Labor Day weekend is upon us, and if you’re anything like us you plan to take full advantage of holiday by not participating in any activity that bears the name of the occasion. Labor on Labor Day? That’s just nonsense. Instead, might we suggest grabbing your favorite phone, tablet, or phablet (it’s officially a word now according to the Oxford Dictionary) and download all of the best apps and updates of the week. We’ve collected all our favorites, so fire up your app marketplace of choice and get to filling up your download queue.
BodyWise (iOS, free)
You may not be thinking about staying in shape as you stuff your face full of food over the weekend, but when you wake up from your food-induced coma, consider turning to BodyWise to help you get back in tip-top shape. This health and fitness tracker helps users by recording data from over 40 different areas relating to your well being. It dives into the things we often forget to consider when eating or drinking and shows you how it affects you. Best of all, it allows you to hide the areas you aren’t interested in. Get in shape without worrying about the things you hate.
Minuum Keyboard (Android, $4.00)
There’s a fair share of alternate keyboards available for Android devices, all with their own nuances and unique approaches to the task of typing. None quite take the same route as Minuum Keyboard, a keyboard app designed to maximize the screen space on your device for everything that isn’t the keyboard itself. This app shrinks the area you’re typing on so it doesn’t block the screen and encourages you to not be 100 percent precise all the time – which you won’t be able to with the small keys anyway – because it will fix your errors for you through predictive text and auto correct.
NFL Mobile (BlackBerry, free)
NFL Mobile, the official app from the NFL, is now available for BB10 devices, meaning you can keep up with all the on-field action from the boardroom. Get live score updates, custom fan alerts for your favorite team, fantasy football games, video highlights, and more. You’ll never miss a minute of the action, even when you probably should be paying attention to other things.
Evernote update (Windows Phone, free)
Evernote is the app to turn to when you need help remembering things, and thanks to its near-universal presence on every platform, your memory bank is never far. The version available to Windows Phone users got an update this week that added full Windows Phone 8 support. Along with it comes new features like a multi-shot camera that allows users to take multiple pictures without leaving the camera, a speech-to-text transcriber, and automatically generated note titles based on the content of the note.
Zite update (Android, free)
For some time now, Zite has been one of the coolest and most innovative ways to get your news on mobile devices. It’s an intelligent digital newspaper that adapts the stories it presents to your interests. In the newest version of the Android app, users are treated to a new design and user interface, a widget that can be placed on your home screen to deliver stories without opening the app, topic tags for easily discovering new stories of interest, a new sharing menu for spreading the stories you love, and more. It’s a case of one of the best getting better.
Gmail update (iOS, free)
We’re pretty sure you’ve probably heard of this “Google Mail” thing by now. Heck, you probably even have a Gmail account or two. If you’re used to accessing said service on an iOS device, you’ve been enjoying the consistent roll out of updates for the Gmail app. The latest one brings improvement to the attachments experience within the app and integrates Gmail further into the Google ecosystem by opening Google Drive and Google Plus links in their app if installed. If Google has their way, you’ll never not be in a Google app. We’re kind of alright with that.
Blackbar (iOS, $3.00)
Censorship often takes on some silly forms, like when you see nonsensical words and phrases inserted into the television version of a film to replace otherwise “offensive” content. Blackbar makes a game out of it. It’s a text-based game that tells the story of a dystopian, sci-fi future but allows players to interact with the story through the concept of censorship. Navigate the text and solve word puzzles to experience the full story and see why censorship isn’t a game, even though it makes for a pretty good one.
Super Brothers (iOS, free)
Emulation apps have long been banned from Apple’s App Store thanks to their legally ambiguous status. There’s one way around that: Make a game that is a total knockoff of a classic without infringing on any copyrights or trademarks. Super Brothers is no cheap imitation, but it definitely calls out to all the Mario fans to come and get a similar experience on their iOS device to the one they had so many years ago on their Nintendo Entertainment System.
Contra: Evolution (Android, $0.99)
Speaking of old games on a new platform, the classic side-scrolling shooter that is Contra has been resurrected for a new generation. Contra: Evolution allows players new to the franchise to experience all of the wonderment that the original game brought to gamers a couple decades back while those who are used to playing Contra with a controller in hand can bathe in the nostalgia that this mobile game brings. The fast-paced, run and gun action of the Contra series should be right at home on mobile devices. It’s the app that will spawn a whole new generation of players who memorize the Contra code.