My Cross Platform (and Apple-only) iPad Apps in 2016

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Every once in a while I like to take stock of the number of cross-platform apps I’m using. On the one hand, this overview helps me look at how ready I’d be to move platforms, but it’s also a very pragmatic peek at how much I really rely on Apple’s ecosystem of apps and services. I’ve split this list into two parts, the cross platforms apps, and the apps that are still iOS / macOS only.

Cross Platform Apps

Evernote (iOS, Mac, Windows, Android)

For the umpteenth time, I’m back on Evernote, and I find I’ve been able to think more clearly because of this. I don’t like how they keep trying to up-sell me on Premium when I’m already a Plus member, but having my notes accessible on most any smart device or computer is really amazing. This is a huge selling point for Evernote, and their apps across each platform are improving.

Spotify (iOS, Mac, Windows, Android)

I’ve just moved over from Apple Music to Spotify, and I did it for cost-saving and social sharing reasons. I don’t have any friends on Apple Music, but I have a lot of them on Spotify. I also like that Spotify works in a web app, so it’s easy to set up on my work computer in a pinch. What’s more, I can use the web app to control playback on my iPad or iPhone, which means I can use my Bluetooth headphones at work, instead of my work headset (which doesn’t have very good sound quality).

Lightroom (iOS, Mac, Windows, Android)

I moved away from iCloud Photo Library completely and am really enjoying the extra power and customizability of Lightroom. I love that I can sync smaller files to my iPhone, but keep originals on the iPad and Mac. The lack of background syncing is a bit of a bummer, but I’m getting used to it. Editing images is faster, it’s easy to pan through and rate images, and sharing is pretty easy, too. I also love that I can move this library over to a PC, if I ever decide to move away from the Mac.

Dropbox (iOS, Mac, Windows, Android)

I use iCloud Drive because certain apps require me to use it, but most of the time I prefer to use Dropbox, since it makes the files accessible and shareable. There is an iCloud Drive web app on iCloud.com, but it’s not as easy to share files in a pinch — you have to email them out of the application. Dropbox can create quick download links on the fly, and even share them with people who don’t have a Dropbox account. I’d actually like to store videos in Dropbox now that I’m no longer using iCloud Photo Library, but the $10/month isn’t worth it for me.

2Do (iOS, Mac, Android)

I haven’t used 2Do on Android, but I know it’s there, and that’s comforting to me. I really like the way 2Do organized my tasks, and although I’m a little sad there isn’t a Windows client, I’m hoping that 2Do can make it to a web app someday.

Google Calendar (iOS, Mac, Windows, Android)

I choose not to use iCloud calendar just because none of my friends or family use it. They’re all on Google, so it’s just easier to plan things by using the same service.

Essential iOS / macOS Apps

Ulysses (iPhone, iPad, Mac)

Ulysses is my writing app of choice these days, and it’s only on iOS and the Mac. Thankfully, the files are just .markdown files, so I could easily use a writing app on a PC or Android device, and sync things with Ulysses over Dropbox.

Procreate (iPad, separate iPhone app)

I’ve been using Procreate more and more at work, in lieu of Paper. It’s a wonderful app for creating drawings and diagrams, and the layer and gesture support are fantastic. Procreate keeps its files purely on iCloud Drive though, so there’s no getting around it. If I ever switched away from iOS, I’d really miss this app.

Day One (iPhone, iPad, Mac)

One of the longest-standing apps on my devices is Day One. I’ve been journaling for since 2010 in this app, and I love the way it sends me notifications to take a look at what I was doing, on this day, five years ago. Day One 2.0’s feature set is so good that it would actually make for a fantastic note-taking application as well, since it places notes on a particular date, so you can flip back through old notes like a notebook, or run your finger along them like on an old calendar. Day One has one of the strongest holds on me, and I’d want to keep at least one iOS or macOS device around, just to keep using it.

Money Pro (iPhone, iPad, Mac)

I try my best to stick to a running monthly budget, and I’ve previously used MoneyBook and Next to help me, but Money Pro has done the best job of any finance app I’ve used thus far. I can look at monthly budgets like a profit and loss statement, and I can also track an overall budget that rolls over from month to month. I can enjoy surpluses when I earn them, and I know when to cut back on spending when I’ve bought one too many camera lenses in the past month. I know I can get my data out of Money Pro with a CSV export, and I think there could be a better finance app out there for me, but it took me months to learn the ins and outs of Money Pro, and I almost feel too tired to switch.

I haven’t named all the apps on my iPad here, just the essentials. While writing this post, I realized that I’m in pretty decent shape in terms of where my digital data resides. I do still have a few standout apps that are available only on Apple platforms, but these apps are also not so essential that I need them on every single device. If I decide to switch things up later on and eschew an iPad, iPhone, or Mac from my workflow, I could probably continue to use 90% of these apps and still be fine. But right now, I’m enjoying having all of these services working across all of my personal devices.


Thomas

My name is probably Thomas (yes, it is). I'll be able to help you figure out why Evernote isn't syncing, or recommend your favourite new RSS reader to you. That's partly because I am enamoured with the iOS ecosystem and hardware, but mostly because I'm Canadian.

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