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

By Tom Pritchard on at

It seems as though keeping things clean is a full-time job all of its own. Every time I clean my flat, within a few hours it looks like a mess again. A slightly cleaner mess, but a mess nonetheless. Why is it so difficult? Maybe I'm just a messy person. Or lazy. probably both. Why isn't there an app that will clean up for me? And I don't mean one that lets me hire a cleaner.

But back to the matter at hand. This week's list of apps:

Android Circle Sidebar (Free)

We all know about the extra Edge side-displays that Samsung has put on some of its premium phones in recent years, but don't you wish you could get something like it without paying for the extra hardware? Circle Sidebar doesn't offer everything you can do with the Edge display, but it does add a similar sidebar to your phone that can be used for quick and easy access to parts of your phone.

It's pretty easy really. You set up a section at the edge of your phone's display, and when you tap it the sidebar opens. Where that trigger area is (left or right) is up to you, as is the size of it. That means you can configure it so that the entire side of your phone opens up the sidebar, or just a small portion. You can also configure the width of the trigger area so you don't need to be that accurate, which is handy for the people who keep their phones in a case.

The it's up to you to tell Circle Sidebar which apps you want to include. A bunch of the basics are already preset, but you're not stuck with anything you don't want in there. With that sorted you should be good to go. Tap the trigger area and the sidebar will open up and let you scroll up or down through your apps.

You should also try:

Quidjets: If you have Android N installed on your device already (presumably it's a Nexus), then you can enjoy this app that adds widgets into your notification centre – similar to the widgets on iOS. [Free]

Stitch it! Screenshot Editor: Need to screenshot something, but it's bigger than your screen? No problem. Stitch it! lets you take multiple screenshots and edit them together into one seamless image. [Free]

Dropbox Paper Beta: Dropbox's answer to Word 365 is here, letting people create and collaborate on word-style documents on the go. [Free]

iPhone: Screen: Netflix UK Video Discovery (Free)

There is a lot of stuff available in the UK Netflix catalogue. Nowhere near as much as in the US, but still enough to make searching through it all a pain. Especially since Netflix's algorithm is pretty useless and keeps serving up the same nonsense every time you log in. So you need an app to help you sift through it all, and that's where Screen comes in.

Essentially it's full of features that Netflix should have, but doesn't for whatever reason. The main advantage is that you can actually personalise what you get served up, telling it the things you like, want to get rid of, and the stuff you've already seen. Netflix knows exactly what you've watched and doesn't have that last one, which is infuriating.

There are some basic categories on the homepage (films, comedy, anime, documentary, entertainment, kids, and drama), and tapping on one brings you to a page with some recommendations and the chance to choose specific genres. Anything you like the look of can be added to your own collection, so you can keep track of it all when the time comes to find something new to watch. There's also a Top 20, in case you want to watch the best of what Netflix has to offer.

It's more than just what's on Netflix, though. Screen also has dedicated sections to content that's just arrived, will be leaving soon, and stuff arriving in the coming months. That way you know what's what, and how to watch something before it's gone for good. For example Transformers Dark of the Moon is leaving the UK catalogue in three days' time, so for all five of you that care you know you've got a deadline.

You should also try:

Bars Messenger: A messaging app that lets you communicate with friends and family using song titles and quotes. It sounds a little bit silly, but it doesn't make the usual conversations far more fun. [Free]

Microsoft Authenticator (Update):  A brand new updated app, now capable of keeping your online accounts secure and accessible with a single tap. [Free]

Fender Tune: The official guitar tuning app from Fender. It's designed for beginners and pros alike, to make sure that sound comes out perfect. [Free]

iPad: Fast Speed Test (Free)

There are plenty of ways to check on your internet speeds, but they take time. Even worse, if your internet is playing up then sometimes you can't even perform a test through the usual channels. God knows I've had that problem in the past. So Netflix has an alternative. A way to check your current download speed without having to wait for a full-scale test.

Fast Speed Test is an incredibly literal name. It's always working, so that it's always displaying the current download speed on screen. It doesn't require any input from you, and there's no unnecessary information that might confuse you. What you see is what the current internet speed is, and if you watch long enough it will change.

It works by performing a series of downloads from Netflix's own servers, so the figures are going to be a little bit different than if you do a test elsewhere. That said, it's a pretty good estimate of how your internet is going to perform if you're watching Netflix.

So if you want a simple, hassle-free way to check your internet speed, this is the app for you.

You should also try:

Trainline (Update): A new update that lets you find the cheapest train ticket prices, crowdsourcing information from other users and making sure you see the cheapest trip of the day. [Free]

Vintage Design: One for creating your own logos and designs, all with a vintage theme. Graphic design couldn't be easier. [£2.29]

MyScript Nebo: A note-taking app designed for the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, making it easy to write, draw, and then digitise your work later on. [Free]

Windows Mobile Photo Scan (Free)

So you've got some text in an image, and you need to extract it for whatever reason. You could type it all out by hand, or you could download Photo Scan and have it do everything for you. All you need to do is snap a shot of the text in question, or import a picture from your camera roll, and it'll get to work.

Once it's done with the scanning, Photo Scan will show the text on screen for you to read through. If you're happy with what you see, you can copy it to the clipboard, save it, share it via whatever communication apps you have installed, or have the app read it out to you. Pretty simple stuff. If you're not happy, you're going to have to start from scratch, ideally with a clearer photo.

Photo Scan is like many other OCR apps out there in that it's far from perfect. It gets the brunt of the text for you, but there are more than a few errors within. Obviously better photos will be easier to understand, but it's never going to be 100 per cent accurate. But, despite that, it does do the job reasonably quickly, and doesn't cost a penny. So even if you have to do some editing, it's still easier and faster than typing it all out by hand.

You should also try:

Vinci: A neural network app for turning your photos into those bizarre trippy images that have been cropping up all over the place online. [Free]

Logo Foundry: Make your own professional-looking logo in only a few minutes with this app, filled with tools to make it happen. [Free]

Pebble Time Manager (Update): There's no Pebble app on Windows phones, but this app lets you manage your Pebble Time regardless. It's just been updated, and now comes with notification support. [Free]