It's been raining on and off for the past few days, and it finally hit me that summer is pretty much over. It's still warm enough to warrant having a fan on a lot of the time (it doesn't help that my flat is a bloody oven), but the weather is on the turn. I'm not overly fond of summer, but at the same time the dreary weather of Autumn and winter isn't that great either. We can't win.
But we must persevere. Before long we'll be complaining about how sun peeks through the curtains at 4am, and that it's too hot to get anything productive done. Until then, let's have a look at some apps to ease the pain of the transition.
Android: Video Gallery for Android Wear (Free)
Have you ever felt the need to watch a video, but couldn't be bothered to take out your phone to watch it? Well you lazy fools can rejoice, because with this app you can watch them on your wrist.
It's an Android Wear app, so you're going to need an Android Wear smartwatch for this to work. But that also means using it is as simple as downloading it, and waiting for the app data to sync across to your watch. From there, everything is nice and easy to use. Videos stored on your phone will be available in-app (make sure you have some, or else you'll be met with a black screen), and you can swipe around to watch the video of your choice.
There are some downsides, and those pretty much stem from the fact that you're watching this stuff on a watch. Video playback doesn't seem to be a problem, but if you want audio you'll need to connect to a Bluetooth headset. Unless you're lucky enough to have a watch with a built-in speaker, that is. It's also a bit tricky to adjust the volume or video playback, simply because everything on-screen is so small.
But if you need a different way to watch your videos, this is a great app to add to your repertoire.
You should also try:
Cardboard for VR: A handy little app that lets you use Cardboard apps with a Gear VR headset, since you're not supposed to be able to do that. Obviously, only works for Samsung Galaxy devices. [£0.89]
Duo: Google's answer to Facetime, letting you video call all of your friends - regardless of whether they're using Android or iOS. [Free]
Accubattery: One for keeping an eye on your phone's battery health, and making sure everything's working the way it's supposed to. [Free]
iPhone: Canvas (Free)
There's plenty of stuff out there for working collaboratively, but mostly with documents and other such things. But what about note-taking and brainstorming? Canvas is filling in that gap, by letting you and friends/colleagues work on notes together so you're all up to scratch.
If you've ever used a collaboration app before, you know what the deal is here. You start off a document, then share it with different people. You can make each one completely public, share with certain people via a link, and so on. It's worth pointing out that Canvas is also available to use from a desktop web browser.
The iOS app is incredibly minimalist, which is ideal for a business-type app. That does make formatting a little bit tricky, since you need to remember the different code that sorts everything out. A bit like using HTML, except the code you need to use seems to be specific to Canvas.
It'll take a bit of getting used to, but if you need a new way to collaborate with your colleagues in a less formal manner, this is one to try.
You should also try:
Volo: A journal for recording all your holidays and travels, regardless of whether you have an internet connection or not. [Free]
Castro: A podcasting app that lets you find brand new podcasts to listen to. It just had a big update with a completely overhauled layout. [£3.99]
Timelines - Time Tracking: A time-tracking app that condenses all the information you give it into a fully-interactive timeline. [£3.99]
iPad: Disney Mix (Free)
A social network from the Disney company. It is real, it's here, and obviously it's meant for kids. That means signing up requires parental approval (done via email). It's worth mentioning that even if you approve the sign up, you can revoke that permission anytime you like. Nothing stops you from signing up if you're an adult, though it naturally means you don't need parental permission. Which saves a somewhat embarrassing phone call.
The emphasis here is that this app is for kids, so it's all pretty tightly controlled. Try saying offensive words to other people and they'll get censored, and things like that. Disney is pretty serious about the whole bad language thing, and less than a couple of minutes after sending three censored words of varying severity one of my test accounts was banned. There also isn't any open chat – you can only talk to people on your friends list. That said, there's nothing that stops kids from adding whoever they like, other than checking things every now and again to make sure no-one is dropping the F-bomb.
All in, Disney Mix is essentially a basic messaging app. You can chat, send images, swap GIFs, make memes, and even play games with friends. Aside from playing games with friends, which we haven't really had since the days of MSN Messenger, this is all pretty standard. It just so happens that it's wrapped in a child-friendly, Disney-branded coating.
You should also try:
Official Premier League App (Update): Stay up to date with all the news from this season's Premier League. New updates work behind the scenes keeping Premiership stats and data constantly up to date. [Free]
Snapguide (Update): The how-to guide has had a big update on iPad, with a new faster design, and the option to personalise your experience. [Free]
Windows Mobile: Diurnal Word (Free)
A big vocabulary usually means squat, and take that from someone who does a lot of writing. But! There's certainly no harm in working on it every now and again, if only to make things a bit more interesting. Diurnal Word can help that, with its word-of-the-day-type deal.
As you might expect, it dishes up a brand new fancy word every day. With it comes definitions, examples, and a fun story about the etymology of the word. The nice thing is that Diurnal Word also has a live tile, which puts today's word on your homescreen to save you time. You can also go back and see the daily words from the last week and absorb all of that extra knowledge.
But a single word a day isn't going to get you anywhere if you're serious about swotting up on that vocab. There is a random button that will continually pump new words and phrases at you every time you hit it. Plus there's a favourites list, in case you want to keep track of things long-term.
You should also try:
Amazon: If you'd rather not shop on Amazon using a mobile site, a Windows 10 app has just rolled up and is ready to use. [Free]
Meteolens: A weather forecasting app that emphasises great design. It's just arrived on Windows 10, so get it downloaded soon. [Free]
Spinster: One for arranging images and videos in a grid layout. Just in case you have a bunch of pictures and videos that you would never normally look at. [Free]