There are a lot of downsides to living in a block of flats, but there's one very nice upside at this time of year: I can mooch off the neighbours' heating. Who needs a Nest, or proper insulation? Obviously that's a bit of a downside in the summer, because there's always that one person dumb enough to leave their heating on all year round.
But let us head onto the topic at hand, this week's apps.
Android: Giphy Cam (Free)
GIFs are an incredibly useful thing. They can convey ideas and expressions in way that mere images or emoticons cannot hope to achieve. But there are only so many GIFs out there, and making your own can be a little bit tricky. Or can it?
Giphy Cam lets you make your own fancy moving pictures, using little more than your phone's camera. It's a bit like iOS's Live Photos, but far less pointless. It functions just as you'd expect really. It takes a short burst of video, and then loops it together to create a moving image. How it loops is up to you, since you can have it going forwards, backwards, or a mixture of the two (called 'ping-ponging').
On top of that Giphy Cam comes with a number of filters that change the visual style of the GIF (with a live preview), along with a number of stickers to make things interesting. Not sure why it bothers with stickers, maybe because they seem to be the new go-to gimmick with apps these days.
You should also try:
SnapNotes: If you're tired of taking notes, for whatever reason, you can use this one to take the pressure off. You can use SnapNotes to take pictures of any content you need to know, and automatically organises it for later use. [Free]
Opera Max (Update): The data-saving app now has built-in privacy features, making sure that your connection is secure and that you can't be tracked by those pesky ad trackers. [Free]
Google Maps (Update): A nice simple update, offering up a shortcut that lets you see what the traffic is like in your area. All it takes is a single button press. [Free]
iPhone: Chartastic (Free)
Charts are useful in all areas of life, especially for work and educational reasons. The problem is that they miiight be a little bit tricky to make sometimes, so Chartastic is here to make everything as easy as possible.
It does that by actually making the charts for you, with bar, line, pie, and a globe (can't say that gets used very often). You pick the one you want, and then you edit everything however you see fit. This way you don't have to worry about putting everything together, and just need to concern yourself with rejigging an existing graph.
The pre-made nature of the graphs doesn't mean you're at a disadvantage, however. Everything can be edited how you see fit, included axes, values, number of data points, and so on. The only thing you don't have much choice over is the colouring, since only a few colours are available to you - and not even nice colours. As you can see from my green-ish Pacman graph (above), there isn't even proper yellow.
So if you need a chart making, and you can't be bothered doing it something like Excel, this is a nice simple, and customisable, way to do it.
You should also try:
Dropbox (Update): The latest update to this version of Dropbox lets you sign PDF documents in-app, makes it easier to share documents in messages, and lots more. [Free]
Gett (Update): If you live in London, Gett just got a bit more interesting. The app now has fixed fares on black cabs in the capital, so you know exactly how much you'll be paying before you get inside. [Free]
Health Data Importer: If you're switching iPhones, and you're a big fan of Apple's Health app, you might have noticed that there's no option to save and export your data from your old device. This app does all that for you, so you don't lose everything when you upgrade. [£2.29]
iPad: LowRes Coder (Free)
This is another learn-to-code app disguised as something fun, tricking you into learning with the promise of retro-style gaming. Sounds like a pretty-good trade-off, right? If you fancy learning BASIC, I'd say it is.
There are a few pre-made games included (running in virtual consoles, with the option of editing the code if you really want to). The actual education stuff can be found inside the 'help' tab, which is pretty much a giant wall of text. Not an unreadable, overwhelming wall of text, but if you're expecting step-by-step tutorials then this isn't the app for you.
LowRes Coder takes a very minimalist approach to things by ditching the tutorials. Rather than all the fancy illustrations and complicated byproducts, the retro design makes things a bit simpler. All you have to work with are code and pixels. Code is typed in using the iPad keyboard, and in-game sprites can be created pixel-by-pixel using the app's sprite design and copying the code it gives you once you're done.
You don't have to download LowRes Coder to create games, and there's nothing stopping you from playing the games already built in or developed by the community. Anything you play can be played an unlimited number of times without paying, but if you develop your own stuff the free version has a 24-play limit. If you want to be able to play them more than that, you'll have to cough up £4 for the premium version.
You should also try:
Yelo: This one is a phrase book on your iPad, letting you dictate a word or phrase and have it translated into your language of choice on-screen. There's also an audio clip to teach you how to actually pronounce it as well. [Free]
The Converted: A conversion app that actually shows you how units relate to one another, using a side-by-side scale. [£3.99]
The Beano: The official app of the comic, newly optimised for the iPad. So no more ugly stretched comics for you. [Free]
Windows: Instagram (Free)
So get this, Instagram's gone and optimised its Windows app for tablets while iPad users are stuck using the ugly stretched iPhone app. I don't think that has ever happened before. Not with an app that was developed by Microsoft anyway. There's a first time for everything.
Aside from the fact you can't upload or create any photos on this version of the app, there are no real surprises. You can browse your feed, look at recommendations, and send messages to the people you know. So you won't be wandering around with a giant device trying to take pictures, which is always a good thing.
So if you're tired of the Instagram desktop site, this might be the app for you.
You should also try:
Sketchable (Update): The creativity suite just had a huge overhaul, with a brand new UI, a modern design, and a bunch of extra features that will offer a much smoother experience. [Free]
Manga's Universe: One for manga lovers (obviously), giving you access to a large amount of manga that you can read without having to leave the app. [Free]