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5 iPhone apps I can't live without

5 iPhone apps I can't live without
(Image credit: Tom's Guide/Shutterstock)

Apps are a key part of how we use our smartphones. Each of us has a different library of ones we use on a daily basis, and I wanted to share mine. I tried to keep these to indie developers, avoiding the major options. You won't find these on the list of best iPhone apps, but I find them invaluable to my daily life.

Most of these are iPhone only, though one is available on Android. Feel free to share your favorite apps, iPhone or Android, in the comments so that others can check them out.

1. Apollo

I use Reddit a lot. It's my preferred social media platform and how I keep up to date on things. I regularly participate in different subreddits, browse news and helpful guides, and connect with people who share similar interests.

The app I use most often on my iPhone is Apollo, a third-party Reddit client. Its beautiful design meshes well with iOS' look and feel, it has rich features, and it's all around a much more pleasant experience than the official Reddit app. It doesn't have ads or those annoying livestreams, letting you focus on posts and comments.

Apollo is best experienced when you unlock the mid-tier features. You don't get push notifications (a feature limited to the much pricier Ultimate unlock) or chat, so keep that mind while using it. However, if you like Reddit, Apollo is the best app for it.

Download Apollo: App Store (opens in new tab)

2. BeFocused

I struggle with task and time management. I either have trouble staying focused or I get hyper-focused, forgetting to stretch, eat, or drink. I had to figure out a way to manage that and I settled on the pomodoro system. 

You've probably heard of this before, where you work for 15-25 minutes, then take 5-10 minute break. After a few rounds of that, you take a longer 15-20 minute break to recharge before diving back into your task. This has proven incredibly helpful to me and the app I use to achieve this is BeFocused.

It's a simple app that follows the pomodoro system. You can create specific tasks — for example, I make tasks for articles I need to work on, such as this one. You can view stats, too. There's also an Apple Watch app, so you can get timers on your wrist. It's all in all a great app I use daily, and I thought the premium upgrade was more than worth it.

Download BeFocused: App Store (opens in new tab)

3. Obsidian

While I don't particularly respect educational institutions, I love to learn. Part of learning is translating information into a format I can refer back to later. I stumbled upon the Zettelkasten notetaking system — which I won't explain here because it's far too complicated — and the app I use to accomplish that is Obsidian.

Full disclosure, I use Obsidian on my MacBook more than my iPhone. Typing on my laptop in markdown is much more efficient, but I use the mobile app for quick on-the-go notes and references later when I don't want to plop down in front of my laptop.

Obsidian is a free app and it uses the markdown language for formatting. It's an extremely powerful application that allows you to create your second brain by establishing interlinks to other notes. Describing my workflow in Obsidian is beyond the scope of this article, but it's an app I use daily on my Mac and iPhone.

Download Obsidian: App Store (opens in new tab)

4. NetNewsWire

At heart, I'm a huge fan of free and open source software (FOSS). It's something I can get behind and support however I can. So when looking at RSS readers, I wanted to find something that could get me away from Feedly. I found NetNewsWire, a FOSS RSS reader, and gave it a try. I'm glad I did.

While not as visually interesting as Feedly, NetNewsWire gives me my feeds without fuss. Feedly has an advantage in that it's super simple to add sites and categories, whereas NetNewsWire takes a bit more work. If you already have a lot of Feedly stuff, you can link NetNewsWire to your Feedly account, as well as others like Inoreader. There's also a Mac app.

Download NetNewsWire: App Store (opens in new tab)

5. Sofa

I have a huge backlog of games to play, books to read, and movies/shows to watch. Keeping track of them is difficult and my spreadsheet method has thus far proven ineffective. So imagine my joy when I stumbled upon Sofa, an app that lets you organize your downtime in a visually appealing way.

Sofa has proven invaluable to me. Once I went through the painful process of adding all of my unconsumed media to the app, I could easily scroll through what I had left to play, read, or watch.

You can log a piece of media to your activity tab so you can see what you've done so far. There's a host of other features, too, so if you're overwhelmed by your backlog or TBR, then be sure to check out Sofa.

Download Sofa: App Store (opens in new tab)

Jordan Palmer
Jordan Palmer

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over five years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.