Replacing Apple’s default iOS apps

Flexibits’ release of Fantastical for iPhone (my review at TUAW) prompted a discussion on Twitter that I wanted to follow up on here.

What was the first 3rd-party app to replace a default Apple app on your iPhone, iPad or iPad touch? Or, have you not replaced any? For me, it was Camera+ replacing Camera. That didn’t last long, however, as swiping to the camera from the lock screen is so convenient.

What have you replaced? Comments are open.


  1. I have replaced several of the default apps on iOS.

    The first was Calendar with Agenda. I much prefer the UI in Agenda – sits well with my minimalistic tendencies.

    This has been followed by several others:

    iTunes replaced by Spotify and Instacast
    Default Camera with Camera+
    Mail with Sparrow
    Reminders with Any.DO
    Safari with Chrome

    All of these decisions have been based on a combination of UX and UI considerations. The one that has changed the most has been my ToDo app of choice. I have never been satisfied with the built in option for ToDo lists / capturing tasks on phones. Any.DO is my current best fit but it is far from perfect.

    Spotify, Chrome, Sparrow are like a lot of the other apps I have downloaded, in that they are counterparts to their desktop companions.

  2. Gmail over Mail was the first, and best step I ever made. I also use Calvetica over Calendar (at least until I try Fantastical). I have a dozen camera apps, in a pinch when I need the shot fast, it’s Camera. Otherwise it’s Snapseed or Camera+ when I can take my time. Contacts might be the next to go if I can find a good alternative.

  3. I replaced the calculator with PCalc and the camera with Camera+, mainly for the ability to set exposure separately from focus and for the stabilizer feature. I’ve tried several calendar apps but none really did anything for me. Fantastical might change that though.

  4. Simplenote replacing Notes was first, but now…

    Fantastical replacing Calendar (well, actually, it replaces Calvetica, which had replaced Calendar)
    Notefile replacing Notes
    Check the Weather replacing Weather
    StockTouch replacing Stocks
    Soulver replacing Calculator
    Clear/Checkmark replacing Reminders

    I’ve also tried Oncue to replace music, Dialvetica to replace Phone, Sparrow to replace Mail, Camera+ to replace Camera, and some others, but have come back to the default apps in these cases.

  5. I initially thought “I must have replaced loads of default apps!”, but actually, the only thing I’ve done as a straight replacement is Calculator for Calcbot.

    All the other apps are additional (Google Maps shortcut to augment Maps), or “hiding” the default apps I don’t use (Compass, Contacts, Notes, Passbook, Reminders, Stocks, Videos, and Voice Memos) in a folder.

    I guess Evernote replaces Notes, but I don’t really see it that way.

  6. Pretty sure Simplenote was the first 3rd-party-app-to-replace-a-default-app app for me. It’s still on my Home screen after several years.

    A few others: Calcbot over Calculator, Rdio and Instacast over Music, and DropVox over Voice Memos.

  7. Camera+ to replace Camera was my first foray. But it’s amazing in how many cases I’ve used a replacement only to end up coming back to the default app once it improves.

    For example, Simplenote replaced Notes quite a while ago, but with non-handwriting fonts and iCloud sync and Siri integration, I’m back to using Notes.

    Currently, my replacements are Due instead of Reminders (been using Due since long before Reminders), Calvetica instead of Calendar, and Camera+ instead of Camera.

  8. I’ve replaced a few default apps:

    Notes with Elements (Dropbox and Markdown!)
    Calendar with Agenda
    Calculator with Calcbot
    Reminders with Clear
    Reminders/Clock with Due
    Weather with Check The Weather

    My first one was probably Camera with Camera+ but I’ve kind of reverted to the default Camera app now..

  9. I’ve used Agenda over Calendar for a long time. Today I’m giving Fantastical a try. Only thing I really didn’t like about Calendar was the tiny window for events in the month view. This looks better on the iPhone 5, but I don’t have a 5 yet.

    Tried Camera +. Didn’t care for it.

    I use Dark Sky, but that’s really an addition to, not a replacement of Weather.

    I have Pandora, NPR Music installed. But always go first to the built-in Music.

    Used Simplenote for a long time, but I’m transitioning to Notes now that the iCloud sync and Siri enhancements are in place.

    Tweetbot instead of the official Twitter client. I’m on the fence about this though.

    Instapaper instead of the Safari Reading List. On the fence about this too.

    I use OmniFocus instead of the Reminders app. But I don’t know you can really compare the two.

    Overall, I’m pretty happy with the Apple apps. And the tight integration with Siri and iCloud makes them all the more valuable to me.

  10. Agenda replaced Calendar which replaced Agenda (full circle).

    Camera+ to replace Camera.

    Motion X GPS drive to replace Maps (before and after mapgate).

    Byword replaced Notes.

    Dark Sky replaced Weather+ which replaced Weather.

  11. After Dark Sky included full day and temp, it’s replaced weather. Notifications warn me when my dog is about to have a thunderstorm freak-out.
    Drafts for notes.
    Due for timers and most alarms. I still use the clock (and Siri) if I need an early morning alarm-the default tone for the clock is something very loud and annoying.
    Downcast for podcasts. (Also 5by5 app for streaming.)
    Pandora or Songza for music.
    Hoping Fantastical will do the trick as I try other calendars but none of them quite stick.

  12. Calendar: Week Cal (
    Todo: The Hit List & Due
    Notes: Byword
    Twitter: Tweetbot
    Clock: Awesome Clock (
    Music: Spotify
    Mail: Sparrow
    Camera: Camera+

  13. I went through almost all apps that have been already listed in the comments, but after a weeks I always switched back to Apple’s default apps. It’s not that they are better. They’re just so seemlessly integrated into the OS that no functionality of 3rd-party apps could give me a better user experience. That’s kind of a shame, because a lot of replacement apps are way better. Right now I’m at the point where I don’t even try to replace an essential default app and just hope for an iOS version that will finally allow to set 3rd-party apps as default ones.

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