Great replacements for your default iOS Weather, Notes, and Calculator apps

There's nothing wrong with the built-in iOS versions of Weather, Notes, and Calculator, but if you're looking for more features, then here are some great replacements.

iOS app alternatives

Apple includes some pretty sophisticated built-in applications, from Mail to Safari to the Maps application, but some of these apps don't fit the requirements for all users. Sometimes you just need a little more features to make your app experience a better one. That's where these replacement apps come into play: We'll show you three applications that are worthy replacements for the Weather, Notes, and Calculator applications that give you a few more features that anyone would love to have on iOS.

Weather to Dark Sky

Publisher: The Dark Sky Company Cost: $3.99 (USD)

The weather application on iOS is not the most powerful, but it'll give you detailed information about the upcoming weather situation for your vicinity. Powering this application on iOS 7 and prior is the Yahoo! weather APIs. Apple hopes to make the built-in Weather application more powerful in iOS 8 by switching to detailed weather information provided by The Weather Channel. Until then, consider this alternative: Dark Sky.

Have you ever wondered exactly when it'll begin raining? With Dark Sky, you can receive push notifications when it's about to start raining, so that you'll know when to grab your umbrella.

To turn on push notifications in Dark Sky, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Dark Sky application
  2. Navigate to the first tab
  3. Tap the Notify button (Figure A)
    Figure A
    Figure A
  4. Slide the notification button to determine the amount of notifications that you'll receive. Note: when the slider is to the leftmost position, you won't receive any notifications; move it to the rightmost location to receive any rain notifications in your area (Figure B).
    Figure B
    Figure B

In addition to weather alerts via push notifications, you can also get access to a weekly weather map showing storm systems passing by your current location (or locations around the world), see a 24-hour updated weather report, and get the weekly forecast with temps, cloud information, and more. This app is an ideal weather application to determine what to wear outside.

Notes to Day One

Publisher: Bloom Built Cost: $4.99 (USD)

The Notes application that comes bundled with iOS is a bit on the light side when it comes to features. Sure, it has Siri and iCloud integration, but when it comes to quickly jotting down a note, syncing with services other than iCloud, and adding other journaling features, then look no further than Day One.

This application has not only won an Apple Design Award, but it's packed with features and worth every penny. There is a Mac counterpart that you can use in conjunction with the iOS version, but the iOS version can completely stand on it's own.

To create a new note in Day One, follow these easy steps:

  1. Open the Day One application
  2. From the main home view, tap the plus sign [+] to begin creating a note using the current date
  3. Type in your note and then add optional features, such as location, weather, photos, tags, and more by using the tools available on the toolbar above the keyboard (Figure C).
    Figure C
    Figure C

The entire time that you're typing the note, Day One is synchronizing the note with either iCloud or Dropbox, allowing you to pick up and finish, edit, or delete notes from the Mac, iPhone, or iPad apps. You can type your notes in the Markdown format and have Day One format the note using this markup language.

Calculator to PCalc

Publisher: TLA Systems Cost: PCalc Lite is free; PCal is $9.99 (USD)

The lowly calculator: It does its job and does it well, but there aren't very many features. Enter PCalc: It's the ultimate calculator that includes many features that are missing with the built-in calculator for iOS. It provides unit conversions, talks to you while you enter numbers to give auditory feedback that you've pressed the right key, and includes some pretty sophisticated scientific calculator functionality -- all rolled into one app.

To convert one unit to another using PCalc, follow these steps:

  1. Open the PCalc app
  2. Type in a number that you wish to convert into the calculator
  3. Select the (A > B) button
  4. Select a conversion type
  5. Select the unit that you wish to convert from

Once you perform these steps, you'll get a view that shows the unit that you're converting from, along with all of the values and unit names that the conversion can be converted into (Figure D). This is a pretty powerful feature that's baked right into this application, without having to use any additional service or software.

Figure D

Figure D

In this view, you can see the unit that you're converting from at the top, then a list of all possible conversions from that unit.

Replacing other apps

These are just a few apps that are worthy replacements for the built-in iOS Weather, Notes, and Calculator applications. There are many other apps that could be replaced with 3rd party applications, and we'd love to hear what you're using as alternatives. If you have an application that you feel is a worthy alternative to a built-in app, let us and others know in the discussion thread below.

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By Cory Bohon

Cory Bohon is an indie developer specializing in iOS and OS X development. He runs a software company called Cocoa App and is also a developer at MartianCraft. He was introduced to technology at an early age and has been writing about his favorite te...