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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.
Downcast - The definitive podcast app - $1.99
The Apple Podcasts app has a horrible UI, is buggy as hell and deserves to be Forestalled. After the novelty of the skeuomorphic reel-to-reel tape player (remember those?) wears off, you should sober up and purchase Downcast ($1.99, App Store) -- a real podcast app. Downcast features intelligent podcast discovery (instead of a counter-intuitive "store") and controls that let you auto-download podcast subscriptions according to network (i.e., Wi-Fi), location, or time. It even streams podcasts on demand freeing up precious local storage on your device. If you own an iPhone and an iPad Downcast syncs podcast subscriptions, playlists, settings and episode information via iCloud. Apple needs to acquire the developer then ask him to redesign iTunes.
[Downcast for OS X will enter private beta "soon after the new year" which means that I might new use iTunes again.]