This is going to be partially an appreciation blog, and partially aspirational. Some of my favourite apps and games are made in Ukraine, and there are still plenty of software engineers doing work despite a raging war outside. And they make amazing products, used and praised around the world.
Apps and games that I’ve used
I discovered Grammarly shortly after moving to the UK. It was short of amazing - English is my second language (or third? Well, one of them), and while you can learn the words, stitching them together is a whole other level. Grammarly can help with that - and also with sentence structure, punctuation, and readability. This is invaluable when migrating to a new country, and working in a new language. Most languages are layered with hidden context and rules - and it can be discouraging as an immigrant to even try writing serious texts, even less so - publishing.
One of the largest energy suppliers I used to work for would mandatory install Grammarly extensions onto everyone’s laptops. The reason being everyone in the company was also doing (varying degrees) of customer support, and everything we’d write would be validated by Grammarly.
And yes, I’ve run this text through Grammarly too.
One of the nicest Swiss-knife maintenance apps for MacOS. Given a large enough hard drive and a recently bought Mac you might not need this, but if your Mac like mine has been used for many years, running out of free space, got some performance issues and lots of half-uninstalled apps - this is the kind of app that you deserve.
Large files, unused apps - are easy to spot, and it will properly uninstall them without a trace. I’ve used to deleting apps directly from the Apps folder - and that left a lot of “leftover” files, which CleanMyMac easily removed for me. Extra perks include malware protection, and privacy utilities - like cleaning browsing history across all browsers, cleaning wifi history, and reviewing app permissions that you forgot about. Some apps occasionally turn evil as they become popular, and this might be the time to revoke that mic & camera access.
Also, it will highlight apps that can give up your personal data to the authorities without a court order. This is the world we are living in. And yes, Telegram is indeed known for doing just that.
I used to be a massive fan of the Mailbox app back in 2013. Swipe left, swipe right, get to a zero inbox, and be happy. Mailbox was amazing, but like all good things it was acquired by Dropbox and quickly shut down. Luckily we have Spark now. Spark is incredible, well-maintained, and so far - independent. By now they’ve released versions for all platforms - both mobile and desktop. Easy to connect and manage the multitude of email accounts that I have in a great unified way.
I usually go for the Classic Smart view which groups similar emails, and it is incredibly easy to archive all semi-spammy messages at once, while still being able to occasionally read an update from a web service I’m using.
Most importantly - you can snooze emails. If you are a fan of a zero inbox - snoozing is perfect. Set it back for a few hours, next Monday, or even a specific day when that particular email will become more relevant and you’ll have to deal with it right now.
There is a premium version, but you can also choose a free version, and still get the benefits of unified inbox and snoozing.
Originally a Kickstarter project, Atom RPG is like a Superman: Red Son in the world of post-apocalyptic Fallout-like games. It is a good old isometric Fallout game but set somewhere in the post-apocalyptic Soviet Union.
And it is brilliant.
The creators generously derived from the classic Fallout games, including UI elements and the general feel of the story. They also released plenty of patches, with early access for Kickstarter backers to find and fix things before a wider release. Like Fallout, it gives you an open world with plenty of side quests and loot to find.
I’ve clocked 50 hours so far, and apparently, a new expansion titled Trudograd was released with winter maps and a whole new map to explore. This will keep me busy this upcoming weekend.
Developed by 4A Games studio based in Kyiv - a trilogy of games loosely based on the book series of the same name. The first two installments are based in post-apocalyptic underground Moscow, with occasional outings into the heavily radioactive ground level. The last and most recent game - Metro Exodus - will take you out of Moscow into the post-apocalyptic realms of Russia, with a semi-open world and excellent narrative.
Two of the first original games were recently re-mastered with “Redux” added to their titles, and are extremely playable. Also, if PC is not your thing, you can stream the whole trilogy on NVidia Geforce Now.
A legendary post-apocalyptic trilogy of FPS, with the first Stalker game released in 2007. Highly radioactive, loosely based on the classic sci-fi book by Strugatskies, and at times looks almost like a classic Fallout game with dialogues and loot tradings. The games are still very much playable, and you can stream them on Geforce Now if there’s no suitable PC around.
A long-awaited sequel - Stalker 2: Heart of Chornobyl - is being developed as we speak, with some staff working from a literal war zone and under the falling missiles.
Aspirational - Luminar Photo Editor
I’ve heard amazing reviews of Luminar and am definitely keen to try it out - if not replacing my Lightroom setup, then adding Luminar as a Lightroom plugin. Impressive AI-powered auto masking, subject recognition, depth recognition, and - one button removal of power lines from your landscape photos.
Developed by Skylum - originally Macphun, founded in Ukraine.
Even more apps
Haven’t had a chance to try these yet.
- Vox - Lossless hi-res music player and a cloud solution for your hi-fi music collection. One day I’ll use this to backup and listen on the go to all of my vinyl records.
- GetBackupPro - advanced backups for your Mac
- Mac utilities from Nektony - a suite of essential maintenance utilities for Mac
- Unclutter - a visor-like productivity app for Mac
- iOS Cleaner Guru - essential cleanup tool for iOS devices
- Cossacks series - a legendary real-time strategy series
Something more to add? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s make this list even more comprehensive.