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

By Tom Pritchard on at

I think we can all agree that nostalgia is a fickle mistress. It's always good to look fondly at the past, but those nostalgia goggles can warp reality a little bit. Glamorising past events, or convincing people that trying to relive those long-gone days of the past is possible. That's how we get rubbish sequels and remakes. It's also the leading cause of people (me) scouring the web trying to find an original shiny Charizard card without paying extortionate eBay prices. Most of the time it doesn't pay off. Some of the time it does.

Anyway back to the topic at hand. Let's take a look at this week's dose of downloadable mobile software.

Android: Detour (Free - With In-App Purchases)

Whether you're in a new place or an old one, chances are you might want to explore a bit more than the obvious stuff. Detour is an app to make that possible, with GPS-guided audio tours that take you off the beaten path and explore the world around you. Unfortunately they're not all free, and they're not universally available.

If you're heading to a big city, like London, New York, San Francisco, Marrakech, and so on, then this will do nicely. Each city has a number of different tours you can head into, and all you have to do is select it and pick the one that takes your fancy. The only one that seems to cost any money right now is San Francisco, and unlocking all ten will cost you £20. Unlocking them individually will cost £4.09 each. The other cities only have one or two tours, which I guess is why they're still free.

It's pretty easy to use. Each tour has a description of what's happening, with an estimated time of how long it should take. To start you have to hit the button, as you'd expect, and then follow the audio instructions. The good thing is that it uses GPS to track where you are, so it won't continue until you get to the place Detour wants you to be. Luckily you can rewind if you missed something, or fast forward if you find it boring. Fast forwarding is still location dependent. If you finish one area's audio and stand still, you can't hear any more until you actually follow the instructions you've been given.

If you get stuck, the screen does tell you where you need to go, along with a directional arrow. Getting lost shouldn't be an issue, no should pulling out Google Maps.

If you're in a group, you can sync up all the audio using QR codes. They need to have the app, naturally, and one of you has to scan the code from the other person's phone to get everything going. From there you should hear everything at the same time. It looks like joining groups means only one person has to pay for the tours, so you can easily split the cost of the whole thing.

Just one thing during the sign up process, it asks you for a postcode but won't accept letters. Annoying, but thankfully just typing in a bunch of random numbers works fine.

So if you're heading off to San Francisco, London, Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, New York, Austin, or Marrakech, then this is the app you might want to bring along.

You should also try:

Walli: Tired of looking for wallpapers all over the web? Here's an app that will find a bunch for you, all created by artists from across the world. That way your phone's background should look nice and flashy. [Free]

BOSS Tuner: Boss has brought its chromatic tuning device to technology, perfect for tuning guitars, bass, violin, cello, and more. [Free]

CamFind: A visual search engine, letting you look things up just by snapping a picture of it. Perfect for the times when you come across something and have no clue what it is. [Free]

iPhone: Soon (Free)

This one is a to-do list of sorts, but it's not nothing to do with productivity or work. In short, it's a list of fun stuff you keep meaning to do but never actually manage to get round to doing. Soon describes itself as an everyday bucket list, though it's not quite as serious as that. It's things like films you feel you should watch, restaurants you should go to, things like that.

It's quite simple really. The list already has a bunch of pre-determined categories, and you can head into each of them, search for what you want to add, and that's it. Games, music, bars, cities, places, podcasts, and more. You can't seem to add any new categories, but if there is something you don't like (or know you won't use) the option to hide it is there.

It's also possible to see what's trending, though the main trending feed is very generalised and not that helpful. If you want to narrow things down (say you're staying in a new city), you can use the City List feature to add cities and see what other people are getting excited about at that point in time. Perfect if you're away from home and don't just want to stick to the tourist spots.

There's not much more to say about Soon, but it does seem handy if you're never able to get round to doing all the things you think might offer a good time.

You should also try:

Trail Wallet: A budget tracker specifically designed for travelling, making sure you don't blow through more money than you planned. [Free]

HistoMaster UK: A history quiz game, focused on the UK, where each correct answer grants you one troop. You can then spend troops on invading other countries. [Free]

PostePic: One for the readers, helping you find new books and quotes within them to enjoy. It also has a timeline for sharing your favourite snippets of text, and see what other people happen to like. [Free]

iPad: Festival Scope Player (Free)

I know what you might be thinking when you see a name like Festival Scope Player. The music lovers out there will be disappointed to learn that it's not a streaming service to watch the world's music festivals online. Instead, it's a place for you to watch films that have been entered into film festivals all over the world.

It's pretty much exclusively populated with indie films that you wouldn't otherwise hear about unless they win a bunch of prestigious awards (like Oscars). So if you like to support small film makers, want to one-up that pretentious Hitler 'tache-sporting hipster friend-of-a-friend, or you're just plain sick of remakes, reboots, and superheroes, this is going to be one to try out. They mostly look like foreign language films as well, so if you hate subtitles this is definitely not for you.

It's totally free, as far as I can see, and only available on the iPad. The usual streaming features apply, with catalogues, the option to watch in different resolutions, and so on.

You should also try:

Memrise: A free tool to help you learn one (or more) of over 100 languages across the world, using memory science to make sure it sticks. [Free]

Hyper: One for keeping yourself entertained on the bus or train, with playlists of great video content that loads onto your phone during the night. That means you don't need a data connection to watch them. [Free]

Windows Phone: EasyScope Beta (Free)

Shockingly, there is no Periscope app for Windows phones. Ok, it's not that shocking. At all. Thankfully there is this lovely third-party creation to make sure you don't miss out.

It's pretty much just like Periscope on any other device. You log in with your Twitter account, and you're taken to a map with all the livestreams going on across the world on periscope. Even in the middle of the night there's stuff going on in this country, and people are live streaming. I found a guy live-streaming his attempts to buy a car online, while drinking a mug of something. Why? Fuck knows why. Because people were watching, I suppose.

The downside to the third-party status is that I couldn't see a way of live broadcasting footage from your own camera. So if you were planning on livestreaming your own attempts at buying a car online, you're out of luck. But, if you like watching other people do all sorts of nonsense in their daily lives, comment about it, and send them heart-shaped likes, this is the app for you.

You should also try:

VLC: VLC has been around for a while, but now there's a universal app that works across all Windows 10 devices. Phones, PCs, and even Hololens. Just be aware, the app doesn't have DVD or Blu-ray support. So you'll need the regular desktop version for that. [Free]

Star Walk 2: A virtual stargazing app that shows you the constellations in the sky above you, changing when you move about. It also has 3D models and all the info you need to know about all the stars in the sky. [£0.79]

Steam: Remember the unofficial Steam Authenticator from a few weeks ago? You don't need it anymore, because Valve has finally released an app for Windows mobile devices. [Free]