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

By Tom Pritchard on at

If you've been paying attention the last few years, you'll know that Game of Thrones piracy rates are off the charts and that HBO has been doing what it can to avoid leaks and prevent people pirating the show. Yesterday the new episode of the show (Episode 5: the Door) ended up online about 24 hours before it was supposed to air in the US. The person to blame? HBO. You have to love the irony of that, even if you're dead set against piracy.

But enough about that, let's have a look at this week's bundle of apps.

Android: AppLock Face/Voice Recognition (Free)

With all the personal information on your phones, you can never keep things too secure. That's especially true of your apps, in particular if there's banking information and other sensitive stuff hidden inside. How do you know someone won't guess your password and get in? Easy, use biometrics to lock it up. It's possible, even if you don't have a fingerprint scanner.

How? By using your own face and voice. AppLock Face/Voice Recognition locks up individual apps and won't let anyone in except you. Anyone who tried won't be able to get in, unless they manage to imitate your face and/or voice.

For voice verification you can either pick one of the three phrases built-into the app, or you can create your own custom phrase. Obviously a custom phrase is a lot more fun, especially if you can make people turn their heads in public. Setting everything up involves positioning your phone so it can see your face, and then saying your chosen passphrase three times. Then you have to set an alternate unlock method (PIN, password, or pattern) as a secondary precaution.

Sort all that, and you're able to start locking up your behind an extra layer of security. You have two options, face/voice verification on its own, or face and voice verification. It literally takes a fraction of a second, and provided you've got enough light and a quiet enough environment you won't have any problems.

You should also try: 

Android Pay: This one is pretty obvious. Android's NFC payment system is now available in the UK, provided your bank supports it. Mine does not. Which is fun! You can read more about the entire system here. [Free]

Plughy: GIFs are here, GIFs are there, and with Plughy GIFs are everywhere. It lets you search through Giphy's huge range of GIFs in any app you like (provided you're able to input text), regardless of whether it has built-in GIF support. [Free]

Notifly: A floating bubble that lets you quickly read and respond to any messages and notifications you get. All without having to stop what you're doing and switch to another app. [Free]

iPhone: The Roll (Free)

We take a lot of photos on our phones, and that does make organisation a tedious affair. You could use a cloud storage service that organises stuff for you, but that's no good if you want to keep your snaps out of the prying hands of big companies and hackers alike. So here comes The Roll, which aims to make organising your photo reel effortless and free of the cloud.

And by effortless I mean effortless, because it does everything by itself. Just set it going and it'll automatically sort your photos based on how good they are, sort similar looking photos together, and even tag them for easy access later on. There is literally nothing more to it. You snap a photo, and as soon as you enter the app it'll organise and sort through all your new snaps.

The only downsides are that it doesn't appear to reorganise photos until you enter the app, though you can always just pop in and leave it to do its things and come back later. The few pictures I have in my camera roll took fractions of seconds to organise. The other downside is that it only seems to do its thing with photos from the camera. My camera roll is filled with screenshots, and they didn't go anywhere near The Roll.

Still. If you take lots of shots on your iPhone, you can't be without this. It's like using Google Photos, but better because it's all offline and your photos stay with you - not on some anonymous cloud server in the middle of god knows where.

You should also try:

Battery Share: A power-based social network, so to speak, that messages all your friends when your phone is about to die – provided they have the app too. [£0.99]

Rawr Messenger: Rather than communicating with just words, Rawr lets you send commands to a 3D avatar that will interact with other avatars. Commands like kicking, hugging, and so on. [Free]

Spaces: Google's brand new app, all based around sharing with others. it also has Google search built-in, which gives it an advantage compared to the others. [Free]

iPad: iPlayer Kids (Free)

Another streaming app built specifically for kids, this time from the BBC. Unlike when using the regular iPlayer app, littluns are not going to find anything out of their age range that they shouldn't be seeing.

Really there's not much to it. Kids have their own profiles, and each one is set to their own age (yearly, up until age 9) which determines what stuff actually shows up. Naturally the younger kids get stuff from Cbeebies, and the older ones get CBBC. It's nice and simple, you stream stuff, and if the setting has been toggled you can download videos to be watched at a later date. So all the same as regular iPlayer.

The thing here is that there are no parental controls, though I feel there kind of should be. Nothing stops your kids from editing their profile and choosing a different age, though given the child-friendly nature of the app it's not the end of the world. It's not like they can end up watching Game of Thrones. They can also go into the settings easily, since all that's stopping them is the ability to type in a random code that's shown on-screen. Again, there's nothing serious in there so it's not the end of the world.

It's totally free, though, so if you need some quick streaming content for your kids then the BBC has you covered. Just make sure you paid your TV licence.

You should also try:

iAnnotate 4: A PDF viewer that also doubles as an annotation devices, letting you add your own notes to files you're sent. Of course, you can then send them onto other people with all your scribbles thrown in. [£7.99]

Super Popcorn: One for film-lovers. It has a full guide to what's available on streaming services, a cinema schedule, and the option buy tickets at your local cinema. [Free]

Adobe Spark Post: A quick and easy way to get created graphics without having to sit at a desktop. All it takes is a few seconds to get started. [Free]

Windows Mobile: Tiles for Outlook (£0.79)

Live Tiles are the one thing that really sets Windows mobile apart from the competition. They're like widgets, but also nothing like widgets. It's hard to describe in terms that relate to iOS and Android. Still, they make your home-screen a lot more useful, just like Android widgets, provided that you have the tools to make them work. Tiles for Outlook is one such tool.

Simply put it lets you create your own custom Live Tiles showing off events on your calendar, so you don't have leave the homescreen to see what's happening to you in the near future. That's pretty much it, but the entire process is customisable you can see exactly what you want to be able to see.

The whole thing looks a bit complicated, but all you really need to remember is to pick the calendar of your choosing (from in the phone, a connected account, upcoming national holidays, etc), then pick what the thing will look like when it appears on the home screen. If you want to get a bit more complex you can also alter how many events appear in a single tile, what constitutes the first week of the month, and how long the working day is.

Then you just need to save it and the tile will automatically appear on the homescreen. It takes a second or two for the tile itself to load, during which time you'll see the app's logo instead, but once it's done you've done all you need to. You then get to change the shape of the tile, just like anything else you pin to the homescreen. Keeping on top of your appointments couldn't be easier.

You should also try:

Dropbox (Update): Dropbox is always getting mini updates on Windows, and this week we have some great new features like the option to cast videos to other screens, improvements to full screen mode, the ability to save and export multiple files at once, and more. [Free]

Feedback Hub: No longer an Insider exclusive, this app lets you have your say on how Windows 10 is doing and let Microsoft know. Some features are still Insider exclusives, but at least now everyone can have their say. [Free]

Windows Maps: If you're sick of all the other options, Microsoft just launched its mapping service after a hefty re-brand and design overhaul. Now it's available to everyone, not just Windows Insiders. [Free]