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My Favourite Apps – Feb 2021

My Favourite Apps – Feb 2021

A shiny Macbook, brand new iPad or a powerful PC are nothing without the software you run on them. The apps you use are everything and what follows is a guide to the apps that I’m using right now. Admittedly I have bounced between apps a little more than is necessary and tomorrow’s list may be different but right here, right now, this is what I use on a daily basis.

Note taking

Way back in the day it was Evernote all the way for me. I had a pro account and I’d fund it by buying the Evernote branded Moleskin notebooks that included a few months subscription. (My Moleskin fetish continues to this day by the way!) I kept absolutely everything in there – thoughts, book notes and scanned copies over every physical bit of paper that passed over my desk. Then Apple Notes had its time in the sun for me until my head was turned by the very pretty Bear only for it’s lack of table support to send me back to Apple Notes. 

Then almost over night, a new name started to appear all over social media and YouTube. Something called Notion had landed and make a splash. To label it a “note taking app” sell it sort as it’s so much more but I go into more depth in other articles. Long story short, Notion is the central hub of everything for me, be that a place to store documents, blog articles in progress, notes on books I’ve read or a database of links that interest me.

ToDo lists & Task Management

I’ve tried more than my fair share, doing my usual trick of jumping ship every time I discover something new and shiny. I’ve dabbled with Things but was put off by having to pay multiple times for the iPad and MacOS versions and I spent a year trying to cajole myself into using ToDoist. While both apps are powerful tools for managing projects and tasks I fund them a little too powerful. Keeping my todo list organised within these app was becoming a todo item in its own right. So I went back to basics, not all the way back to a pen & paper list but back to Apple Reminders. Because of the way it’s so tightly integrated into iOS and the Mac the barrier to using it is super low. I’ve not found a better quick capture method than raising my arm and saying “Remind me tomorrow to write a blog post about which I apps I use” in to my Apple watch.

Calendar

In the same vein as task management I’ve gone native and use Apple’s calendar apps across my mobile devices and computers. It’s the integration that makes it work so well for me. I’ve used Google Calendar synced to Apple before but using both didn’t give me anything more.

Creativity

It’s Adobe Creative Cloud all the way for me. I’ve used Lightroom from the beta and I have subscribed to Adobe’s Photographer plan (Lightroom and Photoshop) ever since things moved to the subscription license model. But last year, thanks to my work in education, I can now get the full Creative Cloud suite at about half price. Premier Pro has replaced Final Cut and Illustrator has trumped Affinity Designer although both are still very capable packages.

Web Browsing

Most of the time is Safari. It’s quick, great on privacy and light on battery on the Macbook when I’m on the move. When I need to dig in to the code of a site though, I switch over to Brave. It’s basically Google Chrome with the Google bit removed but all the handy developer tools are there.

Reading

I try and read whenever can grab a few minutes and to make the most of those snippets of time here and there means I need to make it as easy as possible to pick up where I left off. Paper books have never appealed to me in the same way as physical CD’s and DVD have no place in my media library. Just give me the content in a string of ones and zeros that I can consume anywhere I want.

Most of my reading (including all of my fiction reading) happens on my Kindle Paperwhite. There are newer Kindles out there but my trusty Paperwhite works perfectly and my favourite feature is the gentle illumination of the page – I can sit anywhere and read without having to worry about being near a window or turning on a light.

For shorter form things like blog posts it’s Instapaper. I’m still on the look out for a read-it-later app that has better handling of longer term storage of read articles though.

Listening

Audible is my choice for audio books. I must admit I struggle with listing to books as I don’t have a long commute and if I try to listen whilst doing something else, all work on that something else stops.

I’m a little better with podcasts, maybe because the ones I listen to tend to be more bitesized or because I don’t feel like I have to take notes unless there’s some particularly good info.

Pocket Casts has been my player of choice for a few years now after replacing Overcast. It’s better at surfacing other podcasts I might enjoy and the silence trimming, adjustable playback speed and volume levelling takes it a notch about the rest. But having said that, I am currently dabbling with Airr. The ability to tag a clip while listening just by triple clicking my earbuds is something that I think will be very handy.

And finally for tunes you can probably guess from my previous Applecentric choices, it’s Apple Music – just for the way it works so well across all my iOS and Mac devices.

So those are my current apps of choice. If you’ve got a suggestion for something I really have to try, let me know in the comments.

Header photo by Remy_Loz on Unsplash