Best iOS and Android apps we used in 2021
Yes, everyone downloaded TikTok this year. But there are plenty of other iOS and Android apps worth using.
Whether we needed to chill out, do some work, or get some fresh air, here are the best apps that the Mashable staff used in 2021.
Best app for getting prescription drugs
Capsule (iOS, Android)
When I had oral surgery in 2021, I didn't want to walk up and down the five flights of stairs that lead to my apartment in order to pick up the medicine I needed to recover. So, I downloaded Capsule, a pharmacy on your phone, and it revolutionized the way I picked up my medications. Now, instead of walking to my pharmacy, my prescriptions get delivered right to my door.
In a world where COVID-19 variants continue to reshape how we exist medically, Capsule became a much-needed way to get the medicine I need without having to interact with people face-to-face. The app is super easy to use, every doctor I've had knows exactly how to send me my meds, and, overall, it's a much less painful experience than attempting to get what I need from a packed Walgreens.
Christianna Silva, Reporter
Best app for new homeowners
Angi (iOS, Android)
Angi launched in March 2021, but it may be familiar to some. Formerly known as Angie's List or HomeAdvisor, the app connects people with local contractors and home services such as plumbing, landscaping, and electrical work. Shopping for contractors is an absolute pain, but Angi makes the process just a little bit easier, and lets you see real reviews and ratings from professionals in your area. The quotes are free to you, but keep in mind that Angi charges contractors every time they bid on a project.
Brian Koerber, Culture Editor
Best app for rejecting algorithms and putting your faith in human DJs
KCRW (iOS, Android)
Every city thinks its local radio station is the best in the world. But L.A. locals might be right. KCRW DJs spotlight both local and international artists, play live shows, and serve as music supervisors for movies and TV shows.
Luckily, anyone around the world can listen to KCRW programming for free with the station's app. What does that get you? The KCRW app features the excellent "Eclectic 24" channel. As the DJs note on air, this is curated by humans, not algorithms — and therefore isn't influenced by money from record labels.
The app has been around for a while, but as of this spring, it became compatible with Apple CarPlay.
— Rachel Kraus, Reporter
Best app for scanning documents
Does anyone of a certain (younger) age even own a home printer/scanner anymore? The good ones cost way too much to justify the rare usage and the cheap ones are, well, cheap and prone to breaking down.
So, let's give a collective thanks to Google for making the most of our Android phones and putting the power of a scanner in a convenient app called Stack. Now, scans are as simple as pointing your phone at a document and taking a picture. Stack will convert the image to PDF, and give you the tools to sharpen and crop it. And, since this is a Google app, it's seamlessly integrated into all of your GSuite services, so sharing, uploading, and labeling that scanned doc is only a few taps away.
— Joseph Volpe, Deputy Tech Editor
Best app for taking a break from your phone
Forest (iOS, Android)
An oldie but a goodie, Forest — which helps people become less dependent on their phones — remains my favorite productivity app. Set a desired number of minutes you want to focus, and Forest will lock your phone screen while a virtual tree grows in your app. When the tree grows to completion you can use your device again, and you’ll earn coins that you can save and use to plant real trees in Africa, thanks to a partnership with the nonprofit Trees for the Future.
— Nicole Gallucci, Assistant Culture Editor
Best app for getting some rest
White Noise Lite (iOS, Android)
White Noise Lite is the only app that's never let me down. It isn't new, but it's literally the only app I could not live without. Quite simply, it plays white noises — for me a fake AC — that drown out outside sounds to aid sleep. The app has been a godsend during a strange year, during which good rest was tough to come by. If you're a light sleeper, it’s an amazing, simple tool to get a better night's sleep.
— Tim Marcin, Reporter
Best app for practicing self-care
Aloe Bud (iOS)
I've been using Aloe Bud since 2018, and it's the only app that makes practicing self-care feel like less of a chore. It allows you to set daily reminders to stay hydrated, fuel up with a snack, move your body, and more, and encourages you to check-in via your personal dashboard whenever you complete an activity.
In a world where most of us are stuck at our desks for a majority of our days, it can be easy to forget to take care of ourselves — both mentally and physically. But Aloe Bud's gentle nudges make the experience less judgmental and more positive than other self-care apps I've used in the past. Plus its super retro aesthetic is the cherry on top.
— Brenda Stolyar, Reporter
Best app for enjoying the great outdoors
National Park Service (iOS, Android)
The new National Park Service app has info on more than 400 national parks in the U.S., and even lets you reserve campsites where available. Plus, you can use it offline, so you can access maps, visitor guides, and more in remote areas with no cellphone reception. — Keith Wagstaff, Tech Editor
Best app for COVID-19 testing
Carbon (iOS, Android)
Startup Carbon Health developed a streamlined way to set up COVID-19 tests and get results. That includes COVID tests needed for travel.
— Sasha Lekach, Reporter
Best app for beginning or returning runners
Pacer (iOS, Android)
Not a new app, but new to me. Really easy UI for tracking walking/running for beginners.
— Alex Perry, Reporter
Best app for buying and selling secondhand goods
Object Limited (iOS)
The phrase "reduce reuse recycle" is firmly ingrained in my Millennial brain. As a result, I've always tried my best to buy everything from clothing to accessories to homewares secondhand. Object Limited makes it easy. Or, at least, a whole lot easier.
The vintage marketplace started as a local bazaar in New York City, before going digital in 2019. While OL is hardly the first online destination for vintage buyers and sellers, I find the app a lot easier to navigate than its competitors. And as someone who spent the better part of 2021 furnishing and decorating my first one-bedroom apartment, the app's selection of secondhand furniture and unique home goods helped me curate a home without having to physically track down items around the tristate area (without a car... and a drivers license). The app also has a video shopping feature, which allows you to see what a piece looks like, how it fits, and how it moves on an actual human body before you buy.
Crystal Bell, Deputy Culture Editor