My Top Mobile Apps of 2017

Posted on December 19, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android, iOS, Mobile with 16 Comments

My Top Mobile Apps of 2017

In the 1990’s, Apple had an ad campaign called “What’s on your PowerBook?” that I always liked. In fact, it was probably the inspiration for the “What I Use” articles that I’ve been writing since the SuperSite days.

In that same vein, here is a look at the mobile apps that I use most frequently and enjoy the most. This isn’t an exhaustive list, per se: With the amount of storage available on today’s devices, I often load them up with apps I rarely use, too. But these are the apps that matter to me most, on my phones (both Android and iPhone) and my iPads.

A quick word about home screens

This is only partially-related, but Android two huge big advantages over iOS when it comes to home screen configuration. First, you can arbitrarily place app icons anywhere you want; on iOS, the icons have to fill in from the top left. And second, Android supports an all apps view so that you only need to place your favorite apps on the home screens; in iOS, you need to use folders to hide infrequently-used apps.

My iPhone X home screens

These differences impact how I access my favorite apps on each platform. On Android, for example, I tend to keep a small set of favorite apps on the bottom half of each home screen so that they can be easily accessed one-handed. On the iPhone, I tend to fill the screen with icons, and put the most-frequently-used apps on the bottom half, again for easier access.

My iPad home screens

I also experiment a lot with different layouts, especially on iOS, because I just hate how limited the customization is there. On the iPhone X, I’m using multiple home screens, each with a theme of sorts, but in the past, I’ve stuck to one or two screens with folders for organization. Both kind of suck, frankly.

My Pixel 2 XL home screens

Anyway, because of these differences, my Android phone is, perhaps, a better indicator of what apps really matter most to me. Because those apps are in the app shelf (app dock on iOS) and/or on the first home screen.

My top apps (phone)

On that note, I have Firefox (web browser), Phone, Messaging, and Camera in the app shelf/dock on both Android and iOS; because my Google Pixel 2 XL supports placing 5 icons there, I add Google Maps.

But my top productivity and sharing apps also make the first home screen on all of my phones. These include Google Inbox (email), Google Calendar, Skype, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google Photos, and Skype. Additionally, Duolingo—which I use every single day—and Google Play Store/Apple App Store are on the first home screen as well.

My top apps (tablet)

I use an iPad almost primarily for reading, and, when traveling, to watch movies and TV shows. So the layout of these devices is tied to this kind of usage.

I pin the Apple App Store, the iTunes Store, Firefox, Amazon Kindle, Pocket, and NYTimes (newspaper) to the dock. On the first home screen, you will find Settings, Clock, Duolingo, Google Inbox, Google Calendar, Google Photos, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google News, Kindle Store (a web shortcut), and a few others.

Reading apps (phone)

Reading is a primary function on the tablet (above), but it’s secondary on my phones: I have NYTimes, Pocket, Google News, and Kindle on the second home screen on my phone.

Media apps

I use Audible (audiobooks), Pocket Casts (podcasts), and Google Play Music (music) regularly on my phones. These are on the second home screen.

I tend to use video apps on the iPad more often: TV (Apple’s terrible new video player), Google Play Video, and YouTube most frequently, but also Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and Hulu. These are also on the second home screen.

Work and other apps

I have airline apps, Uber, expense reporting, and other work-related apps on my phone’s second home screen. And I sometimes use other productivity apps, like Cortana, Microsoft Edge, and few others. I use Fitbit to sync my wearable and Philips Hue to control my smart lights.

I also find myself in Google Home occasionally, to set up Chromecasts, and in Google Wifi to monitor or manage my home network. I use Microsoft Authenticator and Android’s built-in authentication for 2FA, but because these things display prompts, I don’t need to pin shortcuts anywhere. Both of these methods work great.

Photo apps

I back up my phone photos to both Google Photos and OneDrive, only via Wi-Fi. I don’t use any special photo viewing or editing apps, just what’s built-in.

So what’s on your PowerBook? By which I mean mobile device.


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