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

By Tom Pritchard on at

It's strange how you can live somewhere for a long time and never do any of the touristy stuff people pay a fortune to come and see. London in particular. I don't live there any more, and have only just got round to seeing some of the many, many things in the city. Though it does help when there are people with you, deliberately looking miserable for everyone's amusement. Then again, some people would be genuinely miserable with all the damn people crowding the streets.

Anyway. Let's get round to this week's apps list.

Android: Pokémon Go (Free, with in-app purchases)

We had to skip it last week, but now that Pokémon Go is officially available in the UK it's time to take a stab at the app that's proven to be a bonafide hit. It's worth pointing out that it's also available on iOS, but not Windows.

Pokémon Go is all about sending you out on your own Pokémon adventure. You create your trainer, and then walk around in the real world hunting down 'real-life' pokémon to capture, and hitting up Pokéstops to obtain free items. The stuff you have nearby pops up on a local radar, and the number of footsteps diminishes the closer you get. That's in theory anyway. In practice a pokémon with three footsteps might as well be in Australia.

Anything very close by pops up on the map, and tapping it sends you into battle mode. You can't fight, which is unfortunate, so it makes the combat a bit like the Safari Zone battles of old. You throw pokéballs (and later on items that make them easier to catch), and hope the monster doesn't break free and/or run away.

Once you catch a new pokémon it's added to your Pokédex as you'd expect, but if you want to evolve them you need to have a certain number of monster-specific candies. You get candies by catching that particular monster, and transferring any extras to Professor Willow. That can be irritating, especially when you have Magikarp which demands 400 candies to evolve. You can also get new pokémon from eggs, which you collect at Pokéstops, and then walking a certain distance (2, 5 or 10 km) to hatch it.

There is a store where you buy items in exchange for real money. You don't have to do this, but it does make progression much easier. For instance, some items (like egg incubators and lures) can only be obtained from the store, or by levelling up. You can also earn in-game currency each day by having your pokémon control gyms (up to 10 gyms a day).

Just a point to make: the battery saver function is basically useless if your phone has an LCD screen. While it causes the screen to go black while the app still runs (there is no background running), you can see from the Pokémon Go logo that it doesn't actually turn the screen off. So unless you have an LED screen, you're not saving any battery life.

Pokémon Go is a fun little game to play, whether it's something you do seriously or just when you have a few minutes. You'll get sick of the more common pokémon after a while, but finding a rare one is always exciting.

You should also try:

FineScanner: ABBYY's FineScanner has finally made the jump from iOS, giving you another choice when it comes to mobile document scanning. [Free]

CTRL-F: This one makes sifting through physical documents nice and easy. It scans the pages, and lets you Ctrl+F certain words or phrases – all so you don't have to sort through it all manually. [Free]

Vysor: One for letting you control and use your Android device from your PC, in case you need to work on a real Android device (rather than an emulator), or you're just too lazy to use your phone as intended. [Free]

iPhone: UV Lens (Free)

As some people may have found this summer (including me), it is more than possible to get burnt by the sun in the UK. Not as bad as other countries, but still enough to be an annoyance. Whether you're worried about that, or you're going to a country where sun cream is as essential as drinking water, UV Lens is the app for you.

Using your location, it's able to tell you about the level of UV radiation beamed down from the sun at any given time during the day. By default it shows the current time, and you can set the time you want to get yourself a forecast. You also have to set your skin type in order to work out your burn time. Once it has that info, it can work out how long you can last out in the sun (without sun cream) before your skin starts to burn.

The one thing it doesn't have is what factor sun cream you should be wearing, based on the current UV, so you're going to have to work that out for yourself. If in doubt, go as high as you can. Too much sun cream never hurt anyone.

You should also try:

InstaRead Book Summaries: Struggling to find the time to read? InstaRead's Book Summaires will summarise best-selling books into a 15-minute slice, all done by experts. [Free - subscription required]

Dials Calendar: A calendar that uses clock-based visuals to make it easier to see what you have planned for the day. Because it's far better than a boring-old list. [Free]

iPad: Landed (Free)

It's always tricky to get round when you first arrive in a new city, but Landed is an app that's here to make sure you know exactly what's what regardless of where you are.

It's quite a simple-looking app, so you don't have to go hunting for the information you need. Location is sorted automatically too, so that's one less thing on your mind. The main screen has a rough summary of all the information like how to get into the town centre, local currency, the best choice for mobile data, hotel deals, and the choice to get a ride with Uber (if you have the app downloaded).

Once into the town centre the mobile data options can be expanded upon, giving you more in depth information of what's around you. Where I am, the app tells me that I can get into the town centre on foot, but also includes information on public transport. It's worth mentioning that it's not just bus times and routes provided. It has the quickest bus to catch, along with information on pricing, what the routes are like, and little notes like the fact bus drivers do not give change. It also has information on what plates local taxis have, or how you can drive and cycle into the town centre.

The data page has a ridiculous amount of information about all the phone networks (and not just the big four), offering up information on network coverage, any perks of getting a temporary SIM, plus the price of buying pay as you go or set data-allowances.

Any hotel deals you pick open up in your browser, letting you see the hotels in question and book yourself a room.

So if you're travelling, or going away, this is an essential app for you.

You should also try:

BBC Proms 2016 (Update): Your guide to this year's BBC Proms, with an in-depth guide to the shows of the season and articles documenting the composers and performers taking part. [Free]

Tayasui Color: Another colouring book for adults, designed to try and help you relax by doing some mindless colouring in. It works for kids, right? Just try and stay within the lines! [£1.49]

Windows Mobile: Plain VR (Free)

360 degree photos and videos are becoming more and more commonplace, but the downside is that you need an app to be able to see them in all their glory. Plain VR might not be the first app to offer that on Windows, but the key thing here is that it's completely free. No trials, premium subscriptions, or even ads from the looks of things.

The purpose of Plain VR is very simple. You pull in 360 degree photos and videos (via URL or a QR code with a URL inside), and it lets you see them on your phone in 360 degrees. They load, you move your phone round, and with it goes the perspective of the camera. Nice and simple.

But what good would a 360-degree viewer be if you had to hold your phone all the time? So Plain VR does have a VR mode, letting you slap your phone into a headset and see exactly what's going on without having to use your hands. That's pretty much all it offers, and while it's limited it still works well. Now they just need to update it to let you take your own 360-degree photos with the app.

You should also try:

Dropbox (Update): A lot of little features came to Dropbox this week, including the option to print from the cloud, create and manage password protected links, an undo function, a last visited tab, and more. [Free]

Roku: Now available in the UK is the Roku app for all Windows 10 devices, letting you control your Roku box remotely, without the remote that comes bundled in the box. It has Cortana support as well. [Free]

Dictation App: An app that translates your text into speech, supporting your natural speaking speed. Voice recognition is powered by Cortana, and lets you edit the text once it's been transcribed. [£1.89]