My 5 favorite iOS apps of 2012, and some disappointments

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RealMac Software’s Clear, introduced a fun, minimalist to-do-list manager that you’ll actually use.   As an added bonus,  version 1.2 includes iCloud syncing, and there’s a companion desktop OS X version as well.   The gesture-based interface is easy to learn, fun to use, and includes very satisfying use of color and sound to reward you for washing the dishes, feeding the cat, etc.

Clear's gesture-based interface makes it fun to check off your chores.

Clear's gesture-based interface makes it fun to check off your chores.

This is hands-down my favorite app purchase of the year,  an app I use nearly every day, and one only made better with the addition of iCloud.

Flickr came out with a major update that puts it back into play after being overshadowed by upstarts such as Instagram.

Sketch Club: This inexpensive, but powerful drawing program has had several important features added this year: improved brush handling, the ability to record your drawing process, and improved sharing features.  Add in the online community with the app, and it’s a great buy at $2.99.

Propellerhead Figure: Sure, it’s just kind of a toy compared to the excellent desktop music package Reason, but man is it fun, and the music engine underneath sounds great.   This has also evolved new features since its launch, like export of sound files.    I’ve spent 99 cents on worse apps, including my own.   I hope that Propellerhead extends their line to make other apps of this type, perhaps something more like a sketchpad for capturing music.

Evernote 5.0: Evernote gave its app quite an overhaul on both desktop and mobile.  While the redesigned desktop client seems to make a bunch of commands much harder to use, the mobile version is much more streamlined and polished.

Hall of Meh:

Google Maps: The UI is not nearly as intuitive as the old Apple-developed Maps app, the typography and layout stick out like a sore thumb, and the app asking for you to sign in with your Google identity doesn’t serve any purpose that helps you.  Lack of address book support is a big step backwards, too. You may find it a must-have app, particularly if Apple Maps isn’t working well for you, but it really seems like a half-hearted effort from Google.

Paper (iPad only): Sure, it’s gorgeous, but its sketchbook UI paradigm gets in the way fast.  The pens are responsive and aesthetically pleasing, but the pricing model of purchasing them individually at $1.99 makes this a very expensive drawing program considering its limitations.  The lack of being able to pinch to zoom on the pages, along with the lack of layer support, make this package pretty much useless for anything but simple doodles.  Also, the reliance on gestures makes it less intuitive than you’d think.

Facebook: While getting rid of their HTML5-based mistake was a good step in the right direction, the new version still lacks the elegance of the original native version, and the addition of advertising that can’t be filtered out only serves Facebook’s bottom line, not the user.

Mobile links for March 11, 2010

On Android, Myspace is the number one social networking app. Seems that the facebook client on Android doesn’t measure up to the slickness of their Blackberry and iPhone versions.

Apparently 80 million Farmville users is not enough.Facebook games head Gareth Davis thinks that the ‘Mario’ of social gaming is still out there waiting to be discovered.

Uh-oh. More App Store approval drama. Really, though, there’s a lot of shovelware on the App Store, and asking developers to at least tryisn’t so heinous. Templated apps aren’t all bad, but if you are going to just hook up some RSS feeds, why not just use Dashcode to make a web app and avoid Apple’s approval process entirely?

The wi-fi only iPad may be a back door to drive sales of MiFi devices at Verizon and Sprint. So far prices aren’t so hot, compared to AT&T’s new no-contract plan; even though the wi-fi iPad is $130 cheaper, these plans more than make up the difference, and all require contracts.

You’re doing it wrong. I can see AT&T hedging their bets by offering an Android phone, but removing Google search and locking the phone down pretty much misses the point, doesn’t it? Even Verizon got this one right by letting their Android phones be.

We know Android is going to be significant, but when? Android’s growth is still building, doubling over the last quarter. Is it inevitable, or will there be a ceiling, as fragmentation and carrier interference (see above) take the luster off of the open-source OS?