Apple provides a useful collection of apps with iOS devices, but you don’t have to use them and in some cases there are better alternatives. Let’s take a look at what you can use instead.
All of the apps listed here can be deleted from the iPhone and iPad. This is not a permanent or one way change and they can be put back again by downloading them from the App Store. Just search for the app name to find them.
Bundled Apple apps do not need to be deleted of course, and they can simply be hidden away from sight in a folder. Drag an app and drop it on another to create a folder, then drag more apps to it to hide them.
They will still work if you need them, but it frees up home screen space for alternative apps.
Apple’s Calculator app is OK and it does its job, but for some people it does not go far enough and it lacks features. For example, one of the most popular alternatives is PCalc and it has lots of five star ratings - people love it! PCalc is a scientific calculator for engineers, students, programmers and other people that need access to advanced functions, so you need to be serious about maths. There is a free Lite version and the full fat version is $9.99.
Other alternative calculators to consider include Tydlig, Calc Pro, and MyScript Calculator.
A common problem with Apple apps is that they are tied to Apple kit. If everything you own and use is from Apple then Calendar is fine, but if you have a PC and an iPhone for example, it is not so good. Google Calendar is the obvious alternative and it works everywhere - PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android, Linux and so on. This makes it very useful for people with mixed hardware and operating systems.
Other calendar apps you should consider include Tiny Calendar, and Microsoft Outlook (mail and calendar).
As with some other Apple apps, FaceTime falls flat on its face when it comes to working with other platforms. If your friends and relatives have Android phones for example, FaceTime is useless and you can’t talk to them because there is no app. For your non-iPhone friends, an alternative is Skype, but it isn’t as popular as it was and has a low score in the App Store.
A lot of people have Facebook Messenger and it can make voice and video calls, but again the ratings are average at best. Viber boasts that it has 800 million users worldwide and it has good ratings from users. Viber to Viber voice and video calls are free and you can call your Android owning friends.
iBooks is Apple’s ebook reading app and provides access to an online store where there is a huge range of books to choose from. It is great, if you only ever use Apple devices. However, the obvious alternative is Amazon Kindle app and it runs on every platform. You can start reading on your iPhone when you are out and continue on a Kindle when you get home. Apple won’t let you buy books through the app, but it is easy enough to use the website to buy books and they automatically become available in the app. There are some free books from Amazon too.
The other big ebook reader is Google Play Books. Like Amazon Kindle, you can’t buy books through the app and a browser must be used instead. That apart, it works great and being from Google, it works on Android too.
The Apple Mail app is able to read email from a variety of third party email services, so you can simply add your email accounts. However, if you don’t like the interface and would like something different, Google and Microsoft both have apps. Gmail and Outlook are great email services and apps are available on iOS and Android.
An alternative that is proving to be quite popular is Email - Edison Mail. One feature that might be of interest is the easy unsubscribe, which stops junk mail.
Apple has never been very good at delivering internet services and some people have found iCloud Drive to be buggy. Google Drive works well, you get three times the online storage space for free, it works across multiple platforms, and has other benefits like the online office suite and photos storage.
Microsoft OneDrive is handy if you have a PC and an iPhone or iPad, and there is the ever-popular Dropbox. All are better than iCloud Drive in one way or another.
iTunes Store and Music
Apple is one of the leaders in music downloads and iTunes is huge. The company is doing well will its Music streaming service too. However, Spotify has more subscribers, partly because it has been doing music streaming longer and partly because it is a cross-platform service and numbers are boosted by Android users.
Google Play Music is an alternative and if you have music on CDs, you can upload them and store them online. You can then stream them for free. It has regular music streaming too and a library of millions of tracks.
Apple Maps did not get off to a good start when it was first released and it was ridiculed for its mistakes. Numerous updates have fixed all the problems and new features have been added, making it a pretty good app. However, Google Maps has not been standing still all this time and it too has been improved. It has managed to stay one step ahead of Apple Maps and some people prefer it.
There are many specialist apps that make good alternatives, like Waze for driving directions, Moovit is a local transport app that covers 1,400 cities around the world, and Google Earth is a map that lets you visit anywhere in the world in 3D.
Although Apple has a good news app, there is a whole category in the App Store dedicated to news apps. On the App Store home page, tap See All next to Top Categories and then tap News. Tap either Top Paid or Top Free to see dozens of alternatives. There will be some local news and newspaper apps in the list and these are often good to have on your phone, there are apps like Google Play Newsstand, tech news apps like Appy Geek, Flipboard and hundreds more.
This is yet another Apple-specific app, which is fine if you use Apple kit for everything. It is of little use if you have a PC and an iPhone, or an iPad and an Android phone. If you use multiple devices and platforms, Evernote, Google Keep and Microsoft OneNote are popular. These apps are well established and people tend to like one more than the others.
Google Keep keeps notes as simple as possible and is great for short notes. However, OneNote and Evernote are better at organising notes into projects.
The Calendar apps are alternatives to reminders and they will remind you of events and appointments, but there are also other apps like Microsoft To-Do and Wunderlist. Wunderlist is a brilliant app for to-dos and tasks, and it is almost like a little project manager. You can invite others to share it and assign tasks to them.
Videos or TV
There are many video, TV and movie services and local TV often has catchup apps where you can watch TV shows you missed. Netflix is huge of course, Amazon Prime Video is pretty good, Google Play Movies & TV is worth considering, and the list goes on. They all have everything from Hollywood blockbusters to TV series and you are spoilt for choice. There is also YouTube of course.
The weather app bundled with the iPhone is quite good, but oddly there has never been one bundled with one with the iPad. There is a whole category of apps in the App Store dedicated to weather forecasting - tap Apps at the bottom and then Weather to view the top paid and free apps lists. Over 300 are listed, including Weather Live, AccuWeather, Barometer and Altimeter, Weather Radar, Dark Sky Weather.
There is so much choice and many of the apps are far superior to the Apple bundled app.
- Written by Roland Waddilove
- Published: 11 October 2017