The Apple App Store is the only source for apps on the iPhone and iPad. It is the second-largest app store, with over two million apps to offer. Hence, you can always try out new apps on your Apple devices.
However, not every high-quality app on the App Store gets the same recognition as other popular choices. In many cases, they fail to hit the featured rows of the storefront and get buried under hundreds of top search results.
It’s necessary to give such apps the recognition they need among general users, which is why we sort and pick up the five underrated iOS apps every month and list them in guides like this.
Throughout this year, we showcased dozens of iOS and iPadOS apps, and we will continue to do so. Since it’s December and 2020 ends in just a few days now, it’s time for another shortlist of the top 5 best iOS apps of this month.
1. Procreate Pocket
Procreate Pocket is an award-winning illustrator app for creative professionals. It offers everything you need to create incredible illustrations, detailed sketches, and gorgeous paintings on a portable canvas, including pressure-sensitive brushes, a robust layering system, and many more.
With Procreate Pocket, you can create massive high-definition canvases in up to 8K. The intuitive UI layout makes it simpler for creators to navigate throughout the entire canvas and gives ease of access to all the tools needed for illustrations.
The app uses the custom-built Silica-M graphics engine, which relies on Apple’s Metal API to take full advantage of the A-series chipsets. It heavily emphasizes 3D Touch technology for pressure-sensitive painting, as well as Haptic integration for realistic touch feedback.
Thanks to the optimized engine, you can add gaussian and perspective blur filters to your creations without waiting for it to get applied. Brightness, hue, saturation, color balance, sharpness, and noise can be adjusted in real-time. The liquify tool is also available for usage. Almost every tool is GPU-accelerated, which is why the app offers blistering image processing performance.
Procreate Pocket comes with a brush library, with more than 50 tweakable settings for individual brushes. You can also create your custom brushes and organize them into different sets. Furthermore, the custom brushes and brush sets can be imported and exported anytime.
Procreate Pocket also packs an advanced layering system, which gives you precise control over each element of your artwork. You can combine layers into groups and use layer/clipping masks when necessary. The editor offers over 25 layer blend modes.
Since Procreate Pocket is designed for professional creators, it supports not only 64-bit color but also DCI-P3 color space for greater color accuracy. You can manually enter RGB, HEX, and HSB values to get the exact colors you need for your artwork. Alternatively, you can use the ColorDrop tool to fill your creations with colors quickly.
Of course, a professional illustrator app is unfinished without export options. Fortunately, you can export your Procreate Pocket creations in a native .procreate file, JPEG, transparent PNG, GIF, TIFF, PDF, etc. It can also read PSD (Photoshop Document) files, and you can export your creations in the following format as well.
Additionally, artworks can be uploaded to Google Drive, iCloud, and Dropbox account directly from the Procreate Pocket app. Over AirDrop, you can also move your existing project to your iPad to get a larger view of the canvas and more space to work with.
It’s worth mentioning that Procreate on iPad offers additional features and a more sophisticated user interface layout. It has native support for Apple Pencil and provides dozens of extra illustrator tools. Procreate Pocket on iPhone costs $4.99, whereas the iPad version costs $9.99.
2. Unified Remote
If you have an HTPC for content consumption, definitely give the Unified Remote app a try. It turns your iPhone or iPad into a Wi-Fi universal remote control for Windows, Mac, and Linux computers.
With Unified Remote, you get a virtual multi-touch trackpad and keyboard for your PC, as well as 90+ other programs. It includes file manager, media players, screen mirroring, power control, presentations, terminal, and many more.
Setting it up is really easy. All you have to do is install the Unified Remote Server app on your computer. The Unified Remote iOS app will automatically detect the server on the local network and establish a connection. To restrict unauthorized usage, you can also enable encryption for Windows, macOS, or Linux servers. If your PC supports WOL (Wake-On-LAN), you can use Unified Remote to power it on as well.
Below is a list of useful apps Unified Remote provides native remote controls for:
- Media players: VLC, Windows Media Player, BSPlayer
- Media center: Kodi, Plex
- Music: Spotify, Apple Music, Winamp, foobar2000, Groove Music
- Video streaming: Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, Crunchyroll, YouTube
- Web browsers: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Opera
- Presentations: PowerPoint, Keynote, Google Slides
- Additional options: Files, Monitor, Power, Command, Task Manager
It’s worth mentioning that only 18 remotes are available for free. Both the Unified Remote client and server app are free to download, but there are in-app purchases ranging from $0.99 to $4.99 that unlock extra remotes and features.
3. Weather Underground
Weather Underground is a real-time weather forecast app designed to warn users about upcoming severe weather. It takes data from over 250,000+ local weather stations and combines it with a proprietary forecast model, providing users the most accurate hyperlocal forecasts.
With Weather Underground, you can learn about the current weather conditions in your area at a microclimate level. It lets you set severe weather alerts for your location, so you always get notified about upcoming storms.
From the app, you can also check out the daily weather forecasts, with a detailed hourly view of temperature and chances of precipitation. Weather Underground even offers additional weather data, including wind speed, wind directions, humidity, dew point, pressure, visibility, etc. Furthermore, you can stay updated with local flu outbreaks, air quality index, UV index, sunrise, and sunset data.
Weather Underground features the Nexrad radar, which brings the next-generation of interactive weather maps on iPhone and iPad devices, including rain accumulation, heat maps, and several other satellite-based weather overlays. The radar visualizations are based on high-resolution satellite and cloud cover imagery from GOES-16, with detailed forecast data from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).
Weather Underground is available for free on the App store, but it does have advertisements. You can get the WU Premium ($3.99/month, $19.99/year) subscription to remove them. It also extends the hourly forecast view from ten days to up to fifteen days in the future.
Wakeout has recently received the prestigious title of ‘iPhone App of the Year 2020’ because of the innovative ways it took to help people stay healthy in quarantine. According to the developer, thousands of people use the app on a daily basis, and the number of users is proliferating.
Wakeout is designed to frequently prompt you to break your sedentary lifestyle patterns by exercising for a short period. The exercises are dubbed ‘Wakeouts,’ which are meant to be brief and fun.
The app has over a thousand wakeouts and hundreds of daily routines designed to be done just about anytime, anywhere. Whether you are in bed, working at home in front of your computer, or on the couch binge-watching a show, there’s a wakeout ready for pretty much every situation. You get access to a vast library of location-specific exercises that you also can filter by length mood (e.g., energizing, fun, intense, relaxing).
The Quick Break routines take just a minute to complete, spanning across four different types of movements. You can schedule active breaks with Wakeout’s Active Work Timer feature for an overall healthier yet productive workday. At the end of the day, you can set up relaxing Wind Down routines so that you get better sleep.
If you often get worn down with stress, Wakeout is a must-have app on your iPhone or iPad. It’s also available on Apple Watch, which encourages users to perform 30-second wakeouts without even reaching out for the phone. On iOS 14, you can start 1-minute Quick Breaks directly from a Wakeout widget on the Home Screen.
You can use Wakeout for free for seven days, but you need to pay for the Wakeout Pro subscription to take advantage of all the health-centric features it has to offer. The monthly and yearly plan costs $4.99 and $47.99, respectively.
5. PeakFinder AR
PeakFinder AR makes it possible for mountaineers to learn the names of mountains and peaks without any internet connection. From Mount Everest to even the smallest of hills, it knows over 800,000 peaks worldwide.
PeakFinder AR takes your device’s motion sensors, compass, GPS, imagery information, and overlays the camera image with a panorama drawing to identify mountains and peaks. When you scan, the app also renders the landscapes surrounding a 300km/200mil range in real-time.