11 iPhone 6 / iOS8 apps that are better alternatives to the Apple built-in apps

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The iPhone 6 comes pre-loaded with a bunch of Apple’s apps that you can’t get rid of. Perhaps inevitably, every iPhone user ends up with a “redundant apps” folder somewhere on their phone – so to expedite that process here’s our pick of apps that do it better than the Apple original.
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Apple Maps / Google Maps

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Let’s face it – Apple still can’t match up to Google when it comes to mapping. Whilst Apple struggles to figure out where you are, Google can do routing, turn-by-turn directions, street view, public transport, bookmarks, and will sync between the Google Maps website and your phone. It can’t be beaten.

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Weather / BBC Weather

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There isn’t much between them, but when it comes to important issues like the weather forecast I like to trust good old Auntie BBC. With seemingly more weather stations in the UK, you can get the forecast by the hour for up to five days ahead – all indicated with the familiar BBC weather symbols.

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Calendar / Sunrise

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iOS’s built in calendar has some maddening design decisions (why is get an ‘agenda’ view so difficult?), so Sunrise makes for a nice alternative. It works with Google, Microsoft Exchange and many other platforms too, and will do everything you need.

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iMessage / FB Messenger

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Apple is trying to make iMessage the go-to app for chatting with your friends – but now we’re in a world of 4G, wifi and data there’s no need to stick with the app that can send text messages. Surely you’d be far better off with the likes of Facebook Messenger, which will mean that you can also chat to friends who (god forbid) use Android and other devices with full multimedia support: Rather than leave the video sharing to only your iOS friends.

The FB Messenger app is surprisingly accomplished and has feature parity with iMessage. There’s even rumours of Facebook building in a payment system to make chasing your mates for that tenner they owe you even easier.

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NewsStand / Feedly

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It doesn’t really need to be explained, but NewsStand is terrible: Big, clunky ‘magazine’ apps, poorly handled by the system and hidden away under layers of menus. You’d be far better off with the Feedly RSS reader. On Feedly you can read almost any website in the world (including TechDigest) – all it needs is an RSS feed. Better still, it also works in the web browser for when you’re sat at your computer and will sync across the two.

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Health / Fitbit

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One of the big new things in iOS8 is Apple’s Health app. It wants to be at the centre of all of your fitness gadgets… but what if your gadgets don’t talk to it? A good alternative if you have a Fitbit is the Fitbit app itself – where in addition to logging steps you can also log other health analytics, such as calories consumed and your weight. What’s more, Fitbit can hook up to other services, such as Ifttt, making moving your data around slightly easier than with Health at present.

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Mail / Mailbox

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For the latest version of Mail, Apple actually pinched a few ideas from Mailbox – but the original is still great. It invented “swipe to archive” and it has the ability to hide messages for a set period of time, meaning that you can de-clutter your inbox and de-clutter your mind easily. If you’re a GMail user, you can’t really live without it.

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Facetime / Skype

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Another obvious but important one. Whilst Apple would love you to believe that all of your friends have iPhones and Macs, this obviously isn’t the case – so what if you have friends with other devices? Skype is the obvious option for video chat as it is available on a huge range of platforms, from iOS and Android, to desktop computer, to even the Xbox One games console.

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Reminders / Evernote

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Apple’s reminders app is okay, but if you’re serious about keeping lists then check out Evernote, which can take notes as text, images or even sound – and will sync them across devices, making sure your to-do list is always in sync.

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Podcasts / Pocket Casts

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Everyone agrees that Apple’s podcast app is terrible, so your listening experience might be massively improved by Pocket Casts, which can do push notifications, invisible downloads and everything you need – wrapped up in a much slicker package than Apple’s clunky app.

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Stocks / Saving your money wisely

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Finally, if you’re looking for a better Stocks app… why not simply choose not to waste your time on the stock market? Face it – if you were really any good at playing the markets, you’d be doing it full time and as you’re not, you may as well be throwing your cash down the drain. Choose not to perpetuate casino capitalism at its most egregious instead choose to work on a business that isn’t just shuffling money around with the dubious ethical credentials of “providing liquidity”.

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James O’Malley

One thought on “11 iPhone 6 / iOS8 apps that are better alternatives to the Apple built-in apps

  • Maybe it depends on the data for the area you live, but in Victoria Australia I find Apple maps is much better at routing. Google maps constantly chooses the most round about directions, it never picks the best route. It’s useless.

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