Posts

The best new mobile apps for August 2015

The best new mobile apps for August 2015

The best new mobile apps for August 2015The ingenuity and skill of app developers across the world continues to amaze us, and once again they’ve been busy putting out new apps for the popular smartphone platforms this month.

The range from making yourself understood while abroad and improving your mood, to making your own music and video messaging friends more easily…

Moodnotes

The best new mobile apps for August 2015

Moodnotes is a journal-style app that aims to improve how you feel by getting your thoughts down on (digital) paper and working through the feelings they bring up. The idea is that by identifying what influences your mood you can change your perspective and develop healthier thinking habits.

The only downside is you need to pay £2.99 to see if it works, but the developers are the same team behind the excellent Monument Valley. [£2.99 on iOS]

InboxVudu

The best new mobile apps for August 2015

The latest in a long line of apps promising to help you get your inbox in order and prevent email from taking over your life — as long as you use Gmail.

Once you’ve connected InboxVudu to your Google account, it can prioritise the most important messages, remind you about emails you need to follow up on, and schedule meetings effectively. You can also use InboxVudu’s magic with Gmail on the Web. [Free on iOS]

MSTY

The best new mobile apps for August 2015

MSTY — which stands for My Song To You, in case you were wondering — is a new twist on the instant messenger and is based around music. Pick a song from the extensive catalogue, add an image, write your message and you can send the whole package to a contact of your choice.

You might find it easier to just send a track through Spotify’s messaging system but MSTY is an interesting idea and well worth a look. [Free on Android and iOS]

Microsoft Translator

The best new mobile apps for August 2015

Google Translator isn’t the only app in town for getting your phrases from one lingo into another. 50 different languages are supported and because the app works with audio as well as text you can practice your pronunciation too.

If you’re a paid-up member of the smartwatch revolution then the app can be accessed from Android Wear devices or the Apple Watch for even easier translations on the move. [Free on Android and iOS]

Sway

The best new mobile apps for August 2015

Sway is another app from Microsoft, this time one designed to help you pull together text, images, links and other elements in an appealing format that’s a breeze to swipe through — it’s pretty much PowerPoint for the mobile generation and it’s also available on the Web (though not on Android yet).

Use it for reports, presentations, newsletters, personal stories and more. [Free on iOS]

Ninja Jamm

The best new mobile apps for August 2015

Out for a while now on iOS, Ninja Jamm makes the jump to Android devices this month and so earns a spot in our round-up. It’s a music-making workflow that manages to strike the right balance between accessibility and sophistication: anyone can dive right in and start creating, but there are more advanced tools here too if you need them.

You get four packs of content free and you can pay if you need more raw material. [Free on Android and iOS]

Wildcard

The best new mobile apps for August 2015

There’s an awful lot of news and gossip to keep up with on today’s Web, and working your way through it isn’t easy.

Wildcard wants to help out by giving you the most important stories in bite-sized chunks that you can digest whenever you have a spare moment: it’s not a completely new app but the version 2.0 released this month is a significant upgrade. Popular stories you like can be browsed in depth. [Free on iOS]

Kaboom

The best new mobile apps for August 2015

Kaboom takes the Snapchat idea of disappearing messages and applies it to your other social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter (it also works with email, SMS and WhatsApp).

You craft your message, set when you want it to expire, and Kaboom takes care of the rest — your friends don’t even need to be using it for it to work. Just remember a quick screenshot can make your post a lot more permanent. [Free on Android and iOS]

Drupe

The best new mobile apps for August 2015

As mature as our smartphone platforms now are, developers are still trying to crack the challenge of bringing together contacts from various different services into one central hub.

This is easier on Android of course, where you can completely replace the dialler app, and that’s exactly what Drupe does: recent interactions are collected by contact and you can simply swipe someone’s avatar over to an app shortcut to get in touch. [Free on Android]

Morpholio Journal

The best new mobile apps for August 2015

Morpholio Journal isn’t the first app we’ve seen to let you jot down your ideas and imaginings on a digital scrap of paper, but it’s certainly one of the best-looking and easiest to use. Who knows, you might find yourself coming up with an idea that makes you famous.

Photos and text can both be added in, and if you want some more drawing and background options you can pay inside the app. [Freemium on iOS]

Yahoo Livetext

The best new mobile apps for August 2015

Yahoo was one of the original dot com companies but it’s struggling to stay relevant in the new mobile-first world. Livetext is its latest attempt to get traction with smartphone users: it’s a live video messaging service reminiscent of Snapchat or Periscope, but the twist is there’s no audio, so you can view your messages in the library.

It could still use some polish but it’s a promising start for Yahoo’s latest venture. [Free on Android and iOS]

Down The Mountain

The best new mobile apps for August 2015

If you’re looking for a new game to while away those spare moments in the office canteen or on the train, you could do a lot worse than Down The Mountain.

Okay, it’s not the most original game in the world in terms of either mechanics or appearance, but it’s still a lot of fun and nicely designed — your aim is to make your way down an infinite mountain, picking up stars and power-ups and avoiding enemies along the way. [Freemium on Android and iOS]

Farms & Castles

The best new mobile apps for August 2015

Our second game pick of the month is a far more sedate affair. Farms & Castles uses a simple puzzle gameplay mechanic but it’s very addictive and you’ll find yourself constantly wanting to dip back into the game or spend just a few more minutes trying to build your empire.

The appealing visuals and option to compete against your friends both help, and the magic orbs and trading possibilities keep the game from being boring. [Freemium on Android and iOS]

Lrn

The best new mobile apps for August 2015

Lrn promises to help you “learn to code at your convenience” — it introduces you gently into the basics of coding for the web and for mobile devices.

Rather than giving you stacks of dry and impenetrable information, it uses interactive mini-quizzes to help you remember different terms and functions, though you need to pay within the app once you move on to more advanced topics. An Android version is coming soon. [Freemium on iOS]

Monospace Writer

The best new mobile apps for August 2015

Get some clarity in your writing with the help of Monospace Writer, a pared-down, minimalistic word processor for Android with a beta label still attached. It supports basic text formatting, Dropbox syncing, Markdown exports and a simple tagging system to keep your notes organised.

Whether you want to write the next great novel or just keep a shopping list close at hand, Monospace Writer is worth checking out and designed specifically for touch interfaces. [Free for Android]

The best new mobile apps for July 2015

The best new mobile apps for July 2015

The best new mobile apps for July 2015Once you’ve got all the big apps installed — Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, Outlook — you might think you can sit back and take it easy as far as app discovery goes.

That would be a mistake though, as there are dozens of interesting new apps released every week on the respective app stores. Here are our picks over the last month.

EscapeThe best new mobile apps for July 2015

Making a great game doesn’t necessarily have to be complicated: you just need a decent gameplay mechanic, some attractive graphics, and enough variety to keep everything interesting. Escape delivers on all three counts, a sideways scroller that tasks you with rescuing stranded space travellers as a strange alien world collapses around you. You can expect around 10 hours of gameplay though new mini-challenges are added on a daily basis. [Freemium on Android and iOS]

Hooks

The best new mobile apps for July 2015

Put simply, Hooks lets you get notifications on just about anything — there are more than 100 ‘channels’ on offer, including sports scores, music concerts, weather updates, video game releases, earthquake warnings, website rankings, alerts from social media and many more. Despite all of this functionality, Hooks remains simple to use, and you can set up new notifications with a few taps. The iOS app has been out for a while, but the Android one is new. [Freemium on Android, Free on iOS]

Streaks

The best new mobile apps for July 2015

Streaks is designed to help you track your habits, and it’s pretty open in terms of layout and structure so you can use it to record anything you want: TV watching, jogs, meals, calling friends, walking the dog, and so on. You can set up daily reminders if you want and there’s a log of your ‘streaks’ — the number of consecutive days that you’ve done what you set out to do. [Freemium on Android, £2.99 on iOS]

Star Wars

With six months to go before Episode VII hits cinemas, Disney has decided to release an official app to help you get in the mood for the next instalment in the series — it’s only available in the US for now but we’d expect it to roll out further soon. You can find all kinds of Star Wars material here: quotes, sounds, pictures, even weather forecasts and a Star Wars selfie option. [Free on Android and iOS]

 Apple Music

Everyone who upgraded to iOS 8.4 got Apple Music into the bargain, and you can sign up for a three-month free trial if you want to (there’s no free tier as there is with Spotify). It adds millions of on-demand streaming tracks to your existing iTunes library, and there are smart recommendations and the Beats 1 radio station to enjoy as well. An Android app is apparently on the way. [Free on iOS]

Crossroad

Crossroad tries to solve that thorny problem of selective picture-sharing, where you want to show photos to a specific group of people rather than the whole world. Choose the images, choose the friends, and the app takes care of the rest — they can either view your newly created album through the smartphone app or via a link to private webpage. [Free on Android and iOS]

Retype

Retype is a clean and tidy photo editor with an emphasis on typography rather than imagery. It comes with a bunch of tools to help you create arty-looking messages on top of your pictures: fonts, colours, shade, 3D effects and more can all be customised to get your images looking just right, and then of course it’s simple to share your creations on your social network of choice. [£2.29 on iOS]

Nine

If you’re in the market for a to do list app for your smartphone then there are plenty to pick from, but Nine takes an unusual approach — it’s based around the idea of images as memory prompts, and as the name suggests there are nine tags to pick from: do, go, buy, listen, watch, read, note, love and make. You can add locations to your listed items as well, and the app is intuitive throughout. [£0.79 for iOS]

Tossup

Tossup is a Microsoft side project (US-only for now) that wants to help you “make plans with friends the hassle-free way” — specifically, by asking who’s up for a particular event and then letting attendees vote on times, location and so on. There are chat and calendar options built in and it looks like the app has some potential, provided you can get all of your friends to install it. [Free on Android and iOS]

Eggheads

If you’re a fan of the BBC quiz show then you’re probably going to want to splash out on the official apps, though by the same token you’re not likely to think these apps are value for money if you’re not already invested in the television series. In terms of content there no big surprises, with the same personalities from the small screen and the same structure. [£1.49 on Android, iOS and Windows Phone]

FailPop

FailPop promises “essential travel tips” and these tips cover most of the situations you’re likely to find yourself in while abroad… and there are GIFs too. Choose your country and you’re good to go — you’ll find advice on etiquette for how to eat, what to wear, meeting people and more, and if you want the most comprehensive package then a Pro version is on the way soon. [Free on iOS]

Wildcard

Wildcard takes the well-worn Tinder swiping mechanic and applies it to meeting people and making friends rather than arranging romantic hook-ups — it’s the sort of app you’d use if you were on your own in a new place. Your bio information is initially pulled from Twitter and it’s possible to narrow down your connections to a specific location (such as a festival or conference). [Free on Android and iOS]

YoVivo

YoVivo tasks itself with helping you to find your digital photos no matter where you might have put them. It covers Flickr, Google Photos, Dropbox, Instagram, Facebook, OneDrive, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr and several other services, so you can pipe in your pictures from wherever you like and get them in one place. You can also create slideshows from within the app. [Free on iOS]

BitTorrent Shoot

BitTorrent is a name that’s usually associated with filesharing of questionable legality, but the parent company has a new app that lets you send a lot of photos or a large video file to your friends’ devices quickly and easily. Nothing goes through the cloud and sharing is handled through a private QR code, though you only get three shares for free before you have to pay. [Freemium on Android, iOS and Windows Phone]

RapMic

Record a rap, send it to friends — what could be simpler? There are three backing tracks to choose from, and when you’ve found a beat you like you simply tap on the red record button to start committing your rap to the local storage on your iPhone or iPad. When you’re happy, you can email it to someone. Very limited in terms of features but it’s a lot of fun nevertheless. [Free on iOS]

Best apps for your holiday

The best travel apps for your summer holidays

Best apps for your holidayIf you’re off on your summer holidays, your mind is no doubt filled with all the stuff you need to pack — clothes, sun cream, camera, bucket and spade, and so on.

But what about the apps on your smartphone? They can make the difference between a fantastic holiday and a so-so one.

To help, we’ve picked out some of the best choices to install in advance.

Field Trip

01 field trip

It’s not one of Google’s most well-known apps, but it’s useful when you’re out and about in a strange city: Field Trip can pop up with nearby places of interest covering everything from restaurants to architectural sites of note, pulled from a variety of sources online. You can customise the app to only show places you’re interested in (whether parks or bars) and it can be a real timesaver when exploring. Free on Android and iOS.

TripIt

02 tripit

TripIt is a personal travel organiser: the idea is, you send over all of your booking emails and information, and it magically arranges them into an itinerary for you, which you can access from anywhere. It covers hotels, flights, events, car rentals and much more besides, and you can upgrade to a pro version of the app if you want to get live travel information and other assorted extras. Free on Android, BlackBerry, iOS and Windows Phone.

Dark Sky

03 dark sky

There’s no shortage of weather apps out there if you want to get a decent forecast for your travels, but few go into the kind of detail that Dark Sky does. From radar maps to hour-by-hour precipitation forecasts, it’s impressive in both its accuracy and its comprehensiveness. It can act as your own personal weather station too. Perhaps the only downside is you can only get it on iPhones and iPads. £2.99 on iOS.

Hotel Tonight

04 hotel tonight

Hotel Tonight is worth a look over the glut of other similar hotel booking apps for a number of reasons: it’s speedy and slick, it can occasionally get you a discount on your stay, and its reviews hit just the right balance between brevity and usefulness. If you do reserve a room then the booking process is simple and straightforward, which isn’t always the case with apps like this. Free for Android, iOS and Windows Phone.

TripLingo

05 triplingo

So you’re heading off on holiday, but you don’t speak a word of the language — and there’s nowhere near enough time to take a crash course. That’s where TripLingo can help, bringing you the key phrases you’re going to need, together with a pronunciation guide and the option to connect to a live translator. There are other useful tools here, including a tip calculator and safety advice. Free for Android and iOS.

Citymapper

06 citymapper

Getting from one side of a city to the other can be a challenge at the best of times, and it’s even more problematic when you’re in a place you don’t know well. Citymapper brings with it a comprehensive set of tools for navigating cities using trains, trams, buses, bikes, taxis, ferries and even your own two feet, with real-time data included. All it really needs is support for more cities. Free on Android and iOS.

SeatGuru

07 seatguru

The time you spend at the airport can be the most stressful time of your whole trip, so make use of SeatGuru to reduce your blood pressure levels. The app helps you check the status on your flight, pick your seat on the aeroplane, and get discounts on your travel as well. Over 100 airlines are supported and you can tap into the collective wisdom of 45,000 passenger reviews as well. Free on Android and iOS.

Here Maps

08 here maps

A mapping app can really come in handy when you’re travelling — particularly if there’s some driving involved — and Here Maps from Nokia is one of the best options out there. It’s extensive offline capabilities mean you can drive around without incurring hefty charges on your data bill, and more than 100 countries are supported. Public transport timetable data is included too. Free on Android, iOS and Windows Phone.

TripAdvisor

09 tripadvisor

It’s one of the most well-known travel sites out there, so you’ve probably already heard of TripAdvisor. What you might not know is there are mobile apps available too — check reviews, photos and maps on the go, and save information for particular cities to your phone in advance (to save on data roaming charges). It’s good for finding things to do in a particular place too. Free on Android and iOS.

Recce

10 recce

Recce provides a unique way of exploring whatever city you happen to find yourself in — it offers a 3D map that you can zoom in and out of, complete with information about notable landmarks, restaurants, museums and everything else you need to know about while you’re travelling. You can get weather information as well and keep a record of locations that you want to keep track of. Free on Android and iOS.

2014 AA Caravan & Camping Guide

11 aa 2014

You’ll find a few useful AA apps on your platform of choice, but if you’re touring around the United Kingdom this summer then the 2014 AA Caravan & Camping Guide is one of the most useful. You get detailed descriptions about some of the best sites in the country, written by qualified AA inspectors, and there’s a useful checklist of facilities (like Wi-Fi and provision for pets) at each location as well. Free on Android and iOS.

Amazon Kindle

12 amazon kindle

The Kindle app isn’t just for your holidays, of course, but having some spare reading material around can help pass the time on those long journeys or days on the beach. You don’t need to have a physical Kindle ereader to use the associated app, but if you do then your reading progress is synced across all of the devices you sign in on. There’s a library of 1.5m ebooks to pick from. Free on Android, BlackBerry, iOS and Windows Phone.

Viator

13 viator

Viator is another app to help you do more when you get to your location of choice: you can use it to browse through more than 20,000 tours, activities and attractions and make bookings right in the app too. Whether you’re checking out a place in advance or you’re trying to find something diverting once you get there, Viator can help you make the most of your trip. Free on Android and iOS.

Instagram

14 instagram

You’re probably already well aware of Instagram, but the update pushed out last month makes it even more useful for travellers — you can now search around for other people’s pictures based on a particular location. Add to that the ability to enhance your own travel photos with some gorgeous-looking filters, and it’s a must-have app for anyone heading away. Free on Android, iOS and Windows Phone.

XE Currency

15 xe currency

You never know when a currency converter app is going to come in helpful on holiday. It can assist you in working out how quickly you’re blowing through your vacation budget, show you the real price of the trips and trinkets you’re buying, and more besides. There are a bunch to choose from, but XE Currency is one of the best there is — and it works offline too. Free on Android, BlackBerry, iOS and Windows Phone.