Our weekly app picks
Appday Sunday is on Saturday this week, because we expect a wee bit 'o news from Barcelona to start up on Sunday the first. They have phones and stuff at Mobile World Congress, ya know! Anyhoo, we're here to share our favorite apps with everyone. Apps we use and love. Apps we want to showcase because we think they are just that good.
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. Jerry Hildenbrand — Destiny
If you're one of the millions of Android owners who play Destiny, you need to check out the latest update to Bungie's official Destiny app. You can still see all the updates from Bungie, check out your toon's stats and read all those Grimoire cards, but the update brings something special — the ability to swap gear without going to the tower.
Fire up the app, pick your character, and under the "Legend" menu item you can move items to and from your vault. Forget to bring your Red Death to that hard-mode Crota fight? Grab it using the app while you're waiting for your party to gather on the crystal. It's a real game-changer.
2. Russell Holly — YouTube Kids
I have been through just about all of the kids-friendly apps in the Play Store, and with few exceptions I fend the category entirely bogged down with the wrong ideas. There's a lot of bright colors, fun-looking characters, occasionally some decent feedback on usage for us parents to look at, but these apps often take the kid so far away from the regular user interface that it's clear the child isn't learning to use the device you've handed them.
I'll be the first one to tell you that YouTube Kids isn't a complete thought yet, but the one huge thing that Google has going for them with this app is the focus on a similar enough UI that transitioning from the kid experience to the full deal is going to be quick and painless for most. It's something I wish more kid-focused app developers would keep in mind when considering a user interface, and it's the biggest reason this app is getting installed on everything my 6 year old touches.
3. Ara Wagoner — Papa John's Pizza
I'm gonna catch a bit of flack for this, but Papa Johns is the most dependably consistent pizza franchise around me in Waco. Yes, their sauce is sweeter than most. I happen to like that. I'm a Gatti's Pizza girl when I go back to Austin, but when I'm stuck in Waco, I eat Papa John's, and the Papa John's Pizza app made me a very happy girl in the last few weeks. See Papa John's has added the ability to pay with Google Wallet if you order through the Android app, which means I'm whittling away my Google Wallet balance on pizza. Cue the heavenly chorus.
Another thankful addition to Papa John's happened just this week: the ability to split the bill on a pizza order in the Papa John's app using Venmo. Pizza nights at the TV station often involve splitting the bill four, five, maybe ten ways, and we always seem short on cash. Being able to split the bill easily and electronically means no more collecting IOUs.
4. Andrew Martonik — FIFA 15 Ultimate Team
I play a good bit of FIFA 15 on my Xbox, but have never been interested in that sort of game on mobile due to issues with touchscreen controls for a fast-paced and intricate game. I've recently loaded it up on my Shield Portable, however, and it's a blast to play on something with proper controller support (it'll make its way onto my Shield Tablet as well).
The game isn't quite up to par with the console version in terms of performance and graphics, as you'd expect, but it handles controllers perfectly with the same controls as you're used to. The team management and menus of the game are also good, and it integrates with Google Play Games to boot. I don't think I'll get sucked into FIFA 15 UT on mobile as much as I have on the console, but it'll be a fun time killer to have installed.
5. Justin Duino — Scholly: Scholarship Search
For students like myself, right now is crunch time for applying for scholarships. While there are millions of dollars available for students, the hardest part is finding scholarships that meet your exact criteria. With Scholly, all you need to do is input your personal information (gender, age, GPA, degree, ect.) and search. A list of all the scholarships that match your information will be shown to you.
From your search results you can click into each scholarship for more information, save it so you can come back to it later, or dive directly to the scholarship website. The user interface is a little outdated but for $0.99 Scholly is the easiest way to quickly find every scholarship on the internet that you are eligible for.
6. Phil Nickinson — SoundHUD
I haven't been too vocal about it, but I'm not a huge fan of the way Google is handling notifications and interruptions on its Nexus phones in Android 5.0 Lollipop. This app helps that somewhat. SoundHUD runs as a service (so it doesn't require root access or anything) and takes over your volume controls and gives you discrete control over your volumes. But that' just the start. It's got a few style options and also serves as a way to quickly launch apps. It might change your life. Or at least make your stock Lollipop experience a little less frustrating.
7. Alex Dobie — QuickShortcutMaker
This might not be an app you use every day, but QuickShortcutMaker has a few tricks up its sleeve that may be useful to more advanced Android users. In essence, it lets you create shortcuts to different areas of other apps — for instance, hidden settings pages, quickly going to a specific app page, or fiddling with your phone's inner workings. The app is free, and allows you to search activity names within apps to narrow down what you're looking for.
It's not the sexiest Android app, but it can be extremely useful in the right situation.