20 best iPhone and iPad apps and games this week

Messenger for iPad

Yes, it’s back. The weekly roundups of iOS and Android apps went on hiatus at the end of 2014 in favour of monthly collections.

However, after a number of comments on app-related articles asking for the weekly rundowns to come back, it’s clear there’s still a demand. So, this column is getting back in the saddle for both platforms.

Here’s this week’s roundup, casting its net back to the beginning of March. The Android roundup will follow later in the day, and from now on, the roundups will be back to their usual Friday publishing schedule.

As before (Free) means fully free, while (Free + IAP) indicates use of in-app purchases. Prices for paid apps are correct at the time of writing, but if you’re coming to the piece a few weeks (or even days) later, they may have changed.

HERE (Free)
Nokia’s HERE app has been on iOS before, but was removed from the App Store in late 2013 after falling foul of Apple’s iOS 7 update. Now it’s back and completely revamped: a slick maps and navigation app that gives Apple and Google’s offerings a run for their money – especially with its offline feature.

Google Calendar (Free)
Talking of Google, the company has finally got around to making a standalone iOS app for its Google Calendar service. A clean, clear design and the ability to pull in your iCloud calendar data make it a handy replacement for the default iOS calendar app.

Snow White by Nosy Crow (£3.99)
Nosy Crow has made its name with a series of beautifully-crafted fairytale apps for children, and Snow White doesn’t dent the run of form. It tells the familiar story in an engaging, interactive way with the emphasis always on reading, rather than touchscreen gimmicks.
iPhone / iPad

Enlight (£2.99)
Enlight is one of the best photo-editing apps available for iPhone: simple to use to quickly tweak your pics, but with powerful features to dig in to if you want to spend a bit more time. Filters, double exposures, photo correction tools and simple social sharing are all impressive.

Tinkerplay (Free)
Tinkerplay is Autodesk’s latest app tapping in to the emerging market of 3D printing. It’s a creative app for creating “fun characters, scary creatures or anything else”, snapping body parts together using the touchscreen interface, then – if you have the necessary hardware – printing them out.
iPhone / iPad

Yousician Guitar (Free + IAP)
Yousician is the latest app hoping to teach you how to play guitar (or, if you already play, how to improve). It’s a comprehensive catalogue of lessons and songs to play along to with your real guitar, using the microphone to “listen” to you and provide feedback. A premium subscription for unlimited play-time costs £14.99 a month.
iPhone / iPad

Meerkat (Free)
Meerkat is the buzz app of this year’s SXSW conference in Austin, but will it be an enduring hit like Twitter, the buzz app of SXSW 2007? Meerkat is an app for broadcasting video live from your iPhone to an audience drawn from your Twitter followers – who can comment as you film.
iPhone / iPad

Atari Fit (Free + IAP)
Atari may be best known for its arcade games, but this is something of a curveball: a mobile fitness app. It encourages you to work out – with more than 100 exercises included – rewarding you with coins to unlock games like Pong, Super Breakout and Centipede. It’ll also connect to apps like RunKeeper and Apple’s Health, or activity-tracking devices from the likes of Fitbit and Jawbone.

Wikiwand: Faster Wikipedia Reader (Free)
Not that impressed by the official Wikipedia app, but want something beyond accessing its website from your iPhone’s browser? Wikiwand is worth a look. It’s a neatly-designed interface to the popular online encyclopaedia.

Elmer’s Photo Patchwork (£1.99)
This is a brilliant app for getting your children out and about in the real world. Based on fictional elephant Elmer, it gets them to take photographs to use as the textures on a collection of 10 patchwork characters. Ideal for exploration to find interesting colours and shapes in the outside world.
iPhone / iPad


Stick Cricket 2 (Free + IAP)
The original Stick Cricket game remains a marvellous time-sucker, and while not all App Store reviewers love this sequel, there’s plenty to enjoy. Your job is to batter runs against increasingly talented bowlers, with a varied career mode to work your way through.
iPhone / iPad

Angry Birds Stella POP! (Free + IAP)
Just like the Bubble Witch Saga games, this takes its inspiration squarely from classic console series Bust-a-Move / Puzzle Bobble. You fire coloured bubbles at other coloured bubbles to make matches of three or more, except here (obviously) there are pigs and Rovio’s Angry Birds Stella characters. Unoriginal, maybe, but nicely done.
iPhone / iPad

Epic War TD 2 (£2.29)
This is one of the best-looking tower defence games on iOS, as you marshal your towers to destroy onrushing enemies across 50 missions. “No gimmicks,” promises its App Store listing and while a few more interesting gimmicks might be welcome, it’s still a rewarding play.
iPhone / iPad

SwapQuest (£2.29)
There’s something truly charming about this pixelly cross between a puzzler and an RPG game. You have to guide your character through the kingdom of Aventana by dragging paths into place, while also battling monsters and looting chests.
iPhone / iPad

Ryan North’s To Be Or Not To Be (£4.49)
William Shakespeare’s Hamlet has finally been restored to its original second-person non-linear branching narrative format,” chirps the App Store listing for this. The sharp humour runs throughout this narrative-led game, as fun if you’re a Shakespeare buff as for complete newcomers to the Bard.
iPhone / iPad

Dungeon Hunter 5 (Free + IAP)
If swords, monsters and dungeon-crawling are your thing, Dungeon Hunter 5 is well worth a look – as long as you’re not harbouring fond memories of earlier games in this series that weren’t freemium. It looks good and there’s fun to be had, but it can sometimes feel a bit over-aggressive in nudging you to pay.
iPhone / iPad


Card Crawl (£1.49)
Another game that may sound like a niche: a dungeon-crawling game where you slay monsters and collect gold by laying down virtual cards. But it’s very nicely done, and is accessible enough to appeal to a wide audience.
iPhone / iPad

TouchTone (£2.29)
Get your NSA on with this stylish security-themed game, where you have to decrypt suspicious messages to “help make our nation safer and stronger!” The satirical intent is clear, but this is also an engrossing puzzler.

MiniDrivers (Free + IAP)
Sitting somewhere between Mario Kart and Micro Machines, this pocket-sized racer sees you speeding around 20 tracks grabbing power-ups to see off rival drivers. Neat graphics and unaggressive in-app purchases add up to a satisfying package.
iPhone / iPad

Pixel Heroes: Byte & Magic (£4.99)
More dungeons in this excellent indie RPG/roguelike game, with more weapons, hero classes and random events than you can shake a massive, sharp axe at. It’s got humour, pixel-perfect visual charm and plenty of depth.
iPhone / iPad

Those are my choices, but what apps have you been using for iPhone and/or iPad lately? All recommendations welcome in the comments section, as well as feedback – positive or negative – on the apps above.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Stuart Dredge, for theguardian.com on Friday 20th March 2015 08.00 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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