After a year of wondering what was going to happen to the BBC's globally syndicated cash-cow franchise Top Gear, last night we finally got to see what Chris Evans and his team had in store for us. The final thing was, erm, okay. I guess. It was basically just the same programme, with different presenters. We'll have to see how that changes in the future.
The BBC missed a trick by not releasing some sort of new themed app to mark the programme's return, but we do have all these instead.
Android: Renotify (Free)
Reminders are one of the things our phones are great at doing, but they do have some limitations. For starters A list is no good if you forget about it, and being reminded usually requires you set an alarm (which you might miss). Ok, so these aren't exactly major grievances for most people, but Renotify has a foolproof way of making sure you don't miss the important stuff.
It's all very simple. Renotify creates a note that lives in your notification bar, and at the point of creation you tell the app not to let you swipe that note away. That means once it's in the notification bar it stays there. No swiping away without thinking, no accidentally deleting it, and much less chance of you being able to successfully deliberately ignore it. All you have to do is go into the app and make sure you tick the 'permanent box'. Then, the only way you can remove it from the notification bar is to click the notification, which transfers you to the app, and delete it manually.
There's not much else to the free version, it does one thing and it does it well. If you choose to upgrade (which costs £1.09 to download from Google Play) you do get some extra features. These include the option to edit notes, have expandable notifications, vibration reminders, Android Wear support, a snooze function, and a history of your last 50 notes.
So if you find yourself constantly ignoring, or forgetting, things, this might do you some good.
You should also try:
Slimperience Browser: A fast, lightweight, data saving browser that promises not to cut down on the functionality. This damn thing is less than 400kb in size, too. [Free]
Science Journal: Google's tool for turning your smartphone into a mini science lab, letting you use your phone's sensors to conduct experiments out in the big bad world. [Free]
Lens Launcher: A new launcher for Android that squeezes all of your apps onto a single page of your home-screen, so you don't have to go sifting through the app drawer. If your phone still has one, that is. [Free]
iPhone: Raffler (Free)
FREE MONEY. *Ahem* now that I have your attention, there's an app that gives you the chance to win free money. Sort of. The chance to win money in exchange for watching adverts. Every single day you could win £1,000, and all you need to do to enter is watch a video advert.
That's right, one advert. Normally the apps make you watch adverts in lieu of paying them actual money, but in this case the role is reversed slightly. Unfortunately you only get a single ticket each day, so you can't watch a hundred adverts to get yourself a hundred different chances to win. The only way you could get extra is to have different accounts, but you do have to remember to keep checking them all because if you do win and don't claim your prize within 24 hours it disappears forever.
There isn't much more you can do with Raffler, but the chance to win £1000 by taking a minute out of your day to watch an advert? That sounds pretty great. Just remember, if you refer your friends and they sign you both get a £100 boost to your winnings. So each day you have the chance to win £1,100 if one person signs up, £1,200 is two people do, and so on. Obviously there's a limit to this, which is 10 friends - or an extra £1,000 bonus.
You should also try:
Unfade: Got a lot of photo albums that need digitising? No problem! Unfade will do all the hard work for you. Just point your camera and let the scanner do its thing. [£3.99]
Mathpix: An amazing tool that not only turns your phone into a graphing calculator, it also solves your maths problems by reading your handwriting. [Free]
Hero: A concierge app for anyone living in London, helping you discover and book places at restaurants across the city. Available seven days a week. [Free]
iPad: Beatactive (£5.50 pm subscription)
You don't need a gym to get yourself a decent workout, but it definitely helps to get yourself some guidance. Beatactive is another app designed to help you get some exercise done - regardless of where you are and without needing any specialist equipment. All you need is the app, and an $8/£5.50 a month subscription.
The idea behind this is bodyweight exercises, which helps you get a workout done doesn't use any equipment that isn't part of your body. It comes with a bunch of set 30-minute workouts that instruct you to do various different exercises, and each one is set to electronic music to help keep you pumped for the duration. It's all audio-based, so all you have to do is pay attention to what exercises the trainer tells you to do and get moving.
The app comes with three free demo tracks, and if you want to access the full catalogue you'll need to cough up some cash. If you're not sure what each exercise is, you don't have to worry since there are video tutorials you can watch to get yourself up to speed. There are also four short explainer tracks, letting you know what the different workout types are. Do you know what a Nucleo workout is? Neither do I, but Beatactive has the resources to make sure you do before you get started.
Beatactive also has a slide-up media player that can be accessed within the app, letting you pause playback, skip ahead, and alter the speed. The option to alter the speed is a bit odd, since it makes it difficult to catch what the trainer is telling you and makes it almost impossible to listen to the music properly. Maybe you'll find a use for it, who knows.
So if you're a fan of electronic music, and need a way to get some decent exercise done without having to drag your sorry self down to the gym, this is handy.
You should also try:
Baby+: One for new parents, letting you track your baby's development and saving all those special moments for years to come. [Free]
Sorted: A to-do list app that adds everything to your calendar, in a sticky-note-like fashion - all in the quest of productivity. [£1.49]
Windows Mobile: Unofficial Steam Authenticator (Free)
For a while now Valve has required Steam users to have two-factor authentication activated if they want to get things done in the store. Things like trading on the marketplace without a 15-day delay. The problem here is that Valve suck, and completely ignored anyone using a phone that runs Windows. Sure there might be as many people using Windows Phones as there using iOS and Android, but it's just a shitty thing to do. Extra shitty once you remember that Microsoft has shown how easy it is to turn an iOS app into a Windows 10.
Thankfully there is an unofficial app to get you sorted out, even if Valve is ignoring your needs. It works in pretty much the same way as the Authentication feature in the Steam app on Android and iOS. You log in with your account, enter a phone number for verification purposes, and you're all set. Now every time you try and log into Steam you'll be prompted for a verification code, which you get from this app. Naturally, as soon as you type it in you'll be given full access to your account.
The only key difference is that this app makes it very clear that you need to make note of your recovery code immediately. Unlike the official Android and iOS apps, you won't have chance to see it again. So don't let yourself end up completely screwed and locked out of your account! God knows Valve customer service won't be there to help you if that happens.
Now some of you might be worried about security here (and rightly so), as have a few low-star reviews. The app developers has hit back at claims that he's just trying to steal your password, claiming that log-in information is encrypted and sent directly to Valve - even going so far as to releasing all the code for the app on GitHub to show he's not lying. That might be enough to sway your fears, but it's more than those dodgy third-party Snapchat apps ever did.
You should also try:
Timestats Pomodoro: The Pomodoro technique is rather popular for productivity, and this app has everything you need to take full advantage of it. [Free]
Accuweather (Update): The ever-popular forecasting app has had an update, bringing with it the future radar feature that predicts when storms are coming up to two hours in advance. [Free]
Bandsider: This one is one for Microsoft Band owners, letting you compare all your fitness data with other people and compete head-to-head. [£1.49]