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An iPhone 15 Pro home screen with festive decorations.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Though I check out and review a variety of smartphones, including Android phones, my primary device is my iPhone 15 Pro. Not only is it my main device because I like the hardware, but I’m quite vested in the Apple ecosystem — especially when it comes to apps from the App Store.

As you can guess, my entire life is pretty much accessible on my iPhone. Not just photos and messages, but also all of the apps I use daily. And while there’s no shortage of great iPhone apps, but these are the ones I couldn’t live without in 2023.

1Password

1Password 8 iOS app screenshots
1Password

1Password is one of the first apps I install on every phone I review, and it’s one I need in order to do anything else on any device, including tablets and computers. Pretty much everything these days needs a digital account with a password, and the key to keeping all of that secure is a strong password.

I’ve been using 1Password for years and have a paid account that I think is well worth the cost. With 1Password, I’m able to generate long and secure passwords with ease and keep all of my login data safe and secure with 1Password’s end-to-end encryption. I can easily autofill my account information when I need it, whether it’s in Safari or another app.

I also enjoy using 1Password to keep other bits of data secure, such as driver’s licenses, Social Security numbers, software license keys, email, bank accounts, credit cards, and more. It’s all protected with a master password that only I know, and it can even let me know about sites that are compromised with a recommendation that I change the password.

There’s no doubt that 1Password is literally an app I cannot live without because then I’d lose access to everything.

Twilio Authy

Twilio Authy 2FA app running on an iPhone.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

On top of 1Password, I use Twilio Authy for two-factor authentication (2FA) for multiple accounts. It’s a pretty bare-bones app, but it’s easy to add whatever account you want to enable 2FA for just by scanning a QR code or entering a key manually.

Once you have it set up, you can backup your keys and even enable it on multiple devices if you need it on more than one phone. Codes refresh every 30 seconds, and you can easily copy and paste a code directly from Authy.

Google Photos

Screenshots of the Google Photos app on iPhone.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

I take a lot of photos and videos on my iPhone 15 Pro, especially of my daughter. I like to make sure I never lose these moments, so I use iCloud Photos to ensure they’re synced on all my Apple devices. But I also use Google Photos as a secondary backup because, well, you can’t ever have too many backups.

I also use Google Photos because I also take photos with various Android phones, like the OnePlus Open and Google Pixel 8 Pro. Having Google Photos on my iPhone 15 Pro lets me not only back up my iPhone photos, but I can also view and download photos that I took with other devices. On top of that, I like looking back on the memories that Google Photos brings up, similar to Apple’s own Photos app.

Family Album

Screenshots of the Family Album app on iPhone.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Speaking of photos and videos, Family Album is a vital app for me and my family and closest friends. I take a lot of photos and videos of my daughter and her shenanigans, and I love sharing these moments with my family. But it would be annoying to send dozens of images each day in group chats, and not everyone in my circle uses an iPhone or even social media. Enter Family Album.

With Family Album, I’m able to upload those moments with my daughter to share with whoever I’ve invited to the app. Those who are invited are also able to upload their photos and videos into the album for everyone else to see. Everything is organized by year and month, so it’s not just an infinite photo stream like on my phone.

Family Album also does some cute extras too. Every quarter, it will compile a short video of various photos and video clips from the past three months that you can look back on and see how your child has grown. It also has a widget that brings up memories from a year ago, and the app often shares other moments from a few months earlier or even years ago. You can also order eight free prints every month (you just have to pay shipping), as well as other items like photo books.

Though Family Album is entirely free to use, there is also a Premium tier with more features. Premium unlocks longer video uploads (free is limited to about two minutes), uploads from the computer, adds journal entries, and more.

The app is easy to use and set up for the entire family, and you can get notified whenever there are new additions to the album.

Disneyland

Screenshots of the Disneyland app on iPhone.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

If you know me at all, you may have noticed that I go to Disneyland … a lot. I have an annual pass and only live a few miles away, so I go there as much as I can. And the Disneyland app always makes my trip smooth sailing.

With the Disneyland app, you can link your tickets or passes, even those for other people. With your linked tickets, you’re able to make park reservations, join certain virtual queues, order food, make mobile merchandise purchases with applicable discounts, and even make dining reservations for sit-down restaurants. The Disneyland app is also the best way to view wait times for rides and entertainment, check out restaurant menus, and even view your PhotoPass memories.

There are also Genie+ and individual Lightning Lanes that you can purchase to get front-of-line access at certain rides, though I personally don’t use this since I go so often — it’s more for out-of-town visitors.

If you’re planning a trip to Disneyland or Disney California Adventure anytime soon, I’d strongly recommend getting the app ahead of time to streamline your trip.

RSVLTS

Screenshots of the RSVLTS app on iPhone.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

I discovered this clothing brand this year, and boy, let me tell you — it’s made quite a dent in my wallet. But it’s so worth it! If you want cool button-up shirts for whatever fandom you’re into, whether it’s Disney, Star Wars, Marvel, Bluey, Godzilla, Street Fighter, Nickelodeon, or whatever else, RSVLTS (pronounced “Roosevelts”) likely has something for you. And there’s an app.

I browse the RSVLTS app often, as RSVLTS has multiple new drops weekly. It’s easy to navigate, and you can favorite items for later or sign up for email notifications when something comes back in stock (things can sell out very quickly, depending on the fandom). Plus, RSVLTS has rewards points that you will accumulate very quickly if you become addicted like me, and you can get discount codes for leaving reviews.

RSVLTS also has “drop zone” designs that are extremely limited in quantity and are only available in the app (these never show up on the website). I often miss out on these because I forget about it, but I managed to snag one or two this year.

Why do I like these shirts, even though they’re a bit on the expensive side? They’re soft, lightweight, breathable, and super comfortable. I prefer the women’s cuts over the unisex/men’s ones, and certain designs come in kid’s sizes, too. I have over 25 of these shirts in my possession, so I highly recommend them. Check out the app if you haven’t already (your wallet may not thank me).

Ivory for Mastodon

Screenshots of the Ivory for Mastodon app on iPhone.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

I stopped using Twitter (now known as X) since Tweetbot stopped working, but Mastodon has become one of my primary new social networks since Tapbots, developers of Tweetbot, created Ivory.

Ivory is essentially Tweetbot, but for Mastodon. The interface is what I grew accustomed to for many years, so it feels natural and intuitive with the swipe and tap gestures. It also has support for multiple accounts, custom emojis from instances, polls, weekly stats, notifications, bookmarks, and more.

Mastodon may not be everyone’s social network of choice, but if you are willing to give it a try, Ivory is the best way to make the most of it.

Threads

Screenshots of Threads app on iPhone.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Similarly, I’ve also taken refuge on Threads. The interface for Threads is still pretty simple, and the algorithm seems to love showing me accounts that I don’t follow, but often have something in common with me. It also resurfaces posts from days ago just because someone replied to them. Despite the flaws, I still spend hours a day just scrolling through it.

Compared to Twitter, Threads may not be as fleshed out, but it continues to roll out new features regularly. It didn’t start with quote posts or animated GIFs, but it has those now. My Following tab sometimes just doesn’t show much new activity, but the For You tab does a pretty good job of keeping me entertained, at least.

Threads is still in its infancy stages, but I’m looking forward to seeing how it grows and evolves. I’m definitely having a better time there than “the bad place.”

Disney Emoji Blitz

Blue Titanium iPhone 15 Pro showing Disney Emoji Blitz.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

While we’re on the topic of apps that I spend hours on, Disney Emoji Blitz is literally the only mobile game that I play daily.

I’ve always been a sucker for Match 3 puzzle games, and Disney Emoji Blitz is that. You have 60 seconds to match the emojis, filling up the Blitz Mode meter with each match. In Blitz Mode, you earn more points based on your level multiplier, and it also extends the clock by 5 seconds. It’s a pretty simple concept, so why do I keep coming back to play?

It’s the collectible aspect, I suppose. I enjoy spending in-game coins to purchase boxes for new emojis or powering up ones I have if I get a duplicate. There are also plenty of in-game events that introduce new emojis, often coinciding with a new Disney movie or television show, as well as challenges. I also purchase the monthly quest pass to get all the extra prizes each month, which usually ends with an exclusive new emoji.

This is one of the only mobile games that I simply enjoy because I like the genre, and it’s Disney, which is a big part of my life. It’s also just one of my escapes whenever I have downtime. Kind of like a guilty pleasure, you know?

Day One

Screenshots for Day One app on iPhone.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

I’ve recently started picking up journaling again after getting lazy with it, and Day One is my app of choice. I’ve had Day One Premium for years, and I think it’s worth the cost if you’re willing to take the time to make use of it.

Day One has changed quite a bit since it first came out, but it is still a gorgeous app. You can have multiple journals, and all entries support photos and video attachments, audio clips, files, PDFs, and more. You can also attach a location to entries, which is great if you want to see all the places you’ve been to if you travel a lot.

And if you often get writer’s block or don’t know what to journal about, Day One has support for templates to help you quickly jot things down and move on. There are even reminders to help you remember to journal. Day One has cloud syncing, so your journal goes wherever you go, and it’s also encrypted.

Screenshots of Widgy app on iPhone.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Ever since iOS 14 allowed for more customization, Widgy Widgets has become a staple for me. It lets me make my iPhone feel more personalized by allowing me to add fun and unique widgets to my home screen pages.

With Widgy, you can create small, medium, or large widgets. The app packs in a lot of possibilities for widgets, and you can create your own or even browse submissions from the robust community. If you do make one from scratch, it’s kind of like Photoshop for widgets. It’s a bit overwhelming at times, but all of the options make it possible to create almost anything you could think of.

When I pick a widget from Widgy, I keep it the same for a while until I feel like changing it up again. I typically go for more informative ones that include the weather, time, and maybe something extra here or there. No matter what you’re looking for in a widget, Widgy will likely have something for you.

Facebook

Screenshots of Facebook app on iPhone.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Ok, yes, everyone’s heard of this one. You might use it already, too, or maybe you hate it and think it’s lame. But Facebook is an app that I use very frequently on my phone, but not necessarily in the way you may think.

I don’t really ever see posts from my closest friends, nor do I actively go out of my way to do so. Instead, I have joined a lot of various groups and pages on Facebook that relate to things I like, such as Disneyland or even RSVLTS, which I mentioned earlier. I use Facebook to keep up to date on the latest updates for those topics, whether it’s whatever new merchandise drops at Disney theme parks or about how cool the latest RSVLTS collections are.

Instead of just keeping in touch with friends from high school that I don’t really talk to, I am socializing with others who have a common interest with me. This takes up a lot of my day.

Instagram

Screenshots of the Instagram app on iPhone.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Like Facebook, I also spend a lot of time just scrolling through Instagram. I’m not a fan of the fact that I barely see posts from people I follow anymore due to the algorithm, but it has proven to be entertaining in other aspects.

I like Instagram because the algorithm gives me memes that are relatable or amusing, which I end up spamming my husband with. It’s also another way for me to keep up with new merchandise drops at Disney theme parks or from the small shops that I follow. I’m also the kind of person who posts Stories occasionally, and I often like to follow my friends’ Stories as well.

CARROT Weather

Carrot Weather app for iPhone.
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

Though I live in Southern California, where seasons almost don’t exist, I still need to check the weather daily as winter approaches. We had a wet winter last year, and it’s rumored to happen again this winter, so I need to be prepared when I have plans.

I’ve been using CARROT Weather for years, and it’s my favorite way to get my daily forecast. CARROT is well-known for its snarky commentary, which often reflects the state of current affairs. I love the humor, though I know that it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Still, I think it adds a fun touch to getting your weather info.

While I’m still upset that Apple bought Dark Sky and killed the app, CARROT Weather does have a layout that mimics what you got in Dark Sky. I’ve been using it for a more streamlined way of seeing the forecast, but other layouts are available, too. It’s all highly customizable, and you can even view things like chance of precipitation, wind speed and gusts, humidity levels, and more.

For the most part, CARROT Weather is also pretty accurate, and it’s been more correct than Apple’s native Weather app for me most of the time.

Fantastical Calendar

Screenshots of Fantastical on iPhone.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Though the iPhone comes with the native Calendar app, I kind of hate it. From the layout views (the monthly view is so useless) to the way you create new events, it’s just never worked for me. Instead, I use Fantastical.

Fantastical has been a staple on my iPhone for years. It has an actual useful month view, a hybrid month and agenda view, and a more compact weekly view. No matter which one you’re looking at, it’s easy to see what your calendar events actually are, especially if there’s more than one on a single day.

The other big reason I like using Fantastical over the native Calendar is its support for natural language input. This lets me easily create events just by typing a regular sentence, such as “Coffee with Mary at Starbucks at 10 a.m.,” and it will fill out all the details of the event as I type, rather than having to move from input field to input field. Locations automatically get pulled up while you type, too, making it easy to select the location you want.

Fantastical supports multiple calendars and can also pull the local calendars that you have synced with iOS. And if you use the native iOS Reminders app, you can view your tasks right in Fantastical, too.

Withings Health Mate

Screenshots taken from the Withings Health Mate app, showing BPM Connect's data.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Though my Apple Watch Ultra is my primary health tracker, I use a couple of Withings products for other things that the Apple Watch isn’t capable of tracking yet. This includes a smart blood pressure cuff and a smart scale. I also like to wear the ScanWatch to sleep since it’s not as bulky as my Apple Watch Ultra.

The Health Mate app shows all of my health data from my Withings products in an intuitive and streamlined interface. Tapping on any metric lets me see more detail of it, including a graph with trends and changes, as well as a full breakdown.

It may seem extraneous when I have an Apple Watch, but Apple doesn’t have a smart scale or blood pressure cuff yet, so until it does, I’ll keep using Withings Health Mate for those aspects.

Oura

iPhone 15 Pro showing Oura app, with Oura Ring and Apple Watch Ultra next to it.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Another facet of my health app repertoire is the Oura Ring. I’ve been wearing Oura Ring for several years now, and it’s one of my favorite wearables because it’s much less noticeable than something like an Apple Watch Ultra. It’s also much easier to wear to bel since it’s a ring, and it does a fantastic job of tracking my sleep.

However, keep in mind that for Oura, you’ll need a premium subscription to get any valuable data from the app. Otherwise, it’s pretty useless. I have a premium subscription because I find the data valuable and much better than what Apple has for Apple Watch sleep tracking.

In the Oura app, I like to see how I slept with data like efficiency, restfulness, latency, and more — in addition to the sleep stages, time asleep, and my heart rate variability (HRV). I also find the Readiness score and data useful to know, as it’s affected by my sleep and gives me a good idea of what to expect energy-wise for the day (and how I can improve it for next time).

A new feature that Oura recently added is stress levels, which I’ve found interesting to look back on. When I see I’ve hit peak stress levels, it makes me think back about why I felt that way and if I can avoid it next time.

These are my most important apps

Blue Titanium iPhone 15 Pro showing home screen with widgets.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Since the iOS App Store launched in 2008, I’ve probably downloaded thousands of apps over the years. But a lot of those apps have since come and gone, as they’ve ben wither abandoned, pulled, or just never updated for modern phones. It’s not surprising when you consider that the App Store has almost2 million apps.

In fact, I just took a look, and I have 611 apps that are currently installed on my iPhone 15 Pro (that 1TB storage comes in handy!). But the apps that I’ve talked about here are the ones that I’d never be able to do without this year — and I’ll almost certainly keep relying on them throughout 2024.

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