App of the Year 2013

On the face of it, this year’s app of the year decision has the potential to be horribly skewed since I made the switch to Android in August. Any iPhone-exclusive app I’d have recommended would have been somewhat voided by the fact I jumped platforms and any Android app I chose would be negatively biased since I hadn’t used it for a full year. Happily though, the app I’ve chosen is cross-platform, one of the reasons it has won this year. 

So which is it? Just because it’s available on both iOS and Android doesn’t necessarily narrow it down, right? Well…

First, I want to talk about Tunable.

Seth Sandler, creator of the intuitive music making app Nodebeat released this instrument tuner app in 2013. Like Nodebeat, Tunable has an intuitive, feature rich design. The feature set includes a fully-featured tuner with a mass of options for tuning temperament as well as scale and root note.

You can set it up to tune notes to within 2 cents of their ideal frequency. You also get tone and chord generators, a sound recorder with options to export your sounds and a very legible and usable metronome which will handle a bunch of different time signatures and provides great visual feedback as well as clicks. The sound design of the app is very mellow and not at all in-your-face. 

As a sax player I have used this tuner as my go-to tuner both live and in studio since I first installed it and I was super-pleased not to have to leave it behind when I put down my iPhone 4 and picked up an HTC one, but it wasn’t the only app that made the leap with me.

Australian developers Shifty Jelly have had a banner year in 2013. Their first app, Pocket Weather, quickly took off in their home country (for which it was developed. If you want to know what the weather is like in Melbourne, Pocket Weather is the hit.) but they were also toiling away at their other Android app, Pocket Casts.

A fabulous, powerful, flexible podcast player. In our autumn (your spring, northern hemisphere) they brought the same fancy design and powerful filtering to the iPhone, so I decided to put my previous podcast app of choices on the back burner for a while…and I didn’t end up going back to it.

 

I’m a sucker for nice design and while my previous podcast app was feature-rich it wasn’t exactly a looker. Pocket Casts offered more in terms of discovery, episode sorting and design.
Playlist creation is a breeze if you want to do it manually and if you have the time to set up the filtering (you should if you’re a creature of habit) the playlists can create themselves! Right down to downloading the latest episodes and slotting them in.

The icing on the cake that came with buying the iOS version back in the Autumn before buying it again on Android was that in the spring Pocket Casts became universal, so I now get it on my iPad and the podcast subscriptions sync between both my phone and my tablet.

The only downside to Pocket Casts that I have observed is its battery drain. On both iOS and Android it does use more juice than other podcast clients I’ve tried. Not enough to keep me from using the app though.

So which of these was my app of the year? I can’t decide. Both of them have been incredibly useful and I have been so pleased to find them on both iOS and Android. There are no rules saying I have to pick one over the other (unless I set one myself) so in 2013 I’m going to take the lazy way out and award App of the year to both of these. Maybe next year I will attempt to have a bit more decorum.

Congratulations, Seth! Congratulations Shifty Jelly!

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