It’s just after Christmas, the year nearly over, and rather than do the usual “year in review” stuff (which I might yet do, if I find the time) I decided to highlight seven iOS (but not just) apps that I enjoyed this year–most of which I use on a daily basis.
Without these, I would not be able to do a fair chunk of what I write about here, or at least enjoy it as much.
Working Copy is how I manage this site from my iPad–from posting photos and links to editing full blown posts. I have a set of Shortcuts to handle screenshots and format everything semi-automatically, and Working Copy provides all the
git mechanics I need to keep everything in sync across all my machines1.
I couldn’t pull that off without the app’s ease of use and scriptability, and having a built-in editor with a Markdown preview baked in is just icing on the cake.
Anders Borum keeps doing an amazing job with it (he just added OpenAI integration with bring-your-own API keys before the holidays), and other than the occasional niggles of using TestFlight builds (I paid for the Pro version, but like to test and provide feedback), Working Copy has been rock solid for me for years now.
This is my go-to “everything app” on the iPad. Besides a working CLI that can run
vim (including several plugins), it comes with
pico, Python (and Jupyter), Lua, and various other bits and bobs that I use daily (including a C compiler that outputs WASM binaries).
Some of its multiple killer features are excellent file provider support (I can use Working Copy repositories inside it) and eminently usable
ssh that has become a replacement for dedicated apps.
With Stage Manager I can have multiple terminal windows open for either local or remote sessions, and although I still have to resort to iSH for a few things, a-Shell is the main reason I’ve stopped complaining about Apple failing to deliver a usable UNIX userland on the iPad.
Nicholas Holzschuch has not just made the source available but keeps pushing the envelope on its WASM-based tooling, and there is a “mini” version with slightly less bundled functionality as well.
I tested a bunch of Mastodon apps, but I stuck with Ivory not just because of the sheer polish TapBots adds to everything they make but also because it supports multiple accounts and lists in a way that makes sense to me and does so across the iPhone, iPad and macOS without any significant compromise.
It’s been my go-to social networking app throughout the year (i.e., the one that I keep open all the time on my Mac) and one of the extraordinarily few app subscriptions that I pay for willingly.
I know it’s not really “just” an iOS app, but being able to draft, edit and update exactly the same files I do for work makes so much difference that I just couldn’t stick to an Apple-only solution.
This is one that surprised me–I’ve been using the free tier for a while to sketch out office layouts and 3D printed part drafts, and it’s been growing on me.
Although I think the $299 yearly subscription price is outrageous (the CAD app market is in dire need of more competition) and really don’t like their cloud-storage-centric data lock-in take on things, the fact that I can do fillets, bevels and sweeps almost effortlessly and sketch with proper constraints on an iPad has been nagging at me.
Even the desktop stuff I’ve been trying out (like Fusion360) feels clunky and outdated by comparison, and that’s saying something.
I’ve owned a Pro license for years, but for the past two months I have finally started using it daily to keep notes and write most of my drafts. This one was another surprise because
vimwiki was working out really well for me, but syncing it across devices was fiddly.
Also, other than my Fedora laptop and remote desktops I’m mostly back into an Apple-only ecosystem, so having something that syncs seamlessly and is a native app everywhere made quite a difference (even if I am usually reluctant on using apps with proprietary storage, this exports to Markdown and HTML in ways that I can actually use).
In short, it’s what Apple’s Journal app ought to have been, in an Apple cross-ecosystem flavor that is a delight to use.
A key thing that won me over from iA Writer is that it works beautifully with Scribble on the iPad, so I can hand write my drafts to a fair degree–I actually got myself a magnetic paper-like screen protector for Black Friday because of that and have found it to be quite an improvement (and I’m sad there’s no equivalent for my iPad mini 5).
Regular readers will know I’ve taken all kinds of stabs at getting a music hobby off the ground, which of course meant playing around with nearly everything in the iOS music ecosystem besides Logic (I just can’t justify the subscription price). Like AUM, Drambo is a great way to stack AU instruments and effects, but it can also double as a modular synth and sequencer, so despite a steep learning curve it’s made the few occasions I have had to relax and tinker with music a very satisfactory experience.
And it works OK on Apple Silicon Macs, too (although it won’t use Mac AU/VSTs).
Static file generation is handled by a post-commit hook, but
gitis the single source of truth for everything. ↩︎