This is it, folks, the final Giz UK apps round up of the year. 2015 is just over a week from being over and we still don't have the official stable upgrade for Windows 10 Mobile. Yes I'm talking about that again, but it does bug me. Especially now that support for Windows Phone is all but dead.
Anyway, let's take a look at some fresh apps. Make sure to take note, everyone, you won't see another one of these until next year.
Android: AwSMS (Free)
The default SMS app in Android is rather bland, and if it's starting to get on your nerves then AwSMS is a nice alternative. It's basically the same as a standard SMS app, except it comes with a whole host of customisation options to improve your experience.
When you first load up the app it asks you to set the colour from a standard palette, and lets you set up a Heads-Up quick reply so you can respond without having to stop doing whatever it is you're doing.
Actually getting to the app itself doesn't make it look so impressive, but the differences lie in hiding in the settings menus. There are loads of different things you can toggle to make things easier, like the option to reply from your lock scree, or automatically closing the window when your messages have been sent. There are a bunch of different ways you can alter the design of the app itself (colour, font size, etc), but the main thing is that it's possible to switch up the look of individual conversations.
Other features of note include a night-time mode that blackens the screen so you don't blind yourself in the middle of the night, the option to block people and not see when they send you messages, a snooze function, and the ability to backup your messages for safe keeping.
You should also try:
Bumble: A dating app similar that functions similarly to Tinder, but puts the power in the hands of women. If two people match up, it's up to the women to send the first message within 24 hours. [Free]
Wyve: A wishlist app for collecting a list of all the things you want and sharing it with your loved ones. It might be a bit late to be used as a Christmas list, but it's always handy to keep a tally of the stuff you want. [Free]
BandLab: An online tool for musicians to collaborate and share their work with others across the world. [Free]
iPhone: Gopili (Free)
Finding cheap travel is something we're all interested in, especially given the state of train-ticket pricing. The problem is that most discount travel apps are focused on one specific mode of transport, be it trains, buses, or whatever.
If you've ever used apps for buying transport tickets then there's nothing out of the ordinary here. The only difference is that search results will include trains, buses, planes, and ride shares. Results can be sorted by price, departure time, and how long you'll be travelling for. If you don't fancy using one of the services, like sharing a car with a random stranger, you can filter them out using a multi-coloured button at the bottom of your screen.
Once you find a journey you like, you'll be sent over to the corresponding booking website so you can buy the tickets.
There's not much more to it than that, but the only thing really missing is the option to buy returns without having to do a separate search. That would be a handy feature, to save a little bit more time.
You Should also try:
Shelfie: (Update) Physical books are great, but e-books and audiobooks are more convenient. Shelfie means you don't have to choose, since it lets you scan in your physical books in order to claim a free, or significantly reduced, electronic and audio copy. (Free)
Jerrycan: An app for tracking and keeping an eye on your car's mileage over periods of time, which your car can't do with much accuracy. (£2.29)
Evernote: (Update) The latest version of the note-taking and productivity app has new features that take advantage of 3D Touch, an audio quick-note button, and improved access to home-screen details. [Free]
iPad: Copied (Free)
A clipboard is an essential tool, but they only hold one thing at a time. That might be OK on your desktop, but on a tablet like the iPad it can be a bit of a pain. So if you want to get any serious work done on your mobile device, you'll need something that makes the whole copy-paste thing a lot easier. Copied is the latest one to hit iOS.
The great thing is that you won't actually have to go into the main app very often, since the widget lets you save whatever you've copied just by pulling down at the top of the screen. You can't just copy it in and leave it there, though: you have to click the save button, and whatever you currently have in copied in the phone's standard clipboard will be stored for whenever you need it.
The only downside here is that the free version limits you to 10 saved clippings, if that's not enough for your needs, then you'll have to pay £1.49 to upgrade to the premium version. The same situation applies for those of you who want to organise your clippings into lists.
One handy feature I did like was that if you use the app, rather than the widget, you can swipe right to automatically copy the clips you have saved. Doing so not only pushes it into your clipboard so you can paste it somewhere else, it also uses a small green triangle to tell you which one was copied last. Having to flick into a new app kind of defeats the purpose, though; I wish that those two little things were in the widget. Still, it's a great app and a perfect productivity tool.
You should also try:
Penultimate: (Update) A digital handwriting tool, powered by Evernote. It's just been updated and now it has Apple Pencil support on the iPad Pro, a more intuitive set of pen features, multitasking support, and more. [Free - with in-app purchases]
Fit Men Cook: (Update) An app filled with healthy recipes that are designed to be easy on the wallet. The new version comes with new recipes (and the promise of regular additions), and a meal planner. [£0.79]
Windows Mobile: AccuWeather (Free)
Weather apps are great, but the problem is that they're too generalised, and even if it's saying a forecast for your area it might not be what you end up experiencing. AccuWeather, on the other hand, is all about hyper-localised forecasts that change based on exactly where you are.
The app itself is pretty typical of similar apps. You can choose to enter your address or use GPS to sort out your location, and ensure the app can actually send you relevant forecasts; there's nothing complicated about what's brought up. You've got your basic stats like temperature, humidity, wind speed, and so on, plus the 'MinuteCast' forecast. MinuteCast tell you exactly what weather changes are heading your way in the near future, and as an example the app was telling me that I was 45 minutes away from rainfall.
There's also an hourly forecast that has some basic info about the next 24 hours. The info there is basic, but if you tap each hour you get given more detailed information about what to expect, Similarly there's a two-week forecast that has a rough estimate of the weather over the next 14 days.
The final point to mention is the mapping section, which shows you satellite and radar data that shows you rain and cloud cover across the country. Sadly, zooming in a bit closer tended to crash the app, so I feel like its use is somewhat limited.
You should also try:
Slack Beta: (Update) The popular collaboration app has had a nice update on Windows Phone this week, and with it comes the much-needed multi-team support. [Free]
Adidas Train & Run beta: The companion app to Adidas's fitness hardware has launched on Windows 10. It behaves much like other fitness apps, tracking your effort and data in one handy place. [Free]
Bonus: Lightsaber with Google (iOS and Android)
Star Wars fever is hitting the world, and Google's latest venture lets you use your phone to control lightsaber in your browser. It's nice and simple, all you need is the Chrome browser on your computer and iOS/Android device. Just head to the link, follow the instructions, and you'll be using your lightsaber to escape a First Order base in no time.