The Best iOS and Android Apps of 2013

CIO.com blogger and mobile-app reviewer James A. Martin spotlights his 10 favorite iOS and Android apps of the year, including productivity, news, photography, travel and weather apps.

Thanksgiving has come and gone. But it’s never too late to give thanks. And I’m grateful for the following Android and iOS apps.

Each of them, in their own way, gives me something that's continually useful, cool and/or fun. And they all make me remember why this is a golden era of mobile computing. There are so many apps, and so many of them are creative and innovative—and free. Or, at most, they cost a couple of dollars. It wasn’t that long ago that we shelled out several hundreds of dollars for desktop software that provided utility, but rarely inspiration.

For this post I picked my 10 personal favorite apps of 2013. Some are brand-new; some are updates; all are awesome. I organized the top apps into categories: calendar, email, news, photography, utilities, video and weather.

Best Calendar App (Tie)

Tempo Smart Calendar

iOSFree; Reviewed March 2013

There have been lots of new and improved calendar apps this year, but Tempo stands out for its many helpful features. Tempo adds context to your calendar appointments, so, for example, while on the way to a meeting you can check out participants’ LinkedIn pages. Sure, you can do that separately, but Tempo saves time and effort. It’s a great-looking app as well. Too bad there’s no Android version.  

Cal

iOS and Android; Free; Reviewed December 2013

Cal is kind of like Flickr for your calendar, in that it provides beautiful photos as a backdrop. Does this help you in any practical way? No, but it sure makes your day look better. It’s one of the best-looking calendar apps available, and it provides plenty of features too, including integration with the free Any.do to-do list app. (Both apps are from the same developer).

Best Email App

Mailbox

iOSFree; Reviewed June 2013

Mailbox makes it a breeze to organize your email messages, and you can delete or archive with a quick swipe or icon tap. The "snooze" button alone is worth the free price of admission. It lets you easily snooze messages you want to read later. Mailbox supports Gmail, Google Apps, and iCloud email services, with more promised soon.   

Best News App

Circa News

Android and iOS; Free; Reviewed October 2013

Circa made my best list in 2012 for its iOS debut. This year, the innovative news-at-a-glance app was released for Android. The beauty of Circa is that it serves up the latest news in a bite-sized, smartphone-friendly format. But that doesn’t mean it’s superficial, with just headlines and bullet points. The editorial team behind Circa does a great job of distilling the essence of the day’s news in a way that doesn’t talk down to readers. And it’s blissfully Kardashian-free. Anyone who wants a quick, insightful news fix should have this app on their mobile device, period.

Circa News iOS app

Best Photo App

Flickr

Android and iOS; Free; Reviewed May 2013

Yahoo released some great app overhauls this year, including a Flickr update. It makes sense for a photo sharing app to feature great photos, and on this front, Flickr doesn’t disappoint. You can now pick from a variety of filters to add to your photos before uploading them, as well as enhance them by drawing on them, adding text, and so on. Even better: Yahoo gave Flickr users 1TB of free storage. Talk about an offer you can’t refuse! 

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