SwiftKey (free, iOS and Android)
Type without lifting a finger. It’s perfect for times when you’re clinging onto the bus for dear life in one hand and texting with the other.
The app also learns how you type and makes creepily accurate autocorrect suggestions based off of that information. An optional feature called SwiftKey Cloud analyzes your writing style from social media accounts like Facebook and Evernote.
Sleep Cycle ($1, iOS and Android)
Not a morning person? Need something more intense? Try Spin Me ($2, iOS and Android), an app that will continue to ring until you get up and spin your phone around twice.
Wunderlist (free, iOS and Android)
This app is a must if you cohabitate. Wunderlist is available as a mobile app, desktop app, and extension. Lists are synced across all of your devices, and if you share a list with say, a significant other, your collaborative list updates in real time too.
If you want something simpler, try the very beautiful and gesture-friendly Clear ($5, iOS).
Sunrise (free, iOS and Android)
Sync your Google Calendar, iCloud, or Exchange info with the most beautiful calendar experience around. The desktop version of Sunrise is just as nifty. Being able to set multiple reminders for one event is great for forgetful folk. I personally like the built-in weather forecasts.
PhotoMath (free, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone)
It reads and solves mathematical equations using your phone’s camera. THIS IS THE FUTURE.
Camera Plus With Airsnap ($2, iOS)
Between filters, different focus modes, and a private folder that locks photos away from public view, this app has all kinds of bells and whistles.
But the killer feature is Airsnap, which enables another iOS device (like your iPad) to trigger the camera shutter on your iPhone (or vice versa). Very selfie friendly.
If you’re more of a video person, Hyperlapse (free, iOS) by Instagram is your best bet. Shoot clear, stable, cinematic mini movies that can be turned into timelapses of varying speeds.
Waze (free, iOS and Android)
For driving, opt for Google-owned Waze, which uses data from other drivers to make sure you avoid heavy traffic areas. User-reported police alerts help drivers slow down in speed trap areas.
Google Maps, duh! (free, iOS and Android) — The best biking and public transit directions around.
Bike Maps by Maplets ($1, iOS) — If you’re a cycling urban warrior, this app has high-resolution elevation maps for most metropolitan areas. Color-coded streets help bikers avoid those steep hills! Maps can also be downloaded and navigated offline.
Overcast (free but $4 for premium, iOS)
Fuel your Serial addiction with this clutter-free podcast manager. The free version gives listeners everything they need — playlists, podcast search, seek controls — but the premium version unlocks a treasure trove of interesting features like a sleep timer and Smart Speed, which dynamically shortens silences in talk shows.
VSCO Cam (free, iOS and Android)
Even professional photographers love this app because photos come out looking art gallery-ready every time. Carefully crafted filters that can be adjusted with precision and VSCO’s robust editing tools will score you those double taps.
DarkSky ($4, iOS)
Because weather patterns change so frequently, daily forecasts aren’t enough. This app offers minute-by-minute information. It knows how long you have until it starts pouring or snowing next.
Word Lens (free, iOS and Android)
It translates Russian, Portuguese, German, Italian, French, and Spanish signs IN REAL TIME using your phone’s camera. Pure wizardry.
UPDATE: Google acquired the company that made Word Lens, and its technology is now a part of Google Translate.
Cord (free, iOS and Android coming soon)
OK, JK. Nothing can replace your phone app. But Cord’s Snapchat-style press-and-record app just for audio might be the best new thing. Faster than a phone call or a text for sure.