The best mobile apps of 2013

Over the course of a year, we test a lot of tech products, from laptops through tablets to mobiles, along with a range of other hardware from routers to external hard disks, and of course an abundance of software from office suites to security utilities.

And every year, products make improvements on the previous year’s offerings, both in terms of quality and value. Indeed, many product categories have a number of excellent offerings among their ranks – but sometimes you want things really narrowed down. Sometimes, you want to know the winner among the winners – and that’s what this series of articles is all about.

We’ve already looked at a number of categories thus far, including the best laptops of 2013, the top tablets, and the best smartphone and mobile devices (for more links, see the Related Articles section underneath the comments at the bottom of this article).

In each category, we’ve highlighted the top product for 2013 across all the main sub-categories within. Today, we’re looking at the best mobile apps.

Each product mentioned is the top of its class for 2013, and as such comes with an unreserved recommendation.

So, what’s our favourite iPhone, iPad and Android app of the year? Read on to find out… and stay tuned for more top products of 2013 in the coming days as we run up to Christmas.

Note that if you want to download an app, simply click on the title to link through to iTunes or the Play store.

When it comes to staying organised and keeping track of ideas and other information, Evernote does the heavy lifting for you. Integrate it with one or two other apps and you can't do better. Its online synchronisation is effortless and the search functionality is outstanding; it'll even use OCR to search terms inside images, and that’s with the free version, too—Jill Duffy.

It's been years since Flipboard came out on the iPad, and it's still the best aggregator of news, social networking, links, video, and images on the platform. Even the page swiping is impressively fast. In version 2, users can create and share personalised magazines – and recipients don't even need to have Flipboard installed to read them—Eric Griffith.

The walled garden of iOS has grown some amazing apps, but the open field of Android has invited incredible innovation at even the most basic level – such as Swype. This application lets you drag ("swype") your finger between letters to create words (no special hand gestures required), and even predicts your next word before you type or swype. Swype also supports gestures for actions like cut and paste, and features several other input methods. It sounds simple but it's revolutionary and quickly makes thumb-typing feel antiquated—Max Eddy.