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!
Russell Holly — Lifeline
Lots of mobile games get labeled as time wasters, simple things you do when waiting in line or something. Lifeline is something special, in that the game itself decides when you get to spend time playing it. It's a text-based adventure with a series of simple choices as you help a stranded space man survive the cold and dark of his environment, but you only get those options when Taylor needs your help.
It's curiously addictive, and I find myself dropping everything when a message from this space man in my phone comes in.
Phil Nickinson — Joyride Podcast Player
I'm admittedly cheating a little this week by highlighting Joyride here — it's the app I spotlighted earlier today on our Android Auto Apps feature — but it's also deserving of a little love. This is a good, simple podcatcher. You can log in with your Facebook or Google account (or use Joyride's own, if you prefer), navigation is simple, and searching out new podcasts is a breeze. (Be sure to add our show, of course.)
It's not quite as full-featured as other podcatchers out there — and it's a little aggressive with notifications, alerting you by default every time you connect to an AUX port or Bluetooth device (you can turn those off in the settings — but it's also absolutely worth a quick look if you want something basic.
Alex Dobie — Wolfram Alpha
While Google Search has gotten pretty good at answering a whole bunch of natural language questions, Wolfram Alpha is still the king for more complex stuff. Wolfram's vast data stores, and skill with natural language, mean it's a useful tool to have with you on the go. That app itself is surprisingly simple — mainly just recreation of Wolfram's web interface, with a much-expanded keyboard giving you easy access to symbols and numbers.
There's almost no limit to what you can ask Wolfram — How about the current position of the International Space Station? The number of calories in a metric ton of tomato ketchup? Or find out what time the sun set on Christmas Day in 1973? If you're a data junkie, or you're just looking for a really specific piece of information, Wolfram Alpha is where you'll want to go.
Jared DiPane — Nova Launcher
Launchers are probably one of the most important parts of a phone experience for me. Aside from how the phone feels in the hand, the launcher, and its functionality, can either limit or enhance your overall experience on the device. I was, and still am, a huge fan of Action Launcher, but I recently decided to give Nova Launcher a shot. Both launchers are really great, and I end up switching between them a lot, but Nova has taken over for me.
I am not 100 percent sure exactly why I am preferring it, but I do like the app drawer a lot more. Many of the features are similar to Action Launcher, but some of them work better for me. The settings are easy to navigate, and the recent Material Design overhaul looks and feels great. Nova Launcher itself is free, but if you want to unlock all of the features and functionality you will need to purchase the Prime version, which is $4.99.
Justin Duino — Agar.io
Agar.io, a web based game that is growing in popularity, has just been released for Android. This highly addicting game is basically a modern version of cat and mouse. After you name your cell, you enter a world full of little colored dots and other cells that are constantly trying to eat you. Moving around the world and eating the colored dots grows your cell and once you're big enough, you can start eating smaller cells.
The point of Agar.io? Does there actually have to be a point to something that is just plain fun? Make sure to download the game from the Google Play Store as it is free to play with ads only appearing between games.
Andrew Martonik — Alaska Airlines
I've been staring at the same old Alaska Airlines app for far too long, and it's about time it was updated to look more like it belongs on a modern Android phone. Alaska went above and beyond here, and came out with something really great. The new interface is clean, fast and looks like it fits in on a device running Lollipop, while also having a few new features and a better flight booking interface.
I was going to be using the Alaska app either way since I fly them almost exclusively, but now that the app is up to speed it's a much more enjoyable experience to do so.
Jerry Hildenbrand — Watch Face - Minimal & Elegant
If you like to do a lot of "adjusting" to any watch face you install from Google Play, my pick this week if right up your alley.
Watch Face - Minimal & Elegant is an app that lets you build your own version of a watch face, using custom colors and gradients, various fonts and font sizes, weather data and custom text, and even support for "Tiny Worlds" (which are an awesome way to dress up the 360's flat tire). As you can see from my picture, you don't have to be minimal or elegant if you don't want to.