As 2023 draws to a close, we reflect on some of our favorite apps that made everyday life a little easier this year. While flashy new AI apps and rival social networks were grabbing headlines, sometimes the most useful innovations fly under the radar. The apps on our best-of list may not have arrived in 2023, but they became daily staples that streamlined our work or brought small moments of joy. Read on for the top apps we turned to again and again when we needed to get things done, connect with others or simply have more fun.
Details: A Mac app for Gmail (Mac)
Who picked it: Ivan Mehta
Why it’s a fave: I have used and reviewed many email clients over the years. I still rue the fact that Inbox by Google is no more. Mimestream is a simple yet great Gmail client made by former Apple engineer Neil Jhaveri. The app has a split view to let me quickly see the content of the email. Plus, the swipe gestures allow me to archive or delete emails from the Inbox queue quickly.
There are also additional features including multiple account support, a menu bar extra, Gmail aliases and quick labeling (which I found useful for categorizing emails)
Details: Bite-sized comics app that supports their creators (iOS, Android, web)
Who picked it: Anna Heim
Why it’s a fave: Let’s be honest: If I started using Tinyview, it’s because it lets me read some of my favorite webcomic strips — Itchy Feet, Fowl Language and They Can Talk — in a convenient format that’s easy to navigate. But over time, I learned that it makes authors happy, too, because as one of them noted on Thanksgiving, they get “a real living wage,” much more than through Patreon or book sales.
The app is free, but paid users get access to bonus panels and more. Besides extra content, though, paying for the app is also a way to support the creators. If you particularly enjoyed one comic, you can also share “love” on a one-by-one basis by sending them a “cookie,” “coffee”, “art supplies” or “pizza,” each corresponding to a different tipping level.
Details: Macro tracking app with minimal cues (iOS, Android)
Who picked it: Natasha Lomas
Why it’s a fave: This is actually the first (dedicated) macro tracking app I’ve used — I came across it via a recommendation from climbing gurus Hooper’s Beta — so I can’t speak to how it compares versus the rest of the market. But I appreciate its Zen-like minimalism. If you’re after a no-nonsense tool that won’t blitz you with annoying notifications but will help you better understand the nutritional slant of what you’re eating you can’t go wrong with MacroFactor.
Heads up it’s not free (there is a brief free trial) so you will have to shell out for a subscription. But honest work deserves honest pay, as they say. And you can rest assured your data isn’t being sold to Mark Zuckerberg. Set up is simple: You just answer a few basic questions about your body comp, training regime and set your weight loss goal (if indeed you’re aiming to lose weight; I was more interested in understanding my macronutrient intake) and the app will generate custom calorie and macro targets for you which adapt, week to week, as you weigh in. The food logging interface is also decent, with cute icons adding a Pokémon-style “gotta catch em all” touch to nudge you to vary what you’re eating. Balanced diets FTW!
Details: Dog social app for pawrents (iOS, Android)
Who picked it: Lauren Forristal
Why it’s a fave: As a new puppy mom, finding other dogs with the same temperament as my rambunctious dachshund can be challenging. Many dogs in my neighborhood are large, older dogs who don’t necessarily want to play with a tiny, short-legged speed machine jumping around. MMDC allows me to set up playdates with other small dogs, find nearby group meetups and share pics of my pup in her new raincoat (she absolutely hates it).
My favorite feature is the availability schedule so everyone can see which days we’re free. While this new canine respiratory disease has put a lot of in-person plans on hold, MMDC is also great for chatting online with other users whom I can bond with over our adorable doxies.
Details: Borrow e-books and audiobooks from the library right on your phone (iOS, Android, Web)
Who picked it: Amanda Silberling
Why it’s a fave: Every time I meet someone new and learn that they love to read, I ask them if they have Libby. Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve read at least 50 books every year, and I couldn’t do it (or afford it, probably) without Libby. The app allows you to plug in your library cards (yes, cards, plural — don’t ask about my ethical crises around owning multiple library cards), and then you can search for books to borrow as e-books or audiobooks. If you borrow an e-book, you can log in to your Amazon account and send books directly to your Kindle. It’s easy, breezy, beautiful, Libby. Bonus recommendation: Share a Libby account with a friend and judge each other for all the bonkers shit you’re both reading.
Details: A third-party client for PlayStation Remote Play (Android)
Who picked it: Kyle Wiggers
Why it’s a fave: So, I’m very late to the party, but my partner and I just began using the PlayStation 5’s Remote Play feature — a true godsend on those days when our bed sounds a lot more appealing than the couch. Because the PS5’s in the living room and we don’t want to move. In anticipation of travel around the holiday season, I’ve been researching ways to take Remote Play beyond the confines of our apartment Wi-Fi, and the processes seem a little… involved, to say the least.
PSPlay makes it easy — it’s Remote Play on the go, as advertised. Beyond that, it delivers features that Sony’s official Remote Play app doesn’t, like support for third-party controllers, picture-in-picture mode and screen capture — making it well worth the $5.99 price.