This week there are some great deals on apps that I highly recommend–and rather than recommending just one, I want to recommend Fantastical, Workflow, and 1Password. Here’s why I love each one so much:
Fantastical (iPhone / iPad) is a calendar that is simply, well, fantastic. For years I was perfectly happy with Apple’s calendar app, but I bought Fantastical a few months ago on a friend’s recommendation and I am so glad I did. The marque feature of Fantastical is their natural language input that saves me so much time when I’m making calendar entries. In Apple’s app, I would have to write “Lunch with Bob”, then tap the location and type “1 Infinite Loop,” then tap “date” and scroll to get next week, then tap time and choose 12 as the start time, then tap” end time” and scroll to get 1:30, then tap “alert” and set it to 15 minutes. All in all, that is an 11-step process that, when I did it just now, took 30 seconds. With Fantastical, I can enter all of that information in one place, no tapping and no selecting, just by writing what I want. I can write “Lunch with Bob next week from 12-1:30 at 1 Infinite Loop alert 15”–a process that took less than 14 seconds when I did it just now. Natural speech is awesome.
The folks at Fantastical have simply thought through all the things that would make a Calendar app great, and they have nailed it–a terrific (and customizable!) Today widget for iOS and an awesome app for Apple Watch. Their Apple Watch app is a great example of an app well suited to the form factor of Apple Watch. Their Glance is absolutely terrific, showing you the time until the next event, and the app is exactly what you’d want on a watch.
Workflow (universal app), an 2015 Apple Design Award winner, is an app so incredible, I can’t believe it exists. The simple way to explain the app is that it automates tasks on iOS, but that sounds more geeky than it actually is. They’ve designed it with a brilliantly simple, yet immensely powerful, way of combining actions together to do things that would be tedious otherwise. Here are just a couple examples of how I use it so you can see how powerful it is:
- For some reason, Siri is unable to understand the command “Give me directions to my next meeting.” No worries–using Workflow’s new Today widget (or the Apple Watch Glance!), I can launch a Workflow that finds the location of my next event and gets driving directions. So, with one tap as I leave, I’m good to go.
- My son is adorably cute and my family all wants to see him, but some are on Facebook, some on Instagram, some only SMS, and some only email. I’ve written a workflow which takes a picture, edits it, posts it to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, sends via SMS to my Mom, emails it to my Grandma, adds it to my journaling app, DayOne, and then into WeChat so my Chinese in-laws can see it–all that with just a couple taps
- Multiple days a week, I tweet a curated list of terrific App Deals (like these)–I have a workflow that gets the app URL, adds my affiliate code, gives me the option for a campaign, easily adds in prices, and sends out the Tweet (or Buffers it if I found the deal late at night!)
If you do anything on your iPhone that is even slightly repetitive, chances are that you can automate those tasks with Workflow, giving you time back. If this sounds too geeky for you, don’t worry–they have an incredible gallery of workflows that are already made that you can just download!
Workflow is one of the best apps you could ever get and has the highest recommendation I can give–it is that good. It’s a universal app (now with syncing between devices!) and it, too, is a steal right now at just $2.99 (org $4.99).
1Password (iOS / Mac) is last, but certainly not least. 1Password is simply the best password manager out there that combines convenience with robust security. We all know we should use different passwords for every site, but there’s no way you can remember all that unless you make the passwords really easy–which we also shouldn’t do. It might feel like you have the option of being hacked or of going crazy–but 1Password completely solves that problem.
You create and remember just one password (thus the name) to get into the app–and the app remembers everything else so you don’t have to. 1Password will generate long, random, strong, nonsense passwords for you–like DK.yrn4FXKY9ktU2kW+nT)UgFKL.XdiyNuve))NUM9X2cWwReM–that would take years to hack, but then 1Password also remembers what website the password was used for so you don’t have to remember that either. Then, when it comes time to log in, all you have to do is open the 1Password browser extension (or iOS extension) and click on the password that 1Password automatically found for you in its vault.
I balked at the price of 1Password for a few years before I finally bought it, thinking that Apple’s Auto-Fill was just as good. I wish now I had bought it sooner because it is so much better:
- 1Password gives far greater control over what a password looks like (how many digits, symbols, length, etc.) This is is helpful for sites that have stupid little requirements about what needs to be in the password or how long it must be (or can’t be). Your best bet with auto fill is to just refresh the generated password and hope you get what you need.
- 1Password gives the ability to share passwords with my wife. We share several logins and 1Password makes that a cinch to share a vault with my wife for shared passwords.
- For any app that has a web component, 1Password is much better; if you signed up in the app first, then auto fill doesn’t know your password but 1Password could. If you sign up on the web first, then auto-fill knows your password but it is super hard to get the password out of auto fill
- 1Password supports time-based one-use tokens (used for two-factor authentication) & auto fill doesn’t, so you have to use another app for those anyway. An action extension and TouchID make 1Password a breeze for that
- 1Password gives you a place to store other secure information that isn’t browser-based; I’ve mentioned app logins, but also things like wifi passwords, combination locks, social security numbers, credit card information, bank routing numbers, vehicle VIN numbers, etc. You could just store these on a notepad, but it is far more secure in 1Password which is built for sensitive information
- 1Password keeps track of previously used passwords. As far as I know, auto fill doesn’t. Most of the time this isn’t necessary, but there was one time when I needed the previous password & this saved my life.
- 1Password integrates into all your browsers, not just Safari. I use Chrome as my Flash quarantine browser, so it’s super handy to have all the passwords there. If you ever have to use Windows, for example, at work, then you’ll definitely want to have 1Password on both devices.
- 1Password has WatchTower, which will tell you if you have a login for a site that has been compromised, prompting you to change it
I still save my passwords in Auto-Fill, though, after I generate it in 1Password, so I don’t have to launch 1Password every time. But I do generate passwords there so that it has all my login info stored, should I need it.
It is worth every penny, not just to prevent your accounts from being hacked, but because it is seriously is faster and more convenient than using just one password everywhere! It is rare in life that you can get something more secure and more convenient, but 1Password manages to do just that.
You can get 1Password for Mac, it’s normally $49.99 and it’s worth every penny at that price, much less on sale right now. The 1Password iOS app is a free download, but the in-app upgrade to Pro (highly recommended) is 50% off, just $4.99 (orig $9.99). I know it is pricey, but, trust me, you won’t regret it (and if you do, they’ve got a money-back guarantee!)–get convenience and security today!
If you enjoy these, you probably want to follow me MarkDMill on Twitter so you can follow my #AppDeals. Each day, I track the deals and tweet out a curated list of high-quality apps that are free or on sale–only the very cream of the crop get mentioned here on my website, but there are tons of great deals out there!