We’re just over a month away from the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and this week the opening salvo in the last stage of the Star Wars hype train leaves the station.
Battlefront arrives on games consoles, and its companion app makes an appearance in this week’s app roundup, along with some apps that might well make you more productive – if you so wish (dedicated lazy-types, there's lots for you too!).
iPhone: Firefox, Free
The biggest app release this week is Firefox finally making its way onto iOS, years after being available for Android and on desktop.
Developer Mozilla boasts that the new app will make search suggestions, allow you to manage tabs visually and include a “private browsing” mode for when you don’t want to remember what sites you’ve been visiting. You know, for when you buy people surprise presents. Umm, yeah, that’s it.
Best of all though, if you use Firefox on the desktop then the app will automatically synchronise your browsing history, tabs, passwords and bookmarks, enabling you to seamlessly move between devices. It’s also available on iPad too. [Firefox]
You should also try:
Relight (Update): An app for taking and tuning HDR photos with many more options to improve your snaps has just had a bunch of updates added. [£2.99]
NYT VR (Update): If you have a Google Cardboard headset, or something compatible like the Samsung Gear VR, then this is the best implementation of VR you’ll see. The New York Times is now producing 360-degree documentaries that really do feel as though they are putting you in someone else’s shoes. [FREE]
Later this week one of the biggest games of the year hits shelves and digital stores. Star Wars Battlefront for PlayStation and Xbox takes the Star Wars Universe, and grafts it onto a Call-of-Duty-style engine to make the Battle of Hoth and several other iconic moments from the original trilogy seem more intense and real than ever. But if you can’t wait, there’s always the companion app which takes the form of a card game.
The objective is to defend your rebel base from an advancing Empire by playing the right cards at the right moment. What makes it a companion app is that it interacts directly with its console older sibling: When playing on console you can earn extra cards to play while mobile, and on the iPad (and iPhone/Android) game you can earn credits to spend in Battlefront proper.
You should also try:
FlightRadar 24 (Update) The amazing flight-tracking app has just received an update that lets you filter your virtual map to just the types of aircraft you’re looking for. Though it perhaps isn’t very practically useful to non-pilots, it is still mesmerising to see just how many planes are are in the air simultaneously without any problems. A celebration of human achievement in app form. [FREE]
Windows Phone: Box, Free
If you need to share files around your business, one of the most popular platforms for making it easy is Box, which also provides a suite of online collaborative tools to work with it.
This week the company has released its Windows 10 Universal app, which works on Windows Phone as well as Windows 10 on tablets and desktop computers, and makes the process of sharing files easier than ever. You can even edit Microsoft Office documents directly in Box.
Android: Apple Music, Three-Month Trial, Free
No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Apple has actually created an app for Android, one that brings across its new music streaming service, Apple Music, to Android customers. The app brings Android up to speed with the iOS version, including streaming from a catalogue of millions of songs. It even let’s you listen into Beats 1, Apple’s new radio station that has been masterminded by Zane Lowe.
The best bit? There’s a three-month free trial. So if you haven’t taken the leap with the likes of Spotify yet, why not sign up and get yourself a quarter of a year's worth of free unlimited music?
You should also try:
Google Translate (Update): Google has released an update for its brilliant translation app, adding support for photo-based translation between English, German and Arabic. It’s a must-have if you’re going abroad as you can even download offline language packs to help you translate when there’s no data. [FREE]
Doodle (Update): If you ever need to plan a meeting with more than one other person, then this is the app to do it. A simple way of offering up dates and comparing calendars, without using fifty billion emails to do so. [FREE]
Special Mention: Facebook
Yes, we know you likely already have Facebook on your phone but as far as we’re concerned it earned its place as the top app this week with a clever functionality that was used during the terrorist attack in Paris. “Safety Check” enabled people who Facebook believed to be in Paris (based on what it knows about each user's location) to check in as safe – and let them check in others too. It then broadcasts a user's safety status using that 'check in'.
Not only is this a brilliant use for such a ubiquitous tool, but it could also help in the rescue efforts as it means phone lines potentially being less congested. For instance, during the 7/7 attacks in Britain, phone networks were briefly brought down by the volume of calls; anything to make things easier at a time of crisis gets a big thumbs up from us.