The original Mac came with a boatload of free software. The Mac was just a very small boat. A few accessories, some utilities, then the almost useless MacPaint, and, of course, MacWrite. We live in a different world today.
Mac, iPhone, iPad, Watch– all come with a suite of applications that, while maybe not best of breed, are exceedingly beneficial to respective customers. Are you missing out if all you use are the apps that came with your device? No.
Many technology and gadget websites have become little more than product shills that promote or advertise various and sundry products; either as a separate shopping section, or paid ads that look like articles. I ran into a headline example of such flagrance just last week on Mashable.
If you’re only using free Mac apps, you’re not living your best life
The impression created is obvious. If all you use are your Mac– or any other Apple device– are the free, basic, and installed apps, then your life is not what it could be or should be.
Translation: Free apps are bad, apps we promote are better.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Good Mac apps out there cost a pretty penny, which is why we settle for ad-ridden free apps or braving it on our own.
Settle? I’m sorry, I refuse to settle for crummy apps, and the free apps Apple provides to Mac, iPhone, and iPad customers are not crummy. They may not be best of breed, but they are incredibly useful to the average customer.
Mashables so-called Team Commerce list is a good list of third party applications, some of which do not have a direct counterpart on the Mac, but is the incentive to promote such acts based upon what is good for the customer? Or, what is good for Mashable’s promotions? Granted, $25 gets you plenty of decent applications, but it’s a promotion; a package of various apps that bring additional utility to your Mac– for a nominal price– vs. using apps that are free.
So, let me defend what comes for free on your Mac, iPhone, and iPad. The list is long.
- Safari – one of the best and most used web browsers on planet earth
- Mail – a very capable, feature-laden email app (needs sync between devices)
- Calendar – basic, but with features most Apple customers need
- Contacts – also basic, but syncs well between devices on each platform
- Maps – yes, there is a Maps app for the Mac, too
- Reminders – more than most Apple customers would ever need
- Notes – helped me to replace a couple of other notes apps
- FaceTime – Skype for Apple customers; far easier to use, less intrusive
- Messages – best between Apple customers, but dependable
- iCloud – kind of a glue-like feature that holds the pieces together
- iTunes – alright, we have some gripes, but name a replacement app
- Photos – more than basics, but easily synchronized between devices
Third party apps abound on both macOS and iOS, and many have more features and capabilities than Apple’s built-in applications. That’s good for the walled garden ecosystem because, well, choice is good. But that does not mean Apple’s own apps are not worthy of your attention and use. Apple’s apps are damned good at what they do and play nice-nice with each other.
Mac360’s writers have been doing much the same thing since 2004; more than 14 years of identifying and reviewing apps not found on mainstream technology websites. Our requirement is simple. We review apps we use ourselves, or would recommend to family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers (knowing that an element of personal support and reputation rides with the recommendation). It’s that simple. We also defend the basics in such apps– including Apple’s own– because usability trumps the glitter of bolted-on features and a fat price tag.