Back to stock apps after Big Sur / ios14 announcement?

It’s always the same thing: Apple announces the new iOS or MacOS and I fell the urge to go back to stock apps. I’m always seduced by the synergy of 1st party apps…

Does it happen to you too?


I always think my needs are really basic. Mail, calendar, reminders…

I always like to try new apps, but almost always for the sake of having fun, actually. But for everyday work, I’m always back to stock apps.

I’m a big fan of the stock apps. In classic Apple fashion, they ‘just work’


I feel the urge to explore non-stock apps, but seldom do. Even on the iPhone, where I take pictures often, I find it’s just less friction in my brain to work with the limitations of the stock Photos app.

For me, the friction of finding a new workflow (extending to worrying whether – once discovered, and invested in – will exist in the future) tends to leave me just dealing with the stock apps, warts and all.

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Me too.

I guess some stock app are too basic for some people, but they fit really well my workflow.

The only app I think that could be a litter more complex is Reminders. It’s a chorus to add su tasks and defer dates…

Friction is really s good work.

It’s the “shiny new thing syndrome”… but I always feel relieved when I go back to the basics.

I used to support a large number of Mac users so I tended to stick with the stock apps. They generally worked well and I needed to be very familiar with the software. But occasionally I preferred additional features.

When I select alternative software I like apps that share the stock app data, such as Contacts and Calendar. That way I know sync will work well and I’ll be able to work if a macOS update, for example, throws a wrench into a 3rd party app.

I used to use BusyCal & BusyContacts. Clicking on a contact would bring up all email and calendar events associated with that person. That no longer works because “Catalina no longer provides email access to 3rd party apps”. But all my info is still available in the stock Contacts app and can be used with other software such as Cardhop. There are advantages with sticking with the stock apps, or very close to them.


Interesting point! Thanks for sharing your experience.

I always cycle through twitter, reminders and podcasts apps. I love the UI of Pocket Casts, for example, but the stock app is so integrated in the system… Same with Reminders app. Things is great, but lacks que “natural relation” with other apps… and so on.

I use mail on iOS/iPadOS because my work email is locked down and won’t work with anything else. Otherwise I use 3rd party apps for pretty much everything productivity-wise except web browsing (personal email, calendars, notes/text editing, tasks, and contacts). I don’t really feel any burning desire to switch back to any of the stock apps. The closes is probably switching from GoodNotes to Apple Notes to take advantage of the new handwritten text features, but I don’t find myself taking nearly as many handwritten notes on my iPad since we switched to working from home full time.

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I recently switched to Microsoft To Do because Reminders is buggy on iOS in my experience (drag and drop seems broken).
And I am trying SnipNotes because Apple Notes search is bad.

Most other things are stock apps and I will certainly be looking to see if Big Sur improves things for those two.

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Thanks for replying.

Do you mind telling which 3rd party apps do you use?

Microsoft To-Do is fine as long as you don’t need to print or export lists. That mind-boggling absence made me quickly drop it after trying it.

I was about to fully migrate to SnipNotes, which I bought for Mac and iOS (US $7.98 for both apps fully unlocked: cheap!) is excellent, with a couple of exceptions: first, you cannot currently drag/drop weblocs/URLs into a note, but in the Mac app you can drag them into the note column, thereby creating a new note. Also, when saving a URL it pastes the link, and doesn’t offer the attractive rich link that Notes creates.

(The only 3rd-party app I know that can make rich links on Mac & iOS is Noto, so I don’t ding SnipNotes for this.)

The last exception I found is much more important: SnipNotes does not yet support file attachments. When I attached a multi-page PDF the note did not warn me, but instead inserted a jpg of the first page of the pdf, which made it look like the PDF had been attached! At first I thought I’d done something wrong so I contacted the developer but he confirmed that the conversion is performed by macOS because attachments won’t be available until the next version of the app.

I like SnipNotes a lot and if it met feature-parity with Apple Notes I’d switch. For now though I can’t, as I have a lot of attachments in Notes.

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Personal email: Spark
Calendars: Fantastical
Handwritten Notes: GoodNotes
Meeting Notes: Agenda (used to hand write these in GoodNotes, but since working from home full time I’ve switched to typing them)
Other notes/general text editing: iA Writer
Code editing: Sublime Text (Kodex on iOS)
Tasks: Things, plus Due for stuff I want to really be hassled about
Contacts: Cardhop


Interesting choices.

Why Fantastical over stock Calendar? Natural language input?

And what do you miss in the Notes app?

The excellent natural language input was definitely the initial draw for Fantastical. Fantastical 3 added calendar sets across all devices. I’m also really loving the recent update adding the ability to join videoconferences with one click.

When I was taking more handwritten notes, GoodNotes seemed to be much more handwriting-centric, whereas the Apple Notes app still seemed like it was a text-based notetaking app that had handwritten notes grafted on to it. I’m interested in seeing how that changes in iPadOS 14 (and it not having the stupid paper texture any more).


I have not used the stock Mail app on iOS/iPadOS for a long time. Is the search any better. I used to search for Apple Mail for an email I KNOW was there, but iOS cannot find it. If I look on Mac there it is.

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That feature - join videoconferences with one click - really interests me. Gonna give Fantastical a try just because of that!

I decided to “take the plunge” and am trying some 3rd party apps, just for the fun of it. Let’s see how it goes.

Hm, I never had any trouble with search in the Mail app, but, as I stated before, I’m really not a power user, so my needs might differ from yours… I’m giving Spark a try here.

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Google Calendar has always allowed you to enter URLs (and URLs in notes), so when I am alerted by GC about a conference I just click on the link and Zoom launches. (I do need to manually enter conference passwords.) How is Fantastical different?

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Those deficiencies don’t matter for me, but not being able to pop out a note into its own window, as far as I can tell, is bugging me. I feel like it could be a really good app in a couple of revisions time.