It’s that time of year again — the year is end­ing, com­ing to a close. And we often take time to look back at things we’ve done. In my case, I thought I’d look back at the iOS apps that have most engaged me over the last year.

I’ll basic­ally select a ‘win­ner’ and a ‘run­ner up’, and give a few reas­ons why the app cap­tured my atten­tion and interest.

So, without fur­ther pre­amble, here’s my first cat­egory and selections:

eBook reader


Mar­vin is new to me this year and it’s an excel­lent example of what an eBook read­er should be. Pre­vi­ously I’d used Stanza, but it was acquired by Amazon and not updated — and has since been removed from the app store. Mar­vin is a mar­velous replacement.

For Mar­vin, there’s both a free and paid ver­sion — I’d recom­mend get­ting the free one to start and see if you need all the excel­lent fea­tures of the paid version.

One of the big fea­tures that I look for in any eBook read­er is Cal­ibre integ­ra­tion. Cal­ibre is a pro­gram that runs on a com­puter and man­ages your eBook lib­rary. It has a serv­er com­pon­ent, which means that with appro­pri­ate eBook read­ers, you can log into Cal­ibre, browse through your entire eBook lib­rary, and down­load eBooks to your device.

With Mar­vin, it’s a simple mat­ter to log into the lib­rary, select the eBook, then down­load it over WiFi. No wires, no muss, no fuss.

Mar­vin’s developer lists the fol­low­ing numer­ous features:
— A mod­ern and clean user inter­face, designed for iOS 7
— Format books any way you like
— High fidel­ity rendering
— Opens DRM-free EPUB books
— A selec­tion of beau­ti­ful read­ing fonts
— Vir­tu­ally unlim­ited com­bin­a­tions of text, back­ground col­ors and page textures
— 2 column lay­outs in both por­trait and land­scape (iPad)
— Cloud loc­a­tion sync *
— Pub­lish­er lay­outs and embed­ded fonts
— Full book search
— Con­trol page warmth and tint in addi­tion to bright­ness for com­fort­able night-time reading
— Cus­tom­iz­able ges­tures, swip­ing to con­trol bright­ness and warmth, page turn dir­ec­tions, snap­ping to book­marks and chapters, etc

— A read­ing timer
— Power­ful high­light­ing and annota­tion tools
— Cre­ate cus­tom com­mands with pre­sets to integ­rate with Google Maps, Bing Images, Tweet­bot, IMDb, Lingvo, Goodreads, Face­book, Wiki­pe­dia, the Mer­ri­am-Web­ster dic­tion­ary and more

— Arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence that reads your books and helps you dis­cov­er great things about them, their authors, char­ac­ters, places, events and everything else (Eng­lish only)
— Intel­li­gently search for and pin web con­tent such as art­icles, reviews and videos
— Build char­ac­ter sum­mar­ies as sep­ar­ate EPUBs in seconds
— Auto­mat­ic­ally build a vocab­u­lary as you look up words in the dictionary
— Off­line and online dictionaries

— Incred­ibly power­ful lib­rary man­age­ment tools
— Cus­tom and smart collections
— List and cov­er lib­rary views
— Sort­ing, fil­ter­ing and grouping
— Group books by word count
— Reads cal­ibre and exten­ded metadata (sub­jects, series and tags)
— A metadata edit­or that also lets choose new covers

— Vir­tu­ally all the con­tent you see, cre­ate and find can be expor­ted and shared
— All expor­ted con­tent can be opened in web browsers and word pro­cessors for fur­ther reference
— Share status, pro­gress, pic­tures, text selec­tions and high­lights to Face­book and Twitter

— Find books any­where in your Dropbox *
— Nat­ive cal­ibre sup­port with integ­ra­tion that oth­er read­ers can only dream of
— OPDS catalogs
— Web downloads
— iTunes and email side-loading

Runner Up: iBooks

Built into your iOS device, does a ser­vicable job of being an eBook read­er but not a fea­ture-rich as the free ver­sion of Mar­vin. Trust me, check it out đŸ˜‰