iPhone Life magazine

iPhone Life Bloggers' Choice Awards: Best Apps of 2013

We know you've come to rely on the bloggers at iPhoneLife.com for helpful reviews of all the best offerings in the App Store. With over 1 million apps for your iPhone and over 475,000 apps for your iPad, deciding which apps to download can be overwhelming. That's why we asked all of our bloggers to vote for their favorite apps released or updated in 2013. Here are their top three in seven categories!

Entertainment

Compiled by Siva Om

Our iDevices are revolutionary, considering the many ways they allow us to keep ourselves entertained. There are a tremendous number of awesome apps out there that deliver customized entertainment, but the following apps get our votes as the best of the best iOS apps for consuming entertainment media.

Pandora (free)

This free music streaming app offers the ability to fine tune music stations to your precise specifications. Unlimited music streaming and highly personalized stations helped make Pandora this year’s winning app.

You Tube (free)

 

Whether it’s for education or entertainment, research or silliness, YouTube remains a crowd favorite with its extensive catalog of free movies and videos.

Netflix (free, subscription required)

 

With a huge library of popular and critically acclaimed films, and a growing line up of award-winning, original shows, Netflix is definitely one of our favorites.

 

Creativity

Compiled by Siva Om

When it comes to tapping into our creative spirit, our iDevices have made it possible for everyone to be an artist and intuitively translate our imaginative impulses into just about any creative medium you can think of. Out of all the myriad options for iDevice content creation, these are our top picks.

Camera+ (iPhone, $1.99;  iPad, $4.99)

 

Camera+ is the immensely popular and feature-rich photo-capturing/editing, and sharing app that enhances your iDevice’s already capable camera, making the world of advanced photography techniques easily accessible.

Garage Band (free)

 

Apple’s Garage Band is undeniably the next best thing to having a full-featured music composition and production studio in your hands wherever you may go.

Procreate ($4.99 iPad only)

 

A 2013 Apple Design Award Winner, this intuitive app has incredible depth and potential for anyone artistically inclined, turning your iPad into a limitless, virtual canvas.

 

Social Networking

Compiled by Todd Bernhard

Gone are the days where you simply visited www.twitter.com to share your tweets or see what your friends are up to. A dedicated app makes it easy to upload photos and videos and stay in the loop, thanks to push notifications.

Instagram (free)

 

A picture is worth a thousand words, and Instagram makes it easier than ever to share those pictures with friends, fans, and countless others. The recent update adds 15-second video support, besting Twitter’s Vine app which is limited to 6 seconds. Numerous filters let you channel your inner Spielberg for custom effects. Your selfies never looked so good! And with Snapchat turning down $3 billion, Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram for $1 billion seems like a bargain.

Snapchat (free)

 

Snapchat addresses a specific segment of the photo sharing market. While other apps and social platforms want your photos to be shared with the world, Snapchat is designed to create self-destructing images that can only be seen briefly by the intended recipient then they are gone forever. There are workarounds, so politicians who like to share a little too much shouldn’t be overconfident!

Twitter (free)

 

Twitter’s own app wasn’t much to tweet about, originally. Most tweeters embraced third-party apps like TweetBot, Twitterific, and Tweetie, which led Twitter to purchase the company that made Tweetie. The result is a much better official app with full support from the social network leader.

 

Information & Search

Compiled by Todd Bernhard

Long ago, our phones displaced traditional media such as yellow pages, white pages, paper maps, encyclopedias, and dictionaries. Now, thanks to Text-To-Speech, the cloud, and always-on data connections, our phones combine GPS mapping with search engines and Siri.  The result is a robust solution for information access, making dedicated GPS units look like transistor radios compared to an iPod.

Google Maps (free)

 

Blame it on Apple, but the lackluster launch of Apple Maps necessitated a dedicated app from Google. As Apple learned, it’s hard work and Google has spent a long time building their mapping capabilities, with support for biking, walking, and public transit directions plus integrated search for hotels and more. Of course, Apple Maps is getting better with each release. Still, it’s hard to compete with Google’s cavalry of StreetView vehicles and petabytes of map data and images. 

Yelp (free)

 

When you want to search locally, Yelp has got you covered. For restaurants and much more, Yelp is a crowd favorite. Reviews are a source of dispute, with claims of fake reviews, pro and con, so remember, the best recommendations are from people you know. But the Yelp app helps you get the facts about businesses near you.

Chrome (free)

 

Apple has a love-hate relationship with Google, makers of iOS competitor Android as well as iOS apps like Google Maps and the Chrome browser. As with Google Maps, Chrome offers enough advantages over Apple’s built-in offerings that Apple had to allow it. Chrome offers tabs, private viewing, syncs with Chrome on other devices, is fast, and gets out of the way, which is important for a small screen device.

 

Productivity

Compiled by Nate Adcock

The best apps are those that help you get stuff done effectively. If an app doesn’t help you quickly organize a calendar or kill a zombie, it probably doesn't stay on your iPhone long. So, we have rounded up our iPhone Life favorite productivity apps that are so effective we never lack for zombie killing time!

Fantastical ($2.99)

 

Organize your life with this excellent calendar app that makes it possible to view monthly events and details together, and schedule a reminder into your iPhone with a simple, quick phrase.

Evernote (free)

 

Evernote will show up on just about every "best of" list you come across, and for good reason. Organize notes with sketches, images, and audio memos, and sync them across all your cloud connected clients.

Gmail (free)

 

Though Gmail is an app/service that requires a Google account, this app has a wonderful mobile email experience with auto-categorized email, priority, and uniform presentation no matter the endpoint.

 

Reading

Compiled by Nate Adcock

Reader apps are typically tied to a web store that sells books, magazines, or an aggregate of news feeds. Our excellent bloggers weighed in with the apps they prefer to curl up with for a good read! Let's check 'em out!

iBooks (free)

 

Featuring tons of the best authors and book titles that you will find (and always growing), this Apple add-on brings not only a superb browsing experience, but a very attractive and customizable reading experience!

Kindle (free)

 

It was a very close call between iBooks and Kindle, but at second place, the Kindle app is not hugely different from the reading experience in iBooks (fancy page turning, embedded content search widgets, etc.) You may find more competitive prices browsing the Amazon store (but separately, as you can only sync content in the app).

Flipboard (free)

 

Presents and curate webs site content (RSS, social networks, etc.) in a beautiful magazine-style layout. Brings together a superb iOS web reading experience to almost any content, and lets you save selections to your own custom magazine.

 

Health and Fitness

Compiled by Nate Adcock

Exercise and health apps are nearly as numerous as reality shows on TV these days. We received quite a list of votes back from our bloggers, and filtered them down to the best picks. From the overall standpoint of health, we think these three apps go together like wheatgrass, Greek yogurt, and kale (not sure those things actually go together, but they sound healthy!)

Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by My FitnessPal (free)

 

Keep tabs on all your diet and health stats in one place, and share your progress through this attractive app. Huge food database makes counting calories a cinch!

RunKeeper (free)

 

Track your fitness progress and improve your physical health with this GPS-enabled app that tracks you while you run, sets goals and helps you meet them!

24/7 ($0.99)

 

Technically classified as a "Medical" app, this app tracks your sleep cycles, can warn of a sleep disorder, and reminds you to get up and move to keep the blood circulating throughout the day!

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Sarah Kingsbury's picture
Sarah Kingsbury is the web editor of iPhone Life magazine. She attended Minnesota State University, Mankato, where she accidentally majored in French. Since receiving her bachelor's degree, Sarah has written for savvyvegetarian.com and worked as the associate editor of the Iowa Source. When she is not living and breathing Apple products, she reads cookbooks like novels and is learning to play soccer in an attempt to fit in with her soccer-mad family.