Some of My Favorite iOS Apps

 ( 7 min read ) 

No default apps.

No photo filters.

No games.

Mostly productivity and security. Which I know is boring, but these are just some of my daily apps that I use right now. And believe me, when I say that I am not a target user for mobile devices. I hardly use my smartphone let alone, make phone calls. So what I think is cool right now, might be way off base for regular smartphone users. But maybe you'll find something new to try out from my favorites list.


Why I love it: Its a free encrypted chat and phone app. Signup only requires a phone number, and the interface is as simple as it gets. Messages are nicely organized and you can see which of your friends use Signal by clicking the "new message" button. You can set messages to auto-delete after a given time (5 seconds, all the way up to 1 week) or never auto-delete. Did I mention this is free? The team at Open Whisper Systems did a great job with this app and I prefer to use it over any other mobile chat app there is.
Update 6/29/2017: I've actually stopped using Signal in favor of Wire, for a few reasons. 1. UX is pleasant. 2. browser app and mobile app communication. And messages show on all devices, not just my mobile phone. 3. Based in Switzerland.


Firefox Focus

Why I love it: There's Firefox on iOS, and then there's Firefox Focus on iOS. Its a smaller web browser at 14MB vs regular Firefox at 54MB and starts up faster when I need to quickly search or open a hyperlink. The best part, is it has ad-blocking builtin, and you know why I'm a fan of that already. I've customized Firefox Focus to use DuckDuckGo for no filter bubbles or trackers. Its not without its faults at the moment though. I've gotten it to crash when browsing some news sites before. But maybe its something to do with all the javascript being fronted on users lately. I'd like to see a "disable javascript" option in the next version.



Why I love it: Its a free encrypted, open-source, password manager. I've only recently started using this app and browser-plugin for Firefox, but so far its been great. I've had some minor issues with syncing passwords when I add a new password from the mobile app, and the browser extension didn't "see" it for some time. But its not a big deal. Sign out and back in fixes that, but I'm sure the developers will fix that soon. Bitwarden has  alot more features that I'm skipping over right now, so I definitely recommend you check it out.



Why I love it: Its a free, encrypted, open-source, two-factor authentication app. Sense a theme here? I like free and open-source stuff. And I like Matt Rubin. Hes the developer of this app. I mean... I love you Matt... Your authenticator app is awesome and so simple. It hasn't had an update in 2+ years, yet it doesn't need one. It doesn't connect to the internet. It just simply follows the OTP (one time pasword) algorithms to work with online services like Facebook, Twitter, and more. I guess if you didn't like this app, you can try Google Authenticator. It is pretty much the same thing, but Google back's up your codes in their cloud. So if that doesn't sound like something you care about, try Google's app. For me and other folks though, this "off the grid" app is perfect.



Why I love it: Can you guess this one? Its a free, open-source, VPN (virtual private network) app. Its the ugliest app in my favorites right now, but it still performs its duties perfectly. Don't be turned off at its interface, its wonky, I know. After downloading the app, you provide it with the VPN information and credentials to login to your VPN provider. If you don't have a VPN provider, OpenVPN has their own service called Private Tunnel which you can sign up for. You'll have to pay for it, if you want 20GB or more data allowance each month. But if you're using a different VPN provider like me, you can provide your credentials and login right away. This app encrypts my web browsing and sufing on WiFi and 3G / 4G LTE networks automatically. You can open the app, connect to your VPN, then close it, and the connection remains. Its really simple and that's why its one of my favorite daily apps right now.



Why I love it: Last time now... its a free, open-source, encrypted email app. ProtonMail is quite amazing, and its still growing. I've already written about how I ditched Gmail 2 years ago for ProtonMail's free service. Its been strange to leave Gmail, but felt great to secure my inbox with no email scanning or advertising profiles built on my private communications. So naturally, getting the iOS app of my new favorite service was a no brainer. Its extremely simple to use, and I gotta say... between the Email web app and the iOS app, I have to hand it to the iOS app. Its much more visually pleasing and easier to use. There are some settings which can only be changed in the web app though. But they're not super important for everyday email usage. I highly recommend you to try this app out.


I'm sure my favorites will change in the near future. The mobile app market is very aggressive and moves quickly.

Also, some of these apps are available on Android too. In case you're interested.

Published: May 9, 2017
Category: favorites
Tags: iOS, mobile-apps