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

By Tom Pritchard on at

Tomorrow is a big day in the gaming calendar, all because Fallout 4 is finally upon us. It's about damn time, but the last few days hasn't been made any easier with the huge debacle over GAME's handling of the Pip-Boy edition. So many people having their orders cancelled out of the blue, pissing off just about everyone. I myself have been charged twice for mine, and I still can't get through to customer services to fix it.

Even though GAME has told people they can get their orders reinstated, this whole thing was bound to be good news for the scalpers. As soon as those cancellation emails were sent out, those plastic cases will have skyrocketed in value.

Fallout also makes an appearance in this week's list, along with a bunch of other great apps.

iPhone: Browsecurely, Free

Have you ever been using an app and clicked on a link to find yourself using some random in-app browser? It's awkward right? Not only are you using a crap browser that's nowhere near as good as the likes of Safari or Chrome, it's a lot less secure because each app sticks its own code into the browser. That could mean you're being tracked, or in more unscrupulous apps it could mean your data is being harvested more than usual. Browsecurely is an app that ditches all that worry by opening in-app links in your default web browser.

The great thing about it is that it doesn't need setting up or configuring in any way. Just download the app and you're good to go. In fact, opening up the app is completely unnecessary, and the icon's only really useful if you decided you want to donate to help support the developers.

My issue with this app is that it doesn't open links in your main browser by default. You have to long press the link and wait for iOS's sharing menu to pop up before you can select the browser of your choice. In a way it's handy, because you don't have to copy a link and manually navigate to the other browser. But it's still not the best, and it would be much improved if there was a way to configure it and ensure clicking a link in an app opens up Safari, Chrome, Operas, or whatever without any extra steps.

Still, if you're worried about your security this is an ideal app to download and save yourself a little bit of time.

You should also try:

Evernote: (Update) Evernote for iOS now lets you sketch and handwrite notes, so you can keep track of things without having to type them all out. [Free] Another app for organising your email and making sure that all those pesky email newsletters never bother you again. [Free]

Chef's Hat: Recipe Saving: This one is an app that lets you bookmark recipes you find as you scour the web as you normally would [Free]

iPad: Youcisian, Free (With in-app purchases)

This one is all focussed on teaching you how to play guitar or the keyboard, and it does this using games. It is very much like playing a rhythm game (like Guitar Hero or Rock Band) and your accuracy of hitting on-screen notes from tabs determines your overall score. Obviously going back to beat this score helps you improve your overall ability.

Learning the keyboard is fairly simple and it involves you tapping a virtual onscreen keyboard (or a MIDI keyboard that you've connected to your iPad) in time with what's on screen. Guitar works in a similar fashion, but you actually need to have a physical guitar in your hands to make it work. Rather than tapping on-screen frets, you're playing the real thing and the app is using the microphone to pick up the sounds. It also has a tuner built-in to make sure you're doing it all properly.

It's all nice and simple, it's well laid out, and switching instruments is as easy as going into the settings menu. I can't comment on Yousician's effectiveness as a learning tool (that will all depend on what you put into it), but the gamification process is a nice touch to help you learn a musical instrument. Especially since there's a levelling system that really makes you feel like you're achieving something and making progress as you work through it all.

There is a premium subscription, which unlocks a bunch of new features. You get unlimited lesson time that promises to help you learn four times faster, and you get the option to upload your own songs to play.

You should also try:

Groove Freedom: An app designed to help you learn how to improve drum playing ability by practising a selection of challenging patterns. [Free -- with in-app purchases]

Louis Vuitton City Guide: A guide for travellers covering 25 different cities across the world. There's something for everyone, whether you want to visit all the well known places or fancy hitting stuff off the beaten path. [Free -- with in-app purchases]

Man on the Moon: An interactive experience based on that annoying new John Lewis ad. It has a bunch of activities all related to getting yourself to the moon without hitting space dogs or wormholes along the way.[Free]

Windows Phone: Fallout Pip-Boy, Free

Tomorrow is a great day for RPG fans, it's the day Fallout 4 finally hits gaming systems across the country. If you plan on playing the game you definitely need this companion app. It takes the game's Pip-Boy off your TV/monitor and puts it on your phone/tablet instead. Bethesda has had the good graces to not mimic so many app devs, and isn't ignoring Windows Phone.

The first thing you have when you load up the app is to choose the display mode. This is specifically designed for people who purchased the Pip-Boy edition of the game (or have their own homemade version). Picking the hardware mode lets you adjust the size of the app in your display, so regardless of what size your phone is you won't have to suffer through the edges of the screen cut off. If you don't have that you just pick the full-screen option. The app then connects to your game system (you have to say which one you have), and once you've enabled the Pip-Boy app in the game's settings it'll connect to your system to do its thing.

Unless you're one of the lucky few to get the game early, you'll have to spend the next 12-18 hours using Demo Mode. Demo Mode doesn't pull across the in-game data, but it does let you flick through the different menus and get used to accessing your Pip-Boy on a real life device. You also get to see a label-less version of the in-game map, so if you know the greater Boston area you can try to work out what's actually in the game ahead of time.

The app also lets you play the game's holotape games on your phone, so you can have play some Fallout-themed arcade games. In demo mode the only one you can play is Atomic Command, a skinned version of the classic Atari game Missile Command. As you might expect, it plays exactly the same as the original but with some Fallout-themed locations that you have to defend from nuclear annihilation.

Right now the app is fairly limited because the game isn't out yet, but Kotaku has a run down of some of the things other people have found digging around in the game's source code. That includes Fallout-centric versions of Donkey Kong and Space Invaders, Pipfall (a game that has you collect falling bobbleheads within a set period of time), and the original RPG Grognak. That's a name Fallout fans should recognise.

The app is a little bit limited for now, but it's something those eagerly anticipating Fallout 4 should be downloading in anticipation of the game.

There's not long to wait now. Fallout Pip-Boy is also available on Android and iOS.

You should also try:

Fitbit: (Update) The companion app for the Fitbit fitness trackers now includes the ability to see your challenge trophy collection and the option to respond to notifications without actually opening the app. [Free]

Windows Camera:(Update) This camera app just added slow motion video recording to selecting Lumia phones. [Free]

Noiseapp: An app that uses motion sensing to adjust your phone's volume based on how much movement it's detecting. [Free]

Android: Arrow Launcher, Free

There are a great many different Android app launchers out there, so what sets Arrow Launcher apart? Well it's made by Microsoft, but other than that there doesn't appear to be anything that's too unique. It promises a simplification of the Android process, helping you find the apps you need when you need them. It does achieve that, but not in anyway that's particularly special.

Still Arrow Launcher is rather nice, and if you're not one of those people that takes advantage of Android's built-in customisation options then it might work well. The launcher is set up into five different screens: Apps, recent actions and contacts, people you contact the most, notes, and widgets. You can't add any more screens from the looks of things, which is a shame because there isn't much room for the space-hogging widgets.

The apps screen is designed to update and change depending on how much you use the apps, and you have the option of hiding anything you feel you're not going to use. I don't quite get how it sorts them when you start off, especially since it showed off Google Photos which I have literally never used.

There's also an apps list which I'm not fond of, although I'll admit it's nicer than the menu found in stock Android. I'm just so used to the apps menu Sony put in Xperias, which is clearly the superior to them both. The alphabetical list of widgets is nice, though. Why is that not a thing on other Android skins?

It also has the iOS-style pull up menu at the bottom of the screen, that gives you quick-access to some of the more important features toggles. Things like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, torch, and so on. That's nice if you're just transitioning to Android, but it doesn't replace the standard pull-down menu.

Another thing I noticed was that the recent activity menu was a little bit off. For some reason it included email correspondences that took place about a week ago, and I know damn well I've done a lot more in the time since.

Arrow Launcher is alright, but it's nothing that special. It's going to be up to you to decide whether you want it over the stock launcher. If you're big on customisation my advice is to ignore this, since the customisation is non existent. If you are looking for something simple and don't want to have to organise your own homescreens then it will do quite nicely.

You should also try:

Texpand: A simple app that lets you assign a huge number of keyboard shortcuts to save yourself time when you're typing. It also works with all the different keyboards you can download. [Free]

Alto Mail: We get so much email these days, it's hard to keep up. Alto mail organises it all and highlights important information. Works with all the major mail accounts [Free]

Roundme: An app for experiencing panoramic photos in the Cardboard VR experience, along with stories explaining what it is you're looking at. [Free]