App stores are crowded places these days, and because storage space on your phone is often at a premium, you’ll want to find and fill it with not only the best, but also the most helpful apps out there. Because they come and go quicker than the latest fashion trends, and digging through Google Play, the iTunes App Store, or any of the others is such a mission; a little nudge in the right direction is often very welcome. Here are the apps we think you need to check out this week.
Privacy is becoming increasingly more important, especially when it comes to communicating with people online and using mobile devices. Having control over your words, where they show up, and who sees them is important. VaporChat is a new app that gives the person sending a message newfound power when it comes to what happens after it leaves their phone.
What VaporChat provides is a self-destruct option the sender can activate at any time. It’s not timed like Snapchat—it’s just an additional precaution that can pull back everything that had been said. Delete a single message, delete an entire conversation, just decide what you want gone and destroy it. You can also control what text can be copied and the app will give you a notification if anything is captured in a screenshot. And, because it is the age of Snapchat, you can add the secret-agent-style timer to messages as well.
Ever since Apple announced that it would allow third party keyboards, many different versions have been released inside the App Store. But you haven’t seen one like AudioShot. It’s a keyboard more in the musical sense. Pop up AudioShot in any app—Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, etc.—and you can insert your favorite songs directly into the conversation. Grab tunes from Spotify, SoundCloud, or your music site of choice and turn your tracks into conversation pieces.
Meerkat looks like it might be the next big thing on Twitter. In an age where live streaming is becoming more popular – just look at gaming channel Twitch for evidence – Meerkat is looking to find its place as the streaming service of choice for Twitter users. All you have to do is press the “Stream” button and your live feed automatically goes out to all of your followers. They can watch and comment as it happens and even retweet to share the feed to their followers. But you have to be there as it happens—there is no replay feature in Meerkat.
If you reach the end of the day and feel like you have no idea what’s happening in the world, then you’ll be well served by BriefMe. It digs up the ten most popular stories from the day, gathering data on what gets shared and talked about, and presents the headlines to you. If you want to read more about the particular topic, you can dig in and learn about everything you may have missed. Essential if you don’t want to feel left out when you get to the water cooler the next day.
If you’ve been on Twitter lately, you’ve probably seen a lot of screenshots. It’s the easiest way to share specific parts of long articles and texts. OneShot makes the process easier than ever. You can snag a screenshot of any article on the web, resize it to focus on a specific passage, highlight the text that you find most important, then post it on Twitter for your followers to see. The app automatically grabs the article URL so you can even properly credit the source.
Remember when Google had a service where you could search for information via SMS text? It was an extraordinarily handy service in the days of the flip phone, giving nearly instantaneous results for common questions, no internet connection required. Its presence became less necessary as smartphones became more prevalent.
SMSmart revives the old Google-style service, because network connectivity can still be a problem, but brings a new twist for the smartphone era. The dedicated app is designed for those who find themselves encroaching on their data limit or outside of 4G service area. SMSmart lets you perform common web tasks via text message. Send off a question for a Google search, retrieve a Wikipedia page, get news and weather updates, even get directions to your next destination. It all comes via an SMS so it won’t ring up your data charges, but you’ll still get the answers you seek.
Touchscreen keyboards can be considered a downside of modern smartphones. It’s fine for 140 character bursts of text, but anything more than that and it’s a hassle. If you get annoyed typing (and re-typing) the same things on a regular basis, then TypeSnippets is for you. It’s not just a quicker way of filling out form boxes—though it’s good for that, too—it’s a text expander for your keyboard that allows you to swipe through your most commonly used phrases and automatically insert them into whatever you’re typing.
Nat Geo View
The world is a strange, beautiful place. We’re often too busy to notice it, but Nat Geo View is here to help. Now you can keep your head down and glued to your phone’s screen and still get a better idea of what the world around you has to offer. It collates National Geographic’s daily digest of amazing imagery and stories from some of the remotest places in the world. It’s what you’d expect to see when you open the pages of National Geographic magazine, but built to make the most of every last pixel on your mobile device of choice.
Imgur, if you aren’t familiar, is basically the world’s biggest hub of funny gifs, images, and everything in between. Brought to popularity on Reddit, it’s now one of the biggest and most successful image hosting platforms around, and now you can finally access it in a mobile native format. The app has all of the features you’d expect it to have, including upvoting and downvoting, favorites, and sharing features. But most of all, it has a whole lot of cat gifs.
Are you familiar with Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity model? Sometimes called the “Don’t Break the Chain” method, it’s way of getting things done that is basically predicated on the idea that the more you do it and the more often you see your progress, the harder it will be to stop. Momentum utilizes a similar idea, encouraging you to keep working to form good habits, break bad ones, or partake in the things that you need to get done every day by showing you your progress in a streak that you won’t want to break.
IFTTT’s Do apps
Most apps are pretty straight forward in what they do. They have one task that they’ve mastered and we use them for that specific thing and nothing else. IFTTT has been bringing these simple services together to create more powerful programs by helping them speak the same language and automating actions between them. The latest step in IFTTT’s attempts to bring apps together in a more cohesive way is a trio of automation apps labeled as “Do.”
The Do buttons are one tap shortcuts to common tasks that you want completed with minimal effort. The Do button is for on-demand actions that would normally take multiple steps but have been distilled down to a single tap. The Do Camera can be used to connect camera actions to other apps, like automatically importing a snapshot to a photo editor. Do Note turns text into whatever you need it to be—a tweet, an event on your calendar, a note in Evernote. All of the buttons serve to make daily tasks easier and require fewer steps, and that’s a function we can get behind.
Storm by Weather Underground
How about this weather we’re having? It seems like extreme storms are becoming more common, and Weather Underground has built the ultimate app for keeping track of the powerful and potentially dangerous weather fronts. With high-definition radar that gives up to the minute visuals on how a storm is progressing, real-time warnings and updates, and advanced tracking tools, it’s the ideal app for anyone afraid of getting caught in the path of a bad patch of weather. Do your storm chasing from the safety of home.
Is anyone making apps that aren’t photo-centric anymore? It seems like every service has some sort of photo functionality built in, but Keadle is actively doing something different and interesting with its service. Users can snap pictures and attach messages to them and leave them places for friends to discover and retrieve. The only way to view the photo is to psychically go to where it was taken, allowing the photo taker to leave a virtual trail for friends to follow and see where they’ve been and what they’re up to.
The world is not as it appears. What you see in real life and what’s taking place in the world of the Outcast are entirely different realities. The Outcast isn’t like normal games where you sit and play it to kill time—it prompts you with events that occur as you go about your day. The story is told with gorgeous images and you’re presented with difficult decisions that you must go about making when you least expect it. The passive adventure will surprise you, both in the choices you’ll have to make and when they show up.
You’re no doubt familiar with the endless runner format—the simple style of game that serves the mobile platform well because requires just bite-sized periods of time to play, depending on how long you can keep your character alive. But you’ve never seen one quite like Alto’s Adventure. Outside of the enjoyably simple premise, it’s packed full of some of the most brilliant art you’ll see in any game. You’ll want to get further in the game just to see what the next stunning visual landmark will be.
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