Apple's iOS 6 is chock-full of exciting new features, from a smarter Siri to an all-new Maps app with turn-by-turn navigation. But you don’t have to wait until the Fall to get a refreshed version of iOS. Independent developers have worked hard to build upon Apple’s default applications, providing some much-needed improvements to the apps we use every day.
If you’re ready for something new on your iPhone these applications are perfect replacements for Apple’s defaults. Many of these apps are great on the iPad too.
Mail: Sparrow ($2.99)
For such an important application, the default iPhone Mail app lacks some important features. Fortuantely, there’s Sparrow, an app designed to provide “an efficient and pleasant mailing experience.”
Sparrow is perfect for Gmail users, fully supporting archiving, email alias’, and labels. The user interface is intuitive and easy to navigate. Sparrow doesn’t yet provide push notifications, but pair Sparrow with the push notification manager app Boxcar and you have a perfect Mail replacement. It’s currently only available for the iPhone, but according to the company website the iPad version should be available very soon.
Calendar: Calvetica ($2.99)
Calvetica is fast...much faster than the default calendar app on the iPhone. But it’s not just about speed, Calvetica provides a stylish user interface and makes event creation simple and convenient. Connect with Google, Exchange or iCal and keep events synced on all your devices.
Calvetica provides a superior user experience over the default Calendar app without losing any functionality and will quickly replace your previous calendar app on both your iPhone and iPad.
Calculator: Soulver ($2.99)
Soulver changes the way you interact with your calculator. Already a popular OS X application, the recently released iPhone app can understand numbers as well as words. It calculates answers as you type, makes editing a snap and can even save files to Dropbox or send beautifully formatted emails.
Camera: Camera+ ($0.99)
There are iPhone camera apps, and then there is Camera+. Easily the best camera application for the iOS, Camera+ provides over a dozen presents and three dozen filters. There’s also touch exposure and focus, timers, balance lock, burst mode and tons of borders. The interface is intuitive, making editing, saving and sharing pictures fast and easy. Camera+ is still far ahead of any other app in this category.
Maps: MotionX GPS Drive ($0.99)
You don’t have to wait for iOS 6 to get turn-by-turn navigation on the iPhone. MotionX GPS Drive is a top-rated GPS app, providing traffic updates, auto-updating maps, Facebook and Wikipedia integration, and full support for portrait and landscape use. Content discovery is quick and easy; gas stations, restaurants, airports and more are just a tap away.
Voice guidance is available as an in-app purchase, and is regularly priced at $25 for a full year, but is currently $10. If you don’t want to wait for Apple’s new Maps application, definitely check out MotionX GPS Drive.
Music: Rdio (FREE, $15/month)
If you’re tired of music taking up space on your iPhone or iPad, it may be time to move into the cloud. Rdio provides unlimited streaming music and access to over 15 million songs for $15 per month. Rdio stands out among the competition for its music discovery engine, helping you access great tunes based on your own interests and your friends’ listening habits.
Messages: WhatsApp ($0.99)
First there was Blackberry Messenger, then Apple’s iMessage. Now we have WhatsApp, an application that lets users send text messages via the Internet rather than through wireless providers. WhatsApp is available for the iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and Nokia phones. WhatsApp connects to your existing phone number, so there’s no usernames to give our or new numbers to remember. In addition to a beautiful user interface and push notifications, WhatsApp also supports group chat, offline messages, and status updates.
Weather: AccuWeather (FREE)
If you’re looking for a more robust weather application, check out AccuWeather for iPhone. AccuWeather provides a number of features missing from Apple’s default weather app, including weather alert push notifications, local video newscasts, calendar integration, lifestyle-specific weather reporting and interactive Google maps. Additionally, AccuWeather is powered by AccuWeather.com, which generally has a higher accuracy rate than Yahoo! weather, the engine behind Apple's default weather app.
Voice Memos: Recorder Pro ($0.99)
Recorder Pro brings some much needed features to iPhone recording, including the ability to record in AIFF, AIFC, CAF or WAV, auto pause, adjustable recording quality and background playback and recording. Recordings can then be sorted, categorized and found through a built-in search. Great for voice memos and lengthy interviews alike.
Notes: Simplenote (FREE)
We have found the ideal replacement for the default iPhone Notes app. Simplenote has perfected note syncing, bringing all your lists, ideas, and writing to all your devices. Additionally, Simplenote supports tags, pins, versions, and note sharing. There are Simplenote clients for almost every mobile phone and operating system imaginable so you’ll always have access to all your notes.