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. Jared DiPane — UPS Mobile
The holidays are approaching, and that means that there will be an influx of packages shipping to my house. Between things that I order, and the things that my wife orders, knowing what is destined for the house can be a struggle at times. Luckily, with the UPS Mobile app I can keep track of what I am expecting to arrive that day, and track any shipments that I have questions about.
With the use of UPS My Choice, I can see inbound shipments to my address without even having to know the tracking number. For me, this part is especially useful, as sometimes packages are sent here without me even expecting them. If you receive a lot of packages, sign up for UPS My Choice to easily manage your deliveries, and install UPS Mobile to keep up to date on their status from where ever you may be at that time.
2. Russell Holly — Slayin
Arcade-style games rock, especially when done right. 8-bit graphics, simple controls, and gameplay that continues to grow in difficulty as you keep playing. Slayin is a basic hack and slash on a flat 2D panel with little in the way of travel beyond what you see. The bad guys come to you, and as you defeat them you level up and earn money. That money can be spent on health, armor, or better weapons, but eventually you'll reach a point where you don't have the skill, cash, or health to keep going and you die. When you start over at your now higher level, it becomes easier to get back to where you were and thereby do better.
It's simple, straightforward, and the Android in the controller made me smile.
3. Jen Karner — Alien Hive
I've said it before, but matching games are a dime a dozen on the Google Play Store. Every so often though I manage to come across one that catches my eye, and keeps my attention for a while. Right now that game is Alien Hive. You match in groups of 3 to evolve your hive, and eventually evolve aliens. Rather than matching by rotating or moving just one object, you can move an entire row. The catch being that you have a single open space on the board to shift things around. This makes it far more challenging than most match 3 games, and it's wickedly addictive. There is a regular mode, in which you grow and evolve your hive. There is also a timed mode, which lets you grow as much as possible within 60 seconds. I enjoy the timed mode more, but it has limited lives that only refill over time unless you pay for extra lives.
Fun, addictive, and original I definitely recommend giving it a shot.
4. Alex Dobie -- Trainline
There's no shortage of apps on Google Play for finding out UK train times and prices, but Trainline takes things a step further with the ability to easily buy tickets set seating preferences, view live arrivals and departures and tie everything together with your web-based account. The app is speedy and Material Design-influenced, and makes the process of navigating the (often cumbersome) UK rail network relatively easy. The addition of mobile QR code-based tickets to the app means you also don't need to bother with paper tickets for many routes, and if you already have a credit card saved to your account, buying train tickets is as simple as entering your CVV number.
If you travel by train regularly in the UK, Trainline is definitely worth your time, especially considering it's available for free on Google Play.
5. Andrew Martonik — Expedia
Chances are if you're traveling this holiday season you're going to be booked already, but if you're holding out a little while longer for a good deal you'll want to have all the tools possible. Expedia is a fantastic travel app that I use for researching both flights and hotels, and having all of my searches sync up (when signed in) to the nice web experience is a bonus.
There are special mobile-only hotel deals regularly, and Expedia even offers $25 off your first booking through the app. And the app is plenty capable of handling booking hotels and flights — I rarely feel the need to go to the desktop to finish the process. The app is worth keeping around this holiday season if you think you'll be snagging a last-minute flight or hotel — and chances are you may hold onto it beyond that.
6. Richard Devine — YouTube Kids
As my son is getting older (1 going on 21) he's starting to already pick out his favorite shows on TV. As a nice compliment to this, the UK recently got the YouTube Kids app and I'm really impressed with it. It's simple to navigate, nice looking and ultimately has a pretty solid selection of kid-centric videos on offer. What's extra special, for me at least, is that it's not necessary to search too long before finding something the little man likes to watch.
And with a large screen phone, such as the Nexus 6P pictured here, it's almost like having a mini TV wherever we go.
7. Phil Nickinson — Android Pay
Phones still aren't going to replace physical cards for transactions anytime soon, but there's one reason why I make sure I've got Android Pay installed on my phone: It's perfect for all those damned loyalty programs. It's easy to add cards, easy to get to them and easy to use them. (And therefore easy for stores to track my every purchase. Yay, data!) It's maybe sort of niche, but this has actually become one of the quickest ways for me to check into a flight and get my boarding pass for those times that I actually want a physical piece of paper. Just fire up Android Pay, open my Delta Card and shove it under the scanner at the airport.
So even if you don't want to use Android Pay for actually paying for things, it's still worth a look.