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

By Tom Pritchard on at

It's been a mild winter thus far, though where I am it was actually starting to get icy last night. For some reason I seem to be able to cope without a pair of gloves, handy because it means I can still use my phone (and because I don't actually own a pair of gloves). But it does mean I don't get to try out my phone's 'glove mode'. I'm sure it won't be long until I get to moan about how it doesn't work properly, though.

But just like the cold weather holding back, app developers seem to be shying away from barraging us with Christmas-themed apps. You can decide whether that's a good or bad thing.

iPhone


miDrive: This is one aimed at the learner driver, with all the tools they need to pass their driving test. The main feature is that it can also be used to find driving instructors, taking most of the hassle out of the process. This is a new version that makes that even easier, letting you pay your instructor from within the app, and even letting you purchase driving lessons as a gift. [Free]


Blinkist: We don't always have time to read, which is a shame because without it we miss out on a lot of learning. Blinkist is a handy little tool containing a selection of non-fiction books, condensing them down into a 15-minute audiocast for you to listen to at your convenience. [Free -- with in-app purchases]


Inkly Cards:  For the most part Inkly is very much like any other card-making service, but there is one big difference. If you write down a personal message on a piece of paper, Inkly will scan it in and print it on a card. Oh, and all cards are 50 per cent off for Christmas. [Free]


Tales from the Borderlands: Another game using the episodic adventure format, this time set within the world of the Borderlands series. Play as both Rhys, a man who wants to control the planet of Pandora, and Fiona, a con artist who wants to get as rich as one can be, in an adventure that's rather different from the usual FPS affair of other Borderlands games. [£2.99 -- with in-app purchases]


Workflow: This is a fantastic app that no iOS user should be without. Workflow automates over 100 different actions and turns each one into its own 'app' that you can store on your home screen and activate with a single tap. Make a GIF, share your location, find directions to the nearest coffee shop, and so on. The possibilities are amazing, so give it a whirl. [£1.99]

iPad


Meet Science: Light and Sound: Back in the day we had Bill Nye the Science Guy, and while he's still around, kids these days have to learn their science from other places. That's where apps like Meet Science come into it. Light and Sound is the second Meet Science app, covering the basics of the two thing using a selection of experiments, mini-games, and animation. [£4.99]


oneSafe: Unlike your average everyday password manager, oneSafe actually stores any information you want to keep secure. Credit card numbers, PIN numbers, passwords, you name it. It's all highly encrypted, and as long as you make sure the app is locked down correctly it should be safe (it can use TouchID, so that shouldn't be an issue. [£6.99]


FitStar Yoga: A great app for yoga-enthusiasts whatever their skill level. FitStar Yoga offers a personalised yoga experience, and one that you can practise anywhere. The customised sessions are only available if you have a premium subscription, however, and that's kinda the whole point of the app. [Free -- with subscription]


Think Like Churchill: An app for challenging yourself and discovering if you can think like Britain's most famous Prime Minister. In this app narrated by Boris Johnson, you get to put yourself in Churchill's shoes and face dilemmas that the man himself faced throughout his time in power. [£2.49]


Snapguide: A network that's focused on and crafting and sharing your own intricate how-to guides, as well as finding other people's guides to learn a thing or two. iPad users are in luck, because the design for the iPad version has just had a massive overhaul, improving the general app experience and offering personalisation options. [Free]

Android


VLC for Android: VLC is the software that lets you play any audio or video file, meaning you don't need to have a billion different pieces of software to watch your favourite videos. The Android version is now out of beta, so you've got a nice stable piece of software to watch your videos on the go. [Free]


Strafe: eSports is a big thing these days, but unlike regular sports there is no real portal for following the biggest eSports teams playing across many games. Spafe is that portal, letting you stream games, get notifications on what's going on, let you vote for the MVP, and of course searching for the games that you want to watch. [Free]


Shareables: So this app is basically doing my job for me, in a way at least. Shareables is an app that shows you the most popular apps that are being used by Shareable users and your Facebook friends. But if you don't have enough data to download them on the go, you can save them so you can sort it out when you get home. [Free]


HERE Maps: In a twist of events, HERE Maps came from Windows Phone and is spreading to other platforms, starting with Android. HERE is your standard mapping, with two very big differences. First of all it will give you live traffic updates on your route, meaning you can avoid huge jams. Secondly, and most importantly, it lets you use the map and find yourself directions without having an internet signal, just like a traditional sat-nav. [Free]


Action Launcher 3: A brand-new apps launcher for Lollipop, Action Launcher 3 is an upgrade from Action Launcher 2 (would've guessed?) with a mix of Google Now's launcher and Material Design thrown in for good measure. It's designed to let you organise your stuff without having to compromise the look of your home screen. [Free]

Windows Phone


Minecraft: Pocket Edition: After Microsoft went ahead and bought Mojang, it wasn't going to be long before the studio's flagship title made it onto Windows Phone. The Pocket Edition includes the Survive and creation edition of the game, along with local Wi-Fi multiplayer. Go ahead and explore, build, fight, the usual Minecraft stuff. [£4.99]


Blinkbox: Tesco may be trying to offload Blinkbox on Vodafone, but that isn't stopping it from expanding onto Windows Phones. You can stream the movies you've bought and rented through Blinkbox over the internet on your phone without issue. Sadly there's no offline playback yet, but it's coming. [Free]


Forest: An interesting way to free yourself of phone addiction. Forest lets you plant a seed that will grow into a tree over the course of 30 minutes. The thing is, as soon as you leave the app the tree will wither and die. Is mindlessly browsing Facebook really worth the life your precious tree? [£0.79]


Cover: Anyone who's ever downloaded comics will know that they don't come in standard filetypes like .pdf. So to read them you need a specific reader that can deal with filetypes like .cbr and .cbz. So, with Cover you Windows Phone types can read downloaded comics on a screen more suitable for reading comics. [Free]