In choosing these apps, I looked at factors such as how well they fit into Apple’s design guidelines, how much they cost, and what they had to offer that similar apps didn’t.
I hope you enjoy these apps as much as I have!
The best iOS apps of September 2020
Not Phở: Sharpen your cooking skills with authentic Vietnamese recipes
Starting off the iOS list is one of my favorite apps that I’ve downloaded in a long time. I should preface this by saying that I’m a bit of a foodie; I try to cook all of my meals from scratch and there’s nary a food truck in the greater Austin area that I haven’t dined at.
Needless to say, I was super excited to download Not Pho, an app featuring a handful of recipes for authentic Vietnamese cuisine. The developer’s goal in creating this app was to introduce people to Vietnamese food that isn’t pho, including:
- Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese crepes)
- Chà Giò (egg rolls)
- Bánh Mì Thit Nuong (a grilled pork sandwich)
The app features beautiful animations, voice-over for accessibility, and simple recipes that are both true to Vietnamese culture and legible to Western eyes. It’s completely free and worth picking up if you’re looking for a new quarantine hobby!
Phone Buddy: Never lose your iPhone again
I remember the dread earlier this year of walking out of a grocery store and hearing my friend say, “Wait!” before checking their pockets and realizing their phone was missing. By the time we returned to the store to look for it, it was long gone.
If you’re as forgetful as my friend, you’ve probably come close to losing your phone a handful of times. Apple’s FindMy makes it easy to find your iPhone, but it does little to prevent you from losing it in the first place.
That’s where Phone Buddy comes in. Phone Buddy is an Apple Watch and iOS app that uses Bluetooth to tell you when you’re leaving your phone behind. It notifies you after just six seconds, making it nearly impossible to get separated from your phone.
It costs $5, which in my mind is a small price compared to the $700+ it’ll cost to replace your iPhone.
TimeKeep: Organize and track your time as efficiently as possible
Productivity fiends will know that the App Store is filled to the brim with organization, time tracking, and habit tracking apps. In my experience, these apps tend to have one of two problems:
- They’re too bloated, packed with distracting features, notifications, and popups that I have zero interest in
- They’re too minimal, acting as a digital stopwatch or sheet of paper covered in tally marks
TimeKeep balances this with just the right amount of features. You can add as many routines as you like, organize them into different categories, easily time them, and then view your time through a calendar chart. It has everything you want and nothing you don’t – check it out!
Dot Music Player: Streamline your Apple Music experience
This app ended up surprising me with how much I loved it. My first Apple product was the iPod Classic, which carried me through high school and college. My iPod is framed on my wall, and I have a lot of fondness for how connected with music Apple is in my mind.
I downloaded the Dot Music player knowing that it was meant to be reminiscent of older music apps on iPhone and iPod, but the nostalgia caught me off guard in a great way. Maybe this is the Gen Z equivalent of listening to a record?
Dot Music is exactly what it claims to be. It’s a toned-down Apple Music client that allows you to access your entire Apple Music library without the “streaming” feel. The Library, For You, Browse, Radio, and Search tabs have been replaced with Artists, Albums, Songs, Playlists, and Settings.
The app is slick as hell and lightning-fast. It works with Siri. It’s so lightweight it installed on my phone in less than a second. It’s also free, but you can throw the developer $2 to customize some of the app colors.
If you care about music at all, grab a pair of wired earbuds, download this app, and put your favorite album on.
The best macOS apps of September 2020
MeetingBar: Track your quarantine meetings
Since quarantine, nearly all of our meetings have become digital. Whether we’re participating in classes over Zoom, conferences over Skype, or family calls over FaceTime, our handshakes and hellos are rarely done in person now.
To simplify all of the meetings and calls you do through your Mac, there’s MeetingBar. MeetingBar is an app for your Menu Bar that allows you to quickly add and cross off your upcoming meetings.
It sits at the top of your screen with a countdown until your next meeting. Adding and clearing meetings is just one click away. It doesn’t get any simpler or useful than this.
We recently went on a bit of a privacy kick here at AppleToolBox, breaking down a list of tools and resources you can use to maximize your privacy with Apple products. It was this same kick that led me to UTMBeGone, an incredibly lightweight app that you’ll find yourself using all the time.
UTMs are trackers used by marketing teams in hyperlinks. You’ve probably noticed when copying a link that it is much, much longer than it should be. If you look closely, you’ll notice phrases in the URL like “utm_source” or “utm_campaign”.
These inconspicuous keywords are actually tracking the way you use the internet. They give marketers analytics on who is clicking their links, where they’re clicking those links, when those links are shared, and so on.
If you care about your privacy, then you’d probably prefer not to be tracked by these. That’s where UTMBeGone comes in. All you need to do is paste your links into the app and it’ll instantly cut out all of the UTM trackers for you. It’s a great way to include links in your writing or share links without worrying about advertisers watching you do so.
IINA: A video player that will make your Mac feel like a new computer
It’s a bit difficult to explain what makes IINA so great until you try it for yourself.
But I’ll do my best.
IINA is just a video player. There is nothing else to it. You can play video files on your computer or paste URLs into the app. Its goal is to replace QuickTime, the default (and admittedly lackluster) media player from Apple.
What IINA has done so well is strip down everything until all that’s left is a very simple window with play, pause, fast-forward, and rewind options. It’s clean, elegant, and it blends in with macOS even better than QuickTime.
When you get into the preferences for the app, things get more impressive. I was surprised to find just how customizable and robust this app is. You can create custom hotkeys and gestures, change the look of the app, change the controls you see while playing videos, and much more.
My personal favorite feature is pinching to resize the window. It’s hard to explain how slick this looks until you try it for yourself.
IINA is filled with so many great ideas that, even though it isn’t made by Apple, it reminds me of what I love about apps on macOS. It also comes with a Safari extension (as well as Chrome and Firefox) that allows you to instantly open Safari videos in the app.
Just be aware that to use the extension, the app will ask for some pretty hefty permissions that might affect your privacy. I personally have left the extension feature off, but I’ve made the app itself my default video player.
Reeder 4: A clean, elegant news app for macOS
Last but not least is Reeder 4. If you’re like me, you have Reader View turned on in Safari on all of your devices. It removes all of the ads, popups, and fluff from websites so that you can easily find and read the information you’re looking for.
Reeder 4 is a news client with the same approach. It takes news stories from your favorite publications, aggregates them in one place, and provides a clean, light, and pleasantly old school experience.
To use Reeder, simply enable the Safari extension and save articles you’d like to read throughout your day. Then, the same way you would open a book, you open the Reeder app and click through and read the articles you’ve saved.
In addition to having a streamlined reading experience, it also offers Bionic Reading, which adds weight to certain letters to make it easier to focus on what you’re reading. While it’s not my cup of tea, it’s a feature that plenty of readers will love. Just make sure to add the latest AppleToolBox articles to your Reeder list!