Cult of Mac’s 50 Essential iOS Apps [The complete list, sorted!]

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50 Essential iOS Apps
The best and most useful apps for iPhone and iPad
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

With our 50 Essential iOS Apps series, the goal was to help you find some of the best apps for iPhone and iPad. Picking the finest offerings from the more than 2.2 million iOS apps in Apple’s App Store proved challenging. But we highlighted apps that offer excellent features or make life easier in various ways.

To wrap up the series, we’ve sorted the apps by category to make the list easier to browse. We’re also showcasing Cult of Mac readers’ alternatives to our picks.

(You’ll find reader faves linked at the end of this post. That’s especially helpful since one of our must-have apps is about to die an unceremonious death.)

Prepare the perfect cocktail with Highball [50 Essential iOS Apps #50]

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Highball app with small bar
Highball is the best cocktail app for building and perfecting your drink repertoire
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

50 Essential iOS Apps: HighballThe perfect cocktail can compliment nearly any moment in life. Whether it’s celebratory event, a social drink, or a work function, the blend of flavors in a quality drink can be icing on the cake. Highball makes saving or sharing your favorite drink recipes easy and beautiful. Best of all, you’ll never have to guess whether the perfect cosmo has 1oz of cranberry juice, or 2.

Save your reading list for later with Pocket [50 Essential iOS Apps #49]

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Pocket app article view
Pocket makes it easy to catch up on the articles in your reading list on your own schedule.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

50 Essential iOS Apps: PocketStaying informed and up-to-date with the latest news is tough. Scrolling through Twitter or browsing the web can often lead to news stories that you want to read, but can’t be bothered to read RIGHT NOW. With Pocket, you can save those stories for later and catch up on the stories you want to read on your schedule.

Save your ideas, thoughts, and memories with Day One [50 Essential iOS Apps #48]

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Day One journal entry on iPhone with Day one on iPad in background
Day One makes it easy to create a vibrant and modern journal documenting and archiving your life.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

50 Essential iOS Apps: Day OneResearch shows that keeping a journal is great for your mind. It allows you to clear your thoughts or think through problems in different ways. Finding a good way to journal is easy with the Day One app. Designed to provide a feature-rich, modern journaling experience, Day One gives you the ability to keep track of, write about, or create a virtual archive of almost anything you want.

Paper app turns your iPad into a sketch book [50 Essential iOS Apps #47]

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Cult of Mac logo poorly painted with Paper app
Paper by FiftyThree might not make you a good artist, but it does make it fun and easy.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

50 Essential iOS Apps: Paper app For the past several years, the iPad has served as a tool to digitize the analog world. Board games are now virtual, books are electronic, and with the art app Paper by FiftyThree, your sketches and artwork are turned digital. Thanks to the incredible touch interface of the iPad and Apple Pencil, the app makes your device feel like its analog counterpart.

Take back your music library with Cesium [50 Essential iOS Apps #46]

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Cesium album view Airplane Mode
Escape the annoyance of Apple Music and enjoy your personal music library with Cesium
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

50 Essential iOS Apps: Cesium When Apple Music launched in 2015, the service received mixed reviews. One of the biggest gripes was the impact it had on the Music app. Instead of it being a place for your music library, the app began catering to the streaming service.

Cesium offers a better music library experience. The simple, brilliant app brings back the classic Music app (aka the “iPod” app), making it easy to view and enjoy your personal song library.

Escape emails and get work done with Slack [50 Essential iOS Apps #45]

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Slack iOS app on iPhone in front of computer
Slack helps you get work done by opening up direct lines of communication.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

50 Essential iOS Apps: Slack Email can be a total productivity bottleneck. Following conversations between multiple participants gets confusing. The unfortunate result of all this email chaos? Important tasks get lost in long email chains.

Luckily for collaborators everywhere, messaging app Slack replaces the need for internal email, allowing for real-time productivity and communication for teams. Instead of redundant threads and signatures, Slack strips away the cruft of the email inbox. It turns your communication into what it was meant to be — a conversation.

Clue helps you understand your period. [50 Essential iOS Apps #44]

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Clue app current cycle screen
Clue helps you understand your body's reproductive cycle.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

50 Essential iOS Apps: clue appFor the last few years, health has been a key focus area for Apple. Fitness tracking, sleep tracking, nutrition tracking, mindfulness and even reproductive health have made their way into the Health app. Unfortunately, when it comes to your sexual wellbeing, Apple’s offering is pretty minimal. With Clue: Period and Ovulation Tracker, you can track a wide range of physical and mental details and gain useful insights into patterns and abnormalities in your natural cycle.

Annotable makes annotation and markup powerful and easy [50 Essential iOS Apps #43]

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Annotable redacted information in document
With Annotable, you can easily hide sensitive information in photos and screenshots.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

50 Essential iOS Apps: Annotable appSome of the most useful apps on iOS take system features and turn them up to 11. For a few years, the photos app has had basic markup tools but it’s felt underwhelming and lacked pro features. Annotable for iPhone and iPad adds pro-level annotation and markup tools to highlight or hide whatever you want in an image.

Documents is the files app iOS deserves [Essential iOS Apps #42]

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Documents app main screen
Documents offers mobile access to all your files, across your servers and cloud storage products.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

50 Essential iOS Apps: DocumentsFor the last few years, discussions about whether you can do “real work” on iOS have circled the internet. One of the most commonly cited issues with iOS was the lack of a file browser. In iOS 11, Apple gave us the files app, but it suffers from some major limitations. Documents by Readdle takes the file management on iOS to the next level.