SO! Game of Thrones is back. Overtaking the books, even though the producers claim that the show will not be spoiling books in the future. Except that's not true, is it? We know it's going to spoil the books in some ways, even if they don't get everything right. But it's not like you can avoid Game of Thrones spoilers these days anyway, not unless you completely disconnect yourself from the internet. Curse you and your slow-ass writing George RR Martin...
But back to the topic at hand. Here are your apps for this week.
Android: Scarlett for Chromecast (Free)
This here is an intelligent home screen for Chromecast (and other Google Cast devices), presumably named after Scarlett Johansson who played the disembodied AI in 2013's Her. The idea is that you use it to set up a personalised homescreen that takes all the work out of using a Chromecast on your TV. So how does that work out?
To start things off you need to have some sources to generate the content for your TV feed (I was offered Twitter, YouTube, and Reddit), with the option of linking to your accounts. Then you need to actually cast the app to your Chromecast device to get things started.
Your own little feed of sorts pops up on-screen, with one large 'featured' piece following by the upcoming queue. Each piece is on screen for a set period of time (shown by a bar at the bottom of the screen), after which the next piece in the queue pops up. Videos just auto play, and then hit over to the next thing when it's over. Controls (like pausing, hitting full screen, and skipping to the next piece of content) are done on your phone, just like any other Chromecast app.
There's also a dashboard option, which isn't that dissimilar from the dashboard built into Chromecast. It's Chromecast's dashboard, but with the same features as Scarlett's feed. So the images change, you get to see what's coming, the weather is there, and so on. You also get to lock something in place, in case you'd rather it didn't vanish after a few seconds.
To top things off, the app has a voice search feature that lets you switch between the feeds for the different linked apps almost instantly, and search within those apps which can be especially useful for the likes of YouTube and Reddit.
It still has a bit of a way to go (future updates with more apps are planned), but if you want to mix up your standard Chromecast home screen, this is a damn good way to do it.
You should also try:
Samsung Safety Screen: An app that runs in the background, and uses your front camera to work out if your kids are sitting too close to the screen – saving their eyesight in the process. [Free]
Yahoo eSports: A news app to help you keep up to date with the world of esports. Included are highlights, broadcast coverage, breaking news, and league tables. [Free]
Boost+: An app from HTC designed to optimise your phone and prevent sluggishness. It clears junk files, boosts game performance, optimises power consumption, and lets you uninstall apps you never use. [Free]
iPhone: Cuvva (Free)
You should be driving with insurance, because if you get caught without it's going to cost you a bloody fortune in fines. But what if you only need to be driving a car for a couple of hours? That's a little bit tricky, until you remember that Cuvva is a thing. Essentially it lets you get insured on your friend's car for a few hours.
So how does it work? Well to start with you have to register through the app, and for that you'll need to verify yourself by text and have a driving licence handy. You fill in your information, and then Cuvva generates the first 13 characters of your driving licence number. It's up to you to enter the final three digits that confirm who you are. Then you actually have to snap a photo of it and yourself. It seems a bit extreme, but it's not unlike signing up with any other car insurance company. You also have to say whether you've had any claims in the past five years.
Now comes actually getting insured. You have to be at least 21 years old to get insured within the app, and the car in question has to be on an annual policy. Cuvvo needs the registration number of the car in question (obviously), along with home much it could be sold for (it doesn't have to be 100 per cent accurate). Then you get your quotes. You can opt for an increment of one, two, three, four, or 24 hours. Finally, to finish things off you need to take a picture of the car with the registration number clearly visible.
It sounds complicated, but it feels much easier than signing up for an actual insurance policy. Plus, if you need insurance for short periods of time then it's probably one of your best options.
You should also try:
eros.Dating: A slightly different take on dating, and rather than you matching up this one is designed to let your friends match you up with other people. Then you talk with matches anonymously and see where things go. [Free]
Aurora: A podcast discovery service to help you find podcasts that interest you. Recommendations are tailored to you, and handpicked by the editors. [Free]
Blink: A handy little tool that sends a notification to your phone whenever your Mac is woken up from its sleep. [£0.79]
iPad: Heuristic Shakespeare - The Tempest (£4.49)
An app straight from Magneto himself (the old one, not the Irish one), released for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. It's the first in 37 apps designed to help demystify the works of Shakespeare and make them more accessible to people who don't have a degree or an A-Level in English Literature. This one covers The Tempest.
The app has three different levels of complexity, so you can match it up to whatever level you're at, and there's a full breakdown of every characters, their lines, and the modern context of what's going on. Plus, being a play, the app features The Tempest performed by a full cast for you to watch, along with video explanations of what's what. You know, just in case you can't be bothered to read.
Finally, the other important features include a full searchable version of the play, as well as the abilities to make notes, and export sections of text for later use. So if you're interested in the works of Shakespeare, whatever the reason may be, this is a good way to make sure you can get your head round it.
You should also try:
Sounds English: Phonetics and English go together about as well as custard and steak, so this app is here to help people figure out how words are actually pronounced – and turn you into a brilliant reader. [£2.99]
Bez: Another image editor, specifically designed to create and modify images on your iPad. It also has full support for multitaksing features as well. [Free -- with £6 Premium Purchase]
Blogo: A blogging service designed to make the process as easy and enjoyable as possible. All so you'll actually come back and write more. [Free]
Windows Mobile: It's Gonna Rain! (Free)
While it certainly sounds like it was named by fictional TV weatherman Ollie Williams, this app has nothing to do with Family Guy. It does, however, have everything to do with rain. So it should get plenty of use in certain parts of the UK. Looking at you, place where I live.
The main point of this app is, shockingly, working out what the weather is like and if it's going to rain. The easiest way to do this is pressing the very large button saying "Is it gonna rain?" Apparently it's not going to rain here, since there's only a 10 per cent chance of rainfall in the next two hours.
It's not just a case of having an answer to a yes or no question, the app tells you a little bit more than that. Free users get to see when it last rained (1h 45 mins for me), a radar maps from the MET Office showing rainfall across the UK, and whether there are any storms on the way. Paying £1.89 for the premium version also gets you features that show you if the rain will arrive in the next 30 minutes, where the closest rain is, how fast the rain is falling, and more detailed radar maps. They also get more detailed information on any upcoming storms.
If you're looking for a classic weather app, IGR has that as well. Usual features here with stats for daylight, temperature, wind, pressure, humidity, and what it actually feels like outside (a little bit chilly and damp, apparently). It also has forecast for the next three days, with 10 days available if you upgrade to pro.
You should also try:
Instagram Beta: Not quite new, but Instagram beta is now widely available on Windows 10 devices, meaning you can download it without knowing the direct URL. Let's hope they update this version regularly. [Free]
gMaps (Update): If you're looking for an alternative mapping app, this is one to try out. The latest update finally lets you save your maps for offline use. It also has one improvement that recalculates your route much faster than before. [Free]
Hive: Windows Phone and Mobile users can finally control British Gas's smart home devices from their phone. [Free]