Try Out These iOS Replacements
The iPhone and iPad come with some useful stock apps that cover everything from music playback to ebook readers, email, and podcatching. Still, if Apple's standard apps don't meet your approval, iPhones running iOS 10 (and the soon-to-be released iOS 11) can remove built-in apps from the home screen so that you can replace them with third party apps of your own choosing. If you're a new iPhone owner or just want a change of pace for your old device, check out 20 of our favorite replacements for the built-in apps on your new iPhone or iPad.
Siri: Google Assistant
It's hard to beat the convenience of Siri, Apple's digital assistant which you can activate with the sound of your voice. And Apple is planning improvements for iOS 11 including a more natural-sounding Siri. But if you're frustrated by Siri's struggles to answer seemingly straightforward questions and you don't mind physically launching an app, try out the iOS version of Google Assistant. When we had the two assistants face off against one another, we were impressed by how Google's version handled tasks like directions and reservations; it's also tied in to Google's knowledge graph, which means more satisfying answers on average.
Home: Google Home / Amazon Alexa
The Apple Home app functions as a great control app for HomeKit compatible devices, allowing for remote control of your Apple TV, smart lights, thermostat, and other devices. But it doesn't control everything, and if you're using other smart home hub devices, like the Google Home speaker or the Amazon Echo, then you may as well jettison the iOS Home app for the Google Home app or the Amazon Alexa app, respectively. The Google Home app allows for remote control and configuring of Chromecast and Chromecast Audio devices, as well as the Google Home speaker and compatible smart appliances, while the Alexa app handles the Amazon Echo, as well as Amazon's AI and search assistant, Alexa.
Calendar: Fantastical 2 ($4.99)
While the iOS calendar is serviceable, if you're looking for more power features, check out Fantastical. This iOS calendar delivers a clean presentation of events in daily, weekly and monthly calendar views, backed up by really easy reminder and event management. Users can create events through a traditional menu-ased interface, or simply type or speak a quick audio note that the app automatically parses into an event (which users can further tweak). In addition, Fantastical integrates with most major calendar services, including iCloud, Google, Exchange and more. The Day Ticker is especially great, allowing users to view and manage their events and reminders. Apple Watch integration pushes your events and appointments right to your wrist for easy reference.
Contacts: Simpler Contacts Pro ($4.99)
Simpler Contacts is an address book alternative that combines ease of use with some powerful features for cleaning up your address book. It's got easy de-duping of contacts, allowing you to quickly find and merge contacts with similar names and contact details, as well as eliminate entries without names or contact details. You can add particular contacts into groups for easier sorting and group messaging, and a favorites section allows you to quickly access your most frequently used contacts. The app also includes cloud backup of your contacts.
Skype's been around forever, and boasts a user base of more than 300 million subscribers. The mobile app is a great replacement for Facetime, featuring free Skype-to-Skype audio and video calls over the internet. Group video calls allow you to talk with up to 25 users simultaneously, and the app's messaging lets you chat with up to 300 other users at a time, with photos, video messages, location sharing, and emojis. Perhaps best of all, it's cross-platform, allowing you to make calls to other people whether they're using iOS, Android, Windows, or Mac.
Find My Friends: Life 360 Family & Friends Locator
Apple's Find My Friends does a good job of sharing your location with your contacts, but another free app that we really like for the same job is the Life 360 Family & Friends Locator. The app allows for easy location sharing, with a Circles organization model for selective location sharing to groups, like family and friends. Users can set geofenced locations that notify you if a contact arrives or leaves, and the app comes with a messaging system. Premium plans include features such as expanded location history, unlimited locations for geofencing and local crime alerts; a Driver Protect plan provides crash detection, roadside assistance and driving habit reviews. Another plus? It's cross-platform, allowing you to share and receive location data with Android devices.
iBooks is a solid ebook reader platform, but Kindle blows it away with its cross-platform compatibility, openness to more formats and ever-increasing integration with Amazon's other apps such as Comics and Audible. More than 1 million titles are available in the Kindle store, from the latest bestsellers to free classics. A customizable display lets you set font size, brightness and other settings. Kindle syncs your last page read, bookmarks, highlights and notes between devices and platforms, allowing you to read on your iPhone, and continue reading on your iPad, or even carry on listening at the same point if you have the audiobook. A new addition is a Kindle Unlimited program that gives Kindle users access to thousands of audiobooks and e-books for a monthly fee.
iCloud Drive: Dropbox
Dropbox is a cloud storage pioneer, and its mobile app is an excellent replacement for iCloud Drive, especially if you're already paying for Dropbox's premium tiers. Offering cloud storage for photos, documents, and other files, Dropbox puts all your most important data at your fingertips anywhere you have a connection. Sharing tools make it easy to send files and links to friends and family. The app keeps adding new features, such as a basic editor for Microsoft Office file formats and a scanner feature that allows you to photograph and digitize documents like receipts, whiteboard diagrams, and more for conversion into uploaded PDF files.
For an easy to use and feature-packed alternative to the Apple Mail app, consider Gmail on iOS. Don't let it's name fool you, the Gmail app doesn't just run with Google's webmail service, it's also compatible with POP3, IMAP, and Exchange emails, with support for switching between five accounts. The app runs the gamut of what you'd expect for mobile email, with threaded conversations, attachments and autosorting of your mail into social, spam and personal folders.
Maps: Google Maps
If you're not going with Apple's native Maps app, then really, Google Maps is the way to go. Powerful location search, route planning, turn-by-turn navigation, commuting directions, and real-time traffic updates make Google's mapping app a commuter's dream. Street View and indoor mapping to select locations make it a great way to scout out a foot route. Away from a data connection? No problem, Google Maps can also save select areas for offline mapping use (sans real-time updates of course).
Apple Music has carved out a niche for itself, but if you're averse to paying for streaming music, you can also check out Spotify, which has become synonymous with online streaming music thanks to its familiar UI, Facebook integration and massive song library of more than 30 million tracks. The Spotify mobile app allows for unlimited, ad-supported streaming, and a $9.99 monthly subscription provides numerous features such as offline listening, higher quality audio, and ad-free listening. Factor in Spotify's Party DJ mode, pace-matching Running feature and personalized Discovery Weekly playlists, and you'll likely be hitting Play on this app for a long time to come.
Flipboard does a lot of what the News app does in iOS, only it does it better. Flipboard is a neat news aggregation and curator program that takes material you like to read, such as blogs, websites, your social media news feeds, and more, and aggregates them into a sleek, magazine-like format that allows you to view the material you like in one neat package. It even trims away clunky ads and formatting for a clean and convenient reader experience that's perfect for when you want to sit back and relax.
Whether you're in a meeting, in the classroom, or just have a sudden bright idea that you need to write down, you can turn to Evernote, one of the Web's premiere cross-platform note-taking apps. Jot down notes or images and immediately sync them across all your devices, share the minutes of a meeting through email, or straight to a printer or upload your ruminations to Twitter or Facebook. Tag-support and notebook sorting make managing your notes a breeze.
When it comes to replacements for the stock iOS calculator app, PCalc Lite for iOS has a well-deserved spot on this list as a free, extremely flexible scientific calculator armed with powerful features. The basic package gives you a fair amount to work with, such as trigonometric and logarithmic functions, a radian mode, undo and redo operations, as well as unit conversions and constants. Users looking for more power can purchase additional features and operations such as a paper tape and scientific notation through in-app purchases, or spring for the complete version of PCalc for $9.99.
Marco Ament's Overcast is our favorite iOS podcatcher, offering a great combination of clean design and powerful audio and podcast management features. Overcast deftly handles episode playbacks and downloads, sends notifications of new episodes, and can play offline or through streaming if you need to save some space; plus it has some nice audio features. Voice Boost normalizes the sound levels of speech, automatically raising quiet voices and lowering loud ones. Smart Speed automatically cuts away at gaps and silence in the podcast, speeding up play without distorting audio.
Any.do is an excellent and feature-packed app for creating to-do lists, reminders, events and other notes for getting things done. Any.do features easy task input, which can be typed in or dictated, complete with a touch interface for easily dragging and dropping tasks into various categories or for marking tasks as accomplished. Reminder notifications bring time sensitive items or events to your attention, and syncing and sharing features let you share tasks and lists with friends, family or colleagues.
Stocks: Stocks Live ($9.99)
The iOS Stocks app is serviceable, but if you want to go all out with a financial markets tracking app, get Stocks Live, a feature-packed stock and money markets tracker that comes loaded for bear. Users can get real time stock quotes, create custom watchlists of stocks, create custom portfolios to manage and track and more. Stocks Live is going to be way overkill if you want to just check out the latest stock prices, but if you need something beefier for your needs, the app is a pretty comprehensive tool, with more features available through a series of in-app purchases.
Videos: Infuse ($12.99)
Media playback on anything other than the pre-bundled iOS apps with anything other than the .m4v format used to be a frustrating endeavor, but thankfully, that's no longer the case. Rather than having to learn the arcane art of transcoding videos for the stock Videos app, you can just get a good mobile player like Infuse Pro 5, which plays a wealth of formats, from the ubiquitous MP4 to more difficult ones like MKV. Users can sync files over iTunes or through in-app file sharing, as well as stream video from your NAS, desktop, or UPnP/DLNA apps like Plex and Kodi/XBMC. While there's a free version, you'll want to spring for the more powerful premium version, which includes support for more video formats, Air Play and Google Cast, and compatibility with Dolby Digital Plus and DTS audio, as well as other premium features.
Voice Memos: Just Press Record
The stock Voice Memos app already does an good job as a voice recorder, but if you're looking for something more muscular, try out Just Press Record, a one-tap recording app for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch that also adds some useful features like built-in transcription features for easy note taking. Users can record from a long press on the app icon, from a lockscreen or notification widget. (There's also an Apple Watch Complication for Just Press Record if you've got one of Apple's smartwatches.) The app can transcribe speech with support for a number of languages and spoken punctuation commands. Recordings are sorted by date and time, and can be manually renamed. The transcription also allows you to search through recordings for specific terms. Recordings and transcriptions sync to iCloud, and you can share them to a variety of apps.
Apple's base Weather app isn't too shabby, but there are a wealth of excellent third-party weather apps that you can install as feature-packed replacements. Among the best is Accuweather, which features everything from 15-day forecasts to hyperlocal MinuteCasts that can tell you exactly when the rain or snow is going to drop at your location. The app can also provide detailed radar maps of precipitation, a wealth of meteorological data, severe weather alerts, and Apple Watch support so that you can check out the forecast with a flick of your wrist.
That said, the app isn't without controversy, as a recent report has found it sharing your location data even when location sharing permissions are denied, a practice that Accuweather said it was unaware of, and has said that it will discontinue.