I say this a lot, but it's certainly something that needs to be mentioned time and time again: the trains in this country are bloody awful. They're loud, expensive, dirty, cramped, station layouts are often more confusing than they need to be (looking at you Birmingham New Street), and they're full of people. As the saying goes, "People, what a bunch of bastards". I can't wait for the day when I can travel up the country in a self-driving car while napping on the backseat.
There should be an app to make travelling a much more pleasant experience, but there is not. We do have this lot, though.
Android: VRidge (Free)
You don't need to buy an expensive headset to enjoy virtual reality games, all you need is a smartphone and a cheap headset in which to enclose your phone. Alright, it's probably a much better idea to buy something decent, but with the supply issues affecting Oculus and HTC VR headsets that's going to be tricky. Thankfully VRidge is here to help you out.
VRidge is capable of wirelessly streaming VR games from your PC to your phone, so all you need to do is slap your phone into a headset and you can enjoy a crude form of virtual reality without spending a fortune and getting angsty when you realise you have no idea when it'll arrive. It doesn't seem to convert non-VR games into stereoscopic 3D, but you can't have everything from a free app. It does have headtracking, though, which is great.
That's pretty simple, but that's not all VRidge does. You need the desktop to client to make it work, but the combination of the two turns VRidge into a proper gaming client, like Steam or GOG Galaxy. Not quite as powerful, but it means you can switch games, manage downloads, and browse a large library of VR-ready games.
If you don't already have a budget VR headset, make sure to check out our buying guide.
You should also try:
FooView (Free): A floating bubble that makes it easier to do all sorts of tasks easily, without having to keep switching apps. Features include translation, screenshots, app-switching, and more. [Free]
Dark Sky: The popular minute-by-minute iOS weather app has finally hit Android, so now you can enjoy super-accurate, hyper local weather forecasts whenever you like. [Free]
My Paid Apps: Nice and simple, this one is a list of all the stuff you've paid for in Google Play. Apps, in-app purchases, music, items, and so on. [Free]
iPhone: Lumi News (Free)
There is too much news, and while there are plenty of apps out there dedicated to helping you find more relevant content through personalisation, Lumi News takes it one step further. It uses the ever-popular Tinder-style swiping system to work out whether you like a particular story.
News comes from all the major newspapers, along with smaller online titles, and the more you swipe the more it learns about what you like to read. Connecting with Facebook and Twitter helps it out a bit more, but privacy issues might make some of you avoid it. It's not just text-based news either, since Lumi News has a selection of videos that work with the same swiping system.
If personalisation isn't your thing, you can always hit the trending section to see what other people are enjoying at any given time. Hopefully they don't fiddle with it, like Facebook. And you get to see what stories you've swiped right on, though it might be a bit tricky to keep on top of those after a few days.
There's not much to it than that, but if you want a more interesting way to sift through the day's news, this is a decent choice.
You should also try:
Circle Pay (Update): An easy way to pay friends with just an email or a phone number, now with improved ways to send and receive requests and a GIF keyboard. Because everything needs a GIF keyboard these days. [Free]
TreyBro: One for gamers who hate having to play alone, but can never seem to get their friends on at the right time. It's a looking for group app designed to make sure you never have to game alone ever again. [Free]
Hopscotch: One for the kids that aims to help them learn to code their own games. They can work from scratch, make versions of existing titles, or create their own pixel art. [Free]
iPad: Opera VPN (Free)
So you want some sort of VPN to enhance your online activity, but you're sick and tired of being fleeced to get what you need. Enter Opera, which has just released a brand new VPN for iOS devices. The best part? It's 100 per cent free, and will be for the rest of your life.
Free! You can't get a better deal than that. For that low, low price of nothing, you get a VPN that smashes through geoblockers, blocks adverts, blocks nasty web trackers, as well as brisk internet speeds. It's all unlimited too, so it's not like you're going to burn through a measly allowance on the first day of the month.
There's really not much to it than that. You can unblock web content by filtering your traffic through foreign servers (Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Singapore, the USA, or whoever is nearest. Since this is a system VPN, and not one specifically for a web browser, all the traffic from all your apps gets filtered. So the likes of Netflix will show up with the US catalogue on your iPad.
One thing Opera doesn't emphasise is security, so it's probably not going to keep your web-tracking anonymous (tracker-blocking aside). It's worth mentioning that when Opera launched a similar VPN for its desktop browser, it leaked user IP addresses all over the place. Hopefully that'll come in version 2.0, since that would make it damn near perfect.
You should also try:
Google Translate (Update): A much-needed update this week: Google's Translate app lets you translate stuff offline. Just make sure you download the language packages in advance. [Free]
Thoughts: An infinite canvas for you to do whatever you like with. Draw, note, design, you name it. There's even a nightmode for sketching at night without blinding yourself, and iCloud syncing. [Free]
Splice: A simple and powerful video editor to help you fix up your videos (and photos) on the go. [Free]
Windows Mobile: Red Bull TV (Free)
Is extreme sports your thing? Then you are going to love Red Bull TV. It's the streaming service created by the same company that produces energy drinks and sponsors various sports events across the globe. The app does seem to default to the beta version of the app, which has quite a confusing layout, but that's easily rectified.
The difference between the two seems only seems to affect the layout, and I don't like the beta version all that much. Whichever you choose is up to you, however.
Red Bull TV gives you full access to all sorts of video content based on the things you'd associate with Red Bull. Air racing, skateboarding, snowboarding, those extreme sporty-type things that you have to be a wee-bit crazy to even consider. Plus music festivals. That was a bit of a surprise, but that's not exactly a bad thing. Those videos are then sorted into films, clips, and videos.
There's also an events calendar, so you can keep track of all the Red Bull-sponsored events happening in the world. How else will you know when the next Air Race?
There's not much more to it than that, and you don't need to pay to watch any of it. The app could do with leaving the beta version alone, and sticking to the stable layout, but that's just my opinion.
You should also try:
Telegram Messenger (Update): The messaging app had a nice update this week, and with it comes the ability to edit your messages (up to 2 days after posting), improved tagging features, and more. [Free]
You-Doo: A to-do list app that uses locations to prioritise what you need to do at any given time. No need to soft through your home to-do list if you're sitting in the office, and vive versa.
Misfit (Update): The companion app for Misfit fitness trackers had an update this week, and with it comes a totally new design and user interface. [Free]