Apps I can’t live without (v2021)

With this post, my wish is to highlight some of the great apps I use in my daily life.

Let me start by giving you some context that may help understand my choices a bit better.
Personally, I’m a tech geek and an Apple fanboy, so I’ll be mostly talking about apps in the Apple ecosystem.
Professionally I’ve been working in web development for the last 20 years, started as a developer, and now I lead tech and product teams. Currently, I’m CTO at sheerME.

Let’s dive into the apps, starting with my Macbook Pro.

I’m working in a 13-inch core i5 from 2016 with 16GB of ram (eagerly awaiting the arrival of my M1 Macbook Pro).

  • The browser of choice: Google Chrome
    Two reasons why I prefer chrome, the devtools, and the extension ecosystem.
    These are the extensions I currently use:
    Metamask: A crypto wallet (I’m big into Ethereum)
    Defi Saver Gas Price extension: Also for the Ethereum ecosystem, it keeps me informed of gas prices (used to pay for transactions inside the network)
    Ghostery: My preferred ad blocker
    Raindrop.io: A very well done bookmark manager where I store bookmarks for future reference but also where I drop articles I want to read later.
raindrop.io bookmark manager
  • Mail Client: Superhuman
    It’s a bit on the expensive side but it helps me deal with email a lot faster than all the other clients I tried so for someone that spends a big chunk of his day on email, it’s well worth it.
    I’m very tempted to try hey.com from the basecamp guys but I can’t switch to a hey.com email address so for now I’ll stick with Superhuman.
  • Calendar App: Fantastical
    Fantastical is all about the little details… the way you can identify a zoom, hangout, skype call or any other just by looking at the event in the calendar, the small icon that tells you how the weather is for the day, the natural language parser that enables you to create events just by typing what you want…
Fantastical
  • Music Player: Spotif…Apple Music
    Being so entrenched in the Apple ecosystem it is very hard not to go with apple music, as much as I love Spotify, particularly the dynamic playlists that allow me to discover new music every day, Apple music just works so well across all my apple setup that I couldn’t resist.
  • Note-taking: Roam Research
    As a very visual person I’m naturally drawn to apps like Bear notes or Craft but after a couple of tries, I’m now convinced that Rom is the best note-taking app for me. The main reason is that it solves my biggest problem with notes in general, the resurfacing of relevant content when needed.
    Before Roam, most of my notes would quickly fall by the wayside. With Roam, they just pop up when needed.
  • Password Manager: 1Password
    Using a password manager today is mandatory, you need individual strong passwords per service and no memory will work for that. I particularly like 1password because it works reliably across devices, it has an immaculate security record and it’s constantly improving with new features launched every couple of months.
  • Window Manager: Rectangle
    I normally use multiple screens and prefer to use my windows maximized so to facilitate the window alignment I use Rectangle.

Now a full section dedicated to communication, as social animals this one occupies a large group of our day-to-day most-used apps.

  • Slack
    I use slack mostly for work, to communicate with my colleagues during office hours.
  • Discord
    Discord is very good for group chat as well, it started within the gaming community but now the usage is more generalized. I use it mainly for Crypto communities and retrogaming (another hobby of mine, SEGA forever!)
  • Telegram
    Telegram is probably the one I use the least, I’m a member of some Crypto communities that still live there so I keep it for now.
  • Signal
    With the recent privacy fears rising from Facebook and some of its properties like Whatsapp some of my friends are jumping ship and into Signal so I have to be there as well.
  • Whatsapp
    My main tool to chat with friends.
  • Facebook groups
    I mostly stopped using Facebook years ago, but some of the communities I’m a member of are still there so I still use groups.

Another group of apps most of us have are the small utils that make our lives using a mac a bit better:

  • Bartender 4
    This is a nifty utility to hide the menu bar items, I prefer my menubar clean.
  • Unsplash wallpapers
    Unsplash wallpapers rotate my desktop wallpapers automatically every day.
  • Boom 3D
    I find the sound coming of the mac pro a bit to plain, so I use Boom to turn up the bass!
Boom 3D
  • Paste
    Paste is a clipboard manager, there’s plenty available but I really like paste visuals.
Paste clipboard manager

Development tools:

  • VS Code
    My code editor of choice.
  • TablePlus
    To navigate databases (mostly postgreSQL nowadays)
  • iTerm
    A more customizable replacement for the mac terminal.
  • There
    A cool menubar utility to be aware of my colleague's timezones.

As my last highlight an app I use as a 3D printer hobbyist, my slicer of choice Ultimaker Cura.

Now onto iPhone

I’m currently using a pacific Blue iPhone 12 Pro with 256GB, and these are my main apps:
(Some of the obvious ones I mentioned on my mac are also on my iPhone with the same usage objectives, apps like Whatsapp, Signal, Slack, or the Superhuman email client.)

For content consumption:

  • Fiery Feeds
    I still like RSS feeds and Fiery is my reader of choice, mostly because it plays really well into the way I like to skim through the articles.
  • Overcast
    Overcast is my preferred podcast player for more than 5 years now, I got addicted to the way it removes pauses and speeds up the audio dynamically, playing fast but without losing quality or detail.
  • Tweetbot
    Tweetbot is my favorite Twitter client, I find it a lot less cluttered than the official one, nothing like running away from algorithmically driven feeds
  • Raindrop.io
    Like on Mac I use raindrop on iOS as my bookmark manager, their share sheet widget is particularly useful.
  • Youtube
    Yep, can’t avoid it, there's simply too much good content there.
  • Netflix
    My streaming service of choice (although Disney+ and AppleTV+ are moving in the right direction)

To monitor my health:

  • Apple Health
    I use Apple Health as my health data aggregator, it collects data directly from the apple devices (iPhone and Apple Watch) but also from third-party apps like Oura or from apple shortcuts I use to track caffeine intake or water consumption.
  • Oura
    Oura ring is my wearable of choice, I use it to track my overall health with a focus on sleep quality.

Day-to-day utilities

  • Fantastical
    Just a beautifully crafted calendar like on mac.
    The highlight on the iOS version is the widgets.
  • Carrot Weather
    The weather app with a strong personality. We all know there are tons of weather apps in the app store, so why this one? Good design, complete information, and on top of that dark sense of humor, what else could you ask?

For my cryptocurrency addiction:

Delta portfolio tracker
  • Delta
    My preferred portfolio manager. Getting a bit bloated but still the best if you want to track assets outside the Ethereum blockchain.
  • Zerion
    If you’re into Defi, Zerion is the best. You can track Eth addresses including staked assets in multiple protocols and you can even transact directly from the mobile app.
  • Zero
    Normally do intermittent fasting 18:6 and Zero is a good app for fasting tracking. As a bonus, they also provide a lot of literature about the subject.

Other apps:

  • Revolut
    My preferred challenger bank.
  • Waze
    Hands down the best GPS app for car driving.
Trakt
  • Trakt
    A good app to track and discover new series / movies within your taste profile.
  • Shortcuts
    I’m a fan of automation to eliminate repetitive low value-added tasks and I’ve been playing more and more with apple shortcuts so it’s an app I will put more time into over the next couple of months.
    With the iOS 14, the widgets gained a new life.
    The ones I use on my screens are:
    Fantastical — for a quick view of my next appointments;
    Weather line — for a preview of the weather over the next couple of hours
    Zerion — to monitor the evolution of my portfolio
Fantastical Widget

One important aspect of the iPhone is how I organize the apps. On my first screen, I maintain just the apps that I consider “productive” (no Twitter).
On my second screen are apps I use often but I’m trying to decrease usage, and all the other apps are only available through the app library or spotlight search.
This is a small thing but helps to maintain good habits… I hope.

I also have an iPad Air but I acquired it recently so I don’t have confident app recommendations, the only one I really recommend if you’re into taking handwritten notes using an apple pencil is nebo so useful and fun to use, give it a try.

Finally, I would just like to highlight a couple of web apps that I can’t live without

  • Clubhouse
    In my job I do a lot of product management and clubhouse is the software I prefer to use. Very good interface, easy to use, and adapts very well to the agile methodologies for product management.
  • Google Docs and Google Sheets
    For collaborative documents, these are the best around. Lots have tried and failed, I don’t think there is any alternative at the moment that allows for easy sharing and collaboration.

And that’s it for now, hope you find some of these useful.

Indie Campers Director of Product & Tech/ Web addict