Hello, and Happy New Year! I hope 2021 is treating you better so far than 2020 did. I know it’s been better to me so far.
I’m here to bring you yet another set of iOS and macOS apps that I think will not only improve your life on your devices, but off your devices, too.
You already know how a ‘Best of’ list works, so let’s just jump in!
- The best iOS apps of January 2021
- The best macOS apps of January 2021
- Have any other app suggestions?
The best iOS apps of January 2021
1. Don’t Break The Chain!: Stick to your 2021 resolutions
For the most part, the apps I bring up on these lists are ones that I’ve recently discovered. DBTC!, however, is one that I’ve been using for five years now. That’s as long as I’ve been an iPhone owner. So that should tell you something about how much I like this app.
DBTC! is an app inspired by a Jerry Seinfeld quote, of all things. Seinfeld was asked how he was able to create so much new material, and he said he accomplished this by writing one joke every day. Each time he did, he would cross out that day on his calendar. And he never let the chain of crosses miss a day.
I suggested this app in my recent New Year’s Resolutions post for the same reason I’m sharing it here. This app is a digital version of that concept. You have a calendar that allows you to put a cross on each day. And that’s it! You can set reminders if that helps. And each day, you make sure to cross off another day by accomplishing your goal.
It’s an excellent motivator, and simple enough that anyone can make use of it.
2. Busydays: Track your hours while working from home
As a freelancer, I’m always looking for better, more affordable software to keep track of my work. I’m not only my own manager, but also my accountant, assistant, and tax specialist. So anything that can make these tertiary roles simpler, and for a low cost, is something that I’m going to make use of.
I found Busydays through a post on Reddit in late 2019 and have been using it to track my income ever since. For gig-workers, it’s incredibly useful. Busydays allows you to add clients and projects for those clients. You can also add a per-hour rate for each of these clients.
Then, when you sit down to start working, you open Busydays and start tracking for that client. It tracks your hours as well as the money you’re earning during those hours. You can add notes to your time as well so you can see exactly what you worked on. A calendar gives you a high-level overview of your income as well.
In addition to this, the app is designed beautifully. It’s colorful and easy to use, and unlike similar apps, is perfectly streamlined. There are no extra features, notifications, or extra screens. Everything is simple, upfront, and pleasant to look at.
It is subscription-based, but it only costs $3/month, and it doesn’t auto-renew, so you don’t have to worry about it draining your wallet silently.
3. Bandcamp: Making music ownership cool again
Ok, so let’s be clear. Bandcamp is not an indie app like most of the apps I suggest here. It’s a big company that’s been around for some time, and there’s a good chance that if you like music as much as I do, that you’ve heard of it before. But I’m going to make a new case for this app today.
I started using Bandcamp a few months ago when one of my favorite artists put out a release that was only available on Bandcamp. This got me to not only download the app but to look into it, too. And I was impressed with what I found.
Bandcamp is without a doubt the most pro-artist music service there is today. In a world where musicians make fractions of pennies from streaming, Bandcamp offers a higher commission for purchases and is reviving music ownership. You buy songs the way you used to on iTunes, but you can pay as much as you want. Many artists will offer an album for as low as $3, but you can pay them $1,000 if you want.
I value the creative freedom it offers to musicians and love how much Bandcamp stays out of the way. Even when I use Apple Music, it feels more like I’m listening to Apple Music than I am to my favorite artists. Bandcamp feels much more personal, you get emails from the artists you support, and it overall just feels how music is supposed to be. Check it out!
4. 1SE: Remember every day of the next year
Aside from generic social media apps, I think 1SE was one of the first apps I ever downloaded, and it’s one of my all-time favorites. I’d go so far as to say it might be the best app I’ve ever downloaded.
1SE stands for, “One Second Everyday”. Each day, through the app or by uploading from your camera roll, you shoot a video that captures a moment from that day. Maybe it’s your kids playing, your dog sleeping, a project you’re almost finished with, a teacher’s lecture, a parent’s laugh.
Once recorded, you can add it to the 1SE app. The catch is, however, that you can only upload one second of that video. If you do this each day, then by the end of each month, you’ll have thirty seconds of video to watch. You can save these videos to your phone, and after long enough, you can start compiling them into a longer video with iMovie.
I’ve been doing this for five years now, and you probably don’t need me to tell you how special this app becomes over time. I have videos of people who are no longer in my life, of homes I no longer live in, and of so many days that I wouldn’t remember otherwise. Give it a shot.
The best macOS apps of January 2021
1. Hidden Bar: Simplify your Menu Bar
If you’ve been following my ‘Best Of’ lists, you’ve probably noticed that I suggest a lot of Menu Bar apps for macOS (this list is no different!). That’s because I find that I use these apps the most. After all, they’re available to you the entire time you’re on the computer. Nothing needs to be opened, closed, or saved, making them super convenient.
While Menu Bar apps are great, they also clutter up your Menu Bar pretty fast. Luckily, there’s a Menu Bar app for that: Hidden Bar. This simple little app allows you to drag all of your Menu Bar app icons into a folder in your Menu Bar. You can then expand this folder whenever you want to access these apps.
Aside from the Control Center and Clock in your Menu Bar, you can drag everything else into this folder. Perfect for apps that you want access to, but probably aren’t using every day.
2. Krita: A free, powerful alternative to Photoshop
Before I get into the other Menu Bar apps for January, I’ll offer up a great app that casuals and pros are sure to love. Krita is one of the only free alternatives to Photoshop I’ve ever used that is truly worth the hype. Gimp is the most popular alternative to Krita and having it used it for years, I can confirm that there is no competition.
Krita is incredibly well-optimized for Mac. Even on my extremely low-specs MacBook, it never lags or gives me any trouble. It’s not as feature-rich as Photoshop, to be sure, but it’s not trying to be, either.
Instead, Krita offers some core photo editing tools that most of us need now and then. It also allows you to draw with vector, add brushes, use styluses, and animate in 2D. This app was made by artists, and you can feel it when you use it.
Back to the Menu Bar apps.
3. ColorSlurp: Steal colors from everywhere
ColorSlurp is a tool that I had wanted in the back of my mind for a long time, but it didn’t occur to me until recently to seek it out. The app is simple; an icon for ColorSlurp sits in your Menu Bar. When you click it, a magnifier appears, showing you each pixel on your screen as you mouse around.
When you click a particular pixel, you’ll get the hex code and RGB values for that color. If you don’t know what a hex code is, it’s a code that translates to a color. Every shade of every color has a unique hex code, which is helpful in a variety of use cases.
ColorSlurp pulls the hex codes for colors from any app or screen that you’re using on Mac. Any website, image, background, shadow, or highlight that has a color you want to steal, you can.
4. TaskTab: Never forget you to-do’s
Last up on this month’s list is TaskTab. This is another simple Menu Bar app that I use all the time now. When you click its icon in the Menu Bar, it drops down a checklist of items. That’s it! When you check off an item, it disappears. When you want to add one, you type a new one in.
I use this any time I remember something I need to do. Maybe that’s stopping by the grocery store, reorganizing the closet, or building a website. Whenever these ideas strike, I log them in TaskTab, and whenever I have free time, I go through the list and find something that I can work on.
Have any other app suggestions?
Thanks for checking out some of the best apps we’ve found over the last month. If you have any you’d like to share, or maybe you’ve just published one that you’d like us to check out, leave a comment, and I’ll look into it.
Until next time!