Whether you fancy getting fitter, being happier or learning new things, these are the apps to grab
It’s 2018! And for many people, fervently hurling last year’s calendar into the abyss, a new year is a time to try new things. With the right apps, your iPhone or iPad can make this process much easier. So whether you’ve resolved to try something new and amazing over the coming twelve months, or just want ideas on how to improve your life – and stick to new habits – then check out these 21 iOS greats.
Remind yourself: Cheatsheet
Free or $3/£3 • v2.7.1 • 38.7 MB • By Christopher Adam Overholtzer
Some people like a constant reminder of their New Year’s resolutions. But rather than plastering walls and pets with sticky notes, or scrawling a wish list all over your person in pen, use Cheatsheet. This app is primarily designed to house little things you need to remember: phone numbers, Wi-Fi codes, and the like. Your list is created and managed within the Cheatsheet app, and can subsequently be accessed using 3D Touch on the app’s icon, or the Cheatsheet widget. Assuming you’re not too wordy, you can use Cheatsheet to list resolutions, so they’re only ever a prod or swipe away. And each can have its own icon, too, further helping to differentiate your various plans.
Infuse new habits: Streaks
$5/£5 • v3.1.7 • 80.7 MB • By Crunchy Bagel
Many New Year’s resolutions are simple things to be performed regularly – actions that improve your life (or other people’s) in some small way. But infusing new habits into daily routines (and not letting them slide) can be tricky. Streaks helps you track such tasks, and graphs the results so you can see how you’re doing. The bold interface helps. You get six huge icons to prod when a task is complete. (A second page is available, if you want to track an even dozen.) These can also be accessed and interacted with from a Today view widget. Beyond this, you can add reminders to tasks, and have exercise-oriented ones integrate with the Health app.
Do more to-dos: Habitca
Free + IAP • v1.11.3 • 70.0 MB • By HabitRPG, Inc
This task manager is in similar territory to Streaks, in making it fun to accomplish goals. However, it’s more flexible in the way it works, and also more overtly “gamified” in nature. The app has you map out anything from repeating goals to upcoming one-off to-dos. Checking off tasks levels up your little on-screen avatar, who’ll acquire new armour, pets and skills. With this new cache of bling and weaponry, the little critter can then head off to beat up monsters. It’s all ridiculous, of course, but far more fun than ticking items off of a boring checklist.
Be more focused: Focus Keeper
$2/£2 • v1.8.4 • 31.8 MB • By Limepresso
More often than not, your iPhone can be an avenue for distraction. Notifications come in, sending you down the rabbit-hole of Facebook, Messages, or “just one more go” on a new favourite game. Focus Keeper aims to eradicate such procrastination, helping your iPhone become a tool for productivity. It mostly achieves this by being a fancy timer that riffs off of the Pomodoro method. This breaks up the day into work/break loops. Stick to the schedule, and you’ll get more done, and end up with spare time for properly fun things rather than throwaway time wasting. Download Focus Keeper
Get started with exercise: Streaks Workout
$4/£4 • v3.0 • 51.3 MB • By Crunchy Bagel
Having spent a good chunk of December shoving food into their faces and being sedentary, plenty of people see January as the ideal time to start losing weight. But rather than dieting, it’s often more positive to start exercising regularly. The idea behind Streaks Workout is to create routines that work for you. Only got a few minutes every day to dedicate to exercise? No problem – try the six-minute workout. Short on equipment or suffering from an old injury? Only select exercises you’re happy and able to perform. When you’re done, the app will lead you through your routine, logging statistics, and optionally outputting data to the iOS Health app. And if you can’t spare six minutes a day, moving about a bit more probably shouldn’t be one of your resolutions!
Learn to run: Zombies, Run!
Free + IAP • v6.0.3 • 305 MB • By Six to Start
If your idea of exercise is more about getting out of the house, you might like the notion of running. For some people, catharsis comes from regular jaunts on local streets, but for others running can be a grind – and it can be tricky to get started. The idea behind Zombies, Run! is to inject some fun into running. And by fun, we mean abject terror, because the app dumps you in a post-apocalyptic future where zombies have taken over. You sign up for missions in this world of horrors, which naturally involve a lot of running, and must up your pace when zombies are close by or get torn limb from limb. If you’re just starting out, the app offers training plans to help you graduate to a surreal zombie marathon. Should you like that idea but hanker for something more conventional, try Couch to 5K instead.
Sleep more: Sleep Cycle
Free + IAP • v5.4.5 • 84.4 MB • By Northcube AB
Not everyone needs eight hours of sleep every night, but chances are you could do with a bit more, to avoid feeling groggy and run down. If you’ve resolved to get more shuteye, Sleep Cycle can help you get more good sleep, rather than just ending up in bed for more hours. The app uses your iPhone’s accelerometer or microphone to analyze your sleep patterns, aiming to wake you during the lightest phase of sleep. It also tracks your sleep over time, outputting graphs and data you can peruse in order to figure out if you keep waking up at the same time every night, or, for that matter, if you should simply go to bed an hour earlier every night.
Eat better: Kitchen Stories
Free • v10.0.1 • 71.8 MB • By AJNS New Media
There are quite a few apps out there that want to get you eating more healthily, or to cut down on “bad” foods and start dieting. Mostly, though, people just need to eat better, and part of that comes from cooking your own meals. Kitchen Stories argues that anyone can cook, and arms you with all of the tools you need: loads of recipes, a digital shopping list, and a ton of videos and photography. If you lack certain skills, you can watch dozens of how-tos. When preparing a meal, most recipes include a photograph with every step, ensuring you shouldn’t go wrong – as long as your iPhone’s perched nearby.
Give up smoking: Livestrong MyQuitCoach
Free • v3.0 • 51.1 MB • By LIVESTRONG.COM
Smoking is on the decline, but that’s no comfort to anyone finding it difficult to quit. MyQuitCoach isn’t a magic wand, but the app is designed to make it easier to stop smoking, by way of personalized plans. You can try to quit instantly, or gradually over time; in either case, your efforts are mapped and graphed. The “gamification” aspect helps motivate, as does looking at cold, hard data that proves you’re making progress. But for those days that are particularly hard to get through, there’s a community behind the app that can give you the extra support you need.
Learn a language: Duolingo
Free + IAP • v5.1.25 • 106 MB • By Duolingo
A common New Year’s resolution is to learn a new language, whether to fulfilll a lifelong goal, or better immerse yourself in the local culture during a summer holiday. The thing is, learning languages isn’t easy, and doing so can be time-consuming and confusing. The magic behind Duolingo is in cleverly rethinking learning languages for the mobile age. Exercises are broken down into bite-sized quizzes, most of which can be completed in a few minutes. The app provides a score and rewards you for streaks. You can even have Messages-like conversations with the app’s Bots. Although the app has its limitations, it’s perfect for getting started with the basics – and therefore for helping you achieve at least one resolution.
Take up painting: Procreate Pocket
$3/£3 • v1.6.3 • 75.4 MB • By Savage Interactive Pty Ltd
Although not as advanced as its iPad sibling, Procreate Pocket is nonetheless an excellent app for unleashing your inner artist. The straightforward interface gets out of your way, turning your iPhone into something akin to magic paper, on to which you can sketch and paint. As your confidence grows, you can delve into the app’s more advanced features, experimenting with multiple layers, transform tools, and 3D Touch pressure sensitivity. It might not lead to your iPhone one day being on the wall of the Louvre, but Procreate Pocket’s perfect if you always fancied arting it up a bit but never had the time to try.
Master an instrument: Yousician
Free + IAP • v2.39.1 • 199 MB • By Yousician Ltd
Rather similarly to Duolingo, Yousician is a distinctly mobile and game-oriented take on an educational pursuit. You use your own keyboard, guitar, ukulele or piano, and the app acts as a personal tutor, providing exercises for you to play along with. When using a guitar, Yousician comes across a lot like Guitar Hero rotated 90 degrees, with you matching chords and notes that scroll across the screen. Things are a touch more conventional with a piano, exercises for which use standard music notation, but even here there’s a sense of fun throughout. For free, you’re limited in terms of how much time you can play per day. Various subscription tiers unlock unlimited play for one or more instruments.
Boost your knowledge: Tinycards
Free • v1.0.24 • 47.7 MB • By Duolingo
What’s the capital of Croatia? What sits below argon in the periodic table? What is French for car? If any of those have you stumped, yet you’ve always wanted to improve your general knowledge, Tinycards is a must-have install. The app is essentially a flash cards system. You can use it in odd moments to zoom through a deck and commit one or two extra facts to memory. Keep that up for a few weeks, and you’ll be able to reel off nuggets of general knowledge like nobody’s business.
Become a code guru: Lrn
Free + IAP • v1.4 • 7.7 MB • By Lrn Labs, Inc.
Read more: Instapaper
Free• v7.5.1 • 56.3 MB • By Instapaper Holdings, Inc.
Increasingly, we appear to be in the age of the headline. People gloss over snappy soundbites on social media, but this doesn’t help anyone’s understanding of events or subject matter. If your goal in 2018 is to read more, though, your iPhone might not seem the ideal way to do so. Instapaper should change your mind. It’s essentially a time-shifting service for web pages. When you find something you fancy reading, you send it to Instapaper. The service strips everything but the content, giving you a highly readable offline personalized magazine of sorts, with all the things you recently wanted to read. It’s perfect, whether reading one-handed on a standing-room only train, or when curled up on the couch of an evening.
Write a novel: Scrivener
$20/£20 • v1.1.5 • 28.3 MB • By Literature & Latte
Everyone has a novel in them, and yet national novel writing month (NaNoWriMo) lurks at the tail end of the year, in November. If you’ve always fancied trying your hand at penning a best-seller, don’t wait until the autumn – start mapping things out and writing now, using Scrivener. The notion of writing on your iPhone might seem crazy, but you always have your phone on you. Every time you get an idea, you can drop it into Scrivener, which can be used to gradually grow your manuscript, stash research, reorder chapters, and then export the lot, ready for hurling at the internet – or a publisher.
Keep a diary: Momento
Free + IAP • v3.4.10 • 85.7 MB • By d3i Ltd
Memory is a strange thing, in that it plays tricks on you. Yet the idea of keeping a diary these days seems quaint – even archaic. Partly, this is down to how much time people spend sharing publicly online. Momento reasons: why not have the best of both worlds? With this app, you can keep a diary by capturing and storing your digital history in browsable, searchable format – all those tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagram photos that might otherwise get buried online. These can then be augmented by more considered private entries. Low effort. Zero fuss. All the memories.
Travel more: Google Earth
Free • v9.2.5 • 178 MB • By Google, Inc.
A promise people often make to themselves is they’ll get out more over the coming twelve months. That needn’t mean extravagant overseas jaunts, but could instead involve more modest outings to local sights of interest. Google Earth is a great way to plan. Unlike most travel apps, Google Earth isn’t trying to sell you tickets, car hire and hotels – it wants to help you see the world. You can zoom into and out of the planet, using “knowledge cards” to locate nearby places of interest, and even partake in virtual tourism with Voyager “trips”. Note down your favorites, and then visit them for real.
Be secure online: 1Password
From free • v7.0.4 • 92.5 MB • By AgileBits Inc.
You might have noticed there’s an awful lot of hacking going on these days. Sometimes, there’s not much you can do to counter this. But increasingly frequently, web-based accounts are taken over by nefarious sorts because the passwords protecting them are absurdly weak. We doubt too many of you will have decided on upping your online security as a New Year’s resolution, but perhaps you should – and 1Password can help. On the iPhone, it’s entirely free, and provides a secure locker for logins, passwords, notes, payment information, and more. There’s integration with Safari, and should you want 1Password across platforms, a subscription enables locker sync and app access on the desktop and beyond.
Learn to relax: Oak
Free • v1.3.0 • 112 MB • By Courtney Circle
In today’s hectic environment, a brilliant resolution is to give yourself a little time to relax every day. You could add such a habit to Streaks, mentioned earlier, but if you want an app to guide your way, try Oak. The app has sections for helping you breathe, to calm you down or boost your energy. Beyond that, it’s all about guided meditation – a combination of relaxation and mindfulness. There are no IAPs here, and everything is offered in a pleasingly straightforward manner, transforming your iPhone from a device with the potential for frustration into an essential component of your ongoing wellbeing.
Give yourself space: Pause
$2/£2 • v1.4 • 77.2 MB • By ustwo
If you like the idea of unwinding, but not Oak’s traditional approach, try Pause instead. The app is – according to its creators – based on Tai Chi and mindfulness practice, although the “science” aspect seems a bit wooly. Even so, Pause can be effective in helping you to focus and tune out the world. You start by slowly following a blob on the screen with a finger, preferably listening to the chill-out audio through headphones. Pause then encourages you to doze a bit while still caressing your iPhone, a bell eventually ringing when it’s time to snap out of your trance. You might initially feel a bit daft immersing yourself in Pause’s minimal world, but if it releases stress and makes you feel better, downloading the app could prove to be the best New Year’s resolution of all.