In A Christmas Story, young Ralphie begs his parents for a Red Ryder BB gun. Alas, how times have changed. Today, you’re more likely begging for a red iPhone — but just as the Red Ryder is useless without BBs, the iPhone is useless without apps. Apps for shooting photos, keeping track of your schedule, and for logging your every thought and bike ride. An app to tell you when it’s snowing, and an app to keep track of your favorite blogs. We’ll break down the best apps no iPhone should be without, so when you’re cozied up by the fire, you’ll have something to do — and an IFTTT app to auto-send holiday greetings on Christmas morning.
This year we've picked out some of the very best apps, games, books, and downloads for your new devices. Dig into our top selections for Android apps, Android games, iPhone apps, iPad apps, iOS games, Windows Phone apps, Kindle books, console games, and for your Mac and PC.
VSCO Cam is the best photo-editing app for iPhone. Its expansive set of tools and filters were created by photographers and make Instagram’s editing features feel stale and limited. VSCO recently added gridded user profiles — a handsome way to share photos on mobile and the web.
If Apple’s stock weather app doesn’t suit your fancy, why not try the app that inspired it? Yahoo Weather layers useful data like radar over gorgeous photos and sends you a push when there’s something severe on the horizon.
Snapchat has a reputation as a “sexting app,” because the messages it sends are automatically erased after they’e seen, but we think it’s simply a fantastically fun way to send a quick photo or video to a bunch of friends. The ability to add captions, filters, or draw on your photos before sending them adds charm.
Day One is like a private Twitter, just for you. It’s great for jotting down thoughts, saving private photos for posterity, and journaling about your life. An excellent companion app for Mac fills out the experience.
Fantastical is the best calendar-app replacement for iPhone, combining best-in-class natural language processing (so “Boozy Brunch at 12PM” turns into an event) with unique visual flair. The latest version adds to-do items.
If peer pressure were an app, it would be Lift. The app keeps track of all the habits you want to have, like doing crunches, eating healthier, and biking to work, and lets your friends encourage you to go further.
Moves tracks your every step, bike ride, and subway trip to help you map out your day and quantify your movement. But unlike Nike+, for example, Moves doesn’t beg you to exercise more. Moves’ refreshing take only provides the information you need to make those critical lifestyle decisions.
There may never be a perfect replacement for Google Reader, but Feedly comes close. This RSS reader syncs what you’ve read across platforms and has a slick interface to boot.
Facebook Messenger is the most popular messaging app in the US. This minimal messenger lets you ping friends, send stickers, and start group chats, but its most killer feature is that everyone you know uses Facebook, so reaching someone is easy.
Sunrise is the Google Calendar app Google never made — a modern take on calendaring that tastefully imports Facebook events, LinkedIn info for event attendees, and past Foursquare check-ins. It also supports iCloud, and soon, Microsoft Exchange.
Loom delivers on the promises made by Apple’s subpar Photo Stream. Loom syncs all the photos and videos you’ve taken on your phone or camera between all your devices as well as on the web. With iOS 7, Loom even syncs when the app isn’t open.
IFTTT is an automation engine that ties together stuff all over the web, and now, inside your iPhone. You can use the app to set up “recipes” that can automatically post your selfies to Tumblr or log your completed Reminders to-do items in Evernote.
Simplenote is a lightning-fast notes app that syncs across all the platforms you’re using, tracks version history for your notes, and lets you collaborate with friends. If Evernote feels a bit too bloated, Simplenote might be just the app you’re looking for.
Want to spend as much time writing to-do’s as actually doing them? OmniFocus 2 is perhaps the most full-featured task manager on iOS. It’s the entire “Getting Things Done” productivity philosophy, in your pocket.
Mailbox makes sending email as quick as firing off a text message. This app made waves for the way it compresses your emails on its server, so sending and downloading messages is lightning fast, and for the Snooze function that lets you put off emails for later. Together, these features make Mailbox invaluable.