It was an interesting week in mobile with Samsung officially showing off its Galaxy Gear smartwatch. It’s easy to get wrapped up in announcements like this as they appear to move technology forward, or at least in a somewhat new direction. But even if the Galaxy Gear and other wearable tech take off like the makers of the devices hope, they still need killer apps to really sell the service. Before you get carried away by the new wave of tech, load up your current mobile devices with the best apps and updates of the week. We’ve collected our favorites for you.
You have your fingerprints all over the web, mostly thanks to social networks. But those social networks can sometimes be social about your information with other services that you might not know about. AVG Privacy Fix acts as the auditor of your social network presence. Check out what your current privacy settings are and have your options explained, get alerts for potential security risks, keep track of changing policies that may affect your information, and more. AVG Privacy Fix clogs the leaks in the dam that holds all your personal information.
LinkedIn update (iOS, free)
Speaking of social networks, the one designed for professional business-type people just got an update to its iOS app. LinkedIn for iOS now allows potential employers to view skill endorsements on your mobile profile so they can see what you’re good at and who will vouch for you. For users who are looking for work, the update also makes the process of applying for jobs through LinkedIn even easier, turning it into a one-touch process when applicable.
Hill Bill (iOS, $2)
Even the most introverted and unadventurous of people has probably dreamed of being able to do some sort of extreme activity. For the title character of this game, that activity is performing amazing motorcycle stunts a la Evel Knievel. He grabs a motorcycle from a garage sale and some plywood and starts trying to make his dream happen. With your help, he’ll progress through over 60 levels, completing challenges and stunts along the way that will allow him to upgrade his ride and his outfit. By the end, you’ll be performing stunts daredevils have only dreamed of doing.
Step Away (iOS, $2)
Usually, mobile apps serve as a convenience or a distraction for us, but every now and then there’s an app that sets out to perform some good for its users. Step Away falls under that category. It aims to help people with a drinking problem release their crutch and move toward a fresh start on life. It puts all the tools of recovery right in the hands of the user, providing them with strategies for changing their drinking habits and feedback to help them stay on course. In its pilot study, Step Away proved to be an effective method in curbing heavy drinking. If you have a drinking problem or know someone who does, Step Away can provide much needed help and support.
Swiftkey update (Android, $4)
Everyone’s favorite keyboard for Android recently received an update that will likely only solidify it as your choice for default keyboard input method on your device. Included in the update to SwiftKey is the addition of cloud support, giving users the ability to back up their settings and history. The app’s method of learning your typing trends has also been improved so you can expect the already excellent predictiveness of the app to be better than ever, picking up on words as you slide across the keys.
Polyhegrams (Windows Phone, $1.50)
You know what we don’t have enough of yet? Mobile word games. Okay, so the genre is a little bloated at this point, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t include one that is still fun and worthwhile. Polyhegrams is just that. This word game consists of 3D puzzles that you’ll have to solve with your vocabulary as well as with your dexterity. You can play solo and see how many puzzles you can solve on your own, or head to the multiplayer arena and take on multiple opponents at the same time to prove your skills.
Syllable (iOS, $1)
We love apps like Instapaper and Pocket because they show us all of the great stories and articles that are spread across the web, waiting for us to consume them. The problem is there’s so many of them and seeing your queue on your reading apps get backed up can become overwhelming. Syllable may be able to help you out with this predicament. It takes your saved articles from Instapaper and Pocket and uses them to help you learn how to read faster. Increase your reading pace and do it with the stories you wanted to read anyway, it’s the perfect solution.
PayPal is still the go to solution for commerce on the web. Fittingly, it’s continuing to improve its mobile presence as more and more Web traffic comes from mobile devices. In what it calls its “biggest update yet,” the PayPal apps for iOS and Android received the ability to pay for items in physical stores. Now your digital PayPal account can pay for things you’re buying in person. The apps work in select stores and restaurants. The apps also get a new design that gives them a more modern look, and users will receive offers from the app while on the go.
Simon the Sorcerer (Android, $4)
We always like to talk about how far technology has come in such a short period of time but when it comes to gaming, sometimes its fun to revisit the past. There’s a charm to it that isn’t so much there when you look at an old word processing program. That’s why games like Simon the Sorcerer, a point-and-click adventure game from the DOS era, have found new life on mobile devices. Duplicating the look and feel of the classic point-and-click style games but using your finger instead of the mouse, Simon the Sorcerer lets you experience one of the best adventure games around.