From this month onwards, we’re splitting out apps from games: you can find the link to the separate Best Android Games roundup at the end of this piece.
Prices are correct at the time of writing, and from this month we’re also including a notification when apps that are free to download also use in-app purchases (or IAP, as we’ve marked them).
Read on for February’s list, and let us know your recommendations by posting a comment.
This is an official app from Radiohead, based on the song ‘Bloom’ from their ‘King of Limbs’ album. Described as “an experimental collaboration” with studio Universal Everything, it’s an eerie interactive experience as you explore virtual landscapes. Interesting and innovative, albeit one for fans.
New from browser-maker Opera, this is an app that aims to help you save on your data usage – potentially invaluable if you travel overseas a lot and thus get regularly whacked by roaming fees. The app aims to compress data used by “almost every” app on your smartphone, not just the browser.
Me Books is an app for buying and reading digital children’s picture books, including those based on brands like Peter Rabbit, Peppa Pig and Charlie and Lola. The books, which mostly cost £1.99 each, offer voice narration and the ability to record your own dialogue and sound effects – good news for budding Daddy Pigs everywhere.
Another impressive children’s app for Android, this is the latest release from Toca Boca. It has a scientific focus, as kids explore the periodic table by spinning, heating, cooling and mixing up the elements – as represented by cute characters. It’s a playful and creative introduction to the science that kids will meet later on in their academic careers.
For Nexus or Google Play edition Android devices only, this is an upgrade to the native Android launcher application, making the company’s Google Now software easier to access by swiping right from the main homescreen. You can also use the “Ok Google” voice command to trigger apps and commands when on your homescreen.
If you spend a lot of time managing complex business projects, chances are you’ve encountered the Basecamp service. Now it has an official Android app, helping you keep tabs on projects from your mobile device, including accessing documents and posting comments to team discussions.
If you live in a shared house and experience the odd… difficulty, Fairshare may be an essential download. Developed in Australia and now going global, it aims to help you set who does what chore, divide up bills and plan dinners and other joint activities. A happier household will (hopefully) be the result.
This is potentially very useful for fashionistas: an app that you can use to take a photo of a garment you like, and find similar items on a range of stores. Partners include Topshop, French Connection, New Look and Net-a-Porter, with the results based on the cut and colour of clothing – meaning you should find some good matches.
This is an intriguing idea, sitting somewhere between games and traditional fiction, it’s billed as a “home for interactive, visual stories” – a new spin on Choose Your Own Adventure tales with visuals reminiscent of social mobile games. Romance, detective fiction and other genres are included.
There are plenty of apps for sharing photos, but not so many that do a good job of helping you organise the thousands of snaps you’ve already taken. Tidy is hoping to do that: it groups pics by time, place and “shapes”, then helps you navigate around them. It can also do the sharing thing though, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
This is a simple, but rather impressive idea: an app that sets your lockscreen PIN as the current time or date, meaning it’s constantly changing, yet easy for you to remember. You can use it for free, but some additional features are unlocked using an in-app purchase.
A fun social app, this, turning photos into animated “cards” that can be sent to friends and family. It draws on photos stored on your device or previously uploaded to Facebook, and can share the resulting video-slideshows to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, as well as sending them via email.
I remember the early days of Apple’s App Store, when “find your car after you’ve parked it” apps were popular. The genre hasn’t gone away: Auto Finder is the latest app aiming to help you get back to your motor, with the schtick here being its ability to mark your car’s location automatically, rather than you having to do it.
More photo-sharing, but this time restricted to your closest contacts. Togethera is aimed at families – extended, so grandparents, aunts and uncles etc too – who want to share photos, videos and other updates. You set up the groups as you see fit, and the service runs across smartphones, tablets and computers.
Depop is the latest shopping app for Android – an alternative to eBay in its ability to help you buy, but also sell. The latter is slickly handled, as you take a photo then create a listing for a device, then share the link to it on various social networks. For buyers, there are neatly-organised categories and item-following features.
While we’re on a shopping tip, Zwallet is a new take on the idea of a mobile wallet, taking in payments, loyalty schemes and discount vouchers. The company behind it is British, so the retail partners are suitable for the UK: Ask, B&Q, The Body Shop, Zizzi and more are all working with the app already.
Billed as “the first alarm clock to do good deeds”, this is a new app from Samsung whose twist is that while you sleep, it decrypts protein sequences for the University of Vienna, sending them the results when it wakes you up. A good idea, although it does rely on you connecting your device to a charger overnight.
Why buy a brand new baby monitor when an older Android device might fit the bill? This app connects Android devices enabling one to be used as a child monitor, alerting the parent when their child cries out. You get four free hours of monitoring a month in the initial download, but can pay for unlimited use via in-app purchase.
This is most useful in the US, where the ability to get photos printed and delivered either to your home or a nearby retailer works. Otherwise, it’s a handy app for sharing photos or whole photo albums, while organising the pics already on your Android device, and commenting on the snaps of your friends.
Launched as a beta by Qualcomm, this lockscreen app promises to focus on whatever’s new since you last glanced (hence the name) at your smartphone. It also syncs with the existing Snapdragon BatteryGuru app to get information on the apps you use most – so it requires the latter app to be installed first.
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image: © Ash Kyd