How To Replace Apple's Built-In iPhone Apps With Ones That Are Actually Useful

iphone 5 vs 4S

Photo: Kevin Smith, Business Insider

Apps have always been an afterthought for the iPhone, and it shows.Designers spent years tweaking the look and feel of the hardware. But then programmers rushed out a mapping app in a matter of weeks before launch.

That second-rate approach is disappointing and inconsistent with Apple’s general reputation for perfectionism.

The silver lining, as CEO Tim Cook himself pointed out while apologizing for the Apple Maps debacle, is that developers have made great alternatives.

Use these instead of the ones that come with the phone to get more out of your iPhone.

Use Google Voice

You may not even think of the iPhone's calling features as an app, but it is--one that makes calls and retrieves voicemails one at a time from a list. That's about it.

We wish that Apple would integrate the app into iCloud and allow us to access our voicemail and review calls from the desktop or an iPad.

That's why we suggest using Google Voice.

The Google Voice app doesn't completely replace the Phone app. But it works alongside it, giving users direct access to the search giant's calling service. Users can get a new number, send free text messages to U.S. phones, and make international calls for cheap.

There is also a built-in voicemail service that provides transcripts and can be accessed on the Web.

Use Google Voice in addition to Apple's phone app for more flexibility and features.

Price: Free

Google Chrome for Web browsing

Google Chrome is an excellent browser alternative to Apple's Safari. The app allows you to request desktop versions of sites so that you don't have to deal with inferior mobile sites.

It syncs with your Google Account, meaning all you have to do is log in to get access to your bookmarks, tabs, and settings. If you already use Google services like Gmail, then switching to Chrome is a no-brainer.

The downside: Apple doesn't let you completely replace Safari with Chrome, so some links will still open in Apple's browser.

Price: Free

The Weather Channel's app is superior

We use the Weather Channel's app instead of Apple's stock Weather app because it provides features like severe weather alerts, Facebook integration, and custom photos.

The app also takes advantage of the iPhone 5's larger screen and has been optimised for Apple's new iPhone operating system.

Keep up to date with local weather conditions in your city and beyond. There's also weather-triggered imagery that changes the app background based on your local weather conditions.

Price: Free

Apple's Camera app is ok, but Camera+ is even better

Camera+ is like your iPhone's camera on steroids. It shoots pictures faster than the native camera with burst mode, has built-in stabilizers, takes advantage of filters, and even lets you crop right inside the app.

Users can also control exposure and focus.

These are just a few of Camera+'s awesome features. It's the perfect app to complement Apple's built-in camera app.

Price: $0.99

Flayvr is a better way to sort through photos

If you take a lot of pictures then you know that it is very easy for them to get lost in your camera roll. Flavyr instantly fixes that problem.

The app quickly organizes your photos by date and seamlessly patches video and photos into the same collection. Best of all, the app is fast and simple.

Switch, and going through our photos won't be a chore anymore.

Price: Free

Use Instacast to listen to podcasts

Apple's Podcast app is lacking in design and performance.

If you listen to podcasts--series of recorded, downloadable audio or video files to which you can subscribe with an app--Instacast is much better than Apple's Podcast app. Instacast allows you to easily manage your podcast subscriptions. The app automatically downloads new episodes, picks up where you left off, and is optimised for multitasking and the retina display.

Even better, Instacast lets you preload podcasts for a commute and integrates with Apple's iCloud service.

The app does this plus a ton of other things making Apple's app much inferior.

Price: $1.99

Use Evernote instead of Notes and Voice Memos

Think of Evernote as your online notebook for everything.

Evernote lets you store text notes, audio files, photos, Web articles, to-do lists, and just about anything else you can think of online. You can then access all your stuff on your PC, the Web, or mobile device.

Price: Free

Use Spotify for music

Spotify is your gateway to millions of songs. Spotify is a streaming music player, which means songs aren't stored directly on your device. This frees up a ton of space that you can use for other things like photos and apps. (You can store songs for offline listening if you want).

Spotify's music library is full of millions of tracks from all the major record labels, so you shouldn't have trouble finding what you need.

It's a much better way of listening to new music than paying by the song.

Price: Free (Premium subscription is $9.99/month)

Use Google Maps

Everyone knows Apple's Maps are no good--even Apple has admitted as much. The app provides users with poor directions and is missing important landmarks.

Recently we published a deep dive into the best Apple Maps alternatives. We determined that Google Maps provided the best experience, even though it's a browser-based Web app, not a native app. The main downside of this is having to go through a few extra steps to bring it up.

Google has said it will come out with a native version of Google Maps soon.

Price: Free

Here is how to install Google Maps on your iPhone.

Checkmark is like Reminders on steroids

Apple's Reminders app is pretty basic. It gets the job done, but Checkmark offers more features and truly takes advantage of Apple's geo-fence.

Checkmark is our favourite location-based reminder app. The app takes advantage of the iPhone's geofencing feature to alert you of tasks when you enter or exit a particular location.

Check out our walkthrough of Checkmark >

Price: $2.99

Use Kindle instead of iBooks

If you purchase books in Apple's iBooks store your limited to only Apple mobile devices (iPad and iPhone). Amazon's Kindle app can be accessed from a host of devices, including your desktop.

Amazon's Kindle library is filled with hundreds of thousands of books. Apple's selection is far smaller.

Kindle lets you to purchase and read books from Amazon's book store. The app is well-designed and robust and offers an excellent interface. We love that your purchased books sync between all your Kindle devices and apps, so you can pick up where you left off. Amazon Kindle users can also check out books from their local library and lend purchased titles to friends.

Price: Free

Now see what we love and hate about the new iPhone.

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