15 March 2016

Best iOS apps 2016

2016 is underway and a whole two months are behind us already!

They might have moved fast, but a whole lot happened, so we’ve whittled through the iOS app updates and new launches to bring you a more highly-curated list than ever before.

Best iOS apps 2016

In short, the apps on this list are the ones worth checking out.


If messaging is the future of communication, then Quartz’s new app for iOS devices is the future of news.

That’s right, it delivers all your news in a conversational SMS style.

Admittedly, it’s not the fastest way to get through the news, but if the thought of static text and multiple paragraphs are just too much to bear (congrats on getting this far, if that’s the case) then Quartz will be the only news you read.


While many music services want to service up song or genre suggestions, Pyro just wants to get you seamlessly from one tune to the next.

Using either your own on-device library of tracks or those stored in Spotify Premium, you can set it to create you a mix based on a particular order or tempo – that opens it up to creating mixes that don’t necessarily sit next to each other stylistically, rather than relying on a genre.

There’s an algorithm to determine the optimum moment to move from one to the next, and transitioning effects smooth over any audio cracks.


There are so many to-do list and productivity apps available for iPhone and iPad that you could easily stress yourself out trying to work out which one to use.

Doo is another contender – but it takes an ultra-simple approach to helping you get through all your notes in a neat card format.

Given that the whole ethos of Doo is to break down your unmanageable to-do list into smaller, more achievable steps, there’s not a lot of point in entering a huge long instruction for each card. If you do, it’ll just suggest you break it down into small chunks anyway.

Each time you open the app, it shows just one thing – the next task you need to take care of, which you can then mark as done, or snooze.

Productivity comes at a price, however. $4.99, to be exact.

My Blend

If newsletters are overrunning your inbox, consider wrapping them all up in one magazine-like delivery with My Blend.

It’s not just useful for newsletters though – you can also select to include any other types of email that you want to read in a magazine format.

Anything in your ‘magazine’ is also placed in a separate folder in your inbox, so you can always access them the regular way.


If you’re a music geek who just can’t help but wonder where every single sample has been reused over the years, then last month’s WhoSampled update is right up your street if you’re also a Spotify user.

While it’ll pull out all the obvious uses, it also digs deeper and can tell you, for example, how ‘Stylo’ by Gorillaz uses a hook from an Eddy Grant song.

To help point you in the right direction, it scans your Spotify library (it also supports YouTube) and highlights any particularly interesting tracks.

It does still cost $3.99 to download though.


Audio blogging is back! OK, it’s not, but Anchor wants it to be.

Unlike podcasting, which gives the impression of lasting a significant amount of time, Anchor encourages short bursts of commentary, more akin to a blog post on the Web.

It takes a minimal approach to design, and once you’re all signed up, you can dive into the discussions based on categories (US elections, tech, etc.) and those from people you follow on Twitter who also use Anchor.

Listeners can also record replies to send back too.


The Internet of Things is a big old tangled mess of different standards and devices, some of which are interoperable and some of which are not.

Manything sidesteps this by existing as an app that transforms your (old) phone into a security camera.

Now, it’s been updated for iOS and Android to include automatic video capture when something moves in front of the camera and to reduce latency if you’re viewing live from another device.


If you like the idea of a better productivity app to help you with your to-do list but don’t fancy stumping up $4.99 for Doo just now, you can try Victories for free for an unspecified ‘limited time.’

Rather than taking a stress-free, compartmentalised approach to your list, however, it entices you to cross off items by gamifying as many elements as possible.

You pick a character, engage in ‘battles’ (your tasks) and can swipe to win or ‘surrender’ – ie. choose to not complete a task that you’d previously scheduled.

As you use it, your character should ‘level up’ and you’ll see how long it takes you to get through each task on average and how long each takes you.


After a long beta, Airmail’s previously Mac-only email client is finally ready for iOS devices.

Along with all the sort of functionality you’d expect to find, there are a few nifty uses of 3D Touch to speed things along and increasingly essential Snooze functionality.

It even integrates with third-party services like Wunderlist, Fantastical, Trello and Google Drive.

There’s no iPad version just yet, but it’s in the works. Until then, you’ll have to cough up $4.99 for the iPhone version if you want it.


If the thought of taking photos of your food perplexes you, then you can skip straight along to the next item in this list. If not, read on to find out about Line’s new camera app for food photography fans.

Available for both Android and iOS, the (free) app has a couple of features designed to help you take better shots. Like, for example, letting you know when your phone is exactly horizontal over a plate of food by changing to a spirit level-like display.

As well as aiding the perenially intoxicated in snapping level images of their dinner, the app also lets you easily apply a depth-of-field-like blur effect and a whole bunch of filters designed just for photographs of food.

Playlist a Day

Most apps vie for your constant attention, but Playlist a Day doesn’t.

In short, it delivers a push notification of the day’s playlist and that’s it. And that’s the point – it’s a deliberately minimal approach to functionality that’s designed to get you doing something (in this case listening to music) without further distraction.

If you’re looking for musical inspiration first thing in the morning, it’s not a bad place to start.

It’s also available on Android.

Microsoft Selfie

Although there are a lot of selfie apps available on iOS, Microsoft’s recently launched app that has just one job: to make you look better in your selfies.

It uses an algorithm to detect your age, gender, skin tone, the lighting and a few other things to let you simply apply filters (called themes) to the images. You can choose how much the effect is applied via simple slider.

It’s perhaps not the absolute best selfie app out there, but it’s an interesting option for sure, given Microsoft’s work on machine learning around age and emotion.

Somewhat bizarrely it arrived without the ability to share the resulting photos on social networks, but that has been resolved with a subsequent update.


Lots of smart assistants claim to be able to help you organize your life, but few live up to that early promise.

Hyper seems to be the exception to that rule, it’s a a travel booking service AI that’s trained by humans to make sure there are no hiccups along the way.

The key to Hyper is simplicity and a curated list of final options from which to book – not a massive sprawling list of fares that are complicated to work out for a multi-leg journey.

The bot can create a complex itinerary for you, and can even handle last-minute changes and reschedule your trip, all backed up by human verification of the details – provided you’re willing to pay.

Exploding Kittens

Last month, the addictive card game Exploding Kittens came to mobile for the first time – and who said digital was killing an analog world?

The breakout hit from The Oatmeal’s mobile debut is sorely missing a remote multiplayer option (that should arrive eventually though) but you can connect with up to five friends in the same room via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

Fun? Yes. Noisy? Yes. And there’s even new cards that don’t exist in the real-world game.

You will need to pay $1.99 to get it though.


There are plenty of apps for tracking steps, and plenty of apps to tell you how many calories are in food, but why go to the effort of putting those two things together with your own thoughts when Movesum will do it for you.

Yep, that’s right. Want to know how many steps it’s going to take to walk off that burger? Movesum will tell you. And not just for a burger, obviously.

(The bad news is just over 10,000 steps, by the way, which is around people’s daily average step target.)

It’s also available or Android devices too.


Cloud storage is everywhere. That’s really its appeal, and one of the major drawbacks of using disparate cloud services for different purposes.

Cubes is here to make sense of that mess of cloud-stored files and display them in an easily navigable list.

Once you’ve connected up your cloud accounts (and social, if you like), it’ll show you every photo, document, PDF, media files and even links, and arrange them by person, service, interest or type, which means no need to add tags.

Currently, Cubes is offering six months of free service – and hasn’t listed how much an upgrade will cost in the future. When that limit is switched on, you’ll be limited in how far back in time you can scroll back through your files.

An Android version is on the way.

Unhand Me

Unhand Me’s premise is simple: stop people from messing with your phone by getting an audible alert if any ne’er do well picks it up.

Yes, it’s not going to replace ‘Find My iPhone’ but that’s not a lot of use until you realize your phone is gone, which is a bit late.

By default, as soon as an unauthorized person picks up your phone it shouts ‘Unhand me, you beast!’ and lets out a scream. You can change this though.

If you’re within range of your Apple Watch, you can get notifications there, or set it to tweet out an alert with an approximate location.

You can play around with the settings to make sure it isn’t going off all the time too, which would be pretty annoying.

It’ll cost you $1.99 for this particular slice of peace of mind though.

Piku Piku

What do you love? GIFs! When do you love them even more? With live filters!

That’s what Piku Piku is hoping at least.

The captured GIFs loop forwards and backwards, and in addition to getting a range of (premium) live filters, you get things like a self-timer and camera switching controls.

When you’re done, you can share them straight to your social network of choice – and if the network doesn’t support GIFs, it’ll post as a video instead.

You’ll need to cough up $4.99 for the full range of features though.


If even the thought of your schedule brings on a panic attack, Proud for iOS is probably worth checking out. It’s an organizer with a focus on your wellbeing, as well as your timekeeping.

As you might expect, it divides tasks into three main sections (Lists, Upcoming and Done) but also includes a goals section to give you something to work towards.

A swipe left at any time reveals suggested tips to help you de-stress if you’re feeling overwhelmed, as well as a whole bunch of other features to explore.

It will cost you $4.99 to find out if you’ll find its features useful for you, though.


If you’re looking for a simple way to host on-the-fly interactive podcasts, ZCast is one of the easiest ways going.

Available to download or use on the Web for free, ZCast lets you interact with listeners during your broadcast, giving it a more personal feeling for smaller audiences.

That’s convenient, as right now streams are limited to 1,000 listeners and there’s no replay functionality, but it’s still early days.

And it’s still free.


If you have a whole bunch of music files tucked away in your Dropbox, then Jukebox lets you turn that into your own offline streaming service.

It’s early days right now, but the team is working on adding a private sharing option that would allow you to share snippets of tracks with certain people.

It’s free for now, and there are no ads to worry about either.


Rounding off the list for January is Hyperspektiv, an app for making your photos and videos look straight-up odd.

Far beyond your regular ‘filters’ apps, Hyperspektiv focuses on bringing real-time algorithmic distortion to photos and videos, and you get to control the strength of the effect by moving your finger on the screen.

There are 27 preset effects to play around with, and while there’s no Android version right now, one should arrive eventually.

The price for access to this world of weird glitchy images and videos is $1.99.

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