Our weekly app picks
It's Appday Sunday and that means we're back with more of our favorites to share. Every week we bring a handful of great apps to the table and share them with everyone. Sometimes they are new apps, sometimes old standards, but every time they are apps we love to use.
Give these a look and then take a minute to tell us all about the apps you are using and love so we can give them a try. We all find some of our favorites right in the comments on these posts!
1. Ara Wagoner — Phonograph
So, in my effort to save my Google Play Music authorizations for devices I'm certain I'll be keeping for a while, I have turned to alternative players to play the few hundreds songs I've loaded onto my HTC One A9, and the one I've settled on for now is Phonograph. This beautifully simplistic player is not only material to a T, it's free. Aside from a Support development button right above Settings, which is unobtrusive and hilariously formatted, there is nothing telling you to unlock some features with your money. And there's gonna be a few dollars going to this developer this weekend from me, as it's been a pleasant experience.
I will say that there are a few features that I miss from Play Music, such as being able to direct the sound from my Bluetooth headphones to my device speaker without disconnecting the Bluetooth device altogether, but this is a beautiful player with a customizable dark theme (HOLY HOLLY, A BEAUTIFUL DARK THEME), easy seek and playback controls, and a notification that will stick around so you can easily pick back up your music later. There's no cloud drive tie-ins like many media players in the Play Store today, but for local playback, Phonograph is hard to beat for simple sensibility.
2. Russell Holly — In Between
Puzzle games are some of my favorite ways to kill time, and on mobile there's a ton of them. Usually, though, these games focus on short puzzles and simple graphics so they can be played everywhere. In Between makes you want to block out an hour of your life, grab a decent pair of headphones, and get down to business. It's a great 2D puzzle system with some clever gravity and position mechanics that encourages people to look at every edge of the level to get out without damage or without getting lost in the darkness.
And seriously, headphones. You'll really want them.
3. Justin Duino — Automatic Call Recorder
Every once in awhile I need to record an interview or conversation that I have over the phone so that I can refer back to it later. Using Automatic Call Recorder, your calls will automatically start to be recorded the moment you place a call. During the setup process, you can either have the app record every call or only calls with certain people. The added benefit of the application is the ability to link it to your Google Drive or Dropbox. When this is enabled, your recordings will be automatically uploaded to the cloud so that you don't have to manually transfer the file to your computer.
Do keep in mind that in many states and regions that it is illegal to record phone conversations unless you have the approval from all parties participating in the call.
4. Jen Karner — Duolingo
At some point we all have to face that we are living in a ridiculously connected world. This means that more than ever learning a second language can reap you some serious benefits. If you're anything like me though, you might still have nightmares of Spanish class in middle school, and how terribly boring it all was. Duolingo turns learning a language into a game, and a fun one at that. They've got 13 separate language courses for English speakers, and plenty more for anybody who isn't a native English speaker. You can compete against friends, gather XP, and win in-app prizes.
I was terrible in my school foreign language courses, both Spanish and German. This apps makes it easy and fun to learn another language — and the fact that I want to learn probably makes a serious difference. With all the options for different languages, along with the ability to just play with the app for a few minutes a day, this is by far the best free app I've found to learn a new language.
5. Andrew Martonik — Light Flow
I remember using Light Flow a couple years ago, but I haven't had a phone I cared to mess with the LED notification light on until I got the Nexus 5X. The 5X doesn't have any notification light settings, so it really makes sense to use an app to control which colors are coordinated with each kind of notification you get. Light Flow has gone through several serious redesigns since I last used it but looks great, and is easy to set up as well.
At the very basic level you can choose what color you want the LED to flash when different kinds of notifications come in (set by app), but you can also flash the LED for device states and settings like a loss of cellular signal.
There's a free version, but it's really worth $2.49 to pick up the full version if you plan to use Light Flow for any length of time.
6. Richard Devine - Fallout Pip-Boy
If you're picking up the hotly anticipated Fallout 4 this week, like I am, then this is an app you should consider loading up on your phone. If you're getting the special edition with the actual wearable Pip-Boy, it's a no brainer. This is the app that makes the magic happen.
But, while the number of phones that works with the wearable is limited by size, anyone can use the app as a second screen experience to enhance their Fallout 4 sessions. It doesn't do much right now because you need to connect to the game, but there is at least a quick demo mode that shows you a little bit of what it's all about.