Apps of the week

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!

Daniel Bader - Vivino Wine Scanner


I love wine. Specifically, I love red wine. Maybe I'm getting old, but give me a great bottle of Spanish red and I'm as happy as a Twitter user in a fight.

Vivino helps me keep track of the bottles I drink since I try to keep to a strict diet of diversity. The app uses your Android phone's camera to scan the label, and if the bottler, variety, blend and vintage is in its database, Vivino shows you everything you need to know about what you're drinking. That includes local price (if applicable), tasting notes, user reviews, and information about the winery and grape.

In early 2015, Vivino transitioned, like so many revenue-strapped startups, from a free/premium app model to a more sustainable yearly subscription model. But, like so few of those startups, its $50 annual membership is actually worth the cost. That's because Vivino publishes a members-only bi-weekly wine guide that is not only useful, but a pleasure to peruse; and the premium subscription also includes expert ratings of individual bottles, and a great wine cellar management tool for those with growing collections.

Free users benefit from recent additions, too, though. The wines list scanner, which uses OCR technology to summarize entire restaurant or bar lists in one fell swoop, is really useful (when it works, which is about half the time); and the user reviews are some of the most extensive in the industry.

Download: Vivino Wine Scanner (Free)

Andrew Martonik — Bloomberg


I live and breathe technology every day, but I also like to keep up on the business world (something that stuck with me when I finished my business degree in college). Bloomberg is the name synonymous with coverage of business and the markets, and it also has a really nice and simple app that makes it super easy to keep up with the business world, as well as politics, world news and technology from a financial perspective.

You can check out the latest stories, dive down into specific genres or just see what the latest indexes are doing at a glance. From the home screen, with one tap you can jump to a live feed of Bloomberg TV as well, which is important when news is breaking. My one tip is to turn off the push notifications, which can get to be a bit much throughout the day.

Download: Bloomberg (Free)

Ara Wagoner - Disney Emoji Blitz

I'm a fan of emoji, and I'm a fan of Disney, so if this felt like a no-brainer, not so fast. This game is quite similar to the Disney Tsum Tsum game that LINE puts out, but instead of the haphazard pile of plushies, you have the orderly grid of a Bejeweled-style match-3 game. Instead of jewels, you match Disney emoji.

The game is easily playable for free, but you'll run out of lives fairly quickly if you're not careful. Also, what I'm really interested in here, the emoji themselves, are awkwardly implemented. See, when you unlock an emoji in the game, you can use it on the Emoji Blitz keyboard. So if there are particular characters you want, you need to rack up coins to unlock them (or buy enough) through a random box you buy in the emoji store. So if I want Genie (and do I ever), then I've got to spend 30,000 coins and I have a 1/20 chance of getting it.

Then there's using the emoji themselves. You switch to the Blitz Emoji keyboard, which means you're giving this app all the permissions and data you give any other keyboard, and then you put together your emoji string ... And then, since these aren't system emoji, you share your emoji string as an image to an Android app of your choosing. This is clunky and it's not Disney's fault (it's Android's), but at least the emoji string images are transparent and easy to share. Just be prepared to spend a lot of time grinding this game to get the emoji you want. At least this is easier to grind than Pokémon Go.

Download: Disney Emoji Blitz (Free, in-app purchases)

Alex Dobie — TunnelBear VPN

There are a bunch of different reasons why you might want to use a VPN (virtual private network) on your Android devices. They often let you get around region-blocked services or websites — for example, BBC iPlayer outside the UK. They can help you send data more securely over open WiFi networks.

TunnelBear is the simplest VPN service I've come across, and the dedicated Android app makes it simple to use on your phone. Simply sign in , then select the country you want to tunnel to. In a few seconds, the VPN will be connected, and you'll be able to use other apps as if you were in that country — complete with a world map and, yes, an animated bear that literally tunnels between countries. TunnelBear gives you a free 500MB of data each month, or for unlimited data, it's $7.99 per month ($4.16 if you pay yearly). TunnelBear also has discounted pricing if you're just using the service on your Android devices.

Download: Tunnelbear VPN (Free)

Russell Holly — Go Messenger

Go Messenger

You didn't think my contribution here would be about something other than Pokemon Go, did you? You silly goose.

Go Messenger fills in a much-needed gap in the Pokemon Go experience — chat. It's not easy to coordinate attacks with strangers because it's not easy to know who your team members are until you meet them in person and ask them. While that works well enough for populated areas, it makes strategic attacks on other locations more complicated. Taking down a Gym is not enough, you must raise it to an even greater level in your team color!

It's a simple chat app that indicates your team color and user name, with a Facebook Chathead-esque bubble that can float over everything for when you're actually playing the game. You can only chat with other folks who have the app, and you chat is limited to 20km around your current location, but it's a good start.

Download: Go Messenger (Free)