The 10 Best New Apps of 2016

Tech Lists Best Of 2016
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The 10 Best New Apps of 2016

Smartphones wouldn’t be smartphones without the apps. We all know that. Even though the majority of users rely on only a handful of apps out there on a daily basis, we’re always keeping our eyes out for the next big hit.

This year we’ve got an assortment of updates and brand new takes in a variety of different categories of apps. We’re excited to share these with you: the 10 best new apps of 2016:

10. Castro 2 (iOS)

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We’ve already got a number of excellent podcast apps, even in addition to the vanilla iOS app that many people still use. However, Castro 2 offers a new take on the podcast app. This one delivers your podcasts in the form of a feed—or more accurately, an inbox. From there you can swipe around, take what you want, and archive some for later. It might not pull many people away from Overcast, but it’s a nice simplification of the podcasting experience, which can often be cumbersome.—Luke Larsen

9. Day One 2 (iOS/Android/Mac)

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Day One has been a mainstay of the App Store for years now. It’s a journaling app—a way of capturing memories and reliving them later on. The sequel is a complete redesign that allows expands features and allows for multiple journals. It’s simply beautiful—and if you have the discipline to really put it to use, the results are really something special. It’s not cheap for an app, but if you are in need of an all-encompassing, multiplatform journaling app, Day One 2 is as good as it gets.—LL

8. Cheeky Fingers (iOS)

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Music apps will always have a certain amount of magic about them. Cheeky Fingers is a digital keyboard and chord dictionary—both for learners and people who want to tickle the ivories once and a while. With its visual chord dictionary, it’s an invaluable teaching tool, especially for those who are teaching themselves how to play.—LL

7. Polaroid Swing

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Everyone’s lovable six-second video app is gone. As sad as that is, there are a number of great alternatives to replace that gap in your internet soul. Polaroid Swing, a new app from this year, is one of those contenders. It’s a nice amalgamation of Instagram (it even sports a similar icon) and Vine, and the result comes together (with an albeit currently floundering social network) that’s rife with potential.—Chris Carter

6. Airmail (iOS/Mac)

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There is an abundance of email clients for iPhone and iPad out there today. Just a quick scan of the keyword “email” on the App Store will result in countless results of apps with various features. Airmail added itself to the group when it was released earlier this week. Coming from the amazing desktop client, I had high expectations for the iPhone version. Airmail’s UI isn’t complex, nor is it new. However, they’ve made a simple email app that’s accessible and easy to use. Furthermore, its users can change to its liking thanks to a lot of the available customization. I’ve been using it all week and it’s my email app of choice so far.—Jamie Pham

5. Flamingo for Twitter (Android)

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If you’re an Android user, you know frustrating the Twitter app is. My favorite alternative has always been Fenix, but now Flamingo is an open contender for the spot. Flamingo has a really nice, clean design—one that really matches what Google is doing system-wide. The support for multiple accounts is really helpful, as well as all the different customization you can do. It’s still in beta, so it can only get better from here.—LL

4. Airtime (iOS/Android)

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If you just want to video chat to a sole friend and not really do anything else, then FaceTime is just fine. Airtime, however, feels like what Apple’s service should have been all along. For one thing, you can have six people video chatting as a group at the same time. The only real catch here is that it means I need to keep another messaging app installed, alongside my regular use of iMessage, Telegram, and WhatsApp. Other than that, it’s a worthy addition to anyone’s social app collection. I’ll certainly be using it to participate in overexcited fangirling chats about my favorite shows.—Jennifer Allen

3. Google Allo (iOS/Android)

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Google’s experiments with chat apps has been long and arduous. Whether it’s Hangouts or Gchat, the company often ends up winning over a bunch of chat fans, only to leave the apps out to hang and ultimately discarding them. Google Allo could very well be another of these. However, the advancements that this messenger makes in terms of virtual assistants makes me feel like Google might really be going all in on it. All in all, it’s a great messenger app that’s worth using—so as long as Google is as serious about it as it seems to be.—LL

2. Swift Playgrounds (iPad)

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The announcement at WWDC got swept under the rug fairly quickly, but Swift Playgrounds for the iPad is a remarkable app for teaching and learning coding. Learning complex programming languages can be such an intimidating thing to get started in. Swift Playgrounds is an iPad app that seeks to create a comfortable and safe environment for learning Apple’s app programming language—and is really impressive for how well it does it. In a time when public schools still don’t seem to be taking up the mantle of teaching this all-important skill, Swift Playgrounds has the opportunity to have a huge impact on the next generation of coders and developers.—LL

1. Gboard (iOS)

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Google is on a mission to integrate its search engine into every part of your smartphone—yes, even your iPhone. The Gboard takes elements of what Google did with Allo, as mentioned above, but integrates it right into your keyboard. It’s giving iOS users one of the biggest benefits of being in the Google ecosystem—and Google wins either way. In the end, it’s simply the best keyboard you can use on iOS and is absolutely worth switching out the Apple keyboard for.—LL