The Week's Best Android, iPhone, iPad and Windows Phone Apps

By A Kennedy on at

In the midst of redecorating my home single-handedly (one-handedly?), I've come to the conclusion that I could never be an interior decorator. Because I. Hate. Everything. Who knew that choosing a sofa would utterly take over my life? I haven't had time to cook, and this, combined with endless work events, means I'm relying on my tech more than ever before. Here are a few things that have made my life easier in the last week:

 

iPhone Apps

Toptable: The toptable app allows potential diners to search for available tables nearby using geolocation or in a specified area; make an instant booking, and find over 4,000 new restaurants across the UK through a convenient and easy to navigate design. The new 'Great Tables' features highly-rated restaurants with availability according to the specified search criteria, right on the start screen. You can also take a look at mobile-optimised menus, take a sneak preview of what you can eat by browsing popular dish photos, and read reviews from other verified Toptable users. [Free]


Business Card Reader Pro: Business Card Reader Pro is a genius app for those who network a lot or end up accumulating a tonne of business cards. It can import contact information from a business card directly to your mobile contacts to reduce the amount of random paper you have lying around, by scanning the contact information on a card and automatically filling in details for your contact, storing it separately to your phone contacts. It features integration with LinkedIn, Salesforce and Evernote and has easy integration with other CRM systems. There's also a lite version here for you to try out. [£4.99]


Artstack: ArtStack is a discovery tool similar to Pinterest, with a social element – you can find a work of art that inspires you, 'stack' it to your personal art stack which is a feed of your collected favourites, and share it with the wider ArtStack community. The site has all your standard social functions: follow other members, create collections, share your content and comment. But the difference between ArtStack and others is the community that uses it. Artists and fans communicating with other artists and fans, rather than the rest of the world on apps like Pinterest.  [Free]


Delectable Wine: Delectable exists so you can log wines you’ve tasted, and discover new vintages. It uses social networking, data analytics, and mobile technology to put a modern twist on what we've been doing for centuries -- consuming and appreciating wine. It's a simple process, just snap a wine label, tag friends, add a location and make notes for your digital "wine journal". Then, analysing your journal, Delectable Wine makes recommendations based on its database of over 2 million bottles. Ah, wine. [Free]


The Human Body by Tinybop:The Human Body by Tinybop is an educational anatomy lesson, or rather lessons, for children. The app itself is light on words, but there's a function that allows children to record questions that are subsequently sent to their parents. The animation is beautiful; my favourite has to be the skeleton — pull out the body’s spine and the entire thing (comically) collapses to show the way the spine supports the entire body. The lessons concern the ways basic body parts function; how they work together, and how they react to stimuli. An amazing educational app. [£1.99]

 

iPad Apps

iDispay: I'm using this one as I type. iDisplay can be used as a touch-enabled secondary display; it gives you more screen space for everything you have to keep an eye on. You can have a separate display from your Mac's main display on your iPad, iPad mini, iPhone or iPod touch. You can also mirror, which comes in handy when you need to share your desktop with your audience. Or in single-window mode, you can use iDisplay for one application of your choice and quickly move selected apps from list of your favourite apps to iDisplay with one click. [£2.99]


Captain Dash: If you ignore the nauseating cartoon characters which guide you through the app, Captain Dash is a well-designed dashboard for all your website and social networking analytics. It plugs into your Google Analytics, Twitter and Facebook accounts, providing graphical breakdowns of key trends -- such as unique visitors, followers and page views -- in a far more attractive form than anything Google itself manages to give us. Captain Dash also allows you to apply filters to key metrics and save 'em as easily accessible dashboards. [Free]


Cooliris: Cooliris turns your photo collections into a scrollable, easy on the eye, 3D wall. The app will display photos stored on the iPad, as well as those you have linked online with services such as Facebook, Twittter, Instagram, Google Images and Flickr. The photos scroll through your screen with amazing smoothness, but there’s not much to do with them other than re-share on social networks or attach them to an email. But if you just want to show off an album of photos or have a screensaver of sorts, this is perfect. [Free]


Zite: Personalised news is something many apps attempt to give you, but Zite seems to manage to pull itself ahead of it's competitors. By selecting your categories, then spending the first couple of weeks rating the stories you’re offered as relevant to you or not, Zite gradually evolves into a newsgatherer which works to your interests. It can be a little too effective at this -- like too many of the same things, and your homepage will be completely overrun by it -- but if rated sparingly it’s a great news-reading and sharing tool. [Free]


500pix: 500px has replaced Flickr as the site for showing off your wares for many photographers, and its stunning tablet app is probably one of the reasons why. The app is essentially a photo viewer, which shows you the editor’s picks and user-voted photos in beautiful fullscreen. It can also be used as a slideshow for the photos in your own or others’ accounts, with cracking smooth transitions and your personal music playing softly in the background. [Free]

 

Android Apps

SwiftKey: Swiftkey has added gesture-based typing to the app's already-rich feature set. This means that SwiftKey now lets you swipe from letter to letter to complete the word you're typing, all without lifting your finger off the screen. Initially, this feature was designed to become available as its own download, entirely separate from SwiftKey's flagship keyboard. However, the company has since decided to bundle the two together into a single, more powerful offering. Thankfully. Also available for iOS. [£1.49 - promotional, usually £2.99]


Avast! Mobile Backup: Avast! Mobile Backup is a free mobile security app that automatically backs up data including contacts, SMS, call logs, family photos, and other personal data kept on your device. If you're looking to backup music, video, and apps, you will need to buy the Premium version. Like an Android version of iCloud (ish). [Free]


Persist: So audiophiles, ten volume settings for your phone, media, alert, alarm, and Bluetooth are not enough for you? No, you need more volume options than you can shake a gold-plated 1/8" male-to-male adapter at. Persist is perfect then, opening a tonne of settings in different situations and contexts. Link the volume. Lock the volume. Change the ringtone. Set a custom vibration. Upgrade via an in-app purchase for even more settings. That last one is optional. [Free]


Homestyler: Homestyler isn't the first app to let you create a virtual version of your home and try out new digital furniture, but it is the first one made specifically for Android, and it's mighty fine. The furniture and accessories you place in your photos are actually 3D models of real products -- y'know, you can buy them. Users can position them with impressive precision relative to the rest of their house or apartment. The controls and design aspects run very smoothly, and if you're redecorating, it's massively convenient. [Free]


Rotate on Shake: One of the nicer parts of the iOS that I wish Android would emulate is the hardware switch for screen rotation. This app solves that problem slightly, with a really fast way to switch rotation on or off. Just shake your phone or tablet -- no power widgets, no mess. A couple of nice touches include a pop-up or vibration verification, plus the ability to auto-start on boot. [£1.02]

 

Windows Phone Apps

Iconical Plus: Iconical is a Windows Phone calendar app which allows you to create multiple appointment groups filtered from your Windows Phone calendars and pin them to your Start Screen for quick and easy reference. Create appointment filter groups based on subject keywords, and filtered groups for school, work or any other appointment keyword that you may need to monitor a little closer. [£0.79]


Hipstamatic OgglHipstamatic’s Oggl app for Windows Phone 8 has had somewhat of a rough start since its launch. The app is slow, and unfortunately a bit clunky to use. But here’s the thing: Oggl’s filters and lenses are hands-down some of the most beautiful I've come across on the platform. There’s just something about the tones they use that make images really stand out. Thankfully, the app is significantly faster to launch with its latest update -- if fact, the whole thing is significantly faster and smoother, including manually switching the lens + filter combo. [Free]


ATM Hunter: The app will tell you the distance between your chosen location and the closest ATM or business which accepts PayPass, as well as provide you with driving directions and a map. You can also share the found locations with others via SMS. [Free]


SkyDrive: Pretty similar to Google Drive or Dropbox, Microsoft's SkyDrive app lets you store files in the cloud, so you can access them from anywhere, on any of your devices, regardless of the platform they're running. It also lets you share documents with collaborators and view documents that have been shared with you. The app is free to download, and users with Microsoft accounts get 7GB of free storage to start. [Free]


Deezer: Deezer's had a few updates on other platforms of late, so it's only fair that Windows Phone users get to join in with a new Deezer app of their own. The software offers the same on-demand streaming music as elsewhere, meaning you can search for or share your music, and multitaskers can rely on Snap to keep an eye on their tracks. Early Windows 8 adopters have free, ad-backed access to music for up to a full year, which is as good an incentive as any to give the app a go. [Free]