By Prof. Rom Feria
So you got a new iPhone for Christmas, and probably are excited to install new applications. First, there are a few things you need to do to make sure that you use the iPhone’s full potential. After you’ve setup FaceID, make sure that you go to Settings-Privacy-Advertising-Limit Ad Tracking and set it to ON, then go to Settings-FaceID & Passcode-Erase Data to ON, Require Passcode to IMMEDIATELY, USB Accessories to OFF, and finally, go to Settings-General-AirDrop and select CONTACTS ONLY or OFF. There, you have the basics set already. Now I am sure that you can’t wait to install third-party applications, so here’s a short list of recommended applications.
Whilst not really a third-party application, but installing this Apple application will make some tasks easy to do on your iPhone. I wrote about Shortcuts last October, and it should serve as your jump off point to start automating some tasks.
There are numerous third-party calendar applications on the market, but I find Fantastical to be one of the best, specially if you pair it with the OS X version. It is not free, but it is worth every centavo. And did I mention that it has Siri Shortcut support, too?
During my morning walk, I always wear either my BeatsX headphones or AirPods. In some occasions, I have my workout playlist running, but only when I do not have any podcast backlog to listen to. Overcast is my favorite podcast catcher. I love how it supports offline listening via your Apple Watch, no need for me to bring my iPhone with me during my walk. And you guessed it, Siri Shortcuts is supported, too!
A password manager is a must-have, and my go to application is 1Password. I have both iOS and OS X applications, which syncs perfectly fine. I still use the original, stand-alone version, instead of the cloud-based subscription version. I love how it incorporates One-Time-Password (OTP), which saves me another application to install. 1Password also supports iOS 12’s new Password Autofill feature, which makes filling up username-password fields extremely easy, whilst keeping it secure. You can also sync your favorite accounts on your Apple Watch for easier and faster access, though, I wish that 1Password will display both password and OTP on the Apple Watch.
1Blocker X and Better
Safari on iOS, like its OS X sibling, supports third-party content blockers, which you enable at Settings-Safari-Content Blockers. I have both 1Blocker X and Better working together to protect me from ad trackers.
A VPN subscription is also a must-have. Make sure that you select the VPN service that does not log your information and sessions. Whilst iOS 12 supports most VPN protocols, it does not have native support for OpenVPN. Download the OpenVPN application to allow your iPhone to support all standard VPN protocols available in the market today.
Waze and Grab
You cannot get enough travel applications on your iPhone, but these two are must haves for me. Waze is to make sure that I avoid traffic during my commute. Grab is the ride-sharing application, because there is no more Uber in the Philippines, i.e. no choice!
iWork and Quip
Apple has a free office productivity suite of its own called iWork. It is not as feature-rich as Microsoft Office, but for most needs, it is highly capable. I use it exclusively as my main word processor, spreadsheet and presentation application, as I stay away from Google Docs and Google Sheets as far away as possible. For collaboration across platforms, I use Quip.
I prefer sending messages using iOS Messages application, and use iMessage and SMS. I prefer communicating with iMessage, but when I see the recipient’s message in a green bubble, meaning their device does not have iMessage, I try to convince them to use Wire, a third-party secure, end-to-end encrypted messaging service, to communicate across platforms. I used to recommend Signal, but Signal requires a mobile phone to register, whilst Wire requires an e-mail address only.
Flickr and Textile Photos
Sharing photos with family and friends are done via iCloud Shared albums. Whilst it supports cross-platform album sharing, you get better experience when you have an iOS device yourself.
For public photo sharing, I use Flickr and Textile Photos. Flickr is when I want to share with a community, and Textile Photos, when I want to share with family and friends, and not have a central server to store the photos.
For email, I use ProtonMail for a fully encrypted e-mail service, in addition to my own, paid mail services.
So there you have it — a few highly recommended applications to download from the App Store, and install on your new iPhone, but what are missing?
Google Services — because I stay as far away as I could from Google’s personal data collection machine. I use DuckDuckGo as my main search engine. I don’t use GMail as well.
Facebook, and all its other services, e.g. WhatsApp and Instagram — because they cannot be trusted with your data, they use whatever data they have collected to manipulate you, and prioritize their revenue more than protecting you.
Twitter — full disclosure, I still use it, but trying to cut my daily usage. I started going back to posting on my own at https://rom.micro.blog.
One more thing, be wary of free applications — there is no such thing as free lunch. Think twice before you use the services, as most free applications collect your data, aggregate and sell it to recoup the costs of providing their services for free.