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New years resolutions – The Apple Way

Kick your new year off in style with some excellent apps...

It’s that time again, where we all decide after eating and drinking way too much, that this is the year we do things properly, that this is the year we get our lives in order. We here at iCreate are having exactly the same thoughts and So I  have decided to share some my favourite Mac, iPhone and iPad apps for doing just that with you. Here are my top productivity, health and fitness and general ‘new start’ apps for 2012.

Productivity Mac apps

For me, at least, the new year provides an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and make good on all of those ideas that surfaced in the previous year but that you never got around to getting started. I always find that a great app can add a huge amount to your creative process, allowing you to plan more effectively and execute those plans in a more timely fashion – whats more a great app invites you to use it again and again adding an element of interest to tasks that might usually put you off. My first pick is a note taking and todo app that will help you get all of the ideas you have on a daily basis down and organised in a really cool, minimal, Apple kind of way. Its called Thoughts (click here for the website) and it is available from the Mac App Store (click here). The reason I like this app so much is that it lets me organise my thoughts into books. So I can easily separate my work projects from my home projects and my serious ideas from the slightly more wacky ones. The interface is really clean but when you need it, all of the formatting options you’d expect from a great app are at your disposal. This is a really well considered and brilliantly executed app.

My next productivity app is actually two apps that I use in tandem. They are both iCal add-ons in as much as they prevent me from ever having to open it. It’s not that I really dislike iCal, it’s just that its a pain and it gets in my way . These two apps make the pain go away. The first is called Blotter (website here, Mac App Store link here) and it basically throws your iCal info onto a transparent viewer that lives on your desktop. So iCal is always there – without you having to load it. The app that works perfectly with this is called QuickCal(web here , App Store here) and it is beautiful. Launch a tiny window from your menu bar at any time and then type an event or meeting name in normal English like ‘meeting tomorrow at 2pm with Jon’ and it will figure out the details and add them to iCal. For more specific elements just type ‘to-do’ or  ‘all-day’ and the app will figure it out. If you are like me and you love the idea of being organised but don’t want to load iCal and bugger about with a million options to do so, then (while we wait for Apple to bring Siri to the desktop) use these two wonderfully crafted apps and get your life in order in just a few clicks.

Getting healthy with iOS

For some reason, because of the ‘always there’ nature of the iPhone, it seems to be considered an incredibly useful tool for helping people stay healthy or get fit. There are literally thousands of apps out there that profess to help you do it but sadly none of them can actually make you eat less or exercise more. So, you need to find an app that will keep you interested enough to keep going back and keep being reminded of your goals. Fortunately in my years of writing app reviews for iCreate and for various related bookazines, I have experienced a vast number of health and fitness apps and I can say that the best ones are the ones that appeal to your geeky nature. iMapMyRun is the perfect example (link), offering you the ability to track where you jog or cycle on a map and offering some cool additional information like the pace you are going at and connectivity to some other third-party monitors. The upshot of all this wizadry is that you can set yourself goals based on more than just distance and you can become a statistician for your own progress – which makes the whole endeavour much more enjoyable.

Stay creative

When it comes to the iPad, there isn’t much it can help with exercise-wise (in the same way that the iPhone can – you could try strapping it to your bike I suppose?) but it can help keep your creative juices flowing and healthy, keeping those all important ideas bubbling at the surface. The reason for its success in this department is simple, it has a much more usable interface compared with an iPhone and it has portability advantages over a laptop. So, for me at least, the iPad is the perfect way to have a dabble at making something cool, which in turn fuels all kinds of fires for projects at work and at home. The app I’m most into at the moment and the one I’m recommending is called Snapseed (link). It’s an image editor that lets you add all kinds of new dimensions to your snaps. What I like most about it is the way that each of the effects can be dialled up or down and the way that different combinations of effects can be added in different measures to incredibly varying effect. Its one of those apps that can take a seemingly ordinary image and turn into something incredible and it has enough features to ensure that no picture ends up looking the same. If you are into image manipulation at all, or have ever fancied it, then this app is perfect. Beginners and pros can get something from it.

So, there you have it, a quick guide to my favourite apps for the new year. If you want to add your own to the list please do so in the comments. If there are any we haven’t featured in the magazine we will do our upmost to get them in there. Check back soon for some favourite hardware for the new year too.

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