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. Phil Nickinson — Hungry Shark Evolution
Here's another one from the "What the hell is my kid playing?" files. Hungry Shark Evolution, as the name implies, involves a shark. A hungry shark. And your job is to steer it through the waters to feed. Fish, swimmers, other (smaller) sharks, turtles, whatever you can find, basically. Eat to live. Live to eat. And you'll grow your shark into a larger, more powerful, more feared creature of the deep. There are all sorts of power-ups and ways to make your shark even more powerful (and, yes, in-app purchases abound). All in all, a fun little distraction.
2. Russell Holly — Autodesk Tinkerplay
One of the coolest parts of -playing with- working very hard on learning how to use the Ultimaker 2 3D Printer has been watching as my kids run in every couple of hours to check on whatever is being printed. As cool as it is for them to watch, it's not the easiest tech in the world to let them actively participate in. There's one huge exception from the folks at Autodesk, called Tinkerplay. This app lets kids assemble their own toy from dozens of different pieces, all of which can be printed. My son assembled a fully articulated robot, and the app gave me the files necessary to print out his creation. It doesn't get much cooler than that.
3. Alex Dobie — Pop Watch Face
There are some really great Android Wear watch faces out there, and Pop Watch Face by Ikubyx is one of the best-looking I've come across for round watches. It's dominated by a cool, stylized digital readout, complemented by battery and date info, and a glowing seconds indicator around the edge of the face. It's also completely customizable, with 16 color themes to choose from, a white and black background (or combinations of both), and the ability to customize how the face behaves in ambient mode. For just $0.99, it's well worth a look, especially if you own a round watch like the Moto 360 or LG G Watch R.
4. Ara Wagoner — Hootsuite
Google+ may be the social network I'm known for, but a journalist cannot live on one network alone. I know, it makes me cry, too. While I spent last year honing my Google+ presence, this year I intend to try and boost my more meager Twitter numbers. And with social media, as with any other kind of uphill battle, when you're outmatched, cheat. Hootsuite is my cheat.
Hootsuite in itself is a nice, bright, material overhauled twitter client, but it comes into its own when you start using it to schedule and coordinate your posts. I used it back in college a time or two for social media campaigns, but now that I'm using it to promote my work here at AC — and myself, it's going to be interesting trying to use one app to kill multiple birds at once, namely cross-platform posting and scheduled posting.
Being able to set up posts that will go up during my shifts means that I can keep up a sustained social presence even when I'm indisposed, and it can help expose me to users that are active when I am not. Cross-platform posting can get a bit dicey, though. You'll run out of characters quickly with Twitter posts, and Facebook doesn't accept many media formats like gifs.
5. Andrew Martonik — Mobile Passport (US CBP auth.)
If you've ever flown internationally, you know how annoying it is to sit on the plane and fill out the little U.S. Customs and Border Protection declaration form to show to an agent (who really won't look at it half of the time anyway) when you land. It's a big reason why I personally signed up for the Global Entry system so I could sidestep the line and the whole declarations process, but now even if you don't want to go through that you can use an app to skip the CBP line.
Mobile Passport is an app that lets you sign up with your passport and personal information, then answer questions and fill out a digital declarations form before you even land. When you're on the ground and get mobile data, you submit the CBP declaration, get approved and get a QR code that you can simply show the Border Protection agents and come on into the country without filling out the little piece of paper or standing in any lines with the rest of the flight.
The system is currently only available at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International, Miami International and Seattle–Tacoma International (which is why I saw it), but the system will be expanding, they say. If you haven't chosen to sign up for the Global Entry program and hate filling out those forms before you land, you should give this a look.
6. Justin Duino — Plague Inc.
After choosing a game last week as my app of the week, I had several people send me game suggestions that they believed were just as good. This week I was unable to stop playing a game called Plague Inc.— a game where your entire goal is to rid the Earth of humans through the use of several different types of diseases. When you first install Plague you are only given the option of a bacteria based disease but you can unlock different types such as viruses as you successfully beat different levels.
While Plague Inc. might sound dark, this strategy based game forces you to make decisions on how to spread a disease between countries while also fighting against the threat of a cure being found. The game is free to download and play but you can purchase access to all of the levels and benefits that can be earned from playing through the free version of the game. Just never turn on the sound effects— they will give you nightmares.