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

By A Kennedy on at

If any of you readers have Americans in your life, all you'll be hearing about until the weekend is Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Unfortunately this Thursday I'll be working rather than stuffing my face with turkey, so I'm trying to ignore the chatter. Diving into last week's app releases (and updates) has proven a good distraction, so read on with aplomb:

 

iPhone Apps

Songkick: The awesome gig database website, Songkick, launched a new version of their iOS app a few days ago. With the expected feature of personalising an index of upcoming concerts from your favourite artists, it has a couple of ace new features for us to explore as well -- users can buy tickets through the app and it can also now integrate playlists from Spotify, merging them alongside your iTunes library. This, along with a shiny new design, makes it a top download this week. [Free]


Skydrive: Lagging behind by a month or two on iOS7 being available, Microsoft has released its iOS7 update to their Skydrive app. Built with the aesthetics to fit in with Apple's latest iOS, significant new features such as the ability to automatically upload camera photos straight to Microsoft’s SkyDrive cloud storage, and automatic backup over Wi-Fi are prominent, as well as enabling an additional feature for those using Windows 8.1 and an iPhone. SkyDrive automatically pulls out any text captured in a photo using OCR, and the built-in Smart Search in Windows 8.1 will surface that text in search results. Nifty or what? [Free]


Nike+ Move: This is Nike's brand new fitness app for those who don't want to fork out for a Nike+ Fuelband SE and its accompanying app. It's only available for the iPhone 5S for now -- because it uses the M7 processor to track your movements, older model users are out of luck. As with pretty much all of the other Nike+ apps, all of your activity is turned into "NikeFuel" points, with a daily analysis of how you've been walking, running, or whatever other movement you've been doing, vigorous or not. It also has Game Centre integration to see how that compares with friends' activity, which will ignite that competitive edge in some people. [Free]


Rayman Fiesta Run: I don't know about you, but I don't think Rayman is talked about enough nowadays in the gaming industry -- it's all Call of Duty this and Assassin's Creed that -- but the little limb-less acrobat has probably clocked twice as many gaming hours with me as any other character  This installment of the franchise is basically a sequel to the brilliant original iOS game Rayman Jungle Run -- the same game mechanics and gameplay, with new themes, backgrounds and characters. The eleventh area is a bitch, I've failed about 50 times -- but I'll get it, eventually. [£1.99]


VW GTI: A promo video released last Friday is causing a bit of a stir on the interweb... But what is it for? It's for an app, that's what. For this app, Volkswagen Golf GTI and Underworld have collaborated on an experience that "aims to redefine the meaning of driving music". For "safety reasons" (read speeding concerns), the iOS app is not available to the public yet, but there are plans in the works to integrate it into future VW models. If you fancy a sneak preview, chance your arm and enter their competition on Facebook here, to be in the running to win a day at the tracks, driving a Volkswagon Golf GTI with the "Play The Road" Experience. [TBC, win a preview here]

 

iPad Apps

Chordana Viewer: Casio has recently released this genius app which scans the music files stored on your iOS device and then attempts to turn them into chord charts, to help you play them on your own instrument. It uses Casio's so-called "Chordana" technology to build these charts, and thankfully lets users correct the chords when it gets them wrong -- which can be frequent depending on the complexity of the track. Then, you can play along with the moving chart. [£6.99]


Lego: The Lord of the Rings: The title tells you all really. Building on the success of the previous Lego games (Harry Potter, Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean etc.), this title continues the trend of making awesome, and frequently comedic, games (I love those little cutscenes). Ok, so the game itself is a verging-on-ridiculous 1.5GB -- my poor 16GB Mini -- but you get 90 playable characters, including little Lego versions of Frodo, Gandalf and Legolas. It looks beautiful, and plays pretty well too. [£2.99]


Modernist Cuisine at Home: First thing's first, this is an expensive app -- £54.99. No typo, that really is the price of this cookbook app from Inkling. It seems expensive, but this crème de la crème of cookbooks costs £395 for the hardback version, and apparently for good reason. The app offers 416 recipes with text, photo and video instructions, in case you're a foodie that needs to know things such as how to "blowtorch a filet for the first time". And if you're in London, there's a neat little shop which has just opened up in London Bridge called Borough Kitchen, which sells all the fancy kitchenware to get your chef on. [£54.99]


Football Manager Handheld 2014: Cards on the table, I'm not one for spectator sports. I know, I know, I feel emasculated enough without anyone else weighing in, but in the spirit of catering to the wider population, I feel the need to include a sporting app now and then. My footy playing/watching friends rave about this one -- rather than having a mammoth session playing Football Manager on the computer, with this app you have the ability to play it in those moments between other tasks during your daily life. The latest version adds more depth, a redesigned UI, and the ability to create your own club with you as the main striker. I'm sure it's riveting. [£6.99]


MApp: UK Indoor Maps: There are a tonne of map apps around nowadays -- Google Maps, Apple Maps and Nokia Maps being the big three. They might get you to a destination, but what about when you get there? That's what MApp is for. It provides you with maps for a loads of UK locations such as airports, museums, shopping centres and other indoor locations, helping you to navigate around them. Of course, eventually the big three will catch on to something like this and include it as a feature, but for now, MApp is the bee's knees. [Free]


 

Android Apps

HPI Check: If you're going through the process of researching and buying a used car in the UK, HPI Check is a godsend -- offering a quick way to check on the history of a car before handing over your hard-earned cash for it. The app also gathers data on the car's cost in road tax and fuel consumption to calculate environmental impact. [Free, full checks cost £16.99 in-app]


Google Text-to-Speech: This is Android's text-to-speech engine released as a standalone app. Pretty simple, it helps various Android apps read text aloud to allow access to those hard of sight, or if robotic voices are your thing. [Free]


Google Helpouts: The brand new thing from big brother Google, Helpouts is a service that promises to "connects people who need help with people who can give help over live video". These experts are grouped into various categories, from fitness and nutrition, to beauty, to computers and electronics. You have a choice of paying per minute or by the call; the earliest reviews and chatter indicate that the experts' advice is sound. [Free]


Squarehub: A "private family network" designed to be used by all members of your family, this app is a mixture of social networking, group messaging and personal organisation tools, with a tonne of photo editing tools thrown in. As an added benefit, it saves you from having to accept that friend request from the 'rents on Facebook.  [Free]


Anomaly 2: This sequel to Anomaly Warzone Earth by 11 Bit Studios has been causing a stir on both iOS and Android this week, touting its game play as "RTS tower offense" as opposed to tower defence. No matter what they're calling it, you should get the idea of the game's genre from that. In a world in which machines have taken over the world, you play as the humans fighting back. Or, in multiplayer mode, you can play as either side. It's a great game with neat cutscenes. [£3.49]


 

Windows Phone Apps

Instagram Beta: It's nearly here, but for now in beta, Instagram for WP contains the functionality you'd expect based on the iOS and Android versions. Despite a barrage of rumours that the app doesn't allow you to take photos, I can reassure you that it can. The only gripe is that the ability to upload and share video is missing. I'm sure they're working on it. [Free]


Blippar: Another app available on other platforms that has migrated over to WP, Blippar has been around since 2011 on iOS, Android and BlackBerry, with the sole intention of making advertising fun again. The app uses high-speed augmented reality and image recognition technology to let brands add interactive advertising to real-world objects. [Free]


Asphalt 8: Airborn: Good news for racing fans as Gameloft has released the latest title in their Asphalt series. A little on the late side as it was released for iOS and Android three months ago, the latest instalment, Asphalt 8, features a brand-new physics engine that lets players race through tunnels and towns, off bridges, down embankments, and along the road at high speeds, performing dynamic, high-speed aerial stunts. It's a fast-paced addictive game for anyone with a need for speed. [£0.79]


IG Trading:  This is a solid trading app for WP, a platform that was lacking a decent one. Used to trade CFDs and spread bets on over 10,000 global markets, including indices, commodities and shares. UK users with a CFD or spread betting account can log in using this app and let you get info and make decisions on-the-go as they happen. [Free]


Office Remote: This little number is a must have for WP-owning workers who find themselves giving PowerPoint presentations on a regular basis, rendering those damn clickers obsolete. All you need is a Windows Phone, a version of Office 2013, and a Bluetooth connection between the two. Meet all the requirements, and the app appears to offer everything you'll need — including a virtual laser pointer. The setup is a bit complex, but for Microsoft users, the new app adds just a bit more value to the Microsoft ecosystem. Here's hoping it will migrate to Android and iOS soon. [Free]


 

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