My Favorite iOS Apps

In this post I am going over the apps on my iPhone/iPad that I use the most.

My iOS Homescreen
My iOS Homescreen

Here’s the link to the wallpaper.

Staying Organized

  • Fantastical: my calendar app
  • Cardhop: my contacts app
  • Apple Reminders: my to-do list for every-day tasks
  • Basecamp with the (now free) Personal plan: my to-do list for big projects
  • Readdle Scanner Pro: for scanning documents/receipts
  • Deliveries: for tracking packages (I sell a lot of stuff on eBay)
  • Soulver and PCalc: better calculators than the stock calculator. I use Soulver when Microsoft Excel would be overkill.
  • Splitwise: if you share a household with someone, this app is a great way to keep track of who last bought toilet paper and who owes whom how much.

Editing Photos

  • Darkroom: for editing my photos
  • Halide: this camera app let’s me shoot RAW in contrast to the stock camera app

Taking Notes

  • Evernote: for jotting down ideas or looking up notes while on the go. I also use Apple Notes for quick notes
  • Notability: for taking handwritten notes on the iPad
  • PDF Expert: for reading and annotating scientific papers

Staying Healthy

  • Runkeeper: for tracking my runs (I like Runkeeper better than Strava)
  • Oak: for meditating. In my view, apps like Headspace or Calm are too expensive for what they are. The companies behind these apps have virtually infinite money because of Venture Capital, so they can spend boatloads of money on marketing and paying popular Influencers to promote their product. But they need to get this money back of course. From their customers. For a comparison, Netflix and Spotify operate Exabytes of data for the same price of ten bucks a month, not just a few measly 5 MB audio files. If you’re a student in the U.S., however, you can get Headspace for just $10 per year(!) which is a steal.
  • Jour: for guided journaling. I’ve written about the benefits of journaling before and Jour asks excellent questions that help me find things to write about.

I also use the apps to control my Philips Hue lightbulbs and to track my sleep using the Oura Ring which I described here.

I don’t own a Apple Watch but if I did, I would install the following apps:


  • Signal: my messenger app of choice
  • WhatsApp: because not everyone uses Signal

I deliberately hide the email app inside a folder and thus try to add some friction to opening it. Emails often are just other people’s to-dos imposed on me, and I don’t want email to be the first thing I check when I unlock my iPad. In the mornings, I want to first read a book for 30 minutes and focus on my own to-dos, e.g., get some yoga done, before I check what other people want me to do. That’s also why I don’t have Slack installed on my iOS devices. Time off is time off. I don’t have to be available 24/7.

Protecting My Privacy

  • DuckDuckGo Browser: a secure alternative to Safari and Google Chrome with a focus on privacy that blocks ads and trackers by default
  • 1Blocker X: for blocking ads in apps that use the Safari View Controller
  • 1Password: my password manager

Staying On Track

  • Anki: the best flashcards app. Anki revolutionized how I study. With Anki, I actually remember the things I learn. Every student needs this app. Seriously, check it out. Only the iOS app costs money (that’s how they generate revenue), the desktop app, web app, and Android app are completely free.
  • Duolingo and Clozemaster: for learning languages
  • Habitica: for gamified habit tracking (you play a hero who either levels up or loses health, depending on whether you take the stairs or the elevator, drink tea or coffee, floss your teeth or not, go to bed before midnight or not, etc.)
  • Forest: for “locking” my phone, so that I can’t use it when I should be working or paying attention in university classes
  • Be Focused Pro: for increasing my productivity using the Pomodoro technique



I created some shortcuts that, e.g., open a YouTube playlist with my favorite online yoga classes, open a YouTube playlist for guitar lessons by online guitar teacher Justin Sandercoe, or to start playing some relaxing background music and open the Kindle app with just one click.

Social Media

There are no social media or news apps on my device—or any other apps that have infinite scrolling, for that matter. I deleted every app that uses the “pull down to refresh” gesture or auto-plays the next video. The reason is so that I don’t get sucked into these bottomless pits and waste too much of my time on social networks but rather do something productive with my time. I deliberately have only apps that help me grow (or utilitarian apps) on my home screen. I don’t miss these time wasters a bit.

Final Words

Am I missing out on any app? Which apps should I absolutely know of? Let me know in the comments down below.

Last updated on Dec 15, 2019
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