The Week's Top Android, iPhone, iPad, and Windows Phone Apps

By Tom Pritchard on at

Question, chocolate fans: has anyone noticed that Cadbury Creme Eggs don't taste incredibly nasty any more? Back in Easter there was all sorts of fuss over them literally leaving bad tastes in people's mouths, because of a new less-improved chocolate recipe.

But now? Now they taste fine. At least to me – a long time fan. I'm surprised as to how little fanfare its had. Consider this a start. Halloween chocolate is on the cheap right now, so take that as an excuse to test my very unscientific hypothesis.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand: apps!

Android: KnockOn (Free)

This one is a fairly simple app with a simple use. It lets you control whether your phone locks or unlocks simply by tapping the screen. Sounds handy if you don't want to have to hit your power button all the time, or if you want to lock and unlock your phone without having to look at it.

KnockOn, then, essentially serves one function (or two, depending on how pedantic you are), so how handy is it? Well it really just depends on how your phone can be woken up. The homescreen on my Xperia Z3, for instance, can be woken up by tapping the screen – app or no app. That's handy since KnockOn doesn't provide this feature if your phone does not have an OLED display.

Annoyingly its functions are very limited. If you're on your homescreen, double tapping any free space will lock up your phone as you'd expect. Double tapping when there's an app icon will, surprise surprise, load up the app and not lock the homescreen. Interestingly double tapping a widget does both, locking up the screen and loading up the app ready for the next time you unlock everything. If an app is actually open you have to double tap the homescreen to lock everything up, which means you have to take a bit more care to lock your phone up.

KnockOn does have some Pro features that require a one-time payment to unlock, but to be honest it doesn't seem like its worth the cost. The main feature is called 'Sleep Time', which lets your phone go into sleep mode to conserve battery power. I didn't have that active and my phone went into sleep mode after a couple of minutes, just as I'd set it to do many months ago. There isn't a whole lot of use in its other feature either, which lets you customise the tap speed to lock and unlock the phone. Then again, someone else might.

Is it worth a download? It's a lot more useful if you have phone with an OLED display that doesn't wake up when you tap the screen, but I can see how other people might find uses for it as well. For starters, I have a torch app tied to my power button and often find that it comes on when I'm using the phone. Not having to use the power button means that there's no chance of that happening. Every Android phone is different, so do some experimentation and see if it's right for you. 

You should also try:

Snapseed: (Update) A mobile photo editing suite with the feel of something more professional. It's just been updated with native support for editing and dealing with the RAW filetype. [Free]

Vacation Planner: Exactly what it sounds like, an app with everything you need to get the jump on next year's big holiday. [Free]

Capitan Grocery List Shopping: One for letting you share your shopping list with other people (like housemates or family), and keeps you connected in case someone needs something while you're shopping. [Free]

iPhone: inviita (Free)

There are a lot of apps that focus on finding you something to do, and Inviita is the latest in the long line. But rather than suggesting one-off events or locations, Inviita sends you off on a 'tour' based on your location and what mood you tell the app you're in.

There are lots of moods to choose from, including 'foodie', 'greenie', 'spiritual' and more. Then you click 'generate tour' and it'll generate places that it thinks you should visit. Tours can be saved for later use, or if not desired, ditched and refreshed. The app also shows you places of interest in your immediate area, which you can then filter based on general topic like food, shopping, and so on. You can use these to create your own custom tours, rather than relying on an algorithm to decide what you do over the course of a day.

It's also not just based on stuff near you, either. You can tell Inviita to look stuff up in a specific place, and it'll generate a tour for any potential future visits. That's handy, since it means you can organise your trip before you even get there.

There doesn't seem to be all that much customisation in the tours, which lets the experience down. All the tours assume you're going to be out for an entire day, and doesn't seem to let you say otherwise. Not as far as I can see, anyway. Obviously you can create your own custom tours and work around that, but it would be nice to have a way of saying how much time you have and have the app work something out for you.

Still, Inviita is a nice way to find some stuff to do and not have to do much thinking or forward planning.

You should also try:

Lean: Converts your iPhone 6S's Live Photos into regular photos en masse. [Free]

Pixty: A photo sharing app focused around sharing pictures with your friends and family quickly and painlessly. [Free]

Viewranger GPS: A navigation app for people people into hiking, cycling, mountain biking, and so on in the great outdoors. Powered by Ordnance Survey with offline functionality. [Free -- with in-app purchases]

iPad: Memrise: Learn Languages (Free)

There are countless apps on the App Store that promise to help you learn how to speak a new language. Memrise is one of the newest, so I took it for a spin to help me learn some new lingo, comprende?

Fairly typical at first, you create an account (or log in with Facebook) and pick your language to learn. There are nearly 100 to choose from, ranging from the basics like French, Spanish, and German, to the likes of American Sign Language, Zulu, and Nepali. There's even Ancient Greek, Ancient Egyptian, and Anglo Saxon on the cards. I've never heard of anyone wanting to know how to speak those, but why not.

Memrise isn't just about language, either, since there are a lots of otger topics to learn about. Maths, History, and so on.

Picking a language automatically assumes you want the beginner's course, but there is the option to go a few levels higher if you're more proficient. There many courses cover a variety of topics, some of them intent on promoting fluency, others on the core basics, and even one or two covering insults. Pretty sure that counts as core basics, though, am I right?

It works by focusing one one word and putting that word into different contexts over a number of slides to help you memorise it. Then after sliding through a couple of words you're tested on what words mean. Get it wrong and you're sent back to the initial slides as a reminder. Get it right and you can continue. The tests vary, though, and so far I've seen them cover English translations and pronunciation. Sometimes they use text, and other times they use audio, mixing it up as you go along. Get past an initial stage and you earn yourself a badge and some points. Yay points!

What is nice is that even as you progress, Memrise still asks you about the words that you learnt in earlier stages. Obviously the further you get the fewer times each word or phrase pops up, but it does mean you're less likely to see a word and then forget it in a couple of days' time.

You should also try:

Snap Pallette: An app for creating custom colour palettes and themes directly from your own photos. [£1.49]

Toca Life: School: An app for kids, based around school for them to create their own fun adventures. It has 32 characters and five different locations to play in, so should keep them occupied. [£2.49]

Plotagon: (Update) A screenwriting app that lets you animate and visualise your work. The new update lets you record your own characters voices, new animations, Siri support, and more. [Free -- With in-app purchases]

Windows Phone: Comic IT (Free)

In terms of the actual comic making process, Comic IT is nice and simple to use. A toolbar along the bottom of the screen lets you change the layout of each page, add speech and thought bubbles, plus emotive facial expressions and accessories like glasses and masks.

The controls felt a little bit laggy, but for the most part Comic IT is incredibly easy to use. While there are no formal instructions, using everything is pretty self explanatory. Stickers have their own little mini toolbar for reorientating and resizing them, while the pictures for the panels require two-fingered gestures to move them around.

Really you're only limited by the size of your screen. Having smaller screen means that there's a lot less that you can put together. Sure you could just shrink things down, but there doesn't appear to be a way shrink the text down. You can all the space it takes, but the actual font remains the same size. That's rather annoying, and put people without phablet-sized phones at more of a disadvantage. The ads can be intrusive at times too.

But, if you're looking to create some basic comics then Comic IT is a nice option. It's not perfect, but it is free.

You should also try:

Remember to drink: One for people who want to keep an eye on how much you're drinking during the day, with a cute mascot to boot. [Free]

Kicknotes: A note taking app that lets you write, record, and draw your thoughts and musings, as well as storing your login details behind a passcode and encryption. [Free]