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I agree with you that たち is normally used with animate objects. One obvious exception for this rule is when explicit personification is involved. For example, sentences like 山たちが私に語りかけてきた, 乱暴に扱われた本たちが悲しんでいる are perfectly fine.
In your question, I think this アプリたち doesn't look that weird to me. Of course I'm not saying アプリたち is a kind of personification, but I feel something related is happening here. This title looks okay to me because the author has an personal attachment to those apps, and he wants to introduce them friendly and favorably.
I have seen similar expressions like 道具たち, ぬいぐるみたち and 曲たち many times, and such expressions are usually used by those who love them. I can easily find articles about 車たち written by car fans, articles about リンゴたち written by farmers, and so on. I'm not particularly interested in cars, so I probably haven't used 車たち in my entire life.
On the other hand, これは便利だと思ったiOSアプリら sounds clearly unnatural to me, because -ら doesn't have such "friendly" nuance at all. If showing plurality were the only purpose here, we just wouldn't need it in the first place.
There's no firm distinction between たち and ら at least in modern spoken Japanese except that the latter may sound old-fashioned.
For the particular quote above, it sounds a bit like a translation from English, as is common with tech curated blogs. But it's still within natural and common Japanese of today.