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Apps and Gear for the Holidays

It’s that time of year once again when we like to bring you a few of our top app and gear picks to help get you through the holiday season in one piece. From recipe gathering to trip planning, photo editing, and various kinds of audio distraction entertainment, this handy list has a bit of everything.

🥘 Food & Drink

  1. Paprika ($3): Our favorite recipe manager makes the list once again, and we make no apologies for it. Whether you’ve bringing a killer pot roast or a pumpkin pie to die for to your next holiday party, you can rely on Paprika to keep the prep details organized and easy to follow.

  2. YETI Rambler 12 oz. Bottle with “Hot Shot” Cap ($30, available in various colors): This is quite possibly the most over-engineered vacuum-insulated steel bottle around, with a brilliant 360° drinking lid that’s 100% leak-proof. The whole thing is dishwasher safe too.

  3. Snow Peak Titanium Curved Flask ($112): If you end up at a gathering where no spirits are being served, discreetly bring some of your own with this sleek and lightweight flask made with the utmost craftsmanship and quality. The titanium construction keeps any metallic taste from being imparted to the scotch/whiskey/etc within, preserving the original flavor even if it gets forgotten somewhere for a few days.

  4. Lifewit Double-Decker Casserole Carrier ($42): Like most holiday seasons, many of us are finding ourselves lugging around large food dishes to serve at parties and potlucks. This nice-looking “casserole carrier” bag makes the job a lot easier. The padded upper and lower layers each hold a piece of bakeware up to 11″ x 15″ in size, and they’re both insulated and leakproof from one another, so you can bring along a hot dish and a cold one, no problem.

🛠 Utilities

  1. AnyList (Free, with optional AnyList Complete subscription — $10/year for individuals or $15/year for families): While billed as a grocery shopping app that could fit into the food/drink category above, AnyList also works nicely for making gift idea/wish lists, shopping lists for other kinds of stores (IKEA, hardware stores, etc), and more.

  2. Tripsy: Travel Planner (Free, with optional Premium subscription — $5/month or $40/year): If you’ve ever felt that organizing vacations and/or trips to see your family is always an utter mess with too much stuff to keep track of, Tripsy is the app for you. It lets you record and manage all relevant trip details and documents — like flight itineraries, hotel bookings, digital tickets, means of transportation, restaurants to try, etc — in one easily accessible place. (More details in this post.)

  3. Streaks ($5): There’s no wrong time to start a new habit worth sticking to, but the holidays certainly present a tantalizing one. Streaks is our favorite habit tracking app because it’s powerful, extremely customizable, and allows for integration with Apple services like Health.app and Shortcuts. Remember, consistent small actions are the key to success, and this app will help you keep from breaking the chain.

📸 Making Memories

  1. Day One (Free, with optional Premium upgrade to unlock unlimited journals/files/backup space and more): Look, we know we probably sound like a broken record about how much we love journaling with Day One. The thing is, if you’re not using this app to record your holiday memories, feelings, and thoughts, you’ll be kicking yourself years from now. Please, friends, don’t let that happen to you.

  2. Darkroom (Free, with various purchasable unlocks for additional tools and filters): As good as iPhone cameras are these days, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to punch up your photos a little. Darkroom is our favorite way to do that, striking just the right balance between beautiful design, ease of use, powerful filter editing, and frequent app updates.

  3. Zhiyun SMOOTH-Q2 Smartphone Gimbal ($139): Just as you don’t want the details of holiday memories to slip into the abyss, you shouldn’t let videos of those memorable moments turn out shaky and terrible. With this portable handheld stabilizer, you can get buttery smooth, even cinematic shots you’ll be proud to show off years from now. (More info here.)

🎧 Audio

  1. Triode (Free to download, with a small subscription that grants cross-device syncing and high-quality artwork): With this new app by the Iconfactory, you’ll never be without the internet radio stations you love listening to. Triode offers access to tens of thousands of them from around the globe, so whether you’re in the car, at the office, or chilling on your couch, your favorite stations are always within easy reach, all accessible from a single app.

  2. Overcast (Free, with a $10/year upgade to hide the small visual ads): There’s simply no better way to enjoy podcasts than with Marco Arment’s Overcast app. The powerful playback customization options, smart playlist organization, fair and transparent pricing, and its tendency to stay ahead of the game with awesome new features make Overcast the ultimate podcast listening experience.

  3. Overdrive or ‘Libby’ by Overdrive (Both are free, but do require that you have a card from a participating library): Despite the name similarity, Overdrive has no relation to Overcast. It does, however, allow cardholders at most local libraries to borrow thousands of ebooks, audiobooks, and more — instantly, for free, using just the device in your hand. It’s seriously amazing and more people need to know about it.

  4. Dark Noise ($4): The holidays can be a LOT to process. Take a little time for yourself to decompress with Dark Noise, a simple but powerful ambient noise app for iPhone and iPad that offers 42 high-quality sounds of just about every variety. You can listen to the rain, underwater bubbles, fireworks (they’re not as loud as you’d think), a pleasantly busy coffee shop, and even a spaceship engine — or, as we mention in our 2019 TSS Awards, you can start up the fireplace sound and crack open a book.

  5. Apple AirPods Pro ($249): Apple’s new in-ear AirPods with active noise cancellation and transparency mode are the easiest, most portable way to become totally immersed in whatever you’re listening to this holiday season — then seamlessly switch to that call to your grandma you’ve been meaning to make.

Wait. There’s a Bonus…

Curated List of Must-Have Apps

We spend an inordinate amount of time sorting through hundreds of apps to find the very best. And based on our own usage, plus the feedback of our readers, we have put together a short list of our must-have, most-used apps in 2019.

You will get…

  • The current list of The Sweet Setup’s top 8, must-have apps.
  • A special, pro tip for each app to help you save time and become more of a power user.
  • A hidden feature of each app that you may not have known about.

These apps work on iPad, iPhone, and Mac. And they range across several different categories but are mostly focused on productivity. We hope this will help you get the most out of your devices and your day.

This guide is available for FREE to our email subscriber community. And you can get it right now. By joining the Sweet Setup community you’ll also get access to our other guides, early previews to big new reviews and workflow articles we are working on, weekly roundups of our best content, and more.

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