5 third party alternatives to stock iOS apps

Apple has always been known for the simplicity of its products. Often times when trying to make something as simple as possible, you sacrifice functionality. Since the original iPhone released in 2007, stock iOS apps have been very easy to use. Over the years Apple have packed more and more features into its stock apps, but there’s always room for further improvement.

Luckily, there’s a good number of third party apps that can replace stock iPhone apps, many of which have improved functionality over their stock counterparts. In this list, I’m going to point out 5 of my favorite App Store options that you may find more useful than Apple’s offerings.

1. Ecoute (Replaces Music app)

Ecoute

One of my favorite apps of all time just so happens to be a replacement of the Music app. Ecoute is an app that’s meant to replace the stock music app by providing added functionality. The app has a great, clean interface, with an optional night mode included.

One of the app’s main selling points is the ability to queue songs. It amazes me that Apple has yet to implement this in the stock music app, which is why I set out to find a replacement for the Music app in the first place. With Ecoute, all it takes is a tap-and-hold on the song you want to Queue, which gives you the options to Play, Shuffle, Play Next, or Add to Up Next. Tapping the song (without holding) will immediately play the song as it would in the stock Music app. Ecoute takes queueing one step beyond that. On the now playing screen, there’s a Queue button in the top right (which looks like a clock icon) that brings up your queue and allows you to re-order or remove songs from the queue (see screenshot on right, above).

Beyond queueing songs, you also have the ability to share the currently playing song on Facebook and Twitter, scrobble the current song to Last.fm, and more via the share button in the top left of the now playing screen. One thing I was specifically looking for when looking for a replacement Music app was iTunes Match compatibility, which Ecoute has. In order to use Ecoute, you do not have to have the Music app open, which is nice. The one (minor) downfall of this app is that tapping the currently playing song in Control Center will launch the stock Music app instead of Ecoute.

If you’re looking for a replacement music player, check out Ecoute! You can pick it up for $1.99 on the App Store.

2. Mailbox (Replaces Mail app)

Mailbox

Before the Mailbox app was released, I rarely ever checked email on my iPhone. I was never a fan of the stock Mail app and never really cared to find an alternative. However, when Mailbox was released, it quickly became a frequently talked about app. So I gave it a try and haven’t looked back since. I now only check my mail on my iPhone (still waiting for the Mac Mailbox app) due to Mailbox’s ease of use. The design is very minimal and clean, and the app is extremely simple to use.

Mailbox’s sole purpose is to get your inbox down to 0. It makes this easy with simple swipe gestures. Swiping from left to right on an email will allow you to archive the email. Continue swiping to move the email to the trash. Swiping from right to left on an email gives you the option to snooze an email for later. This is my personal favorite feature of Mailbox as it allows you to snooze a message for a few hours, days, weeks, or even months. If you continue swiping from right to left on an email you have the ability to add the email to a list.

Mailbox is currently compatible with GMail and iCloud accounts, with support for other email services planned in the future.

If you’re looking for an alternative to the Mail app, you can pick up Mailbox for free on the App Store.

3. Yahoo! Weather (Replaces Weather app)

Yahoo-Weather

Yahoo! Weather is another app, like Mailbox, that I wasn’t neccesarily looking for when I found it. I stumbled upon it due to it’s popularity, with many reviewers (and Yahoo! themselves) referring to the app as “the most beautiful weather app for iPhone.” And I couldn’t agree more.

The stock Weather app is a nice app with quite a bit of weather information at a quick glance. However, Yahoo! Weather presents you with quite a bit more weather information, without making you feel overwhelmed. The way it is presented makes it very easy to find the information you care about most, and even allows you to re-arrange the sections to fit your needs.

Other notable features include the ability to save multiple locations and optional weather alerts via Notifications.

You can pick up Yahoo! Weather for free on the App Store.

4. Google Chrome (Replaces Safari)

Google-Chrome

Although I’m no longer a Google Chrome user, I felt it deserved a spot on this list. I’d have no problem recommending Google Chrome to someone who’s looking for an alternative to the Safari web browser. Google Chrome is a great web browser with a nice interface and some awesome features. I would especially recommend using Google Chrome if you’re a Windows user.

Having the ability to seamlessly sync your bookmarks and other data between the desktop and mobile app is extremely helpful. For Mac users, Safari has this functionality as well, however there are some benefits to using Google Chrome over Safari on your iPhone, and you may find them useful. For one, Google Chrome has integration with Google Now, making it far superior in terms of voice searching. What is probably my favorite advantage Google Chrome has over Safari is its ability to search by image, making it extremely simple to find similar images.

You can pick up Google Chrome for free on the App Store.

5. Google Maps (Replaces Maps)

Google-Maps

This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Google Maps. Ever since Apple dumped Google’s mapping service in the stock Maps app, Google’s App Store release of its Maps app has been extremely popular. While I personally try to use the stock Maps app as much as possible, there are times when I have to resort to using Google Maps instead.

My primary issue with the stock Maps app is the search function. There have been numerous times when I have searched for a well-known place, only to have the app show me something completely different, or turn up no results at all. When the stock app has failed me, Google Maps has always delivered, always giving me the location I really want. The GPS features have also worked well for me, and overall I have had no bad experiences using this app (the same can’t be said about the stock app). Of course there have also been numerous reports of people ending up in the wrong locations using the stock Maps app, so if you’re one of those people (or if you don’t want to end up being one of those people), Google Maps may be worth checking out.

You can pick up Google Maps for free on the App Store.

What are some of your favorite App Store apps that act as replacements to stock apps? Let us know in the comments or Tweet me @DarrenLinkNPark.

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  • gettysburg11s

    Well, this is an interesting list. I don’t need a music app at all, since I use Beats Music. As for Yahoo Weather, thats what I currently use. Its the best all around weather app, and seems to be accurate. Google Maps is of course the best, but actually, in most cases, I’ve found that Apple Maps is now just as accurate, so I use it.

    Chrome isn’t currently usable, do to the fact that Apple doesn’t give access to its own java script engine to 3rd party browsers in iOS 7. This will change in iOS 8, and when Google updates Chrome, I’ll give it a try again.

    Mailbox is good, I will admit, but overall, the Gmail app is the best, if you have a Gmail account.