10 Apps That Started Life on iOS

This year, with the launch of Lion, Apple has been all about “Back to the Mac” – Taking great features from iOS, and porting them over to OS X. For the most part, this has been fairly successful. For this reason, it makes sense that many iOS developers would do the same.

In this roundup, we’ll have a look at the biggest success stories in this field. The developers featured here didn’t just rebuild the interface for OS X, they enhanced the app to rival (and often surpass) their iOS counterparts.

Reeder

Reeder

This is the first app that came to my mind when I started researching for this article. It really is the epitome of a successful iOS to OS X jump. If you missed all of the past hype, Reeder is a beautiful RSS reader by Silvio Rizzi with a very authentic iOS feel. The interface uses a lot of iOS elements; from the minimal icons, to the beautiful sliders, and some incredible use of texture.

Reeder syncs with Google Reader, and has support for Instapaper, Readability, ReadItLater, Twitter, and much more. Like OS X Lion, Reeder has some excellent integration for multi-touch gestures, which really adds to the iOS experience. If any app has made a perfect transition from iOS to OS X, it’s Reeder.

Price: $9.99
Developer: Silvio Rizzi

Echofon

Echofon

Twitter clients are everywhere these days, but Echofon is one of the big players. They started off with an iPhone app in early 2009 (then called Twitterfon), and branched out into Mac two years later in late 2010.

They also have an iPad app, a Firefox plug-in, and are soon to be launching a Windows app. The Mac app sports a very minimal interface, which works great for Twitter. Thankfully, the developers haven’t just taken the iOS app and shoved it into an OS X container. Instead, they have developed an interface that takes advantage of Mac OS X’s capabilities.

Price: Free (Ad-Supported), $20.00
Developer: Naan Studio

Firetask

Firetask

Not a day goes by without a new GTD app entering the fray. One important factor which can determine the ability of an app to prosper or ensure its failure, is whether or not it’s universal. Users want to access their tasks from every device.

Most GTD apps start off on Mac and are then ported to iOS. Things and OmniFocus are two examples that did just that. Firetask, however, did it the other way round – Started life as an iPhone app, and went over to Mac a few years later. Regardless of this fact, the Mac app is still a fully-featured, stunning piece of software, with support for projects, categories, and much more. Unfortunately, it does not yet have cloud syncing, but a Wi-fi sync shouldn’t be too bad for most users.

Price: $49.00
Developer: Gerald Aquila and Wolfgang Bartelme

iProcrastinate

iProcrastinate

iProcrastinate is another GTD app (I told you they’re everywhere!). This app features a very useful calendar view, along with all of the other features you’d expect. It doesn’t exactly have the most beautiful design (by a long stretch), but its usability is acceptable, and it comes in at the ever so nice price of ‘Free’.

iProcrastinate’s beginnings were slightly different from many of the other apps here. It started off as an app for jailbroken devices, went on to the App Store, and later moved to the Mac. What’s nice about this app is that you can sync over Dropbox, meaning you can get all of your tasks no matter where you are.

Price: Free
Developer: Craigotis

Galleried

Galleried

Galleried is, to some extent, an RSS reader, but with a focus very much on images. If you’re a graphic designer (or just somebody who appreciates lovely things) who spends a lot of time browsing design galleries for inspiration, this app is for you.

Galleried collects all of your favorite galleries and displays them in one beautiful app. It has support for Dribbble, which is fantastic too. Why this app started on iOS is a mystery to me, as it really seems like a desktop app.

Price: $9.99
Developer: Rocket

iA Writer

iA Writer

In the last few years, distraction-free writing apps have carved a massive niche for themselves in the market, and iA Writer has been one of the biggest players in the field. If you’re unfamiliar with this type of app, you basically use it to write. That’s it. No formatting, no fancy fonts. Just words.

Of all the distraction-free writing apps out there, I feel iA Writer is the nicest to look at. It has a very simple design with clear, legible type; a subtly textured background; and a lovely blue cursor. If you write quite a bit and want to make it an easier process, this app (which started off on the iPad), should be one of your first ports of call.

Price: $17.99
Developer: Information Architects

Weather HD

Weather HD

Weather is not a very exciting topic. In fact, it may very well be one of the least exciting topics around, coming in just ahead of mortgages and other people’s children. For this reason, it would obviously take a very special app to make the weather exciting. Weather HD is that app.

Rather than balding men pointing at maps, this app is full of stunning HD graphics and animations, coupled with a lovely interface. How can you go wrong? If only they could develop an app to make mortgages this fun.

Price: $3.99
Developer: Vimov

Solar Walk

Solar Walk

This app is one of the most well-known apps for iPad and it makes traversing the solar system a joy. On Mac, it’s just as nice, with beautiful graphics and lots of information to help you learn all about our galaxy. The app is essentially a sized-up version of the iOS app. However, when you take into consideration that this app won an Apple Design Award in 2010, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Price: $2.99
Developer: Vito Technology

Angry Birds

Angry Birds

This app needs absolutely no introduction. If you haven’t played this super-addictive, bird-chucking, pig-killing game, you might as well pack up your bags and leave the Internet right now. This all-conquering game has taken the world by storm, starting out as a lowly iPhone game, and then branching out into iPad, Mac, Windows, Nokia, Android, Palm, and Chrome.

I first played Angry Birds on OS X, and I can assure you it is just as addictive as its iOS counterpart. As far as I can tell, the app is no different than Angry Birds on iOS, but if you fancy another go at it, pick up the Mac version for just under a fiver.

Price: $4.99
Developer: Rovio

Touchgrind

Touchgrind

This is another game that started off on iOS and hit the big time. Touchgrind is a skateboarding game, in which a variety of finger gestures makes your board do tricks, build up points, win competitions, and gain new boards. On iPad, it’s an incredible game with awesome gameplay. On Mac, it’s good, but not quite as good. This is primarily due to the fact that your board and your fingers are separated, so it’s not as immersive. That said, it still makes great use of the multi-touch trackpad, and, for a free app, it is fantastic.

Price: Free
Developer: Illusion Labs

Conclusion

The apps I’ve featured are just ten of the best apps out there that started on iOS; there are plenty more out there. OS X Lion’s iOS-like features have been criticized by many (myself included), but these apps show that the transition can work, and it can work well. Take note, Apple!


  • Karttikeya Bihani

    Why does Echofon have a free as well as the paid app.?! I mean what’s the difference..?!

    • http://tomstark.me Tomas Stark

      Paid app is ad free I believe.

  • Paul C. Jones

    This iOS-fication of OS X is nothing but good, and we are to embrace it. Strict sandboxing, simpler and single-focused apps, touch interface, and even tighter control over both software and hardware. The kind of computer that doesn’t require geeky babying. The kind of computer that says NO to excessive features.

    iOS and its devices are a textbook example of how we ought to embrace constraints. Compared to OS X/Mac, iOS devices are limited both in hardware spec and OS capability, and it is actually an ADVANTAGE, because developers are forced to focus on what really matters to users, implement only the features that are truly and essentially useful to them and drop all the rest. The result is that people are PREFERRING to use it as their main everyday computing device and even THRIVING on it. Mac can now focus on only the things full-featured desktop are better at while also following the same pattern and continuing to eliminate excessive features.

  • Woody

    $49 for a GTD app without cloud-based syncing is just too much. Ditto for Things; both Things and FireTask would be something I’d consider, but not without the ability to get to an up-to-date task list without jumping through hoops.

  • Nicholas LeBlanc

    Firetask has cloud syncing… It’s still in public beta, but works pretty well. It’s on their home page: http://firetask.com/

  • James Braithwaite

    Can’t find Touchgrind on the App Store, i follow your links, App Stores opens and says “Your request could not be completed”.

    REALLY CAN’T WAIT TO PLAY THIS ON MY MACBOOK.

    What could be the problem here?

  • http://boio.ro Adrian Boioglu

    Echofon was actually a Firefox extension at first. Then it moved to iOS and OS X.

  • Dan

    For implementing GTD you can use this web application:

    http://www.Gtdagenda.com

    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, schedules and a calendar.
    Syncs with Evernote and Google Calendar, and also comes with mobile version, and Android and iPhone apps.

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