Christmas is here, and if you’ve been good enough in 2021 for Santa to bring you a new iPhone or iPad, you might be wondering what are some cool apps to try to get the most out of your devices. Look no further as we’ve got you covered.

In our list of apps, we’ll recommend some options to try to upgrade the experience of your iOS device. If you’re new to iOS, be sure to check out our guide on how to use the iPhone like a pro. Since most apps are now free with either optional in-app purchase unlocks or subscriptions, everything should be free to try.

Overcast

Podcasts are a great way to learn, be entertained, and get informed on the go. Overcast is my favorite podcast app and works on iPhone, iPad, and Apple Silicon Macs with seamless syncing. It’s a free download, and there is an optional in-app purchase for additional features. Overcast pioneered such features as Smart Speed and Voice Boost. If Apple Podcast hasn’t been working well for you, then Overcast is the best podcast app you should try.

Widgetsmith

If you’re looking to customize your iOS home screen, then look no further than Widgetsmith. _DavidSmith has built an app that will let you build some incredible widgets and make everything about your home screen unique to you. You can add widgets related to date, time, your calendar, photos, and then change up the colors. You can even set up timers to adjust widgets during the day so you can see the weather first thing in the morning, but then your calendar takes over.

Carrot Weather

Carrot Weather iOS 15 update

If Apple’s built-in weather app isn’t offering enough functionality for you, then you should check out Carrot Weather. It pulls in multiple weather APIs to offer a robust data set, but what makes it stand out among the rest is how customizable it is. The UI can be set up to look exactly how you want, and it offers an even better experience on the Apple Watch. Carrot Weather includes a unique “personality” that makes it fun to use as well.

Strike

Strike is one of the simplest apps out there. It’s integrated with Twitter for the social network’s new tipping service, but it’s also a free way to buy Bitcoin. Strike also makes it easy to send money anywhere in the world over the Bitcoin network and then have it auto-convert to the local currency once it arrives. Strike also makes it easy to get paid in Bitcoin from your employer.

Strike gives you bank account information (routing and account number), and you set up what percent of your paycheck you want in Bitcoin vs. USD. Overall, it’s a handy app to have around to quickly send money or buy some Bitcoin.

If you join using my referral link, you’ll get $5 to start. Strike also makes it easy to send bitcoin to a hardware wallet.

I also highly recommend Swan Bitcoin for weekly or monthly purchases of Bitcoin that you can then offload to your hardware wallet.

Vinegar

It’s no secret that using YouTube in the browser on your iPhone or iPad is a rather unpleasant experience. And in many ways, YouTube’s “native” app isn’t much better. This is where a new Safari extension called “Vinegar” comes in to save the day. “Vinegar” is a Safari extension for iPhone, iPad, and Mac that was released in November with the goal of replacing the YouTube player with a minimal HTML player. I’ve been using it for the past few weeks, and I can’t imagine going back to the default YouTube experience.

Weather on the Way

Weather on the Way is a great app for tracking weather as you’re planning a trip. If you haven’t tried the app out yet, it can make all the difference in the world in deciding when to leave for a business trip, a trip to the beach, etc. By letting you see the weather along your route, you can decide to take another route, leave at a different time, etc.

Spike

Spike is an all-in-one app to combine email, video calls, audio calls, group chat (similar to Slack), and note-taking. It connects to your regular email account but focuses the interface around the content, turning it into a chat app-like experience. One of my favorite features of Spike is how easy it is to respond with a GIF. The Priority Inbox feature is really handy if you get a lot of unimportant emails during the day as it can filter them out of your main inbox. Spike really rethinks what an email app should look like and how the experience of using it is.

Spark

Spark email iOS app update Dark Mode more

If you want a more traditional email experience with a few more bells and whistles than Apple’s Mail app, then check out Spark. Spark is from the same teams behind popular macOS and iOS apps like PDF Expert, Documents, and more. It supports all the next-generation features you’d expect like snooze, scheduled send, etc. One of the areas it excels in is threading conversations together without looking cluttered.

1Password

1Password has been a fan favorite for Mac and iOS users for over a decade. I’ve personally been using it since some of the earliest OS X versions. Outside of just password management, there are many features that 1Password supports that make it something worth paying for (vs. Safari’s free features). They include support for secure notes with attachments, personal information such as social security numbers, app license information, credit card information, passport information, and more. I use it for all my two-factor authentication code storage as well.

Fantastical

If you are looking to take your iOS calendar experience to the next level, you’ll find no better Calendar app replacement than Fantastical. It’s lightning-fast at creating new events, lets you quickly join video meetings, includes the weather, and much more. It syncs with calendars from iCloud, Google, Microsoft Exchange, Outlook.com, Office 365, Yahoo!, fruux, Meetup, as well as any other CalDAV account.

Deliveries

While the Christmas shopping season is over, you’ll likely continue to have Amazon purchases show up throughout the year. I am a big fan of the Deliveries app. It makes it easy to track shipments from a variety of carriers with timely push alerts. With an optional subscription, you can forward tracking emails to a generic email address and it’ll auto-load it into your database.

Todoist

If getting a handle on your to-do list is on your 2022 resolutions list, I am a big fan of Todoist. It makes it easy to organize all of your tasks, including supporting materials (files, notes, comments, URLs, etc). If you struggle to keep track of your tasks, Todoist makes it easy to add new todos, add dates, and organize by the project.

Summary

These are just a few of my favorite iOS apps. Are there any I should add? Send me an email, and I’ll keep this list updated throughout the holiday season. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

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About the Author

Bradley Chambers

Bradley lives in Chattanooga, TN.

Tips, feedback, corrections and questions can be sent to Bradley@9to5mac.com.