2013 was a great year for Gilt Mobile. In addition to creating the platforms driving more than 40 percent of our revenue, the team saw their work featured in Apple’s October demo, released some major updates to Gilt on the Go, got invited to speak in some high-profile venues, grew by a few members (apply here to be the next one), and even exhibited at the MoMA!

They also used and checked out lots of apps produced by other mobile teams around the world. Here are a few favorites and essentials from 2013:

Digg

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I have a ton of apps on my phone. Most of them I open only once or twice just to check them out—but I keep going back to Digg. It has a simple, clean interface, and the content includes a great selection of real news, geeky stuff and silly fun. A simple but super-useful feature inverts the background and copies colors when in low lighting, which makes for much easier reading. Digg has become my preferred way to waste a few minutes and maaaaaybe learn some new things! —Christopher Gonzalez, Director of Mobile Product

Capitol Bells

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Capitol Bells is positioning itself to change American politics in a huge way, and to some extent it already has. By providing live voting alerts and bill information, it has attracted a growing user base of legislators—and its virtual voting feature enables the general public to cast their vote on individual bills. Users can also add their voting district, completing the feedback loop and allowing politicians to gauge local favor in their districts. Capitol Bells might still need some work, but it’s pretty impressive considering that just one guy built and maintains it! — Randy Gretz, QA Analyst

Rent the Runway

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I love the new iPhone app from Rent the Runway. The sleek design incorporates beautiful, large images, which makes it easy and fun to browse. The app is not overly abundant with features: the content reflects the information that I would most likely look up quickly on my phone while out and about. I was excited to play with Dress Match, which lets users take advantage of their phone cameras to snap a picture of a dress, pattern or color and then suggests similar dresses based on it. At Gilt, we always try to enhance our customers’ shopping experiences by finding the best uses for all the great sensors included in phones (check out our Try It On feature!). It’s really great to see other companies strive to do the same. —Ruxy Staicut, Software Engineer

99Taxis

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When it comes to calling a cab, 99Taxis is super-useful. It finds your location (you can edit the address if the app provides the wrong one) and shows a map with the taxis near you. When you click “Request Taxi,” the app notifies taxi drivers to head your way (there’s a different app for drivers). The first driver who answers is assigned to you. The app then displays the taxi’s car model and license plate and the driver’s name, picture and phone number. You can send the driver some predefined messages, an SMS, or call him/her. You still see the map with your and the taxi’s location until you get in the car and click “Taxi Arrived.” 99taxis claims to verify the driver’s documents, so in theory it’s safer than grabbing a random cab on the street. Most taxi drivers in Sao Paulo are using it (they have a few other cities too), which makes it really fast and easy to get a cab. It’s amazing how there’s always a bunch of taxis near you—just not necessarily in sight. Rodrigo Carpintero, Senior Software Engineer

Moves

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Moves is a great app for tracking where you go and how much walking—or running, biking, or driving—you do to get there. On any given day you can see how many steps you took, the distance you walked, and how long you spent in each spot. A helpful map shows where you went, and allows you to attach names to specific locations you frequently visit. Previous versions of Moves severely degraded battery life, but the latest version now takes advantage of the M7 chip on the latest iPhone, the 5s. Battery drain is still a concern on older devices, but don’t let that stop you from using this handy mobility measuring tool. —Evan Maloney, Principal Software Engineer

LearnVest

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LearnVest has a really cute design! It makes managing your finances and budgeting not so terrible ;). I like how they use a passcode to easily unlock the app. I would love to see them add support for background fetch to instantly update. —Christine Yokoyama, Senior Software Engineer

IFTTT

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I am not a huge fan of intro tutorials, but IFTTT is a special exception. The animation is well polished and feels playful, yet does not overwhelm. I also think IFTTT is a unique enough concept that it probably warrants an explanation of how to use the app on first launch. Once you are signed in, the app has a super-simple navigation structure paired with a few gentle animations. I think it is a good example of sophisticated minimalism. Now if only I had a need that it satisfied. —Louis Vera, Senior Software Engineer

Conjugation Nation (Spanish Edition)

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At first glance, Conjugation Nation is nothing special: the UI is simple and straightforward, and you might even say it could be prettier. Nevertheless, I think it’s a really great resource for learning Spanish vocabulary words and verb conjugations. What I especially like is that you can tailor the difficulty level of the quizzes to those areas where you need extra practice. The quizzes can be so hard, in fact, that even native Spanish speakers will have trouble getting them right. —Matt Isaacs, Senior Software Engineer

Songza

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Songza is my current go-to app for music. I love the user flow, which enables you to select a playlist to match your current activity. (My latest favorite pairing is “cooking” with the “1960s girls around the world” mix.) The iPhone app is very easy to use, especially for new users, which makes it instantly addicting. The iPad app offers some nice animations for transitioning between screens. —Christine Yokoyama, Senior Software Engineer

Forecast

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Forecast.io isn’t really an app, but it is a fantastic mobile experience. When you navigate to forecast.io from your iPhone, you’re greeted with instructions to “Add to Home Screen” so that, when you click on the icon in the future, the site looks and feels like an app. I love its simple visual treatment, user experience cues and reliability. Among its novel features, forecast.io includes a visualization that lets you know if it’s raining and for how many more minutes. And each day is represented as a row that includes an hour-by-hour color spectrum that lets you know what the weather will be like. A key characteristic for me in judging a really excellent user experience on an app is whether I think I can use the app while blindfolded. Is it THAT easy to use? Yes: Forecast.io is impossible to get lost in or misunderstand. It has saved me during many a rainy moment and has shown me that some of the greatest experiences on the iPhone can still be produced via the mobile web. Of all the apps I introduced to my friends and family in 2013, this was the easiest to use. —Gregory Mazurek, Software Engineer

Weather Line

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This new weather app, introduced this year, takes a different approach to displaying a weather forecast. The graphs are amazing: they pack so much useful information into an incredibly digestible display. The contextual weather info is helpful, especially when you’re on the go and trying to find out what to expect from the weather as quickly as possible. —Eric Czarny, Principal Software Engineer

Instagram

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I had to add Instagram: It’s probably the app I use the most (besides Gilt!). It’s great for killing time, catching up with friends, and finding inspiration! The UI is very clean, simple, and easy to use. I loved their iOS7 update. Adam Kaplan, Principal Software Engineer

Venmo

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Venmo is a mobile payment platform that enables me to casually and quickly send money to my friends and family. My most common use of Venmo is reimbursing my friends for meals and taxis (I never seem to have cash when I need it!). When I send money, the service will deduct it from my account balance first, then my bank account (or credit card for a fee). My friends will immediately receive a push notification, email or text message confirming the transfer. The app and service are free to use. By default Venmo will add incoming transfers to your balance, but with one tap of the “Cash Out” button, I can have it transfer funds to my bank. It’s also worth mentioning that the Venmo iOS app has passcode protection for piece of mind. Adam Kaplan, Principal Software Engineer

Uber

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Uber's an amazing service that's changing the taxi/car service industry. It's a great example of a user experience that focuses on the task that the user is trying to accomplish. —Yonatan Feldman, Vice President, Mobile/Global Engineering

A second vote for Uber. My wife and I live in a part of town where you can’t always flag down a cab at odd hours. We used Uber when she was in labor at 5AM, and we used Uber to bring our newborn back from the hospital. (As far as we know, we have the world’s first Uber Baby!) The system they’ve built ensures stellar customer service, and we’ve never been disappointed. In just a short time, Uber has revolutionized the livery industry.—Evan Maloney, Principal Software Engineer

Sunrise

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Sunrise is a slick calendar app that helps keep me on top of short-term events like Facebook birthdays and my upcoming appointments for the next couple of days. The simple UI and focused views are fast and easy to navigate. —Christopher Barr, Interactive Designer

MLB at Bat

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I’m really not that crazy about American sports, but baseball holds the most appeal for me. The MLB app is surprisingly good: Though fairly complicated, with a lot of moving parts and features, it’s nevertheless stable and crash-free. The scoreboard on the iPad version of the app is well-designed.  —Matt Isaacs, Senior Software Engineer

Postagram

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Here’s something I’ve wanted since I studied abroad. Created by Sincerely, Postagram allows you to use your own photos to create and send physical personalized postcards. Among other things, you can import contacts from your phone’s address book and send a postcard to multiple recipients; Postagram also supports integration with Instagram, Facebook, and Dropbox for pulling photos. Each postcard is 99 cents—a great deal in comparison to having to find and buy postcards and postage in foreign locales. They’re printed in the U.S. (‘Merica!) and generally take a week for domestic delivery. I finally got to use it during some recent travels to Kenya, Jordan, and Turkey, and got a lot of positive feedback from the wide audience of friends and family I was able to reach for the ‘thoughtful gesture.’ —Randy Gretz, QA Analyst