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Phone use tops list of drivers’ most infuriating habits

Drivers annoyed by phone drivers

New research has revealed what annoys British motorists most in 2019. While the usual bugbears of tailgating, not indicating and dangerous overtaking feature, mobile phone use behind the wheel is what tops the list.

The study by Kwik Fit found that using phone use is in the top five most annoying habits for 56 percent of the 2,003 drivers questioned. It leads tailgating (50 percent) and failing to indicate (49 percent).

Overall, the number of drivers being charged with a CU80 (using a phone while driving) offence fell by 19 percent between 2017 and 2018. However, closer analysis of DVLA data reveals the disparity in local regions. In Yorkshire, the number of drivers convicted rose by 22.6 percent in the same period. Kirklees, the borough around Huddersfield, saw an increase of 82 percent.

Drivers annoyed by phone drivers

West Yorkshire Police has been using double decker buses and unmarked HGVs to catch drivers in the act.

London, the South East and the North West saw the biggest drops, with 32.3 percent, 22.5 percent and 18.9 percent respectively.

“The research clearly shows that actions of other drivers which annoy us the most are those which put people’s safety at risk on the road,” said Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit.

“There is no excuse for using a handheld mobile phone when driving, whether it’s for a call, texting or checking social media. It’s vital for road safety that we make using the phone when driving as socially unacceptable as drinking and driving. Until we have fully autonomous vehicles, anything which diverts a driver’s attention from the road is a risk to their safety and those of the road users around them.”

Drivers annoyed by phone drivers

Habit in other motoristsProportion of drivers with it in their top five annoying habits
Using a mobile phone handset to talk / text

or use social media

56%
Tailgating50%
Failing to indicate49%
Dangerous overtaking38%
Changing lane without indicating33%
Last-minute braking24%
Middle lane cruising / hogging24%
Speeding23%
Hesitant driving18%
Jumping traffic lights18%
Land Rover Explore smartphone

The super-tough smartphone that thinks it’s a Land Rover

Land Rover Explore smartphone

The Land Rover Explore mobile phone is designed to go where many SUVs dare not tread: deep into the wilderness. And unlike many other smartphones – and certain SUVs, come to think of it – it’s unlikely to leave you high and dry when the going gets Billy Ocean.

Before the cynics start muttering things about entering a jungle in a Land Rover but coming out again in a Land Cruiser, the Explore mobile is merely “inspired by Land Rover”, and is built by the Bullitt Group, which has designed, manufactured and distributed millions of mobile phones.

Remarkably, the Explore phone is capable of operating and navigating in extreme conditions for two full days with the screen on constantly, which will seem like witchcraft for smartphone users who see their juice dropping like a stone when using data in the city.

The most outdoorsy communications device since the bush telegraph can be fitted with an Adventure Pack, which doubles the battery life and improves the reliability and accuracy of the GPS signal. Perfect for when you find yourself veering off the public footpath on your post-Sunday-lunch walk.

The phone is powered by a 4,000m Ah battery with a factory-fitted screen protector and protective case that can survive underwater to 1.8 metres, including salt water. It can cope with temperatures ranging from freezing cold to blistering heat, so it should be adept at dealing with British drizzle.

Naturally, the full HD five-inch screen can be controlled when wet and with gloved hands, and provides instant access to weather information and mapping data. Land Rover claims that it’s perfect for hiking, biking and skiing, but fails to point out that it’s likely to appeal to trendy types who like to parade their rugged, go-anywhere spirit in a town centre coffee shop.

The Android-enabled device is compatible with all Land Rover in-car apps and is available with hardware packs, such as an additional battery and bike mount.

Joe Sinclair, director of branded goods and licensing, Jaguar Land Rover, said: “This is the smartphone we’d all like to own – a perfect combination of design and functionality that embodies the Land Rover DNA and enables customers to be outdoors for longer, with the confidence to go further.”

If it’s something you’d like to own, the Explore phone with Adventure Pack costs £599 and will be available to order from 26 April. Rugged beard and Kendal Mint Cake are optional.

The Land Rover Explore has its own Twitter account, which you can follow here. Just don’t get lost on the way.

Full specifications:

  • 4,000m Ah battery plus add-on battery pack
  • IP68 splash, water and dust resistance
  • Drop-proof to 1.8 metres with factory-fitted screen protector
  • Premium grade, detailed off-road topographical mapping options from ViewRanger with Augmented Reality Skyline feature
  • In-box premium off-road mapping voucher, giving a choice of country-wide or custom region topographical maps in many markets.
  • Customisable outdoor dashboard to access the most important weather information, sensor data, and on-device tools for your activity: eg weather, wind, tides, compass, SOS light
  • Android Nougat OS, with scheduled upgrade to Oreo
  • 4GB RAM and 64GB ROM, expandable via microSD
  • Deca-core 2.6GHz 64 bit MTK Helio X27 chipset with dual-SIM functionality
  • 16MP rear camera, 8MP front camera, 4x digital zoom
  • Bright five-inch FHD display, Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protected, optimised for outdoor use
  • Touchscreen can be controlled with gloves on or with wet fingers
  • Night red filter mode reduces screen glare, preserving natural vision in low light and at night
  • LTE Cat 6
  • Curated apps and content catalogue relevant to outdoor pursuits
Ford SYNC 3 Apple CarPlay

CES 2016: Ford Sync gets Apple CarPlay, Android Auto at last

Ford SYNC 3 Apple CarPlayFord has finally installed Apple CarPlay and Android Auto into the latest version of its in-car infotainment system, Sync 3.

It’s a big deal. Ford says there are over 15 million Sync-equipped cars on the road. By 2020, there will be a staggering 43 million.

The long-awaited announcement at CES 2016 thus at last will allow Ford drivers to control their Apple and Android smartphone apps through the colour Sync touchscreen.

It means smartphone maps, messages, music and phone can all be controlled via the car – and it should also offer in-car access to additional apps such as Spotify.

The interface mirrors the smartphone’s too.

Rolling out this year on 2017 cars, for now it’s only on the latest Sync 3 system currently on sale in the United States: Europe still uses the older, fiddlier Sync 2 system.

Wait for a possible announcement at next month’s Worldwide Mobile Congress in Spain on that, hinted a spokesman…

Sync apps

Ford’s also launching a suite of apps for Sync 3, via a new Sync AppLink system.

In the US, this links to apps such as Eventseeker, which hunts down events that fit a user’s preassigned profile as they drive. Another app tracks fuel prices and plans a route to the cheapest.

Similarly smart apps are expected for European owners when the system is launched.

Ford’s proud of the Sync system, which it launched in 2007 as “the industry’s first system to widely and most affordably offer voice-activated technology to control smartphones”.

It’s grown and been honed a lot since then. And at last, now more fully links with the world’s two most widely used smartphone platforms.

The most important mobile phones in history

The most important mobile phones in history

The most important mobile phones in history

The mobile phone is a relatively recent invention, but it’s very difficult to imagine life without it now.

These portable computers are with us around the clock, taking care of schedules, photos, news, social networking, entertainment, security, payments and much more besides.

Here we look at the most important mobile phones in history.

Nokia 3210 (1999)

01 nokia 3210

It looks plain by today’s standards, but the Nokia 3210 was the start of a real hot streak for Nokia and the culmination of three years’ work on Web-enabled handsets.

It got the combination of form, features and price just right and it was the first mass-market handset that didn’t have an external antenna ruining its aesthetics. It was pretty much the iPhone of its day… at least until the 3310 came along.

Sharp J-SH04 (2000)

02 sharp j-sh04

There’s some debate about which was the very first phone to have an integrated camera: most tech historians seem to agree it was the Samsung SCH-V200 released in South Korea early in 2000, but we know more about the Sharp J-SH04 pictured here (on sale in Japan in November of that year).

Whatever the exact timing, these two handsets introduced a phone feature that we wouldn’t dream of trying to live without nowadays.

Nokia 3310 (2000)

03 nokia 3310

The 3210 was good, but the 3310 was perhaps even better — as the 20th century turned into the 21st century, Nokia pulled off a one-two double-hit that made it the undisputed king of the mobile phone market.

The 3310 was smaller and lighter than its predecessor, though it kept all of the key features (including Snake) and most of the design of the earlier model. It eventually sold more than 126 million units — a huge achievement for the time.

Motorola Razr V3 (2004)

04 motorola razr v3

The Razr V3 will have a special place the hearts of many people of a certain age. While it didn’t have any standout features that were particularly innovative or unique, it combined form and function in a way that felt like the future.

Motorola went on to sell some 50 million Razr V3s in the two years after its launch, making it the most popular clamshell phone ever made, and it influenced a host of imitators.

iPhone (2007)

05 iphone

It’s hard to overstate the original iPhone’s significance: it introduced concepts like the touchscreen and the app store before anyone else was taking them seriously (though the first model famously didn’t have support for third-party apps).

At first glance it seemed like a crazy departure from the smartphones that had gone before it, but the hardware and software template set down by the iPhone have defined the years since in terms of smartphones and tablets.

Nokia N95 (2007)

06 nokia n96

It came out the same year as the iPhone, and it didn’t have a touchscreen, but we shouldn’t forget the importance of the Nokia N95.

With a decent camera, mapping capabilities and a large colour screen, it was one of the first handsets that showed just how powerful smartphones would eventually become — in fact in terms of raw specs and features (a 5-megapixel camera!) it was a notch above the first iPhone.

T-Mobile G1/HTC Dream (2008)

07 t-mobile g1

There was nothing particularly groundbreaking about the T-Mobile G1 with the exception of the software running on top of it: a fledgling mobile OS called Android, bought by Google in 2005.

Nowadays it’s hard to imagine Google without its mobile apps and mobile OS, but this was a real departure for the company that made a search engine and Gmail. At this stage Android wasn’t much to write home about, but it definitely had potential.

BlackBerry Bold 9000 (2008)

08 blackberry bold 9000

For a few years after the iPhone hit, BlackBerry continued to make high-quality smartphones that business users loved, and the Bold 9000 was one of the best that the Canadian company ever put out.

It’s classic BlackBerry, with the full QWERTY keyboard and that trackball in the centre of it. It was definitely an attempt to capture the imagination of the consumer market, but by this point it was already too little too late.

Samsung Galaxy Note (2011)

09 samsung galaxy note

Samsung gets a lot of flack for copying Apple, so let’s give the South Korean company credit where it’s due: Samsung realised we all wanted big phone screens long before anyone else did.

The original Note’s 5.3-inch screen was gigantic for 2011, but now it seems par for the course (this year’s Galaxy S6 is just a little smaller at 5.1 inches). The super-sized Note series has been one of Samsung’s most reliable sellers.

Nexus 5 (2013)

10 nexus 5

 

Google’s Nexus series is worth an entry in our list, but it wasn’t until the fifth device (manufactured by LG) that the handsets really made sense. The Nexus 5 hit the sweet spot of specifications, price and features, and with Android 4.4 KitKat on board, people signed up to buy it in their droves.

It remains the most well-loved phone in the Nexus series, though the new Nexus 5X (again from LG) might change that.

iPhone 6 Plus (2014)

11 iphone 6 plus

All the iPhones that Apple has put out since 2007 have been influential in some way or another, but last year’s iPhone 6 Plus was more significant than most: it showed the Cupertino company admitting that there was demand for phones with larger screens.

The 5.5-incher has been followed by another one this year, and it looks as though the larger iPhone is here to stay — even if it hurts sales of the iPad mini.

Lumia 950 XL (2015)

12 lumia 950 xl

We’re mentioning the new Lumia 950 XL from Microsoft not because of what it is but because of what it represents — Microsoft’s final roll of the dice as far as smartphones are concerned.

Can Windows 10 make its mark on mobile devices as well as desktops and laptops? Can Microsoft break the dominance of iOS and Android? The flagship Lumia 950 XL handset should tell us one way or the other in the near future.

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]

Mazda app

Mazda launches the $500 smartphone app

Mazda appMazda has launched an app in the U.S. that can start a car via a smartphone – and costs $500.

Available in the Apple iOS Store and and Google Play, the Mazda Mobile Start app is a bespoke smartphone remote engine start system that allows owners to remotely fire the engine for up to 30 minutes at a time.

This will enable the cabin to be cooled or heated before the owner gets in.

The app also includes door lock and panic alarm functions, plus a carfinder that cleverly uses both GPS and the smartphone’s camera to locate the car – particularly handy in massive North American mall car parks, reckons Mazda.

Just two problems. Firstly, while it’s coming to other Mazdas later in the year, it’s currently only available with U.S. market Mazda6 and Mazda CX-5 (and even then, only on automatic CX-5).

Secondly, it costs $500.

OK, that does include dealer installation of the onboard tech, plus a one-year subscription to the app (after that, it’s $65 a year), but still: can you think of a more expensive app?

MORE on MR

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Mazda: product will take us back to 50,000 sales

The best smartphones of 2015

The best smartphones of 2015 so far… and still to come

The best smartphones of 2015It’s a great time to be in the market for a new smartphone, especially if you’ve saved up quite a chunk of cash — all the flagship models from the major manufacturers have grown to be powerful, sleek and appealing, and you’re unlikely to be disappointed whichever one you choose.

Here, we run down the best smartphones of 2015 on the market – and what’s still to come this year…

iPhone 6

Apple iPhone 6

Let’s start with the 4.7-inch (750 x 1334 pixel) iPhone 6, the world’s most recognisable smartphone. Incredibly thin, perfectly designed and with a fantastic camera, it’s the mobile that other phones want to be — the only downside is it doesn’t play nicely with anything that isn’t made by Apple.

The upcoming iPhone 6s (or iPhone 7) is expected in September and should bring a boost in internal specs.

iPhone 6 Plus

Apple iPhone 6 Plus

The iPhone 6 Plus ups the screen size to 5.5 inches and the resolution to 1080 x 1920 pixels, so it’s less easy to hold in one hand but gives you more room on the display for your movies and Web browsing. Other than that it’s almost identical to the iPhone 6, though it does add optical stabilisation to the camera.

Again, you might want to wait until September before making a purchase, as a new round of iPhones is expected.

Nexus 6

Nexus 6

Google’s Nexus devices are designed to show off Android at its best, and the Nexus 6 is made in partnership with Motorola. That 5.96-inch screen is the main highlight, running at an incredible 1440 x 2560 pixel resolution, and there’s a speedy processor and a 13-megapixel camera in the mix as well.

As with Apple’s devices, you can expect a new model sometime in the autumn, but this is still a great deal.

Samsung Galaxy S6

Samsung Galaxy S6

The Galaxy S5 was a bit of a damp squib for Samsung so it’s come out all guns blazing with the S6: a redesigned chassis that’s sure to turn a few heads, a bright 5.1-inch display with a 1440 x 2560 pixel resolution, plenty of power under the hood and an excellent 16-megapixel camera too.

It’s lost waterproofing and its removable battery along the way, but there’s no doubt the S6 is a step up from its predecessor.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

If you’re after something even more stylish (and even more expensive) for your next handset then there’s the Galaxy S6 Edge — both sides of the screen curve down for a unique finish, giving you more screen room for shortcuts and letting you see notifications even when the phone is face down.

Otherwise it’s very much like the S6, though it does have a slightly bigger battery and is also slightly thicker.

HTC One M9

HTC One M9

HTC’s 2015 flagship phone doesn’t look dramatically different from the One M8 it launched in 2014, but the specs have been given a boost, and it’s still one of the best handsets out there. For your money you get some very powerful innards, a 5-inch 1080 x 1920 pixel display and a whopping 20.7-megapixel camera.

Perhaps most importantly, it’s one of the few Android smartphones that still has a distinctive look.

LG G4

LG G4

Perhaps the most distinctive aspect of LG’s latest flagship smartphone is the treated leather back you can get hold of instead of a plastic case.

With a 5.5-inch, 1440 x 2560 pixel screen and some top-notch specs inside, the LG G4 can give any other Android phone a run for its money, and besides the leather it comes with a camera that works exceptionally well in low light and a quick snap button fixed to the back of the device.

OnePlus One (and 2)

OnePlus One

OnePlus caused quite a stir in 2014 when it released the OnePlus One: a powerful, sleek-looking device at a very attractive price. It’s still on sale at a discount and represents great value, but the OnePlus 2 is due to be announced at the end of July — can the Chinese firm repeat the trick?

The 2015 edition is rumoured to feature more memory, a faster processor and a fingerprint sensor for added security.

Motorola Moto X

Motorola Moto X

The Moto X was so good that Google decided to base its Nexus 6 on it: the 2014 edition (which followed its debut in 2013) brought with it a 5.2-inch screen running at a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels, and alongside its impressive specs it offered the option for users to customise the cases and colours of their handset.

The 2015 version of the Moto X — which is slated for September — should raise the bar further.

Still to come… from Apple

Still to come from... Apple

We’ve already mentioned the next generation of iPhones, which are due in September. There’s nothing official from Apple yet, of course, but most analysts agree the changes will be on the inside rather than the outside. F

orce Touch (from the Apple Watch) should be included, and the usual processor and memory bumps should be expected; there are also some rumours of a brand new dual-lens camera.

Still to come… for Android

Still to come from... Google

Android manufacturers are all on different release schedules, and the only new handsets likely before 2015 is out are a new Sony Xperia model, a new pair of Motorola phones (the X and G), a new Nexus 6 (possibly made by Huawei) and a new Nexus 5 (possibly made by LG).

For new flagship handsets manufactured by Samsung, HTC and LG, you’re probably going to have to wait until next March.

Still to come… from Microsoft

Still to come from... Microsoft

We haven’t mentioned Microsoft much yet, because the firm’s Lumia phone division has had a quiet 2015 so far.

However, with the launch of Windows 10 just around the corner, we’re expecting two new flagship phones (dubbed the 940 and 940XL) to appear before the year is out — with the right combination of hardware and Windows 10 Mobile, Microsoft might at last be able to make a dent in the smartphone market.

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]