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Why We’re Here

We enjoy spending an inordinate amount of time and energy to research, test, and find the very best apps.

Who wants just any weather app? Not us. We want the best! And so do you. That’s why our goal is to help you (and ourselves) find the best apps for your iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

I’ve been writing about Mac and iOS software for several years. It was a side-gig at first, but at the beginning of 2011 I began writing about Apple software as my full-time job. Over the years I’ve compiled a huge back catalog of reviews that are, for the most part, still relevant. But since they are posted to my weblog amongst a waterfall of reverse-chronological posts, the old-but-relevant articles are now buried under the new.

The Sweet Setup exists because I wanted a site that highlights the software that has proven to be the best, not necessarily the newest.

Here we will be recommending only the apps which are proven to be the best rather than new (I already write plenty about what’s new and cool over at shawnblanc.net and Tools & Toys). Additionally, by focusing on only the best, it means all the content on our site is relevant all the time. I didn’t want to post our articles in a reverse-chronological order that, by nature, would cause still-helpful reviews to be pushed out of view once new reviews get published.

Another reason we’re here: over on my personal website I’ve done about 60 “Sweet Mac Setup” interviews with people over the past several years. In these interviews I ask about what software and hardware they use to get the job done. I’ve always thought it would be great to have some sort of site that used the aggregate data from these interviews as some sort of metric for recommending the best and/or most popular apps in certain categories.

Thirdly, as a Mac nerd, I often get asked about my recommendations for certain types of apps. For one, it’s becoming nearly impossible to search the App Store for the best apps of a certain category. There are nearly 1,000,000 apps in there, and just because an app is at the top of the charts for how much money it’s making doesn’t mean that app is the best.

We’re going to review, research, test, try, and then recommend only the best apps (not necessarily the newest) so you can find what you’re looking for. For example, tweets like this demonstrate exactly the need that I hope to address with The Sweet Setup.

We hope to bring a refreshingly transparent and plain-speak approach to reviews and editorial content.

Our approach to finding the best apps

Writing about an app is such a subjective task.

Take weather apps for example. They are all about the same price ($2—$5) and do pretty much the same thing (tell you the current and upcoming forecast). In many ways, they are each just a different take on UI design. Without too much time investment, someone could easily pick out the top 5 or 10 weather apps because they’re the ones that have the right balance of features, sport a clean and quick design, and are developed by respected companies.

But how then do you pick out the best from that list?

In some cases, picking the best app might just boil down to personal taste. In which case, we like to say “this is our favorite app” instead of “this is the best app.”

In some cases, we’ll break our recommendations down into more finite categories, such as: our favorite general purpose weather app, the best weather radar app, and our favorite free weather app.

All of our recommendations include logical reasoning for why the app/product we recommend is the best amongst the competition. We avoid jumping to preconceived conclusions about an app recommendation and take the time to do our due diligence, research, testing, and comparisons.

Here are some things we take into account when looking for and deciding upon the best app:

  • Is the app snappy and easy to use? Is it free from bugs and UI quirks? Does it delight?
  • Is the app priced reasonably considering the target audience?
  • Does the app’s developer have a good reputation, and does the app itself have a future of being updated over time?
  • Do other people who know about this category of apps recommend this app?
  • Would we / do we use it ourselves?

We all use our iPhones, iPads, and Macs every day. We use them to communicate with friends and family, take pictures and videos of special events and moments; we use them to help us find a nearby coffee shop or to manage our grocery list; we use them to write, to edit photos, to record music, to collaborate, and to communicate.

And there are so many fantastic apps and other tools to help us.

That’s why I built this site. Because I want to use the best tools for whatever the task is and I bet you do, too.

Thank you so much for trusting us and for listening to what we have to say.

— Shawn Blanc

P.S. If you’re curious about how the site is run and the tools we use, check out the Colophon page.