Four productivity-boosting replacements for stock iOS apps

If you're an iPhone user, you're no doubt familiar with stock apps like Calendar, Mail, Notes, and Reminders. These are key tools in any mobile worker's arsenal, and yet all four have room for improvement. Some would say a lot of room.

Below I've rounded up four great alternatives to the aforementioned apps, all of them with an eye toward boosting your productivity.

1. Replace Calendar with Fantastical

If you live and die by the calendar, as so many business people do, you've no doubt had some complaints with Calendar for iOS. Fantastical not only provides a fresh, attractive interface for your appointments, but also simplifies adding new ones.

Specifically, you can create an entry just by typing a simple sentence: "Lunch with Thomas on Friday at Always Be Chewing." Even better, you can dictate that same sentence and Fantastical will turn it into an appointment, with all the critical details filled in.

There are a few iOS-imposed limitations on the app, but I find Fanastical to be exactly that, and well worth the $4.99 price of admission.

2. Replace Mail with Mailbox

The stock Mail app isn't bad, but Mailbox is so much better. Currently for Gmail users only, but with support for other IMAP-based services in the works, Mailbox makes inbox management a breeze.

It's all about how you swipe. While viewing your message list, you can swipe right to archive an individual message or a little further right to delete. Swipe left and you get built-in snooze options, an ideal way to make mail resurface at the top of your inbox at later time and/or date.

Mailbox is free, but for the moment you'll have to join a fairly lengthy waiting list to get it. Trust me: It's worth waiting for.

3. Replace Notes with SpringPad

Bet you thought I was going to say Evernote. Anything is better than Apple's anemic Notes app, which can't even sort your entries, but I find SpringPad to be the better information-management tool. For starters, it's much easier to learn, with an interface that's as straightforward as Evernote's is confusing.

What's more, it offers handy extras like task lists, reminders, contacts. You can also collaborate with co-workers on selected items. Although SpringPad positions itself more as a consumer-oriented tool, I think it offers business users a great way to store and organization information.

4. Replace Reminders with Astrid

Astrid for iOS

I can't survive without a to-do list, and while Apple's Reminders gets the job done, it's a pretty bare-bones task manager.

Astrid is just the opposite, offering a wealth of task-management tools and an attractive, straightforward interface.

You can add tasks using your voice, copy tasks to your calendar, and, perhaps best of all, assign tasks to people in your contact list. It'll even import your existing tasks from Reminders. Not bad for a freebie.

These replacements are my picks; now let's hear yours. If you've found a good substitute for a stock iOS app, tell me about it in the comments.

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