The Apps that Stuck in 2011 — iPhone Edition

I tested a ton of apps in 2011 — too many to count. Because of that process it meant that new apps were constantly challenging the old guard on my iPhone, here’s the apps that I ended the year with (well the ones worth mentioning).

Calendar

The second most popular email I get is: what calendar app do you use on your iPhone… I tested a lot of calendar apps during the year and every time I came back to Agenda. It’s certainly not perfect, but it works really well for my needs.

I love the continuous scroll view that allows me to consume a lot of information very quickly. For that reason alone it has been fantastically hard for me to even bother giving another calendar more than a couple of days on the home screen.

A big point of friction on the iPhone was entering calendar data — this made a lot of other apps challenge Agenda. However with the release of Siri it has become easy enough to tell my phone a new appointment and then look at my schedule in Agenda.

Without Siri I maybe using something like Calvetica.

Weather

Ah yes: weather apps. I was a big fan of My-Cast and it still is a very good app. Truthfully though once I got my hands on the iOS 5 beta I switched back to the stock weather app and I am still using it.

While I don’t like the overall look of it, it excels in simplicity and telling me exactly what I need to know. I have been mostly happy with the app and frankly Siri handles a lot of my weather queries these days.

Many have asked if I have looked a new weather app X and for the most part I have. I still haven’t found one that is more practical than the built-in app that Apple now offers.

Check-In

Big changes here in the social space as Gowalla, my long favored location check-in app, is dead and gone from my iPhone. I have replaced it with Foursquare and though I don’t much care for the app itself — it actually fills the need perfectly. 1

I do miss the original Gowalla though…

Notes

This was perhaps the most challenged app on my iPhone home screen, but Notesy is still there. I am not joking when I say this app was challenged — it felt like every other day another note-taking Dropbox app made its way to my iPhone, but time and time again Notesy came right back into its home on my first screen.

I am not sure if it is my affinity for the app icon, or my love of the Solarized themes in the app that does it, but for an app that hasn’t been significantly updated in a while — it sure holds its own.

The Less Interesting Ones

Of all the changes for apps on my iPhone, perhaps the most notable to me was moving Instapaper back onto my home screen. I hadn’t been using it much on my iPhone, so it was moved off in favor of giving my a space to add an app I wanted to heavily test.

However in the last 4 months of 2011 I found myself using Instapaper so much that it made no sense to not have it on my home screen. I don’t use Instapaper on my iPhone in the same way that I do on my iPad, but I do use it to fill tiny voids in my day with non-game content.

So back Instapaper came.

There has been one app that went unchallenged in 2011: OmniFocus. Not even a single new task management app piqued my interest enough to think about trying it in lieu of OmniFocus. I find that interesting given how competitive the space has historically been, but not surprising given how good OmniFocus really is. Reminders from Apple came the closest, but even then it was just a supplement to OmniFocus — that is until OmniFocus baked in the Siri support.

Lastly, Capture stuck on my home screen even though it is one of the least used apps on my iPhone. It’s one of those apps that when you need it, you need it. For that reason alone I have found it worth keeping on the home screen.

Personally I find it very interesting that most of the apps that are on my home screen have been on there for a very long time. It’s interesting not only because of how many apps I tested, but because of how competitive the app market is.

Further I noticed that I could move too different kinds of apps because of the addition of Siri to my iPhone. The Apple weather app is the prime example — it’s not good enough without Siri, but with Siri it is more than sufficient.

When/if Siri is opened up to third party developers things should get very interesting in the iOS app space, let’s hope that happens soon.

  1. I use it as a breadcrumb for myself, so that when I ask myself “have I been there?” I have a way to check.
Originally posted for members on: January 17, 2012
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