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

By Tom Pritchard on at

Adverts suck, we can all agree on that, but there's a very special place in deep bowels of hell for the person who greenlit a certain type of advert. I'm talking about YouTube adverts featuring some of the world's most irritating YouTube personalities. I don't mean PewDiePie, but people who are so painfully irritating it make me want to punch the screen. It wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't the same four adverts, featuring the same two people trying (and failing) to be funny over and over again.

But let's all calm back down and take a look at this week's apps. Some of them are ad-supported, but that means they don't cost money which is always a good thing.

Android: Flytube (Free)

You know how newer iPads have picture-in-picture mode that lets you do multiple things at once? That's what FlyTube does for the YouTube app on Android. Simply put, it creates a mini version of a specific YouTube video that you can watch without losing the rest of your device's functionality.

It's nice and easy to use as well, and there are two different ways of using it. The first is setting Flytube as the default YouTube app, which means any YouTube links you click, or videos you try and open, will open up in FlyTube's picture-in-picture mode rather than your YouTube app of choice. The other is to manually share the video to the app, which requires you to be in the actual YouTube app.

You can open stuff directly from Flytube, which is itself a third party YouTube app. The problem is that it's very glitchy, so you're better off sticking to more stable sources and going from there.

So you open up a video, share it if need be, and it pops on screen in a little window. A little window that you can move around your screen, but can't leave right in the middle. Any time you attempt to do this causes the windowed video to flee back to edge of the screen.

Flytube is only good for playing one video at a time, so if you have a playlist open (for, say, music), each time a video ends you'll have to head back to the YouTube app if you want to play the next one. That also means you have to go through the arduous two-step process of sharing the video to Flytube each time. The overlain video also needs to be closed manually each time you use it.

Another downside is simply the fact that you can't resize the video. You have two choices: miniature, or expanding it to almost full-screen. I should add that expanding does absolutely nothing to the resolution, so if you want to watch a large version of the video you're better off just going back to YouTube.

Flytube is very strict about how it adheres to YouTube's terms of service, so you have a few things that might put you off. For starters, while the video is playing you won't be able to turn off your phone's screen. You will be able to see it on your lockscreen, but because Google doesn't allow videos to play in the background (i.e. with the screen off) Flytube doesn't either. If you want that you'll need a YouTube Red subscription, which I don't think is available in the UK. It also won't play videos that have special copyright that won't let them be played outside of the official YouTube app/website.

But! The fact that you can watch videos while doing other things is a great extra feature in itself. You can even watch YouTube videos in the corner of your screen while you watch Netflix. I know this because I decided to try it. Why anyone would do that is beyond me, but it does work.

You should also try:

Google Docs/Sheets (Update): You know how Google Docs and Sheets have a bunch of useful add-ons on your desktop? Now they're available on Android. Now you can link these apps into both Docs and Sheets on the go. [Free]

Google Phone (Update): If your phone can run Google's Phone app, you might want to check it out. The latest version now automatically detects spam calls, and lets you know ahead of time.

HereWeGo (Update): The app formerly known as HERE Maps has had a rebrand, and some new features. Now it has info on cycling, taxis, and car clubs (along with estimates on any relevant pricing). It's also much faster when it comes up with your routes. [Free]

iPhone: Team GB Live (Free)

The Olympics start on Friday, and the apps following the proceedings are in abundance. What if you don't give a damn about the event as a whole, and only give a shit about your own countrymen? You could use personalised apps like BBC Sport, or you could use the official Team GB app. Provided Team GB are the countrymen in question.

Team GB Live is part news app, and part schedule, so you can see what's happened and what Britain's Olympians are going to be up to during the competition. Right now that schedule only goes up to next Saturday (13th), and only seems to have Rugby and Hockey events for some reason. The Olympics don't officially start until Friday night/Saturday morning so expect that to start getting updates in the next few days.

The schedule is a little bit bland if I'm honest, only offering the absolute minimum information. All you can see is which sport it is, which gender is competing, who they're up against, and what time it's on (UK time, not Brazilian time). That's enough to make sure you know what to expect when you turn on the TV, but I feel there could be a little bit more in there. You do have the option of adding events directly into your calendar, so you can sort out your own notifications and reminders.

With that in mind, it's worth pointing out that Team GB Live has no notification system of its own. If you want to be reminded about certain sports of events, you have to sort all that out yourself. As I said, that's done through the calendar app. Just find the event in the schedule and hit the calendar button to sort things out.

On top of that Team GB Live also has a news feature, and a tab dedicated to how many medals have been won by Brits. The news is very basic, and right now doesn't have any filters to sift out the stuff you couldn't care less about. The articles themselves are fairly typical of sports news, which is a good sign. Filters would have been nice, but at least you still have the advantage of not having to sort through news from other countries taking part.

The Olympics start in four days time, and if you care about them in any way, this app should be on your phone.

You should also try:

RealTalk: One of those ChatRoulette-style video chatrooms, though without the unexpected penis on screen. Both party's video stream is pixelated while you chat, and remains that way until both of you decide to reveal yourself. [Free]

Visual Ruler: No ruler or tape measure? No problem. This app will use your phone's camera to estimate the size of objects, provided, of course, that the appropriate reference is also in frame. [£1.49]

Microsoft Pix: An intelligent camera designed to tweak the settings on your camera, and take the best picture possible without any extra input from you. [Free]

iPad: Serist (£2.49)

As great as a lot of the stuff you get on television can be, whoever comes up with the schedules is a Grade A moron – especially when we're talking about American networks. Who premieres a show that's been hyped to hell, then immediately takes a week off? AMC apparently (for Preacher). As I said, Grade A moron.

So you want to keep track of your favourite TV shows, and when they're actually on the air. Serist is a pain-free answer for you. In it, you have your own feed of TV programmes you're watching and (surprise surprise) it notifies when a new episode is going to be broadcast.

You search for the ones you watch, or find new ones with the built-in trending list, and add them to your own feed. From there you're able to keep tabs on which episodes you've watched, and push notifications annoy you whenever new ones are due. Real-time notifications aren't always ideal, so Serist has a few other options you might prefer: reminder notifications, and weekly/daily notification digests. This way you have no excuse for missing them and coming face to face with deadly internet spoilers.

So there you are, a nice way of keeping track of things that won't let you forget. Unfortunately Serist doesn't actually let you watch anything, but there is a lot of spoiler-free information about different programmes. It costs a bit, but if you're always forgetting about what's on and when, this is an essential tool.

You should also try:

Pocket Casts (Update): The podcasting app has had a nice update, bringing with it a brand new design, the option to remove silence in podcasts, a discover option, queue manager, and more. [£2.99]

Sky Kids (Update): A special summer holiday update to Sky's kid-friendly streaming app, with offline playback for Sky Go customers, and other smaller additions. [Free]

Windows Mobile: Find 'Em All (Free)

Pokémon Go's tracker isn't just broken anymore, it's now been completely removed. So actually finding anything worthwhile requires a tracker to hunt them down, but Niantic is starting to shut them down as well. Thankfully, at the time of writing, this one still works. Slow as it may be.

Find 'Em All is one of the tracking apps that uses Niantic's API, rather than user contributions. So it's a fairly accurate way of hunting down pokémon, since the game makes that impossible. Just open up the app, let it see your location, and it'll show all the monsters in your immediate area. Hold your finger on one, and it'll tell you the time that monster will disappear, so you know whether it's worth heading over to try and catch it.

On top of that there is a list of monsters in its own separate menu, so you can filter out what you see on screen and set up a notification for when certain monsters appear. The downside is that you can't seem to set up a notification for specific pokémon unless its actually in your local area.

There are a few points to make here. First up is the fact that Find 'Em All only seems to find monsters that are around where you are. No shifting along to another part of the app to see what's on the other side of town. Distance varies, though, and seems to spiral out from where you are. Not all of it's going to be within walking distance, so some monsters might expire before you get there.

It's also incredibly slow to load up. I kept getting a notification that the Pokémon Go servers were at high capacity at very regular intervals, so that might be the cause. You also seem to have to keep the screen open for new stuff to appear. You don't lose progress if you hit up another app, per se, but if you leave it long enough then all the pokémon will expire. So you'll have to start the slow progress of seeing them pop-up on screen from scratch.

Don't expect this to stay up for long, since Niantic is very unhappy about similar services (wrongly, I might add), but for the time being it still works fairly well.

You should also try:

PoGo-UWP: Are you a Windows user that wants to play Pokémon Go without having to buy an iOS or Android device? No problem! There's a way you can hack the game onto your device if you're prepared to do a little bit of fiddling and don't mind a few differences with the UI. Windows Central has the full lowdown.

Instagram (Update): A nice update to the official Instagram app this week, bringing with it Continuum support, fixes to video playback (it actually works now), and speed improvements. [Free]

App Raisin: Looking for all the latest news about the world of apps? This one has you covered. [Free]