If you have Watch get Cardiogram. It could save your life. It’s free.
Dark Sky & Carrot – Everyone complains about the weather but nobody does anything about it. Dark Sky and Carrot are the two best iOS apps for weather tracking. Dark Sky because it is so accurate, and Carrot because snark. Close runner up is Weather Underground because it has more detail.
My iOS list for iPhone and iPad is much longer than the Mac’s list of favored apps for 2017. 1Blocker blocks ads and trackers across the board. Get it. PCalc has been around a quarter of a century and runs on Mac, iPhone, iPad, Watch, and Apple TV. Copied syncs your Mac, iPhone, and iPad clipbard. And, yes, Spark runs on iPhone, too, and it’s the only email app for Watch worth using. Strangely, Fantastical remains the best Calendar-like app for iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Watch. It’s just a calendar but is so good it’s worth the price tag.