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Sparrow - Email for the masses - $2.99
Sparrow ($2.99, App Store) is an email client that lives up to the hype. I've been hearing about it for a while and mostly ignored it because I was too vested in Mail to even consider switching. When Google bought Sparrow this summer and I decided to take it for a spin and I haven't looked back. Sparrow has replaced Mail as one of the four icons on my iPhone dock. It features full IMAP and POP support so it works with most popular email services, but what makes it unique is its pane navigation UI. Instead of relying on button presses to switch between mailboxes (like Mail) Sparrow uses more natural feeling swipe gestures. There's a small learning curve, but it's worth it. Sparrow's well worth the $3 and I hope that Google keeps it alive.
App to watch
- Mailbox, due to arrive in 2013.
Fantasical - Calendar killer - $3.99
I've been using Fantastical for Mac ($14.99, Mac App Store) since it came out and was thrilled when I heard about the iPhone version ($3.99, App Store). It brings civility to my unruly calendars via the gorgeous DayTicker and makes creating new calendar events a breeze with natural language event creation. What takes 10 plus touches in Apple's calendar app can be accomplished by dictating (or typing) a sentence like "meet Ryan for wings on Monday at 8pm." Fantastical has the smarts to all the data into the right fields and looks great doing it. Apple's calendar app has barely changed in years and Fantastical roared by it like it was standing still. It could be a little faster on first launch and I can't wait for the iPad version, but overall the Fantastical is what Calendar aspires to be. Apple should acquire developer Flexbits to replace its tired iOS app, I know that I already have.
Clear - Gesture-based Note taking app - $1.99
The iPhone is the perfect device for taking notes but there are a plethora of apps in the crowded note-taking space. Despite using a half dozen or so such apps, Clear ($1.99, App Store) is the one that's on my iPhone home screen. It's an exceedingly beautiful, gesture-based app that actually makes it a joy to look at my to-do list -- which is saying a lot. Instead of relying on old school buttons and that horrible Comic Sans font (like Apple's Notes app), Clear uses intuitive swipe gestures to create, delete and move lists and list items. Bonus points for the new OS X app ($9.99, Mac App Store) and iCloud syncing.