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

By Tom Pritchard on at

2015 is now good and over, with 2016 sticking around for the next 50-odd weeks. There's a lot going on in the next few months, including the annual madhouse that is CES later this week. But you can be safe in the knowledge that our weekly dose of apps is going nowhere, so let's kick things off.

There's nothing really worthwhile on the iPad this week, and you can blame the New Year and the App Store lockdown for that. There are a few decent iPhone apps, though.

Android: Chromer (Free)

Whether the apps you use have their own built-in browser, or your phone is set to take you to a different browser automatically, we can all agree that opening up links is a bit of a chore. Chromer is an app designed to make it easier, faster, and with all the extra advantages of using Google Chrome.

Getting it set up is as simple as you can get. Click on a link inside an app and it'll ask you how you want to deal with it. Obviously you want to select Chromer, and once you've done it all your third-party links should open up within the app.

In terms of use, Chromer isn't actually that different from setting your phone to open links in something like Chrome. The difference is that it's actually a cut-down version designed to make opening up links a heck of a lot faster than normal. When I say cut down, I mean it too. There are no navigation tools like an address bar, so all you can really do is look at the page you've opened and click any links you'll find there. Luckily there is an option to open that page in Chrome if you want to do anything more.

The main thing here is that you get to open up links from apps quickly, but with all the bonuses that make using Chrome worthwhile. Whether that's saved passwords, Chrome's data-saving mode, auto-filled forms, and so on. No bookmarks or anything like that, since there's no navigation, but it's got all the basics you might need. It certainly beats sitting around and waiting for links to crawl open in the regular Chrome app.

You should also try:

Avast Wi-Fi Finder: We can't all have ample phone signal or data allowances, which is why public Wi-Fi is such a great thing. It's not always great, so Avast's Wi-Fi Finder is here to direct you to hotspots that are fast, reliable, and most importantly: secure. [Free]

Blind Tool: An app that lets your phone 'see' what's around you, and vibrate when it comes into close proximity to objects in the immediate area. Obviously it's designed to help the blind use their phones to help them navigate the world around them. [Free]

iPhone: Enso Music (Free)

Finding new music is never particularly easy, but there are apps out there designed to make the process the more easy. Enso Music uses a Tinder-style swiping interface to help you find new music for you to listen to.

It's fairly simple to work though. You pick a musical genre, like rock, jazz, workout, sleep, and so on. Then Enso will dish up music clips of certain songs; if you like it, you swipe right, if not you swipe left. Songs you like are saved in a menu for you to refer back to later on.

There's also a recommendations feature that uses your likes to suggest new songs in one big list, and there's a search menu so you can go looking for things if you feel the urge.

The thing to note about Enso Music is that you don't actually gain access to the full song within the app. Instead it's a tool for you to decide what you like, before going elsewhere to get the whole thing. So it doesn't matter if you use iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, or whatever, the only thing getting in your way is whether or not certain songs are actually available on your chosen service.

You should also try:

NightCap Pro: (Update) An app that uses AI to improve your night time photography and avoid rubbish, grainy shots. Now it includes a mode for snapping shots of meteors, ISS mode, and AI focusing for when the camera struggles to focus in low-light. [£1.49]

Slide - 3D Gif Camera: An app that's here to help you create your own animated 3D photos in an instant. [£1.49]

Curiosity by Tamper: Using your location, Curiosity delivers Wikipedia articles that are relevant to the world around you. [£1.49]

Windows Mobile: Playcast (£3.09)

Windows Phone devices were always really left in the dark when it came to casting media. Luckily there are apps to help you out, and Playcast is the latest one. Simply put, it lets you send photos, audio, and video from your phone to any number of devices – including Chromecast, Apple TV, Xbox One, smart TVs, and more.

Unfortunately it can't be used to cast streaming content like the Chromecast, and instead you're stuck sending files you have stored on your phone over to the big screen. That might not be ideal for some, but it does mean your media files and photos can be sent to the big screen with no hassle.

It's very simple to use in any case. The app looks like a file manager at first glance, but that just means you don't have to worry about where you store your files when you copy them onto your phone. Getting them cast is as simple as tapping the file you want, then hitting the cast-like button in the bottom right hand corner and select the device you want it sent to.

The only problem here is that you need to make sure you have the right files for your casting device to play. That's probably only an issue with videos, however, but it's worth mentioning regardless.

You should also try:

Mail and Calendar: (Update) Microsoft's email and calendar now includes an undo function, and a 'What's New' screen. [Free]

Cortana Triggers: A handy little app that lets you use Cortana to control various gadgets in your smart home ensemble. [£3.89]