From the moment that Apple launched its first iPhone, Australian developers have been at the forefront of creating amazing software for mobile devices. Over the past eight years, the local industry has blossomed, with amazing apps for everything from productivity to entertainment being created by Aussies for the rest of the world.
But while there are hundreds of locally produced apps that are changing the way people use their devices, there’s a special class of app that punches well above its weight. Where small, local indies have managed to grow into something bigger.
These are the best Australian apps. We’ll keep updating this list as more local devs change the world with their creations.
Sydneysiders will be all too familiar with the perils of public transport in Australia’s most populous city. It was a battle developer Nick Maher was facing every day. Yet unlike the thousands of people who silently suffered delays, cancelled trains and overcrowded buses, Maher used his experience to build a Java app for his Sony Ericsson phone, which he then ported to the iPhone in 2008.
Originally designed to tell a user how long until the next train arrived, the app has expanded significantly since launch. It now offers real-time data for trains and buses (not quite all of them, but a large percentage) and has expanded to cover Melbourne’s public transport as well as Sydney’s.
While Maher credits a lot of the app’s success to being in the right place at the right time (on the App Store not long after the iPhone 3G launched in Australia), the app’s intuitive interface and detailed information is also crucial to its place at the top of our list.
Sometimes you just need to pack up the car and get the hell away from the city. But where do you go?
WikiCamps Australia creators Russ and Cliff Corbin spent 2.5 years travelling around Australia and were surprised that there wasn’t a full database of the country’s campsites.
After two full trips around the country, they had enough of a database to launch the platform back in 2012, but quickly realised that a user-generated wiki was the best way to create a truly useful tool.
Since it launched, the database has expanded from 2,000 to over 20,000 sites, with comprehensive information about everything from amenities and mobile coverage to Information Centres and pet-friendly locations.
There’s also over 260,000 site reviews and over 100,000 site photos, giving users a real opportunity to explore their camping adventure before they leave.
The world of podcasts is as wide and varied as the people who make them. But listening to your favourite podcast can be a convoluted experience without the right app.
Aussie developers Shifty Jelly have created what is arguably the best podcasting app ever produced with Pocket Casts.
Back in 2010 when they made the app, you had to plug your phone into a desktop computer, and manually sync your podcasts across. Today, over 500,000 users simplify the whole process with Pocket Casts.
The decision is fairly easy for podcast fans, with features like filtered lists, automated downloads, variable speed playback and automated clean up of episodes all standard. It works across devices, and gets better at every opportunity.
The days of placing your credit card behind a bar for a good night out are well and truly behind us now, with Aussie app Clipp landing on iOS and Android.
Clipp co-founder Greg Taylor is familiar with the perils of leaving a credit card behind the bar. It was, after all the incentive for Clipp’s creation.
Accepted at over 650 bars and restaurants around the country, Clipp lets you flash your phone at the bar staff to add drinks to your tab, and then close the tab from your phone, paying with your PayPal account. You’ll get your receipt emailed immediately, and earn rewards points all at the same time.
But thanks to its success, the app is now so much more. After lots of demand from users, Clipp introduced the ability to split bills easily within the app.
But even more impressive is the inclusion of last-minute deals, which allows users to explore their city, saving up to 40% off their bill for next to no effort at all.
Running a small business is hard enough work, without having to waste hours navigating the well of despair that is Microsoft Excel, or pay a fortune for professional accounting software.
Founder Chris Strode was a freelance programmer back in 2002 when he created Invoice2Go during his daily train commute. He wanted a tool that would not only allow him to send an invoice within minutes, but also keep tabs of invoices being paid, tracking expenses and monitoring overall business performance.
It was in 2008 when the first app version of the service launched that things really took off. Now, business users can do everything from tracking time with the Invoice2Go Apple Watch app and even receive payments from within the app itself.
With customisable invoice styles, integrated logo design tools and the ability to offer quotes within the app, it’s a comprehensive tool for small business owners.
Being able to predict the weather takes years of practice, study and an understanding of science. Making the weather forecast look amazing on your smartphone or tablet is also challenging, but it’s something the team a Shifty Jelly has accomplished with Pocket Weather.
Back when the iPhone 3G launched in Australia, Apple was using Yahoo! to provide its weather information and the results were always wrong. It was so frustrating that inspired Shifty Jelly to go out and create a simple, accurate weather app.
Beautifully simple yet packed with information straight from the Bureau of Meteorology, the app has developed significantly over time. But it’s an essential download – Shifty Jelly’s Russell Ivanovic tells us that Pocket Weather was so popular that they worked out it was installed on roughly one in every six Australian iPhones.
Platform: iOS | Price: $7.49
Quite possibly the most powerful art app available for the iPad, Procreate created a bit of a stir a few years back when it was used to create a hyper-realistic portrait of Morgan Freeman. With amazing versatility through a range of different brush styles, blur tools and layers, Procreate (and its iPhone sibling, Procreate Pocket) are proof that the iPad is definitely more than just a consumption device.
Keeping on top of your finances is a never-ending battle, but one that is made significantly easier thanks to technology. Local finance startup Pocketbook lets you keep track of all your expenses and incomes across a wide range of accounts from different Australian banks, and intelligently collates them into different categories. A great tool for managing your budget.
Any parent with their kids in daycare knows that getting updates on their little tykes day can be a challenge, especially if you’re the parent that doesn’t get to do the pre-school pick up.
That’s exactly what inspired new dad Dan Day to create Kinderloop back in 2013 – he just wasn’t getting enough information about his daughter, and decided to do something about it.
Today, the platform is so much more than just a communications tool for parents. Early childhood educators can use the app to make educational observations, plan around childrens’ interests and document their work without exponentially increasing their workloads.
Of course, getting real-time updates on what your kids are doing via a smartphone app is still amazing for any parent, and makes you wonder why nobody thought of this sooner.
Commercial radio today is designed to cater to a broad audience. And while Pandora tries to counter that with personalised music, Aussie app Omny takes it one step further by combining your Spotify and Pandora playlists and blending them with both podcasts you might like and personalised notifications.
The end result is a truly personalised radio experience. As co-founder Ed Hooper explains, being able to collect the parts of radio you like and swipe away the parts you don’t makes for a very enjoyable experience.
The app wasn’t just a hit with consumers, either – content creators loved it so much that the developers went and created Omny Studio, a fully-featured tool for creating, editing and sharing radio content.
Platform: iOS | Price: Free
Canva is like having an art department on your iPad. Created less than three years ago by Melanie Perkins, the app was created to take the complexity out of design software.
With a collection of templates and the ability to purchase stock photography cheaply directly from the app, Canva offers the ability to create everything from business cards to presentations, as well as simple things like engaging social media posts.
With an incredibly simple interface, even the most design illiterate person can create attractive products, which is probably why more than 8 million people use the app and two designs are created on Canva every second.
The app has expanded to small business too, with the Canva for Work arrival offering more flexible usage like being able to create your own brand kits, instantly resize designs and upload your own fonts.
Platform: iOS | Price: Free
Being able to get on top of your fitness goals is a challenge, especially with the endless stream of fitness wearables hitting shelves.
But keeping tabs on your overall fitness can be a challenge, with many health apps only keeping track of the most basic information about your health.
Bodywise is trying to become your software hub for your fitness goals, syncing with Jawbone and Fitbit devices, as well as HealthKit in iOS. Rather than counting calories, the app focuses on the important things that will make a difference to your overall health, like alcohol or smoking.
Co-founder Mike Halligan quickly realised that when it comes to being healthy, everyone has a different idea on what they want. Bodywise allows all those things to be tracked in one place, giving you a much more detailed look at your overall wellbeing.
Platform: iOS | Price: $5.99
If you want to make something happen, you need control, discipline and an app. Streaks helps you create better habits by letting you track six tasks you want to complete everyday, from reading to exercising and everything in between.
Developer Quentin Zervaas tells us that the hard limit of only having six tasks helps the app drive you to success. The good thing about it, he says, is that finishing one or two tasks pushes you to finish the rest of the tasks in the day.
And after you complete five out of your six tasks, it’s pretty hard to ignore that final one.
The app also pulls in data from Healthkit to automatically tick off your activities physical, while manual tasks are easily ticked off as you complete them.
Need something done, but don’t want to do it yourself? Airtasker will let you pay someone – anyone – to do your dirty little jobs for you, for a small fee of course. From cleaning your bedroom to picking up your laundry, to lining up to buy one of the first iPhone 7 handsets, Airtasker proves that people can do pretty much anything to make a bit of coin on the side.