My Favorite Apps for My iPhone

Our phones can be technological gifts, empowering us to become more productive, creative, and healthy.

Instead of the technological gifts they should be, our phones often become our chains. Notifications are the stimuli for our brains drooling for social acceptance and connection. Swiping and scrolling are the new dopamine drug, releasing with every flick of the fingers. Welcome to the dark, time-sucking hole called “Your Phone’s Screen”.

Until now.

Today is the day you will make your phone work for you. Welcome to my not-so-comprehensive guide to my top 7 favorite apps for my iPhone (in no particular order):



1. Moment

Maybe I shouldn’t call this one my “favorite” app. Moment can track how much time you spend on my iPhone and even what apps you’re using. I’m using the free version, but it has opened my eyes to how much time I’m wasting on my iPhone.


I discovered this app through the site Time Well Spent. They put together a great video, This Panda is Dancing, that will hopefully encourage you to think deeper about your relationship with your phone.

Articles I’ve written about our relationship with technology:



2. Headspace

At the risk of sounding super weird, this app to help you meditate is amazing. I downloaded the app with doubt and hesitation, but it finally won me over.

Meditating? Have you gone crazy Samuel?

Probably, but here is how I use Headspace: before I read my Bible in the morning, I spend 3 to 5 minutes sitting quietly (a.k.a., “meditating”). And you know what has happened? I’m able to defog my sleepy brain and focus on what I’m reading.

Trust me. I’m in grizzly-bear-that-just-woke-out-of-hibernation mode when I wake up and I need all the help I can get.




This has been my go-to photo editing app for a while. Absolutely love how the app has evolved over the years. It keeps getting better and better! VSCO has incredible photo editing tools, but it’s most famous for the filters. Most of my pictures on social media and this blog were edited on VSCO.



4. Bear

This is my favorite writing app for my iPhone (and desktop). It has a beautiful, minimalist layout making it easier to focus on the writing. If you find yourself with your phone and free time — write!  #noexcuses

The only con is the syncing between devices is a paid upgrade. Evernote is still the best for syncing but does not have the most intuitive organizational system. Bear, on the other hand, uses a simple hashtag system to organize everything.



5. Instapaper

How do I keep track of all the links for the subscriber-only Compilation? The secret is Instapaper.

Because I hated using bookmarks and having a gazillion tabs open, I started using Pocket. After getting frustrated with the app, I discovered Instapaper. And I love it! I can save articles from the web, social media, anywhere and download it to read later (even offline). Plus it syncs between my laptop and phone, allowing me to read on any device I’m on.

For example, if you see an article you want to read on your computer, quickly save it to Instapaper. The next day, say you’re on break at work with nothing to do. Pull out your phone and read the article. THE BEST!


read scripture

6. ReadScripture

I discovered this app through The Bible Project on YouTube. The app guides you through the entire Bible in one year along with incredibly animated and information-dense videos. I love how you read through the Psalms twice by the time you’re done!

My favorite feature is how you can start the reading plan at any time. Don’t wait for January 1st when 99% of resolutions made are never kept anyways. If you don’t have a Bible reading plan, there is no better time to set it up than today.

Articles I’ve written about reading the Bible:


7. ESV

My favorite all-around Bible app — for reading and listening. I was pleasantly surprised to find the audio Bible built into the ESV app is really good.


Other Apps

Here’s a list of other apps I use on my phone all the time. Whether all of them are productive or not, I will leave for you to decide. 🙂

  • Podcasts (the native Apple app)
  • Spotify
  • YouTube
  • Kayak (for travel)
  • LastPass (password manager)
  • Google Authenticator (2-step verification)


Did I miss an amazing app we should all know about? Share your favorite apps below and let’s talk about it! And if you downloaded one of the apps I shared, tell me what you think about it below.


  • Jonathan Henrique

    Thank you for sharing! Instapaper is very interesting. As you said, Evernote is good, but the Bear app… 😀

    • Yeah, definitely give Instapaper a try. I love how it works with Twitter.

      Do you use the Bear app as well? Dude, it is the best!

  • Megan Smith

    Great recommendations! Some I’ve used, others I’ll have to check out! Quick question: what specifically do you like better about Instapaper than Pocket? I’ve been using Pocket for quite a while and have so many articles saved that I want to make sure it’s worth the switch before I go download Instapaper 😉

    • Thank you Megan! To be honest, the main reason I like Instapaper is probably silly – Instapaper is prettier than Pocket. I had always disliked the “look” of the desktop and mobile app. Instapaper is clean and minimal with a much better layout.

      What finally caused me to leave Pocket was the Safari browser extension. It may have been me, but I could not get the Pocket extension to work in Safari and save articles to my list. I gave up and downloaded Instapaper instead.

      Maybe download Instapaper, save a few articles to it, and try the app for a week. If you like it, then you can always export your entire list and archive from Pocket straight into Instapaper. Hope this helps! 🙂

      How to export/import:

      • Megan Smith

        Alright! Well I’ll give Instapaper a try, then! Super cool that there’s an option to export the things I’ve already saved in Pocket. Thanks for the recommendation!