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16 Essential Apps the Gear Patrol Staff Can’t Live Without

There are a whole lot of apps out there, but here are a selection that you really should check out.


There are over 2 million apps on the iOS App Store, over two million on the Google Play Store, and more than five million between them. Most of them, as I’m sure you’re well aware, are not worth the data it takes to download, but others are as crucial as your phone itself. Here are some of the apps that our staff just can’t live without.

The Piano

“This app is straightforward and simple. No millennial upstart branding. It’s a piano. Sure, it has ‘features,’ but I just use it to keep my decent relative pitch in check. When I hear a song and I think I know what key it’s in, this app confirms or denies my inkling.” — Gerald Ortiz, Writer, Style

Download:iOS (Free)


“RiverApp lets you check the flow of various rivers from around the world. Designed for kayakers, it aggregates info into an easy-to-use platform. Upgrade from the free version to set alerts, save favorite rivers and see historical flow information. Also makes a great app for anglers wanting to check water levels on your favorite trout streams.” — Jacob Sotak, Content Director, Gear Patrol Store

Download: Android (Free, for Basic)Download:iOS (Free, for Basic)

TD Ameritrade

“I am under the illusion that I will be able to retire one day. When I want to shatter that illusion, I go look at my IRA, laid out for me in all its digital glory by TD Ameritrade in this intuitive app.” — Oren Hartov, Editor, Watches

Download: Android (Free)Download:iOS (Free)


“This past fall, I lived out a long-held fantasy of mine: a #vanlife trip through part of Europe. The van was a 1981 Volkswagen and the destination was Portugal, where campervan camping in beach parking lots and up secret dirt roads is popular. This app, which categorizes camping spots by type and includes photos and reviews — a crucial piece in determining whether a place gets crowded or dirty or busted by the cops — is better than any guidebook you’ll find on the matter. Plus, it’s available in the US.” — Tanner Bowden, Writer, Outdoors & Fitness

Download: Android (Free)Download:iOS (Free)


“This app languished for a while during the earlier iOS days, but in the past several iOS updates, Apple has made huge leaps forward. Today, Notes has become one of my key productivity apps and an app that I probably spend an inordinate amount of time in. Sure, I use it for note taking and places to jot inspiration, but where it’s become truly essential is with its addition of collaboration and stronger organizational tools. Now I have a collaborative ongoing, live to-do list that my wife populates with tasks she needs me to handle (I love that it moves finished items to the bottom), I can build tables in real time (I’m a table nerd) that I have synced live with my Apple laptops and the improvements in markup and scanning tools allow me to build longer, more robust memos long before I dive into Google Docs. I’m glad Apple has removed as much of that skeuomorphism UI mumbo jumbo from the app, improved search and added permission levels so you can share notes without letting people make changes – perfect when you have to make your friends accountable to bringing over the beer and chips for the Saturday BBQ. In short, Notes is essentially where I start nearly all my work and personal docs.” — Eric Yang, Founder and Editor-in-Chief

Download:iOS (Free)


“Audiobooks have evolved greatly from the books on tape of yesteryear. With narrators like Nick Offerman, Meryl Streep, Samual L Jackson, and Tom Hanks (to name very few) your commute will be greatly improved with world class talent bringing new and old characters to life. Now that Audible’s allows for in-app iOS purchases, it’s the clear choice for audiobook enthusiasts.” — Andrew Siceloff, Director of Video

Download: Android ($15/month)Download:iOS ($15/month)


“Designed by Google, this is my go-to photo editing app on my iPhone, and I’ve tried a few. I don’t bother editing phone photos on the likes of the full desktop Lightroom and Photoshop, and Snapseed is simple to use but pretty powerful. Sure, you could use the filters, but you really get an app like this for the range of effects and control it offers. ” — Zen Love, Writer, Watches

Download: Android (Free)Download:iOS (Free)


“Living in New York City means you’re constantly struggling with figuring out the best way to get anywhere. Google’s crowdsourced transit app uses data culled from users and the subways/buses in realtime to help you figure out the most efficient route.” — Will Sabel Courtney, Editor, Motoring

Notify Me: AndroidDownload:iOS (Free)


“I drink way too much Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, and this app hooks me up with points for eating and drinking there. It’s not technically advanced or fancy, but damn it, do I need it.” — Will Sabel Courtney, Editor, Motoring

Download: Android (Free)Download:iOS (Free)


“Trying to find a quiet place to read or chat in NYC can be a nightmare. This app shows exactly how loud bars, restaurants and other public spaces are, based on crowd-sourced data. Also, the decibel meter is super-handy. (Our office averages 59dB, by the way.)” — Will Sabel Courtney, Editor, Motoring

Download: Android (Free)Download:iOS (Free)

Google Photos

“I offload all my photos to the Google Photos app, never worrying about my phone storage or iCloud backups filling up. The app is super simple to use and you can even set it up to automatically upload all your photos to Google’s cloud. It’ll then delete the duplicated images for you (only if you want). The search features are pretty tight as well — when I’m trying to find that recipe card my mom sent me to make a family favorite, the app pulls that right up. ” — Meg Lappe, Editorial Coordinator

Download: Android (Free)Download:iOS (Free)

Amazon Prime Now

“Amazon allows me to shop for anything from anywhere, but Prime now has also made me super lazy with free two-hour grocery delivery.” — Kasey Martin, Multimedia Editor

Download: Android (Free)Download:iOS (Free)

Pocket Casts

“There are about a bajillion podcast apps out there, and plenty of reasons you might choose one over the others. I picked Pocket Casts because I go between different phones a lot, and Pocket Cast lets me save all my podcasts and my progress through them in a single account I can log into on any device to get up and going extremely quickly.” — Eric Limer, Editor, Tech

Download: Android (Free, with in-app purchases)Download:iOS (Free, with in-app purchases)

Mullvad VPN

“Did you know it is 100 percent legal for your internet company to collect your browsing data and sell it to advertisers? It is! That is why I use Mullvad to protect all the data that goes in and out of my house. A VPN won’t magically make you invisible on the internet by a long shot, but it’s a good way to prevent your ISP, who can see literally everything you do otherwise, from selling you out to advertisers. For Android, there’s a dedicated app. For iOS users, you’ll have to set up something like OpenVPN.” — Eric Limer, Editor, Tech

Download: Android (€5/month)


“Any music lover needs Shazam. It’s invaluable for those sporadic moments that perk your ears. It syncs with Spotify and saves songs into its own playlist for you to reference later. I also judge restaurants, bars and cafes by how much I open Shazam.” — Gerald Ortiz, Writer, Style

Download: Android (Free)Download:iOS (Free)


“VSCO has really great presets that you can tweak. I love being able to adjust the tint of the highlights and shadows, as well as being able to adjust the skin tones. Of course, you are limited a bit with what you can tweak on your phone but VSCO gets the job done pretty well for on-the-go editing. It’s simple and is super user-friendly.” — Kasey Martin, Multimedia Editor

Download:iOS (Free)Download:Android (Free)

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