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

By A Kennedy on at

GTA V comes out tomorrow, and nobody will see me for at least a week after that. I'll be under a pizza box fort with my Xbox, becoming paler and even more socially-inept, until I joyride every vehicle and grab every one of those damn collectibles. I'm a completionist, in case you hadn't guessed. In the meantime, here are some apps I've collected on my various devices in the last week:

 

iPhone Apps


MyThomson: If you're grabbing one of the out-of-season (late) deals to go on a holiday before the UK freezes over again, and you've decided to go with Thomson, then you should definitely try this one out. The app exists to give you as much information about the upcoming holiday as it possibly can, with necessary and useful features such as flight details, luggage allowance, maps and current weather, as well as a currency converter and a load of information about the holiday destination. It currently has four stars in the apps store, and got to number one aim the travel section in July. [Free]


Gym Pact: Incentive to go to the gym? Maybe. If you're not made of money, but end up avoiding the gym like the plague for no apparent reason, you could probably make do with this app. It forces you to pledge money and commit to a certain number of sessions of exercise during the week. It then uses GPS tagging and the movement sensor in your phone to make sure you're not cheating. Fail when it comes to your commitment, and you lose the money you pledged. Follow through, and you get rewarded with the money from another Gym Pact-ers failure. If that ain't incentive, I don't know what is. Try it, I dare you. [Free]


Xbox Music: About bloody time Microsoft. They've FINALLY released an app for the (surprisingly good) Xbox Music cloud/streaming music service. If you use your Xbox for pretty much everything it offers, you'll have subscribed to Xbox music, where you can stream music from the vast catalogue, create playlists and browse Xbox's cloud collection. Unfortunately, you don't have the ability to download tracks for offline listening, but apparently there's an update in the works for that. [Free]


Straight 8: In possibly one of the worst times to think about bringing out a new video app for iOS, considering there's already Instagram and Vine for shorter videos and YouTube Capture for longer videos, Straight 8 comes out. However, there's a possibility Straight 8 could find its niche: It has a focus on clips of up to three minutes, and very much emphasises its choice of filters and decent controls, for the "discerning iOS film makers". [Free]


AVG PrivacyFix: With all this ruckus recently about online privacy, it's no surprise that the Internet security giant AVG is taking advantage of the panic. The new app uses Facebook, LinkedIn and Google, and promises "one dashboard that shows you quickly and easily what you're sharing", by helping you manage those settings directly from your iPhone. [Free]

 

iPad Apps

Calendars 5: Calendar apps here, calendar apps there, calendar apps everywhere. There is a definite over-saturation in the App Store of companies trying to replace the stock iOS calendar app, which, in fairness, isn't really the best. The latest company jumping on the bandwagon is Readdle, with its promise of a "complete re-imagining" of mobile calendars. Apparently this means a gesture-heavy calendar app with natural language inputs for new diary dates; a task manager for to-do lists, and the ability to work both on and offline. [£2.99]


Coast by Opera: Have you used Opera's browser? It genuinely makes browsing on a mobile device speedy and easy. Well, Coast is the brand new app from the same developers. They say it's been designed from scratch specifically for Apple's tablet, rather than being "just a mobile interface scaled up to fit a touchscreen". It's based on WebKit, so naturally it's big on swiping gestures over buttons to navigate. Might as well use that touch screen, right? [Free]


Rock Prodigy: Learn Guitar: This is a really handy app for a beginner guitar player who wants to get good fast, but also wants to avoid having to seek out a teacher. It takes the place of a mentor, providing lessons and using the microphone to listen to your strumming. It even gives you a score, if you prefer to gamify your learnings. The downside is that it's subscription-based, but warm-up exercises and ear-training is free.  [Free]


Reeder 2: We may live in a post Google-Reader world now, but RSS readers are far from dead. Version 2.0 of Reeder, the highly anticipated sequel to what turned out to be a largely popular RSS reader app, has just been released. It features support for some of the more popular syncing services -- Feedbin, Feedly, Feed Wrangler etc. It looks like it was designed with iOS 7 in mind, don't you think? The Mac version is also rumoured to be undergoing a huge redesign, so we can look forward to that one too. [£2.99]


Hello Vino -- Wine Assistant: I've said it before, I'll say it again. Mmm, wine. Hello Vino says it "takes the confusion out of choosing a wine", a sweeping statement, considering the choice out there and the personal individual tastes involved. But it seems like it actually works fairly well. You get a few choices of how you want to use the app -- Wine with a Meal/Food, Wine for an Occasion, Wine by Taste Preference, Wine by Type/Variety, Wines for Summer or Popular Wine Picks. You can even get information on a wine by taking a snapshot of the label, but that carries an in-app charge. Despite that, all in all, a good app for those who want to increase your knowledge and awareness of wine types and choices. [Free]

 

Android Apps

 

Simplenote: From the company behind WordPress, Automattic, here's a new note-taking app called Simplenote. It bills itself as "an easy way to keep notes, lists, ideas and more". The general idea behind it is that you can synchronise your various notes them across various devices (and platforms), and use a mixture of tags and pins to organise them. For those verging on OCD when it comes to organisation. But the best of us are, right? Right? [Free]


Reaper: There was a fair amount of hype last week about the Hexage's new game Reaper, an action-RPG much in the way of charm, and some plush production value. During the game you play as the Black Swordsman, who hacks and slashes his way through an variety of well-designed levels, with the bonus of lots of character progression and social features. [Free]


Prime Mover: There was a fitness app in the iOS section so it's only fair to you Android users to included my choice here, too. Prime Mover focuses less on tracking your progress during random exercise, and more on telling you what particular exercises to do. It claims to be the "definitive structured bodyweight workout app," where you get one workout for free and another eight that you can buy as a single in-app purchase "bundle", with the expected warm-up and cool-down routines, and various other tools to see how you're progressing. [Free]


FlowDoku: The Google Play store listing for this puzzle game states: "Imagine Sudoku re-invented as a game of colourful shapes, where you use two simple rules and logic to uncover the linked groups of squares, triangles and diamonds." Pretty accurate, if you ask me. It includes more than 250 puzzles to play across five difficulty levels. And similarly to the more traditional Sudoku, it's addictive and immensely frustrating.  [Free]


OS Mapfinder: Ok, so we've got Google maps. But do you ever pine for the olden days in geography class where you were forced to look at the old OS maps? Or the exams during your GCSEs (Junior Cert. for me) scouring the given OS map for that bloody road in the question? OS Mapfinder lets you look at and download the OS Landranger Maps (1:50 000 scale) and OS Explorer Maps (1:25 000 scale) of the UK in high-res. They sell it as a resource for ramblers, hiker, cyclists, and anyone who is interested in the outdoors. I say get it for nostalgia's sake. [Free]

 

Windows Phone Apps

Joining Hands 2: So, Joining Hands 2, as you'd guess, is a sequel to Joining Hands, released earlier this year. Joining Hands 2 doesn't change the basic format of the predecessor game, but it has a huge number of levels (140 of them so far), plus various different characters with properties that alter the simplistic gameplay, and a gentle pace that preserves the challenge but takes away the pressure you get from time limits or arcade-ish interferences. Thoroughly enjoyable for any ages, if you can look past the vomit-inducing, sickeningly-sweet, cutesy characters. [£2.29]


DrwaStickman:EPIC: It's about as taxing as actually drawing stick figures in a colouring book, but Draw a Stickman: Epic is full of enough charm and playful interactions to warrant some doodling.  [£1.49]


Selektiv Light: Selektiv Light is a Windows Phone app that allows you to selectively "colourise" your photos. The app basically converts the selected image to a black and white image, and then the portions that you click on, selectively colouring-in your images. Apart from selectively colouring your images, you can also adjust the image tone, darkness etc by adjusting the background intensity from within the app itself. [Free]


Connectivity Tile Pro+: This is a neat little, user friendly app -developed by Nokia to give you easier access to a few connection settings like Bluetooth, GSm Network and Wi-Fi without have to go through various screens to get to them. The advantage of this app is that you don't have to pin the app tile to your main screen, instead you can just pin all your connectivity tiles to it. Makes your screen neater and hopefully you happier. [Free]


Unit Conversion Tool: Unit Conversion tool is a handy unit converter designed to help you to find out the equivalent of most popular measurement units. The app lets you to enter any value and convert using various different categories. You can swap between the selected measurement units by pressing the Control button and save the important conversions as favourites. Bit pricey for a converter, but one of the better ones out there. [£0.99]