The simplicity hype is taking the world by storm. What started as a small trend with apps like Clear for iPhone is now a full-blown design convention, which looks to have inspired even Apple in their latest iteration of iOS (read more about iOS 7 to see what I mean).
Personally, I love this new trend. The old iOS wooden shelves and protruding buttons never really appealed to me, and I’m glad to see more and more of these apps taking over the App Store. Unfortunately, although it might be expected of a new hype, most of these apps are not free, and cost anywhere from 99¢ to a full $5, and as it turns out, most of you are not really into paying for apps. Does that mean you have to forego the best trend to take on the App Store since the day it was opened? Not if we have something to say about it!
After a long day of research, I came up with 5 simple, beautiful apps that embrace this new simplicity trend, and yet cost nothing at all, or $1 at most. This does not mean that the more expensive apps don’t deserve your time or money — many of them definitely do — but in this post I’m going to focus on the more affordable ones, which also happen to be that little bit more obscure.
Squarespace Note (Free)
Do you often need to scribble a note and quickly share it? Squarespace Note is one of the easiest ways in the world to type up short (or longer) notes, and share them to email, Dropbox, Twitter, Facebook, Evernote or Google Drive with a swipe. The app is based on swiping gestures, and a short tutorial on first launch will show you everything you need to know.
Swipe to the left to choose where your notes are shared to, swipe up on a note to automatically share to chosen networks, and swipe left to view your sent notes. It’s incredibly simple, incredibly useful, and incredibly free.
Clearly inspired by Clear, Swipes is another simple take on the ever-burning issue of productivity. This is a simple to do list to which you can add items quickly, and then use swipe gestures to mark them as done or set reminders for them. The top menu lets you easily navigate between your list of current tasks, scheduled tasks, and done tasks.
When you swipe a current task to the left, a new window pops up letting you choose when you want to schedule it to. While you can set a custom date (the only part of the app that deviates from the design concept), you can also stay light-minded as the app intends you to be, and schedule things for “this evening”, “this weekend”, “later today”, or even at an unspecified time.
If you’re looking for a simple and easy to-do list but don’t feel like paying, check out Swipes.
Rechner Calculator ($0.99)
Calculators are not complicated, so I was surprised at the concept of an even simpler calculator. So surprised, I had a hard time grasping how to use it, and not because it’s complicated. Rechner Calculator is so simple to use, it takes a minute to realize that it truly is that simple.
You get a number pad for punching in numbers, and all other actions are done by swiping. For example, swipe right to add and left to subtract, or twice right to multiply and twice left to divide. Swipe up to see the result, and down to reveal some hidden functions such as square root, percent, delete, and others. This is not a calculator for complicated calculations, but who wants to do those on a smartphone anyway?
Once you get the hang of it, you won’t want to use any other calculator.
What Should I Tip? (Free)
What do you use your smartphone’s calculator most often for? Calculating tips! Rechner Calculator helps you calculate things easily, but what if you’re not sure how much to tip? Or don’t feel like taking the time to calculate the tip, add it to the total bill, split it between all diners… it never ends!
What Should I Tip is a simple and minimalistic way of quickly figuring out how much to tip and how much each of the diners has to pay. You start by setting your tipping policy to generous, fair or stingy (you can change this at any time) and you’re ready to go. Enter the bill amount, and indicate how happy you were with the server (amazing, great, okay, sucked). According to your policy, the app will instantly calculate the tip, and with an easy swipe on the tip amount, will also show you the entire bill amount including tip, and how much each diner has to pay, up to 5 diners.
The app supports US dollars, British pounds and Euros. The concept is super simple, but the app is so nice, it just begs you to use it. Don’t forget you can also work out tips using Siri, though it’s more of a mathematical calculation than “my server was amazing and I’d like to leave a generous tip”.
There’s a huge trend of simple weather apps, and Solar is just one of several beautiful apps you can try. The concept is simple: add as many locations as you want, and view each one on a colorful screen representative of the current temperature. Along with the color you’ll get the time of day, current weather conditions in words, and the current temperature.
Swiping up will take you through a 24 hour forecast. You can stop at any point, or just continue swiping to get the full impression of the upcoming day. Swiping down reveals a 3-day forecast. Swipe left and right to switch between your locations, and pinch to zoom out and get a tiled view of all your locations. Solar is minimalistic yet informative but unfortunately suffers from a little bug which sometimes makes all information disappear from the screen, leaving only the color.
At the time of writing the app is currently free, and is therefore worth it despite its slight bugginess. When it goes back to $0.99, you might want to give Blue a try instead.
More Awesome Apps
There are many more beautiful apps out there, and choosing a shortlist for this post was not an easy task. If you like the simple design trend, you should definitely check out Haze, another beautifully simple weather app; Raining.fm, for some well deserved relaxation to rain sounds; Hundreds, a unique and beautiful game that costs $5 but is worth every penny; and of course, Clear, which pretty much started this whole thing.
But really, I’m still only scratching the surface. What is your favorite simple app? Is there soemthing I missed? Do you have experiences to share from using the apps above? Add your thoughts in the comments, below!
Image credit: PlaceIt