FREE REPORT: TOP 10 PRODUCTIVITY APPS AND TOOLS

Essential iPhone Apps by Asian Efficiency

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We love the iPhone and its many apps that are available. We have shared our favorite Mac and iPad apps before and now we are going to share our favorite iPhone apps. We have collected 75+ apps and we can’t guarantee you might be a couple of dollars poorer after reading this post!

Productivity

Omnifocus

omnifocus

If you’ve been reading Asian Efficiency for a while you know it’s not secret we love Omnifocus. It’s simply the best task manager out there.

Omnifocus

Asana

asana

Asana is a new task manager for teams founded by one of Facebook’s co-founders. It’s completely web-based and very easy to use (we use it ourselves to manage Asian Efficiency). The iPhone app makes managing projects very easy.

Asana

Evernote

evernote

The cloud syncing feature of Evernote is what we love the most about it. You can access your notes from anywhere and its iPhone interface is nice and clean.

Evernote

Scanner Pro
scanner pro

Turn your iPhone into a digital scanner with Scanner Pro by Readdle. No longer do you have to carry around one of those portable scanners – just use your iPhone and this app.

Scanner Pro

TextExpander

textexpander

We’ve written before about the benefits of using text expansion software. TextExpander is our favorite software and since it has a Dropbox sync feature it’s a no brainer to use this app.

TextExpander

1Password

1password

Everyone must have a password manager. 1Password is simply the best and it is available on all major platforms. If you setup the sync feature with Dropbox you can carry your password anywhere with you.

1Password

Fiverr Alerts

fiverr alerts

Do you have $5 to spare? You’ll be amazed what people are willing to do for five dollars and Fiverr is THE market place for buying services for $5. If you manage a lot of transactions on Fiverr it’s wortwhile using Fiverr Alerts to keep track of everything.

Fiverr Alerts

WordPress

wordpress

Managing WordPress blogs in Safari can be quite challenging on your iPhone. Luckily the official WordPress app makes this a lot more convenient.

WordPress

Sleep Cycle

sleep cycle

If your alarm goes off while you are in deep sleep – you will wake up groggy and tired. Sleep Cycle will avoid this by monitoring your movements and it will predict when the best time is to wake you up. Before you go to sleep, set a time when it is the latest you want to wake up, i.e. 8am, and it will wake you up in a 30 minute timeframe leading up to 8am. I’ve been using this for a couple weeks now and I can testify it works.

Sleep Cycle

iRdesktop

irdesktop

For all you techies out there – with iRdesktop you can manage remote Windows servers. Now you have no more excuse to wait till you get home to fix your server(s) – just do it on your iPhone and over 3G!

iRdesktop

Pages/Numbers/Keynote

pages numbers Keynote

The Apple office suite. Do we really need to say more?

Pages
Numbers
Keynote

Week Calendar

week calendar

While the default iOS calendar app is good – Week Calendar is just a little better. It has more features and you can customize it to your liking. If you’re looking for a good calendar replacement – look no further.

Week Calendar

Mindjet

mindjet

Our favorite mindmap software is Mindjet Mindmanager and they also have an app that allows you to manipulate your mindmaps. Mindnode is another alternative.

Mindjet

Streaks

streaks

The key to building new habits is to do them every single day till it sticks up to the point where you do them on autopilot. A great way to motivate you is by crossing off each day you’ve exercised your habit. By building a chain you will motivate yourself to keep going and to not break the chain. Streaks helps you record these…streaks.

Streaks

Utilities

Find my iPhone

find my iphone

In case your iPhone ever gets stolen or you simply lost it – Find My iPhone can help you locate your phone. It will show on a map where your iPhone is located.

Find my iPhone

WhatTheFont

what the font

Have you ever seen a font and you wish you could find out what it was? WhatTheFont solves this problem. Just take a picture and let the app determine what the font is.

WhatTheFont

Finance

Ixpenseit

ixpenseit

The iPhone is great for tracking your spending. One of the challenges of tracking your finances is recording expenses but with the iPhone in your pocket it’s easy. Ixpenseit is our favorite app for this purpose.

Ixpenseit

Jumsoft Money

money

Jumsoft’s Money app is the iOS version of their desktop program. It’s a full-fledge money manager – if you’re looking for something more than just tracking your expenses you should look into this app.

Jumsoft Money

PayPal

paypal

We have a love and hate relationship with PayPal but their service is widely accepted and useful for many things. Manage your PayPal account with their official app (and hope your account didn’t get blocked – especially if you’re traveling).

PayPal

XE Currency

xe

If you deal with a lot of different currencies, the XE app will accurately show what the current exchange rates are.

XE Currency

(Your banking app)

Most banks have their own official app. We highly recommend you get them to manage your banking from your phone.

Messaging

Whatsapp

whatsapp

This is our favorite messaging app – we even think it’s better than texting people. The biggest benefit is that you can have group chats. In fact, we even have a mastermind set up through Whatsapp where we share (almost) daily our insights, tips and pieces of advice.

Whatsapp

Skype

skype

VOIP calling through the iPhone is very easy with Skype. Since it’s the most popular platform you have to look no further.

Skype

Social

Facebook

facebook

Do we need to say more?

Facebook

Tweetbot

tweetbot

There are a lot of Twitter apps out there and we have tried a lot of them. Aaron finds the official Twitter app the best while I find Tweetbot the best.

Tweetbot

Google+

google plus

If you’re on Google+ you’re limited in options – there is currently only one app that supports that social network and it is the official one. Nonetheless, it’s a good app.

Google+

Photography

Camera+

camera plus

The Camera+ app is, like the name indicates, a better version of the default camera app (except for the fact it doesn’t record videos). You can shoot more pictures per minute and you can also edit them within the app. Not to mention it has a lot more settings you can play around with.

Camera+

Camera Plus Pro

camera plus pro

Camera Plus Pro is very similar to Camera+ but with a a couple different features and you can record videos with this app.

Camera Plus Pro

Instagram

instagram

This social platform is becoming very popular and after using it you can see why. It’s really easy to apply effects to your pictures and to share them on multiple social platforms (Facebook and Twitter).

Instagram

Hipstamatic

hipstamatic

Bring back the antique cameras! Hipstamatic allows you to shoot square pictures and run them through a lot of filters. If you want to make your pictures look retro – this is your app.

Hipstamatic

Photosynth

photosynth

To create panorama pictures you should consider Photosynth. You’ll have to play around with it to get the hang of it but once you do it’s quite fun to create panoramic views.

Photosynth

Wordfoto

wordfoto

Wordfoto is a fun app to play around with. You can have a slogan and your chosen picture crafted into a piece of artwork.

Wordfoto

Color Splash

color splash

Have you ever seen those black and white pictures where one color wasn’t black or white? Color Splash allows you to easily do this. It’s a simple app to use and you can give your pictures a nice dramatic effect.

Color Splash

Big Lens

big lens

The iPhone camera doesn’t quite match an SLR camera but your iPhone pictures can definitely look like they were short by an SLR camera. With Big Lens you can adjust the focus and filters of your photographs so they look like they were taken on an SLR camera.

Big Lens

Snapseed

snapseed

Snapseed is a full fledge photo editor and it’s really easy to use. For any post-processing to fine tune your picture this should be your go-to app.

Snapseed

iDarkroom

idarkroom

If you’re looking for an app that has a lot of filters to play with, iDarkroom is a great app for that.

iDarkroom

Music

Shazam

shazam

Hear a song but you can’t recognize it? Instead trying to memorize the lyrics and Googling them, fire up Shazam and it will tell you which song it is.

Shazam

Pandora Radio

pandora

Pandora might be a one-trick pony but it’s a damn good one. This is our favorite way to discover new music.

Pandora Radio

Spotify

spotify

We are a big fan of this music service and it’s no wonder we included this app on the list. Spotify is the way to go if you want to be able to access your music from anywhere.

Spotify

SpotON Radio

spoton radio

Speaking of Spotify, SpotON Radio is like Pandora but for Spotify. You can discover new music based on your most played tracks on Spotify and more.

SpotON Radio

Instacast

instacast

Podcasts are a great source of entertainment and education, and Instacast makes it very easy to manage your podcast subscriptions. The biggest advantage is that you don’t need to sync your iPhone with iTunes anymore – just download the podcasts straight to your iPhone via Instacast.

Instacast

Reading

Reeder

reeder

Simply. The. Best. RSS. Reader. Aaron loves Newsrack. Pick your poison.

Reeder

Quora

quora

Quora is one of the better forums and Q&A platforms out there. Their iPhone app allows you to navigate around their content and more. Just make sure to sign up first on Quora before using this app.

Quora

Instapaper

instapaper

Instapaper is one of the few services that has really been a game changer for us. We love reading and this app allows us to catch up on interesting reading material.

Instapaper

Flipboard

flipboard

Flipboard allows you to beautifully browse through content. It’s really a joy to discover content with this app. We use this in conjuction with our Facebook and Twitter accounts to discover content shared by our friends and people on those social networks.

Flipboard

Kindle

kindle

We read a lot of books. Like, a lot. No seriously, we read A LOT. With the Kindle books and service we are able to access our books from anywhere. If there is a pocket time available we are possibly reading on our Kindle app.

Kindle

GoodReader

goodreader

Whoever said that PDF manipulation is not possible on an iPhone obviously has never used GoodReader before. It comes in really handy when you’re on the road and when you don’t have access to your stationary computer.

GoodReader

BBC News

bbc news

The BBC is one of our favorite news stations (even though we barely consume news) and with their app you can also watch a ton of videos (makes it easy to catch up on news).

BBC News

(Your Local)

Most local news stations have their own iPhone app. If you want to stay up-to-date on what is happening in your own area – definitely see if your local station has an app.

Games

Doodle Jump

doodle jump

Before you download this game – you’ve been warned. It’s insanely addictive. That’s what the makers say on their official App store page and it’s true…

Doodle Jump

Jetpack Joyride

jetpack joyride

Barry, the hero of this game, can fly with his jetpack and make you lose track of time.

Jetpack Joyride

Zombieville USA 2

zombieville usa 2

If you like killing zombies with guns – this is your game.

Zombieville USA 2

Plants versus Zombies

plants vs zombies

This game has won many awards and once you play you can see why. It’s fun and addictive. Two words you want in a game but hate at the same time because it can kill your productivity.

Plants versus Zombies

Fruit Ninja

fruit ninja

We’re sick of Angry Birds but not yet of Fruit Ninja. With its multiplayer option it’s even more fun.

Fruit Ninja

Osmos

osmos

This is an interesting and one-of-a-kind game. It’s something you have to experience yourself (it’s difficult to explain what the game really is).

Osmos

Tiny Wings

tiny wings

It’s sort of like Angry Birds but different. Intrigued yet? Good. Check it out!

Tiny Wings

Food

Urbanspoon

urbanspoon

If you eat out once a while you might run into the problem that you can’t decide what you want to have for dinner. Have no fear, Urbanspoon is here! With this app you can find local restaurants based on the type of food you want to eat. Or you can just shake it and it will give you a random suggestion. Its feature where you can find restaurants nearby is also very cool.

Urbanspoon

Yelp

yelp

For situations when you need to find businesses (restaurants, dry cleaners etc) and their reviews – Yelp has the biggest database of reviews. With its massive collection of community driven reviews you’ll be able to find tons of opinions about businesses regardless which type of business it is. USA-only.

Yelp

Mixology

mixology

Are you tired of your Jack and Coke? I definitely am not but I’m also always on the look for a new great drink. Mixology has a collection of drink recipes that you can go through.

Mixology

Education

Word a day

word a day

If you want to expand your vocabulary this is a great app to have. Each day you get alerted of a new word you can learn and this makes it very easy to pick up new words. Each word will also have an image explaining the meaning and you can even hear how to pronounce it.

Word a day

Brain Trainer

brain trainer

As you age your brain’s capacity starts to diminish. In order to combat this you need to exercise your brain on a regular basis and this app will help you in that aspect. With puzzles, exercises and challenging games this is a great way to keep your brain sharp.

Brain Trainer

Slango

slango

If you frequently find yourself on urbandictionary.com – you need to get Slango. It’s not quite the same dataset but you still find the same slang words and their definitions. The next time you hear rappers talk about their “whips” and “swag”, you’ll know how to decode that.

Slango

TED

ted

We love TED talks – they are a great way to expand your horizons by watching other people share their insightful thoughts.

TED

Video

Netflix

netflix

With your favorite TV shows and movies on demand – what is not to love about this service. With this app you’re only a couple touches away of watching your favorite shows when you’re not behind your computer or iPad.

Netflix

8mm

8mm

With 8mm you can shoot vintage videos – it’s easy, fun and quick.

8mm

IMDB

imdb

The online resource for anything about TV shows, films and movies. The app makes browsing around much easier than on the IMDB website.

IMDB

iMovie

imovie

Nowadays it’s a breeze to do video editing on your iPhone and iMovie is one the best apps for that.

iMovie

Travel

Tripit

tripit

For our frequent travels we rely on TripIt to have an organized overview of our international adventures and trips.

Tripit

FlightTrack Pro

flight track pro

FlightTrack Pro works nicely with your calendar and the TripIt service so you have very detailed information about your flights.

FlightTrack Pro

Google Translate

google translate

The app’s name already reveals what it does but we cannot stress enough how useful it is – especially when you’re in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language.

Google Translate

Onavo

onavo

If you’re abroad and want to have a data connection there are multiple options. You can use data roaming by your current service provider or you buy a prepaid data connection plan at your foreign destination. Both can be quite expensive if you use your phone a lot. Onavo can help you save megabytes of data. It compresses the data on your data connection, so you’ll save money.

Onavo

Gateguru

gateguru

Airport gates can be quite boring. If you don’t have access to airport lounges, this app will make your stay more fun by showing you what you can do at your gate.

Gateguru

TripAdvisor

tripadvisor

If you need to find the best hotel, restaurant or place to visit in a city – TripAdvisor has a collection of reviews of almost any place. This is a must-have app for frequent travelers.

TripAdvisor

Weather+

weather plus

The standard weather app that Apple gives you is not bad – it will suit most people. If you want to step it up a notch then you want to grab Weather+. The graphics are a lot better and you get a lot more information.

Weather+

Units

units

How many feet is 4.5 meters? Or how many degrees Celcius is 84 Fahrenheit? If you frequently need to convert metrics you want to download Units. Almost any metric out there can be converted with this app. I wish I had this app when I was in school!

Units

Kayak Pro

kayak pro

If you want to get an idea what airline tickets cost, just fire up Kayak Pro. Kayak is one of the better places to book your airline tickets and in case you need to book tickets you can do it within the app as well.

Kayak Pro

ATM Hunter

atm hunter

Finding ATMs can sometimes be a challenge. Let ATM Hunter help you with this – just pull up your current location and the app will show you the nearest ATMs. You can also insert addresses or airports to find ATMs.

ATM Hunter

Free Wi-fi Finder

free wifi finder

Need to find a Wifi spot? Get Free Wi-Fi Finder. It can find hotspots based on your current location but it also allows you to download the data for offline use (which we love).

Free Wi-fi Finder

Do you have any apps that you would recommend? Share it in the comments below!

Photo by Cristiano Betta.

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Saide Heldberg February 6, 2012 at 6:53PM

I know I don’t need an excuse apps are definitely useful for
my business travel especially with the limited cargo room on airplanes these
days. TripAdvisor is fantastic as I cut costs in my Dish team’s budget by not
having an admin due to the usefulness of apps. I travel enough that it’s really
unnecessary anyway and apps like FlightTrack Pro keep me informed about what
may be ahead for my travel day I may not have expected. Now when it comes to
movies I’d use Dish Remote Access over Netflix or the others any day. It’s a
free app, which live streams my Dish TV Everywhere™ technology to most mobiles,
but I prefer my iPad due to the larger screen. Having access to all my
programming is a very cool feature but I stick to movies regularly for my great
escape. As far as sharing an app DRA would be my recommendation because of all
the features available and its wicked cool.
 

Reply

eddie_tude February 12, 2014 at 11:40AM

Like the list! Theres is one more productivity app, I would highly recommend. Made it to my dock 10 seconds after purchasing: Drafts by Agile Tortoise http://agiletortoise.com/drafts/index.html

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ErgoOrgo February 7, 2012 at 12:02AM

Thanks for the really great long list guys. I use a number of these, another bunch I have heard of and not tried/bought, and there are also a batch I have not heard of at all. I have bookmarked this page and will return to it when I am in the mood to get a new app (though I am trying to slow down on app purchases this year so it may take me a while).

Reply

Thanh Pham February 7, 2012 at 9:05AM

Yeah not a bad decision. I have invested (notice the choice of vocabulary here, hehe) quite a bit of money in all my apps so I know where you are coming from. I’m trying to slow down on the spending here as well. Hopefully this article will help readers out with their choices.

Reply

SpotON Radio February 7, 2012 at 12:29AM

Thanks for the mention of SpotON Radio! Hope it’ll help you discover many many new great tunes.

Reply

Thanh Pham February 7, 2012 at 9:06AM

No problem. I’m really liking the app so far.

Reply

Alex Yperifanos February 7, 2012 at 5:00AM

Great list thank you and please look at ExpressWell Multi for the iPhone http://eepurl.com/isXvM

Reply

Daryle Gessner February 7, 2012 at 8:03AM

For Docscanner, the reviews are simply horrible! How does it make the list? Really waters down the other apps overall if you have not personally used an app or at the very least read the user (AKA paying customer) reviews.

Reply

Thanh Pham February 7, 2012 at 9:07AM

I’ve been a longtime user of this app and I’ve never had any problems with it. In fact, it has saved me a lot of money and sped up a lot of processes for me. I can’t count the number of NDAs and contracts I’ve scanned with this app and have sent to people. Nobody has ever noticed it was done through an iPhone app :)

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Daryle Gessner February 9, 2012 at 11:40AM

OK thanks, I will give it a shot. I trust your reviews, considering them good enough to buy without a second thought. My most used apps: OmniFocus, HomeBudget, VisionBoard, 1Password, Billings, among others.

Reply

AE Aaron February 8, 2012 at 1:37AM

What Thanh said. I’ve used DocScanner for a looooong time and used it for scanning everything from credit card to passports to legal contracts to bank documents. Works just fine for me =)

You gotta remember that App Store reviews either tend to skew towards overly positive or overly negative. Overly positive when a developer goes out of their way to encourage people to write reviews. Overly negative when they don’t and the only people who submit reviews are those who have trouble using the software.

Reply

Andrew February 7, 2012 at 9:01AM

Call me old-fashioned but I really can’t stand spotify.  My reason?  You are forced to sign in through facebook.  I can see what all my friends are listening to who use the service, and you know what?  I don’t care.  I feel like it’s an attempt to be cutting edge and relevant.  The idea to stream unlimited music through the service is great but the execution of the idea is lacking.  If they had a separate sign in, NOT married to facebook I would still be a customer.

Reply

Thanh Pham February 7, 2012 at 9:10AM

You can turn off the sharing of your music on Facebook (it’s done within the Spotify app). I personally have no problem with the FB signing but I can see why some people don’t like it. You might want to look into Grooveshark which is similar to Spotify.

Reply

Andrew February 7, 2012 at 9:18AM

Thanks Thanh for the info about Grooveshark, I’ll look into it.  I was aware of the sharing choices in spotify but it still annoyed me.  Keep up the great work on your blog, I really enjoy reading it.

Reply

AE Aaron February 8, 2012 at 1:35AM

Pretty sure you can create a separate account outside of Facebook (that’s how I signed up).

Reply

Davo May 19, 2012 at 8:52PM

Yelp is no longer US-only – it does work in other places but the quality of the database is not quite as good

Reply

Wilson Ng July 16, 2012 at 7:12AM

One of my must-have apps is Podcaster as a replacement to the new Apple Podcasts program. You can instantly download podcasts without connecting to your computer. Save selected podcasts to your Dropbox folder and it has variable playback speeds.

I speed up my podcasts slightly (somewhere around 1.3 – 1.5x) so that I can consume podcasts more quickly. You’ll have to find the right podcast speed for your ears but it allows you to go through a lot of podcasts quickly.

I’ve heard good things about Downcast as another viable alternative.

Reply

Thanh Pham July 17, 2012 at 9:10PM

Nice, I’ve heard a lot of good things about Downcast as well. I’m not a big fan of podcasts (yet) – it’s something I want to look into further. Thanks for sharing Wilson, as always. Really appreciate it.

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Jim888 October 8, 2012 at 6:32AM

Hi docuscanner is now v6 instead of v5 as reviewed. Do you still suggest this app? I’ve also seen the App Store comments and hesitant to pay the current $2.99 price..? Thanks for all your great advice.

Reply

Thanh Pham October 8, 2012 at 3:24PM

Hi Jim,

Thanks for bringing this up. Ever since they updated it to v6, they’ve really dropped the ball. I’ve replaced it with Scanner Pro – works very well and it’s our new recommendation (I’ve also updated the article).

Reply

Nick Giuliani November 3, 2013 at 4:15PM

Hi Thanh,

Just a heads up, the link to ScannerPro is pointing to the wrong app (although they share a name). The correct link is https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/scanner-pro-by-readdle/id333710667?mt=8

Thanks for the work you do here!

Nick

Reply

Paul November 5, 2012 at 9:54AM

My favorite iPhone time management & procrastinating tools are Any.Do easily create & manage tasks with voice & Chrome browser sync and iTimebox create time limits with time log & audio feedback on task completion.

Reply

Norak December 27, 2012 at 5:46PM

Please buy an Android phone and make one of these for apps found on the Google Play store. The Android operating system is found on 75% of all phones, so it would help many others. Most people who are productivity focused have a Samsung Galaxy Note 2.

Reply

Simon White December 17, 2013 at 10:23AM

Agreed, much as I know how you guys love Apple, it would be very useful to have an equivalent list for Android.

Reply

Sue March 14, 2013 at 2:47PM

Do you have a favorite iphone battery saving app?

Reply

Aaron Lynn April 26, 2013 at 5:28AM

I have used Boost Magic and Battery Doctor before. They don’t “save battery” so to speak, but they will let help prevent overcharging and the reduction of battery capacity.

The other thing I’ve found that helps is closing apps (I use a Cydia extension for this). A lot of good app developers I know swear that apps open in the background don’t actually use up more battery, but just from everyday use they seem to on my phone.

I’ve also found that Cydia extensions that effect Springboard tend to suck up a lot of battery.

Reply

Jay Kappmeier May 15, 2013 at 7:43PM

If you have iBank4 on your Mac, the iPhone/oiPad app is a great time saver. I have taken week long trips and entered all my expenses in the iPhone app. When i get home I just sync it to the Mac iBank 4 and relax while it updates. This is a very handy app for those who use iBank4.

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Liz April 2, 2014 at 6:29AM

I just wanted to drop by and say how much I enjoy your newsletter and the tips that you send out. I have just written an article for my website and linked back to yours because I think you guys are awesome on this topic. thanks also for the list of apps, there are quite a few that I didn’t know about.

Reply

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