I've explained more than once that I love mobile applications and, when it comes to buying premium apps, I am probably a little too loose with my money. But it's all for a great cause and, most of the time, everyone wins. I can add another great application to my library and the developer has a few more dollars to put towards living expenses or even further development of new or existing apps.

This year, I have purchased and installed more apps than ever before. I don't have an exact count – it's impossible to recall what exactly I have installed this year for the very first time. But I would estimate that number is north of 150 new applications. That's not including the hundreds I purchased and installed prior to 2012.

Through all these new installs, I have found countless applications, on both Android and iOS, that I find it difficult to go without. WiFi File Explorer Pro, for example, plays a vital role in how I transfer information and files between my Android phone and MacBook. Dropbox is how I make sure no pictures I take with a smartphone are ever lost. Google Voice is essential to text messaging my friends, since I no longer pay for carrier messaging. And Spotify and Google music are my lifelines when it comes to music.

In 2012, I have discovered some true gems, a handful of applications that I frequently use and rely on. And it's not an easy task narrowing it down to a single favorite.

On iOS, specifically, I have come to use and love 645 PRO, Reeder, Bitly and iA Writer this year.

645 PRO opens the capabilities of the iPhone camera by allowing the user to manually control several features and save images as lossless JPEGs or TIFFs. Reeder is, easily, one of the most beautiful and well-organized RSS readers ever. I subscribe to a ton of sites via Google Reader, and I use Reeder on my MacBook, iPad and iPhone to synchronize what all I have read. I also shorten a great deal of links, and I've come across several URL shorteners for mobile platforms. But I have an account with Bitly, and the Bitly app allows me to save short links while mobile and track analytics later.

Last and most definitely not least for iOS is iA Writer. A large portion of my articles this year have been written in iA Writer on my third-generation iPad. I sync my Dropbox account with iA Writer and type articles in plain text. When I open my computer, Dropbox syncs automatically and nvALT, an off-shoot of Notational Velocity, has all of my work ready to go in a matter of seconds. I have even written an article or two using my iPhone, thanks to iA Writer.

Oh, and lest we forget three of my favorite mobile games … ever: FIFA 13, Letterpress and Slingshot.

On Android, the list is a bit more sparse, but the quality of the apps is nothing to scoff at. Falcon Pro, SwiftKey Flow Beta, Epistle and Google Now.

Falcon Pro is a recently released Twitter client that definitely raises the bar for Android clients. I've called it the Tweetbot of Android Twitter clients, which should speak to its unparalleled quality, at least in the Play store. I've been using SwitftKey for ages, but I'm making an exception to include its latest update, since it is technically new – it's under a new name and has added some groundbreaking features this year. SwiftKey 3 added the ability to type without ever spacing, and SwiftKey Flow added gesture or trace typing (think Swype) with the ability to slide over the space bar and type entire sentences without lifting a finger … literally!

Epistle is not unlike iA Writer. It's not quite as polished, I will admit. But it gets the job done. It synchronizes my plain text notes with Dropbox, so I can write from and Android tablet or smartphones without skipping a beat.

Last is Google Now. Some of you may not, technically, consider Google Now a standalone application. But is can be accessed straight from the application drawer, so I'm counting it. I use Google Now probably more than any other application. I use it for weather, to find local hot spots, to look up scores, search factual information, find local events and much, much more.

But there are applications that are both on Android and iOS that I've come to use and love this year, too, such as LastPass, Snapseed and Pocket. LastPass keeps all of my passwords secure in a single location – I don't even have to know my login credentials anymore. I just have to remember a single password. Snapseed was originally an iOS- and Mac-only application. But the creator, Nik Software, was purchased by Google, and an Android version of Snapseed was released earlier this month. It's my go-to photo editor on both Android and iOS.

Last, is Pocket. Technically, I have been using this for the better part of three years. But the company re-branded Read It Later earlier this year and re-launched it as the totally free Pocket. It underwent a much-needed interface overhaul and was made much more user-friendly.

My problem with Pocket, however, is how much I save articles and other Web clippings and how seldom I read them. I realized last night that I have somewhere around 500 saved articles in my Pocket account.

If I had to choose a single most favorite application for 2012, it would undoubtedly be Chrome. Google launched Chrome for Android in February and for iOS in June. With gesture-based navigation to switch between tabs and the ability to sync tabs between all my mobile devices and my MacBook, it has become my favorite and, likely, my most-used app this year.

What say you, folks? What's your favorite application for 2012?

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