7 min read




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We Apple and productivity nerds love our devices and we use them to Get Things Done™.

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We are also app junkies— how many times have you listened to a podcast or read a Medium article about what apps to use or nerds switching apps regularly? I admit— I am guilty. But I am trying to keep to the apps I’ve chosen as my main tools and keep with those tools for the long haul until a better tool comes along.

So this is a short list of tools to use on your iOS devices, things that I absolutely love, to get things done. Some of these I’ve reviewed, others I will review or talk more in depth about. In any event, these are 10 Best Productivity Apps for iOS. They’re meant to get you thinking about them and compare them to your current solutions and see where they fit.

  1. Todoist: It has been my task manager of choice since November of last year and I haven’t fallen out of love with it. The interface is amazing and clean. Themes are a great addition. But where it really shines is its natural language processing and filters. Filters help you to narrow down what you seen in your task list. Karma is a bonus— it helps you have an overview of your productivity. It’s also cool that there are “levels” to achieve, if you like that sort of thing.
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  3. Spark— Email Client for iOS: This app used to be my all-in-one daily driver. I still use Spark for most tasks as I find the interface pleasing and the smart inbox and advanced search can’t be beat. There are configuration options that won’t overwhelm non-nerdy people and some there for power users as well. For triaging mail I use the next app much more than Spark.
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  5. Dispatch- Email Client for iOS: I was using this as my DD as well a while ago. But unfortunately, the developers don’t implement the saved drafts in your email account. They also didn’t have an iPad app which killed it for me. They have since made an iPad app though the Drafts aren’t coming. What sets this app apart from Spark is how you are able to manage mail. The triage actions are so much better than Sparks— you can even add a message:// X-callback url to a Todoist task so that when you open the task on your Mac, the Mail app will open and you can see the email you added as a task in Todoist. The Todoist integration is a plus, as well as Trello, Fantastical, and so many others. Another thing it has that Spark does not is native TextExpander snippets. I won’t rehash the TextExpander pricing debate but I still use it as it offers tremendous value and Dispatch as it natively in the app.
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  7. Trello: This is my visual project management tool of choice. I also have a board to keep my learning on track. You can find out more about that at my other blog. The Kanban method helps me visualize what is coming up, what I’ve done, and who has something that I have delegated. It’s an amazing tool.
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  9. Ulysses Pro Writing Tool: I have to admit— I waited a very long time to get this app. I didn’t write in Markdown when I first got my Mac, didn’t see the point. I was a heavy Scrivener user. I felt like I paid good money for Scrivener and I generally found Literature and Latte to be good people. But as more of my writing workflow moved to iPad and Markdown became my method of choice for writing articles, I needed another solution. I bought Byword and used it for a long time. But during my Christmas home, my mom bought a few iTunes gift cards for me and I bought the iPad app. I was instantly in love with it. I then bought the Mac app a month or so later. It’s beautiful, feature rich, and being able to add your own markup is definitely a great feature. I am writing this article in Ulysses on my Mac. Worth the price.
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  11. Workflow: The programming app that you don’t need to be a programmer to use. I saw a demo about the app after hearing David Sparks mention a super secret app and then seeing his homescreen. I knew after watching the demo I needed to have this app. When it launched I bought it immediately. Since launch, it has gained a ton of actions, like Ulysses integration, Trello actions, Apple Music integration, and so much more. You can program it with scripts if you’d like and it helps to have an understanding of how variables work, but all in all, a visual, drag and drop, workflow editor like Automator for Mac was much needed on iOS and I use it quite often.
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  13. GoodReader: This is my workhorse file manager. I was using Documents 5 by Readdle but listened to Canvas, a podcast by Fraser Spiers and Federico Viticci and Fraser mentioned he had the app. I bought GoodReader in 2009 when I had my first ever Apple device, an iPod Touch and knew just how good it was. I dropped the $5 for the app and haven’t been disappointed. There is so much you can do with this app besides manage files— annotate pdfs, sync folders from a remote location, access your entire Mac and more. A worthy purchase.
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  15. Toggle: I mentioned this in another post but it is the best time tracker I’ve used. It is free with a pro version.
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  17. Drafts: This app is where I start most of the text I write, specifically lists, dates, and searches. When I am on the phone and need to jot down a date, I open Drafts which just has a blank screen and a blinking cursor— nothing to fiddle with. I can jot down the date and with actions, send that to Fantastical 2. One of the nice things about Drafts workflows is having a workflow palette, where you can add workflows under a blanket prompt and select one, whichever one suits your needs. This keeps your actions organized under their respective tabs.
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  19. Editorial: I use this to write on my Jekyll blog on the fly and to add TaskPaper tasks and lists which sync back to my Mac via Dropbox. This app also has workflows and I have a lot of them. Most of them relate to writing a Jekyll post and TaskPaper actions. These workflows can get extremely complex but this app is extremely powerful. If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to Ulysses, check this out.

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Honorable Mentions

There are two other apps I use to keep me productive. I use them enough, but they aren’t the most important to me. Well, one of them is pretty important but it didn’t fit on the main list.

  • Due: This app nags you to complete your reminders. I like it because I can have reminders here and actual tasks in Todoist. I also like the nagging. A notification will appear on Todoist if it is important but then it falls by the wayside. Due will repeat it every five minutes or until I delay or delete it.
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  • Interact: This is a great contacts manager for iOS. It is by Agile Tortoise, the same developers who make Drafts. The actions you can complete on your contacts well surpass the built in Contacts app. It is $5 and a great but at that price.
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