March is a big month for Netflix subscribers. We've got the latest batch of House of Cards episodes already, and Daredevil is due at the end of next week. That's a lot of quality TV time, and it's rather impeccable timing. It just so happens that the streaming site is starting to enforce European VPN users who want to escape their own crappy catalogues. Such a pointless endeavour.
Let's take our mind of that sad state of affairs, and look at something more interesting. You know what I'm talking about: it's app time.
Android: Booyah Video Chat for WhatsApp (Free)
For those of us who don't have the option of using iMessage (or just plain don't want to), WhatsApp is the next obvious choice. Who could say no to unlimited calls and texts to everyone else with WhatsApp? The only downside is that WhatsApp still hasn't had the good graces to include video calls. That's where Booyah comes in.
It was released on iOS a while ago, and now Android users get to enjoy its video calling service with all their WhatsApp friends. It's nice and simple. You load up the app, tap the add button, and you can send invitations to all your contacts. If they have Booyah installed then they can join you in a video call. Nice and simple, and no frills attached.
There's not much too it, but you also have the option of switching between the front and back camera to suit your purposes. It's a bit of a hassle having to go through the process of messaging an invite to people, but until WhatsApp releases the feature itself (it's supposed to be coming, but we don't know when) this is your best bet.
You should also try:
Livecoding.tv: Have you ever wanted to watch livestreams of people coding? Good news! You can with Livecoding.tv. Well that's not all it is. It's also a place for coders to share experience, share code, and socialise. [Free]
GoToMeeting (beta): A work-based app, letting people conduct meetings over their phone without having to put on pants. [Free]
phraser: We get all sorts of notifications on our phones, and not all of them good. phraser makes them a bit more useful, by offering up new words and their meanings each day. You can also add it to your homescreen as a widget. [Free]
iPhone: Shelf (Free)
We all like to make notes, but one thing that often requires some of our thoughts to be jotted down is books. If you want to catalogue those thoughts somewhere you could throw them into a standard note app, or write them into the book itself. But where's the fun in that? Shelf is an app that lets you document all your thoughts on the many printed books out there, whether they primarily use words or artwork.
It's also a nice place to keep tabs on which books you've read. All you have to do to get started is to search for a book and find it in Shelf's extensive catalogue. It's not got everything, but I did find a few more slightly obscure titles that prove it's not just focusing on big books by famous authors. Once you've found your book, you select it and start jotting down your thoughts. As you might have guessed it does include some comic and graphic novels.
Each time you press the '+' button, it lets you add a brand new entry on each individual book. You can then go back to these entries and make amendments as you fit. It's all text based, so you can't add any doodles or images. While most people will be more than happy with just text, I feel that adding the option of handwritten entries or including small images could be beneficial to some people.
Shelf isn't just about notes either, and you could easily use it as a library of all the books you've read or as a wishlist of what you want to read. We all see things on shop shelves we feel might be worth reading, this way you can keep track of them and do some research at home.
You should also try:
Urban Massage: An app for booking yourself a massage appointment at your home or office, with the masseuse arriving within 60 minutes. Available in Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, London, and Edinburgh. [Free]
DayCap: A service for taking pictures of your day and transforming them into an easy-to-watch GIF to be shared on Instagram. [Free]
iPad: ThingThing Keyboard (Free)
Typing and cartoonish faces seem to be the staples of digital communication these days, but there are times when you need more. You need access to your files, your photos, your calendar, and to get it you need to stop what you were doing and go through the process of opening up a different app. ThingThing Keyboard wants to change that by letting you access that stuff in your keyboard.
In many respects it's just like any other third-party keyboard for iOS. The app itself takes you through the process of activating it, and it's got usual features like autocorrect, a swipeable cursor, and more. The killer feature is how it integrates with your apps, with access granted without going anywhere. Only a few apps are compatible, and all of them are featured in the ThingThing Keyboard's setting menu. You've got iOS's calendar and photos, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Pocket, Todoist, and cloud storage (no OneDrive, sadly). You don't even need the apps installed on your device, since it connects via your web browser – all you need to do is log in and authorise the connection.
All the connected services are featured in a toolbar at the top of the keyboard, and tapping the relevant one shows you exactly what is available to be shared. anything you select either downloads or uploads itself into the app, letting you paste whatever it is. That last bit is important, and it means that there are limitations to what ThingThing does: whatever you're pasting into has to be able to cope with what you've selected. No pasting images in the address bar, for instance.
It's a little bit surprising that an app like this hasn't arrived sooner, and while some of it might feel a bit pointless to some people I do feel as though having instant access to files in the cloud is a damn good reason to download it. The rest is just an added convenience.
You should also try:
Medly - Music Maker: Another iPad-based music maker, except this one lets you 'draw' the notes and beats on screen. That makes things nice and simple for you. [Free -- with in-app purchases]
Serial Reader: Fancy reading classic literature, but don't have the time? Serial Reader lets you 'subscribe' to them, and get delivered a brand new bite-sized instalment each morning. [Free]
Windows Mobile: Harvester Messenger (£1.49)
There are plenty of apps out there for social interaction, and you may find yourself checking them quite a lot. Instead of having all the apps installed separately, Harvester collects some of the biggest ones all in one place. Not only does that save you space, it also saves you time when flicking through your app drawer.
The mobile version includes Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, and Google+. The PC version also has Hangouts, WhatsApp, Continuum, and Skype.
It's nice and easy to use, since all you need to do is toggle the services you want to use and they'll appear a sidebar on the app's main screen. Tapping the one you want to use takes you to the app's mobile site where you can log in and use as normal. The fact that it's a mobile site might put some of you off, but that also means you won't be stuck with an out-of-date third-party interface should any big changes happen.
The only big downside is that you can't get any notifications if the app is minimised. Apparently this is due to the Windows App infrastructure, and is rather annoying. At least there's a setting that can be toggled to warn you of this fact anytime the app is closed; that way you can't accidentally close it and find out ours later.
You should also try:
Dropbox (Update): Dropbox got a LOT of updates this week, and with them came the ability to share links while you upload, better Office Mobile support, and advanced support for Continuum. [Free]
Deezer Music Preview: The beta version of Deezer's Windows app, letting you test out brand new features long before everyone else. This has just launched as a Universal Windows 10 app, so grab it pronto. [Free]