Little-known iOS apps

This list dives into apps almost no-one talks about, serve a specific purpose, allow your device to do a little more than it was designed to, and are just plain cool.

There are many listicles and YouTube videos about “iOS or iPad apps you’ve never heard of!” But they’re usually all semi-popular apps that, if you’re really into this stuff (like I am), you’ve definitely heard about before. Apps like Drafts, Craft, Notion, SetApp, Unite, etc.

There’s certainly a time and place for these lists, and for people just diving into “using their iPad to its fullest,” an Instagram Explore-page full of Notion dashboards to build is a good thing! In fact, I’ll probably make a list of cool apps that are more popular and that I enjoy.

However, the list I want to make is one that dives a little deeper: a list of apps almost no-one talks about, serve a specific purpose, allow your device to do a little more than it was designed to, or are just plain cool.


Platforms: iOS, iPadOS, macOS
Price: $11.99/year, $1.49/month
Author Homepage
Download from the App Store

Nautomate is an app built by the late Alex Hay and is currently maintained by Rosemary Orchard. It’s a single-purpose, highly functional app that allows you to build Shortcuts that integrate into Notion. Once you give the app a Notion API key, there’s not much in the way of settings. The real magic is when you use this app with Apple Shortcuts.

Nautomate gives Shortcuts access to all sorts of actions for Notion: From simple actions like “Create Page” to complex sequences searching databases and updating page properties, this app is a Shortcut-native abstraction layer for Notion that takes all the weird complications out of learning the Notion API.

Personally, I use this app for simple Shortcuts that force Notion to run an automation every day, to more complicated Shortcuts that make and append content to a Daily Note from my phone or Watch. I have a lot left to explore in this space, but I love how easy this app makes it for me to tinker around with my Notion setup. I can work on Shortcuts without having to remember the specific Notion REST API schema or run Cloudflare Workers. The app’s built-in Shortcuts and Tutorials are also a plus.


Platforms: iOS, iPadOS, macOS, visionOS
Price: $3.99/lifetime (currently 40% off)
Author Homepage
Download from the App Store

ReminderCal is a utility that syncs your Apple Reminders to an iCloud or Outlook calendar, and… that’s it! Once set up, you can see your Reminders with dates on your Calendar inline with your other events.

After a single purchase (there’s no subscription), ReminderCal creates a new calendar, named “Reminders,” in your iCloud or Outlook account (sorry, Google Calendar users). From there, it copies your dated reminders over. There are some additional settings and variables you can set to determine what gets synced over to the calendar.

ReminderCal does not support two-way sync (e.g., you cannot change an event’s info in the Calendar app and have it sync back to Reminders), so you still have to make all your changes in the Reminders app. Be warned: this app functions by erasing everything in the Reminders calendar and rebuilding the event list whenever it syncs; this means anything you add to that calendar will be removed.

The app just released its version 4 upgrade, bringing along with it a few new features. One of them is background updating, if you run it on a Mac. For those of you living that iPhone lifestyle, the app provides a guide on how you can create a Shortcut to sync your tasks when you open or close the Reminders app.

I’ve long wished that Apple Reminders would sync with Apple Calendar. Until this app, the only way to see your Apple Reminders in your calendar was to use a third-party app like Fantastical, which is too expensive for my taste. ReminderCal does a good job at scratching this itch.

While I still use Things more than Reminders, my wife and I share a few lists for chores and trips. Being able to see the tasks in those lists next to my calendar events helps me visually process how my time is allotted.


Platforms: iOS, iPadOS
Price: $17.99/lifetime, $9.99/year, $0.99/month
Author Homepage
Download from the App Store

infiniteX2P is an app that allows for true window multitasking on both the iPad and iPhone. It’s basically a window management UI wrapper for Safari, complete with a taskbar, web app store, gestures, snap, wallpaper, file management… in many ways, it’s what iPad multitasking should look like by default.

The free version allows you to use the app on your iPad, but the Studio version goes further in working with an iPad’s extended monitor or even an iPhone with an external monitor.

The app lacks proper integration with the Files app (meaning any files you have inside the app can’t be accessed or synced outside the app), and doesn’t sync settings across devices, or have keyboard shortcuts for window management. But it’s an incredible app for what it is!

I haven’t used it on my iPhone (it’s not USB-C, so finding peripherals is a bit of a chore), but I use it on my iPad. This app doesn’t do too much outside of running your favorite web apps with proper window management. Which… is perfect.

For me, it has a simple, yet powerful use case: I can run multiple instances of Notion at once. Yeah yeah yeah, I could create a new web app for Notion on my iPad and run it alongside the native app. It’s a lot of work and quite the hassle.

With infiniteX2P, I can open Notion, and if I want another Notion window, tap and hold on the taskbar icon and tap “New Window.” From there, I can drag the app windows to either side of the screen, and they’ll automatically snap to half the width of the screen.

You don’t have to use Stage Manager to window apps, and you can have more than 4 windows open at once. Another great feature? Switching away from a window doesn’t cause the iPad to suspend it in the background and end its process, causing the app to reload when you switch back to it.


Platforms: iOS, iPadOS, macOS
Price: Free (for now)
Author Homepage
Download from TestFlight

Cleft is a simple app that kind of does what Voice Memos should do: it records your voice, transcribes it, and uses GPT to turn the transcription into an organized set of notes. This is such a simple, yet powerful, idea that it’s baffling no one has done it yet.

The app is pretty simple so far, so you miss out on options like being able to tell it how you want it to organize your transcription. At some point, it will also let you bring your own OpenAI key, but for now, it goes through its own OpenAI account.

I found this app from the Side Projects sub-reddit, and gave it a whirl. The next weekend, I noticed that The Verge had picked it up in its Installer newsletter!

This app hasn’t gotten a lot of use from me, but that’s okay: when I do use it, it’s awesome. It’s a lot simpler than a Shortcut I built to do something remarkably similar. Actually, exactly similar. I built the Shortcut to act as a Share target for Voice Memos, at which point it would use Whisper to transcribe the memo and then use GPT and a prompt of your choosing to organize the thoughts.

It’s been great for journaling (something about verbalizing thoughts can be powerful), but terrible to maintain (thanks to some well documented issues with the Shortcuts app). It got the “wife uses it and loves it” seal of approval, which is super fulfilling.

But for those of you who don’t want to build a Shortcut, give this app a try! I’m excited to see how the developer matures it. The app’s roadmap looks incredibly promising.

AirChord 2

Platforms: iOS, iPadOS
Price: Free ($1 or $10 tip available in-app)
Author Homepage
Download from the App Store

AirChord 2 is an app that lets you send your microphone (or other audio input) to your AirPlay compatible speakers. That’s it! Version 2 of the app utilizes AirPlay 2, allowing you to send the stream to multiple speakers at the same time.

The app advertises its use as a way to pump your Vinyl sound system (or other analog system) over the air. However, I’ve used this for sending a CD player’s audio to my HomePods. More generally, I like the idea of being able to send other audio sources to my HomePods, but only because there’s no other way to play audio on those devices (it’s just apps and AirPlay).

It’s a good tool to have in the arsenal, and I’m not aware of any other app that does something similar (without a complex setup using Airfoil and a desktop computer). Now that I’m thinking of ideas, this could be a way to have Alexa devices play to HomePods…



Platforms: iOS, iPadOS, macOS, visionOS
Price: Free!
Author Homepage
Download from the App Store

Aiko is an app that can transcribe media files into text, on-device, using Whisper. That means it’s a bit slower than other cloud-based apps, but it’s a powerful app that works offline and integrates into Apple Shortcuts.

I don’t typically use this app in my Shortcuts, since it needs to run in the foreground on every platform but macOS. On my computer, I use it to transcribe my Voice Memos or some videos by dragging them into the app’s window. When it’s finished transcribing, I then copy that transcription elsewhere. It’s amazing, it’s free, it’s a no-brainer. You should also check out Sindre’s other incredible apps (I’m a big fan of Dato).


Platforms: iOS, iPadOS, visionOS
Price: Free, $9.99/lifetime
Author Homepage
Download from the App Store

Runestone is a text and code editor aimed at developers. It opens plaintext files and displays them with syntax highlighting, themes, and a formatting bar. In general, it just gets out of the way to let you edit. It integrates directly into the Files app, so you can use it with other apps like Working Copy or ShellFish.

It’s fast, performant, customizable, context-aware (it knows the difference between SCSS and Markdown), and did I mention fast? It’s one of those apps that should have been pre-installed on iPadOS.

Personally, this is an app I use when developing Shortcuts that utilize JSON files, or when developing a website locally. It’s a light, beautiful app and I would use it for everything all the time if I could. The only thing I would add is tabs. It supports multiple instances of the app (e.g. multiple windows), but I’d love an interface similar to VSCode where I have my list of files on the left, and a tabbed UI of my working files on the right.

I’ve tried to set the app as the “default” for my .scss and .js files, and create a workspace where I have the Files app docked on the left and Runestone on the right. But iPadOS doesn’t let you explicitly set file defaults, and the hack I found 1 doesn’t stick.


Platforms: iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS
Price: Free, $99.99/lifetime, $9.99/year, $1.99/month
Author Homepage
Download from the App Store

Infuse is a media player that advertises itself as a VLC-type: you can play anything in it. It also acts as a way to manage, organize, and consolidate your media libraries: and that means integrating with Plex, but also your folders in OneDrive, Google Drive, your server, in-app storage, basically anything. It has a lot of features to make it one of the best media players on the market. And with iCloud Sync, you can keep your collection looking pretty on your iPhone, iPad, and very capable tvOS app.

Personally, I’ve moved away from my Plex server to using this app to read my collection from Google Drive. It’s perfect for me because a) my collection is small, b) I would rather not manage another piece of software, and c) now all my devices can just stream from the cloud. Plex once had a similar feature, and it sucked when they took it away.

Bluetooth+ for Blackmagic

Platforms: iOS, iPadOS
Price: Free, $9.99/lifetime
Author Homepage
Download from the App Store

An incredibly niche solution, this app is a utility that can control one or more Blackmagic cameras (at the same time!). This app can basically control every aspect of the camera, from focus, to white balance, to record state, active card… the list goes on. It also provides a way to use the Nucleus-M to control the camera lens’ focus over bluetooth, no motors required. It’s truly remarkable. It’s way better than Blackmagic’s own app.

I’ve used this app for many years now; from controlling my camera when I’m using it as a webcam, to triggering 6+ cameras to start recording in unison while recording live events (which kept the cameras pretty closely in sync!).

My favorite use was when I loaded Bluetooth+ onto an iPad and used it in Stage Manager alongside the Ronin app to remotely control my rig to act as an auto-follow camera with focus control. Basically, I set the camera to track a presenter, and since Blackmagic doesn’t support continuous auto focus, I used Bluetooth+ to manage focus pulling. All from my iPad, complete with wireless live feed.


Platforms: iPadOS, visionOS
Price: Free
Author Homepage
Download from the App Store

Figurative is a way to use the Figma app on your iPad (or, apparently, your Vision Pro). While you can certainly use the official Figma app, it’s only a viewer and can’t edit. While you can use Figma in Safari, it’s not optimized for devices without a keyboard. Figurative is a tabbed website wrapper that adds a few extra goodies to make Figma work better on the iPad: support for Apple Pencil, tap to undo, and Touch Shortcuts, a menu that provides you with access to actions such as Group, Frame, Duplicate, and Delete with a single tap.

It’s until you start working in Figma without a keyboard that you realize constantly going to Edit → Undo is exhausting. The Figurative app has its bugs (and apparently Apple isn’t going to allow updates until the developer gets the “okay” from Figma), but it’s a much more useable experience than the official client. I’ve used it to make designs for my website (though nothing too drastic), and try as I might to move to things like Affinity Designer (an app with its own set of bugs), there’s nothing quite as fast or easy as Figma.

There you have it! Some cool apps that are lesser known. Do you have any lesser-known apps you use? Leave them in the comments!

  1. The hack: It’s not easy to find on the internet, but this forum post sums it up nicely: share a file to the app you want it to open in. From then on, the iPad should open that file, or type of file, in the app you chose. Except, this never worked for me, for a type of file or even for a specific file. ↩︎

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