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Best PCs 2017: the top computers for every task

Best PCs 2017: the top computers for every task

Computers are everywhere. They’re in our game consoles, our TVs, our smartphones – hell, even our thermostats have computers in them these days. But there’s no better way to experience computing than with one of the best desktop PCs, especially considering the advent of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update and all the benefits it brings.For instance, now you can experienced VR like never before using Microsoft’s own series of Windows Mixed Reality headsets. And if that doesn’t get you excited, it brings augmented reality to the forefront as well, thanks to a ‘Mixed Reality Viewer’ function. Of course, not all of the best desktop PCs run Windows, as we’ve included the macOS High Sierra-wielding iMac as well.
Take your PC on the go with one of the best laptops listCarrying on, we’ve organized all of the best desktop PCs by category below. Each can be purchased conveniently by way of a green widget located to the right-hand side of their accompanying entry details, too, so you don’t have to worry about digging around Google to find it again later on. Oh, and if you keep this page bookmarked, it’s regularly kept up to date.

For lack of a better description, the Dell XPS Tower Special Edition is a master of disguise. Appearing as subtle as the PC your parents hid under the desk, don’t be deceived by this boring exterior. Inside, you’ll find your choice of one of the latest high-end graphics card solutions from AMD and Nvidia in addition to a powerful Kaby Lake processor paired with plenty of hard drive and/or SSD storage. While the Special Edition of this PC is only available in the US, our readers in Australia and the United Kingdom will still be able to pick up the regular Dell XPS Tower and configure a system to the top spec.Read the full review: Dell XPS Tower Special Edition

The Microsoft Surface Studio is one of the most glamorous PCs you can buy. It shakes up the all-in-one formula of putting all the components behind the screen, and instead moves everything to the base. The resulting device has one of the thinnest 28-inch PixelSense Displays that puts even most 4K screens to shame. What’s more, the fully-articulating stand makes it a versatile tool for work and play with Surface Pen support. All in all, the Surface Studio is an exceptional work of, and for, art.Read the full review: Surface StudioSee more like this: The best all-in-one PCs

The Zotac Magnus EN1060 is practically as small as the Apple Mac Mini, but it’s an exponentially more powerful gaming PC, potent enough to drive virtual reality experiences. Thanks to its small size and understated features, users can place this mini PC under an entertainment center and it won’t draw attention to itself. Keep in mind, though, this system doesn’t come with storage or RAM pre-installed, not to mention it lacks an operating system, so interested users will need buy these components and software separately.Read the full review: Zotac Magnus EN1060

The Alienware Aurora R6 is an excellent gaming PC that offers brilliant performance in a conveniently compact body. The affordable price is pretty great as well, considering the power on offer and users itching for upgrades will have room to pick up a second graphics card, plus more RAM and storage.Read the full review: Alienware Aurora R6See more like this: The best gaming PCs

Positioned as a “console killer,” the MSI Trident 3 looks a lot like an Xbox One X and PS4 Pro, but it’s a far more powerful PC that feels just right in your living room. Complete with all the ports you could ever dream of, the MSI Trident 3’s advantages are clear. Still, in trying to be as thin and light as possible, the MSI Trident 3 comes equipped with a 330W external power supply brick, resembling some of the least attractive console designs.Read the full review: MSI Trident 3

The iMac keeps it classy and, better yet, simple. Easy-to-use hardware combined with the famed accessibility of macOS makes for a nigh-perfect computing experience. A built-in screen, speakers and 802.11ac wireless networking are complemented by the fantastic Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse 2. Of course, trumpeting that gorgeous 5K screen, the iMac is sleek and, best of all, only requires a single cable to get up and running.Read the full review: Apple iMac with 5K Retina displaySee more like this: The best Macs

Though at first you might confuse it for a fabric-woven Mac Pro refresh, the HP Pavilion Wave is anything but. This compact Windows machine packs in 6th-generation Intel Core processors and optional discrete AMD graphics with a uniquely integrated Bang & Olufsen speaker. Wrapped in a handsome fabric exterior, this is the perfect PC to have on the desk, as it radiates crisp sound while you browse the web or watch movies.Read the first look: HP Pavilion Wave

No, this isn’t a USB thumb drive you’re looking at. The Intel Core Compute Stick might look like something you would store a PowerPoint presentation on shortly before losing it, but it’s actually a palm-sized personal computer that plugs into any screen with an HDMI port. Configurations start at a lowly 1.33GHz Intel Atom processor running Linux, and at the highest end is a notebook-class Intel Core m5 processor.
Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article
While you’re at it, we’ve also found the best gaming desktop PC you can buy

How Apple, Google and Microsoft are addressing the KRACK Wi-Fi vulnerability

How Apple, Google and Microsoft are addressing the KRACK Wi-Fi vulnerability

Ah, WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access): you’ve protected our Wi-Fi so well for so many years now.Unfortunately, that illusion of safety was shattered earlier today when security researcher Mathy Vanhoef reported a vulnerability in the WPA2 handshake protocol that he’s calling KRACK (for “Key Reinstallation Attack). Since almost every modern Wi-Fi device uses it, that effectively means every modern Wi-Fi compatible device is vulnerable. You’ll find more information about it in our earlier coverage.Fortunately, Apple, Google and Microsoft have all already issued statements saying they’ve addressed the issue in some form or another. Microsoft, in fact, has already addressed the vulnerability, along with an exhaustively detailed list of the changes it made. You should be able to protect your PC or any other Windows-powered device with a simple update.”Microsoft released security updates on October 10th and customers who have Windows Update enabled and applied the security updates, are protected automatically,” the company said in a statement. “We updated to protect customers as soon as possible, but as a responsible industry partner, we withheld disclosure until other vendors could develop and release updates.”
Check out our best VPN guide; any of the top-rated VPN services is likely to be good enough to protect you, even with KRACK around.Apple informed Rene Ritchie of iMore that it had already patched the vulnerability in the betas for iOS, tvOS, watchOS and macOS. However, these betas are still largely only available to developers, but they should, hopefully, go out to consumers relatively soon.Google, meanwhile, said that it is working on resolving it.”We’re aware of the issue, and we will be patching any affected devices in the coming weeks,” the Mountain View, California company said in a statement to CNET.The Wi-Fi Alliance, a nonprofit agency that certifies products for Wi-Fi security, announced that it would start testing for the vulnerability as part of its standard program.”Wi-Fi Alliance now requires testing for this vulnerability within our global certification lab network and has provided a vulnerability detection tool for use by any Wi-Fi Alliance member,” the organization said in its statement. “Wi-Fi Alliance is also broadly communicating details on this vulnerability and remedies to device vendors and encouraging them to work with their solution providers to rapidly integrate any necessary patches.”  The agency also said in the same statement that a “straightforward software update” should fix the issue, and the actions being taken by Microsoft, Apple and Google seem to confirm that.So, if you’re using an iOS or Android device, try to stay off of public Wi-Fi networks for now. If you absolutely must use public Wi-Fi, make sure you stick to secured sites that have HTTPS in their web address. And, of course, hope that Google and Apple roll out their patches soon.
Need a new Wi-Fi router? Black Friday could be the best time to buy one

The best free iPhone games on the planet

The best free iPhone games on the planet

The days when you had to buy a dedicated gaming rig and spend a load of cash for a quality gaming experience are long gone. Thanks to the iPhone (and iPod touch) and the App Store, you can get an excellent mobile gaming experience for just a few bucks (or quid, for that matter), or even less.In fact, a lot of the games out there are free. But can you get great games for nothing at all, or is the ‘free’ section of the App Store just a shoddy excuse to bombard you with in-app purchases?The answer is, of course, both. The trick is finding the gems amongst the dross, and what follows are our picks of the bunch: our top free iPhone games, presented in no particular order, including both long-time classics and brilliant cutting-edge recent releases. We’ve even included a VR game for you… aren’t you lucky?
New this week: Flat Pack

Flat Pack wraps a two-dimensional platform game around three-dimensional shapes. You control a little flying creature tasked with collecting every side of a cube before finding a level’s exit.But figuring out where to head isn’t straightforward, because in applying a 2D game world to 3D wall surfaces, you can end up facing a different way when entering a plane from a new direction.Fortunately, the game has a gentle difficulty curve – death means restarting a level, but not collecting cube parts you’ve already found. And Flat Pack slowly introduces its new ideas, such as enemies defeated by smashing them from below.Should you find the main game discombobulating, there’s also an augmented reality mode, which has you walk around a puzzle with your iPhone. It’s a weird but effective experience.
Memory Path is a simple memory test that showcases how polish and smart design can transform the most basic of concepts into an essential download.Across 50 levels, you tap left or right to move along a path toward a goal. The twist is the path disappears shortly after you enter a level. Initially, remembering where to go isn’t tough, but later levels are likely to find your adventurer regularly impaled before you finally succeed.Levels complete, you’ll feel fully trained for the endless modes. Random shuffles the order in which you tackle levels; and Race Path is all about speed – how far you can get before the road ahead vanishes. Sharp isometric graphics, a gentle soundtrack, and unlockable characters further boost the game’s longevity.
Power Hover: Cruise is three endless runners (well, surfers) for the price of one. It borrows the boss battle levels from the superb, beautiful Power Hover, and expands on them. You get to speed through a booby-trapped pyramid, avoid projectiles blasted your way by an angry machine you’re chasing through a tunnel, and whirl around a track that snakes through the clouds.This is a gorgeous game, with silky animation and minimal, but vibrant objects and scenery. The audio is excellent, too – the rousing electronic soundtrack urging you on.There are a couple of snags: games can abruptly end due to difficulty spikes, and the controls initially seem floaty. But we grew to love the inertia, which differentiates Power Hover: Cruise and makes it feel like you’re surfing on air. As for the difficulty, spend time learning the hazards and mastering the game, and you’ll soon be climbing the high score tables.
Finger Smash is more or less whack-a-mole with fruit – and a big ol’ dose of sudden death. You get a minute to dish out tappy destruction, divided up into seconds-long rounds.In each case, you’re briefly told what to smash, and set about tapping like a maniac. Hit the wrong object, and your game ends with a flaming skull taunting you. (Lasting the full minute is surprisingly tough.)This is a simple high-score chaser, and so there’s understandably not a lot of depth here. However, there are plenty of nice touches. The visuals have an old-school charm, and the music is suitably energetic.But also, there’s the way you can swipe through multiple items, the bomb that ominously appears during the final ten seconds, and varied alternate graphics sets if you feel the need to squish space invaders, fast food, or adorable cartoon robots. Great stuff.
Spin Addict is an endless runner set in a landscape of endless industrial cogs and sparks. You control a piece of metal you set spinning with a swipe, subsequently tapping to leap, and swiping downwards to flip the ground beneath you.In the endless mode, played in portrait, you try to get as far as possible – easier said than done when massive pieces of machinery regularly want to flatten you, and your power must be constantly replenished by grabbing golden targets.There’s also a 15-level challenge mode, which plays out in landscape. This is more about pathfinding – getting to the end of each course intact, having collected as many gems as possible along the way. However you play, Spin Addict is a wonderful app with a properly premium feel (bar the inevitable ads, which can be removed for $0.99/99p/AU$1.49).
Leap On! is an endless jumper with a sadistic streak – at least as far as its bounding protagonist goes. The two-eyed ball is tied to a central spiked star by a huge piece of elastic. Whenever you hold the screen, the hero moves in a clockwise direction.The snag is hitting the spiked star spells instant doom – as does touching anything else that’s black. At first, this mostly means jumping on white orbs, and avoiding the odd lurking blob, but before long, the star starts lobbing all manner of ball-killing stuff your way.You can fight back by grabbing power ups and smashing the white bits of projectiles, while chasing dual high scores – how many white orbs you hit, and your furthest distance from the star. Leap On! is admittedly a bit one note, but the pacy, chaotic gameplay very much appeals in short bursts.
Built for Speed is a top-down racer with chunky old-school graphics, and a drag-and-drop track editor. Make a track and it’s added to the pool the game randomly grabs from during its three-race mini-tours; other users are the opposition, with you racing their ‘ghosts’.Handling’s simple – you steer left or right. Winning is largely about finding the racing line, not smacking into tires some idiot’s left in the road, and not drifting too much.Initially, though, the game’s so sedate you wonder whether someone mistook an instruction to make it “very 80s” by having it seem like the cars are driven by octogenarians. But a few upgrades later and everything becomes nicely zippy.The only real snag is the matchmaking doesn’t always work, pitting you against pimped-out cars you’ve no chance against. Still, even if you take a sound beating, another tour’s only ever a few races a way.
Knight Saves Queen is a turn-based puzzle game, based on a knight leaping about a chess board. He moves in a standard ‘L’, aiming to bump off every adversary on the board, before rescuing the queen.Initially, he’s only faced by pawns, but soon other pieces enter the fray, forcing you to carefully plan your path. Over time, allies also appear, allowing you to further manipulate the opposition, which takes pieces every chance it gets.The bite-sized nature of the game combined with the smart puzzle design make it ideal freebie fare for mobile. We do, however, take exception at needing perfect runs on every level set to unlock the next – unless, of course, you buy coins via IAP.Still, if nothing else, this forces you to properly tackle every puzzle, rather than blaze through with the least amount of effort.
Flick Soccer is all about scoring goals by booting a ball with your finger. It looks very smart, with fairly realistic visuals and nicely arcade-y ball movement. You can unleash pretty amazing shots as you aim for the targets, and occasionally bean a defender.The game includes several alternate modes, providing a surprising amount of variation on the basic theme. There’s a speed option that involves flicking at furious speed, and the tense sudden-death Specialist, which ends your go after three failed attempts to hit the target.Rather more esoteric fare also lurks, demanding you repeatedly hit the crossbar, or smash panes of glass a crazy person has installed in the goalmouth.Like real-world sport on the TV, Flick Soccer is a bit ad-infested. You can, though, remove ads with a one-off $0.99/99p/AU$1.99 IAP, or – ironically – turn them off for ten minutes by watching an ad.
Drop Wizard Tower is a superb mobile take on classic single-screen arcade platform games like Bubble Bobble. Your little wizard has been thrown in jail by the evil Shadow Order, and must ascend a tower over 50 levels to give his enemies a good ‘wanding’ (or something.)It’s all very cute, with dinky pixelated enemies, varied level design (skiddy ice; disappearing platforms; watery bits in which you move slowly), and fast-paced boss battles against gargantuan foes.Most importantly, it’s very much designed for mobile. You auto-run left or right, and blast magic when landing on a platform. Said blasts temporarily stun roaming enemies, which can be booted away, becoming a whirling ‘avalanche’ on colliding with cohorts.The auto-running bit disarms at first – in most similar games, the protagonist stays put unless you keep a direction button held. But once the mechanics click, Drop Wizard Tower cements itself as a little slice of magic on your iPhone.
This blast from the past (of PC gaming) masquerades as a racer, but often feels like you’re hunting prey – albeit while encased in a suit of speeding metal.The freeform arenas find you in a dystopian future where people and cows blithely amble about while deranged drivers smash each other to bits. Victories arrive from completing enough laps, wrecking all your opponents, or mowing down every living thing in the vicinity.In the 1990s, this was shocking to the point of Carmageddon being banned in some countries. Today, the lo-fi violence seems oddly quaint. But the game’s tongue-in-cheek humor survives, sitting nicely alongside bouncy physics, madcap sort-of-racing, and deranged cops attempting to crush you into oblivion should you cross their path.
One Tap Rally distills the top-down mobile racer into a one-thumb effort. Press the screen and you accelerate; let go and you slow down. In the nitros mode, you can also swipe upward for an extra burst of speed.It feels a bit like slot-racing, but the tracks are organic and free-flowing, rather than rigid chunks of plastic. Learning each bend and straight is essential to get around without hitting the sides – important because such collisions rob you of precious seconds.You’re also not alone – One Tap Rally pits you against the online ghosts of other players. Each time you better your score, you improve your rank on the current track, ready to face tougher opponents. This affords an extra layer of depth to what was already an elegant, playable mobile racer.
Crazy Taxi is a port of a popular and superb Dreamcast/arcade title from 1999. You belt around a videogame take on San Francisco, hurling yourself from massive hills, soaring through the air like only a crazy taxi can, and regularly smashing other traffic out of the way.Given the ‘taxi’ bit in the title, fares are important. Getting them where they want to go in good time replenishes the clock. Excite them and you’re awarded bonuses. Go ‘crashy’ rather than ‘crazy’ and the fare will take their chances and leap out of your cab, leaving you without their cash.Crazy Taxi looks crude, but still plays brilliantly, and even the touchscreen controls work very nicely. For free, you must be online to play, however – a sole black mark in an otherwise fantastic port (and one you can remove with IAP).
Yeah Bunny is an enjoyable platform game featuring a speeding rabbit, who blazes along in a cartoon world, collecting carrots, grabbing keys, and trying to not get impaled on the many spikes some irresponsible dolt has left lying about.It’s an auto-runner, so controls boil down to tapping the screen to jump at the most opportune moments. This nonetheless affords you plenty of control, such as double-jumping in mid-air for extra distance, or wall-jumping like a bunny ninja.The game looks superb, with plenty of neat touches like the smoke trail behind the rabbit. And although it can be frustrating when the furry hero is spiked yet again, you can always continue your progress by watching an ad or dipping into your reserve of collected carrots.
In Fish & Trip, you command a single smiling fish, happily swimming in the ocean depths. Using your finger, you direct the fish towards eggs and other stragglers, the latter of which join you to gradually form a school. Unfortunately, everything else in the sea is hungry for a fish dinner.At first, you’ll spot spiky anemones and the occasional sluggish green fish with big teeth. But eventually, you’ll be zig-zagging through claustrophobic seas, trying to find new friends to keep your school alive, and avoiding massive sharks that show up to the theme from Jaws.It’s all rather simple, and may eventually pall. But in the short term at least, Fish & Trip is one of those wonderful and rare iPhone games pretty much guaranteed to plaster a smile on your face.
Topsoil, like its subject matter of gardening, is something that only really works if you’re willing to put in the investment. And that’s because it’s a puzzler that’s easy to grasp within seconds, but that rewards long-term play, as you slowly master new strategies to lengthen your games.The board is a four-by-four grid, into which you add plants. Every four moves you can harvest a plant – or group of adjacent plants – which turns the soil. A reckless approach soon leaves you with non-contiguous chunks of land and no chance of removing loads of plants at once.Even when planning ahead, the game’s inherently random nature can rapidly end a game. But Topsoil’s charm and gradual drip-feeding of new items to plant makes for a leisurely and enduring brain-teaser ideal for filling spare moments.
There’s a lot going on in 3D racer NASCAR Heat Mobile. There’s the racing bit, obviously, which is rather nicely done. You find yourself on an oval of tarmac, attempting to slipstream and weave your way to the checkered flag, avoiding a horrible pile-up along the way. It all looks rather smart, even if vehicle movement is occasionally suspect; the controls are simple and responsive too.Away from the racing, you can delve into a meta-game of sorts, erecting buildings to generate resources that support your little race team’s efforts. This can be a bit of a distraction, but adds depth to the game.And while the entire package doesn’t hold a candle to the madcap racing in the likes of Asphalt, it works nicely if you fancy speeding along in a manner that’s a bit more grounded.
rvlvr. is an easy game to dismiss. Despite the pleasant piano soundtrack and clear visuals, it doesn’t seem like anything special. You get a bunch of interlocking circles with dots on, and must select and rotate them so the puzzle matches the image at the top of the screen. Easy!Only rvlvr. is anything but. Once you’ve blazed through the initial levels, everything becomes a mite more complicated. You end up staring at half a dozen or more rings with dots liberally sprinkled about, realizing one wrong move might wreck everything you’ve to that point worked so hard for.This mix of progression and challenge, alongside rvlvr’s quiet elegance, will keep it rooted to your home screen. And that you can skip any of the 15,000(!) puzzle combinations is a nice touch, ensuring you won’t remain stuck on a single test you can’t get your head around.
There’s ambition at the heart of Full of Stars, which so easily could have been yet another run-of-the-mill tap-based survival game.Much of your time is spent in space, tapping screen edges to deftly weave your ship through space debris. When possible, you scoop up stardust to charge up your weapons system and a hyperdrive that blasts you towards your destination at serious speed.But Full of Stars is also a role-playing game of sorts, finding you immersed in a plot that puts humanity on the brink. Along with your deft arcade skills, you’ll need to manage resources and make vital decisions to ensure your survival.It can get repetitive, and the arcade sections are sometimes harsh, but Full of Stars is a commendable effort at trying something different – a story-driven journey that demands both arcade and strategic smarts.
Swordigo is a love letter to the classic side-scrolling platform adventures that blessed 16-bit consoles. You leap about platforms, slice up enemies with your trusty sword, and figure out how to solve simple puzzles, which open up new areas of the game and move the plot onwards.The plot is, admittedly, nothing special – you’re embarking on the kind of perilous quest to keep evil at bay that typically afflicts videogame heroes. But everything else about Swordigo shines.The virtual controls are surprisingly solid, the environments are pleasingly varied, and the pace ranges from pleasant quiet moments of solitude to intense boss battles you’ll struggle to survive. All in all, then, a fitting tribute to those much-loved titles of old.
It appears we’ve got to the stage where taping up boxes is considered a viable subject for an iOS game. Bizarrely, though, Tape it Up! appeals.It takes place on an endless scrolling conveyor belt, with your little dispenser leaping from box to box as you swipe. It’s easy to grasp, but tough to survive when everything’s moving at breakneck speed.Grab enough coins and you unlock rather more esoteric dispensers that give the game a surreal edge. You might end up sealing boxes with milk, while cows moo in the background, or controlling a little console-style dispenser while an exciting-looking shoot ’em up taunts you by playing itself below.Ah well – everyone knows taping up boxes is more fun than blowing up spaceships, right?
Playing football on your own can be dull – that is, unless you’re the sporty hero of Footy Golf. As ever, scoring is the main aim – and there’s a goal to be found somewhere on each course. But along the way, you can also collect coins someone’s generously left lying around.The controls are straightforward (aim with a directional arrow and then let rip); much of the challenge comes in trying to maximize your star rating by reaching the goal using the fewest possible kicks. You’ll also have to navigate increasingly complex courses as you move through a city, caverns, a factory, and a scorching desert. The game’s a bit ad-infested, with a mildly hateful level unlock mechanism that encourages grinding, but played in bite-sized chunks, it’s definitely more ‘match winner’ than ‘own goal’.
You know when a game’s entire App Store description is “an exciting new thumb-sport” that you’re probably not heading for a title with oodles of depth.And so it proves to be with Jelly Juggle, which is more or less a one-thumb take on Pong that you play by yourself.Here, a little fish swims in a circle whenever you press the screen, aiming to keep a square jelly in play. If you don’t think that’s hard enough (and, frankly, it is – this game’s like juggling at speed), crabs eventually mosey on in to complicate matters, and new levels open up where you’re juggling multiple jellies.A simple title, then, but one with immediacy (given how simple it is to grasp) and relentless intensity. Plus, games are short enough that you can probably have several attempts to beat your high score while waiting in a queue at the grocery store.
It’s always the way: there you are, a mage, supplying everything for your town’s increasingly slovenly citizens, when the ruckus from a particularly rowdy party causes a beaker of something potent to fall into your cauldron, blowing up your tower and turning you into a living skeleton. A typical Friday, really.In Just Bones, the skeleton appears to be in a kind of Groundhog Day scenario, collecting up his various parts across tiny 2D platform game worlds, before flinging himself into a portal and repeating the process somewhere new.It’s all very silly, but also a novel take on a platform game; and for those who like a challenge, there are some seriously tough speedrun targets to beat.
In this auto-running platformer, titular hero Yobot dodders about cavernous rooms within a robot manufacturing plant. Using his not-very-super powers of jumping and being able to stop a bit, you must help him to the exits, grabbing switches and keys along the way.The stopping aspect of Yobot Run is complicated by you only having limited stop power – you can’t just sit there for ages, waiting for a moving platform to be just so.The result is a game where you’re always anxiously searching for a route to the next waypoint, trying to avoid dying on one of the plant’s many hazards.(Although, frankly, someone needs to have a word with the architect, given the number of spikes the plant has, and the exits being on impossible to reach platforms.)
Although, at its core, this is a fairly standard lane-based survival game (swipe to avoid traffic; don’t crash), Dashy Crashy has loads going on underneath the surface. It’s packed full of neat features, such as pile-ups, a gorgeous day/night cycle, and random events that involve maniacs hurtling along a lane, smashing everything out of their way.It also cleverly adds value to mobile gaming’s tendency to have you collect things. In Dashy Crashy, you’re periodically awarded vehicles, but these often shake up how you play the game. For example, the cop car can collect massive donuts for bonus points, and an army jeep can call in tanks – just like you wish you could when stuck in slow-moving traffic.
Flinging a plastic disc about isn’t the most thrilling premise for a game, which is why it’s a surprise Frisbee Forever 2 is so good. The game finds a little toy careening along rollercoaster-like pathways, darting inside buildings and tunnels, and soaring high above snow-covered mountains and erupting volcanos.You simply dart left and right, keeping aloft by collecting stars, and avoiding hazards at all costs – otherwise your Frisbee goes ‘donk’ and falls sadly to the ground. Grab enough bling and you unlock new stages and Frisbees.This game could have been a grindy disaster, but instead it’s a treat. The visuals are superb – bright and vibrant – and the courses are smartly designed. And even if you fail, Frisbee Forever 2 lobs coins your way, rewarding any effort you put in.
Pixel Craft takes no prisoners. No sooner have you found your feet in your little auto-firing spaceship than hordes of aliens blow you into so much stardust.Before long, you clock formations and foes, learn to dodge huge arrows fired by a massive space bow, figure out how to avoid kamikaze ships, and discover how to best an opponent that’s apparently ambled in, lost from arcade classic Caterpillar. Then you face a massive boss and get blown up again.It’s staccato at first, then – even grindy. But Pixel Craft has a sense of fun and urgency that makes it worth sticking with. The aesthetics and controls are impressive, and death always feels fair – to be blamed on your fingers failing you.But with perseverance comes collected bling and ship upgrades. Then you’re the one dishing out lessons in lasery death!(At least until you meet the next boss.)
Depending on your way of looking at things, Narcissus is either a weird platform game for one or an amusing 50-level leapy game for two.The basics are essentially based on the game Canabalt – Narcissus leaps from platform to platform, lest he fall down a gap and go splat. But if you recall your Greek mythology, Narcissus had a reflection; in this game, the reflection is visible on the screen.The snag is the world in which the two characters jump isn’t a mirror image. For the single player, this makes for a tough challenge, keeping track of two tiny leapers, who often need to jump at different times. With a friend, it’s easier, so long as you don’t hurl your iPhone at a mirror should one of you badly mis-time a jump.
If you’ve played Super Dangerous Dungeons, you’ll be well aware developer Jussi Simpanen knows how to make a cracking platform game. Even so, Heart Star is a disarmingly charming treat.You aim to guide two friends to a goal in each of the 60 tiny single-screen levels. The chums are typically surrounded by platforms, spikes, and switches – and that’s before you consider the perilous drops into a bottomless void. Also, there’s usually no obvious way for both to reach the goal.It’s a head-scratcher until you start utilizing Heart Star’s world-swapping. Prod a button to switch character, whereupon the other friend’s platforms vanish. With a combination of brainpower, deft finger-work, and having the friends collaborate – often by one hopping on the other’s head – a solution should present itself, allowing you to continue on your journey.
It’s another vertically-scrolling endless survival game, where you’re pursued by a world-eating evil, but Remedy Rush is novel in subject matter and the way in which it plays.The basics are familiar: you direct the protagonist by swiping about, aiming to keep ahead of your inevitable demise for as long as possible. But in Remedy Rush, you play as an experimental remedy (such as a cookie or sunglasses) exploring a grid-like infected body.As you scoot about, toxins are destroyed to open up pathways, and health bursts can be collected to take out any cells and germs that are in your way. Over time, the host gets sicker and the fever more ferocious; when the end comes, you can try again with a new remedy, each one having its own game-altering side-effect.
King Rabbit has some unorthodox enemies. Having kidnapped his rabbit subjects, said foes have dotted them about grid-based worlds they’ve filled with meticulously designed traps.Mostly, this one is a think-ahead puzzler, with loads of Sokoban-style box sliding. But instead of being purely turn-based fare, King Rabbit adds tense swipe-based arcade sections, with you running from scary creatures armed with rabbit-filleting weaponry.Really, this isn’t anything you won’t have seen before, but King Rabbit rules through its execution. Visually, everything’s very smart, from the clear, colorful backgrounds to the wonderfully animated hero (and the little jig he does on rescuing a chum). But the puzzles are the real heroes, offering a perfect balance of immediacy and brain-scratching.
This one’s not freaky, nor is it even a racing game – so, sorry for luring you in with that. Instead, Freaky Racing is an endless runner of sorts. With visuals that appear to have lumbered in from 1981, the game has you steer a blocky black car along a vertically scrolling track. The problem is, you haven’t got any brakes – and things speed up really quickly.Before long, you’re weaving through chicanes, avoiding your doddering racing chums, and trying to avoid going near the road edges, which are apparently made from some kind of material that makes cars instantly explode. Chances are, you won’t last long in Freaky Racing’s strange little world, but it’s a weirdly compelling title that’ll keep you coming back for more.
There’s a bit of cheating going on in Moveless Chess. Although your opponent plays a standard game, you’re some kind of wizard and apparently don’t want the hassle of moving pieces.Instead, you’ve limited action points, which are used to transform pieces you already have on the board. (So, for example, with three points, you can cunningly change a pawn into a knight.) The aim remains a game-winning checkmate, and, presumably, avoiding the ire of your non-magic opponent.It’s chess as a puzzler, then, and with a twist that’ll even make veterans of the game stop and think about how to proceed at any given moment.After all, when you get deep into the game’s challenges, you might find wizarding powers don’t always make for a swift win when you can’t move your pieces.
We’re sort of in Crossy Road territory here, but instead of a chicken hopping along an endless landscape of roads and rivers, Redungeon finds a little knight dumped in a seemingly infinite dungeon full of traps.Credit to whoever wanted to make the knight suffer, because said traps include endless inventive ways to kill someone, from squelching blobs of goo to massive metal panels that slam together, squashing flat anyone daft enough to get in their way.As ever, you’re being chased by some kind of unrelenting evil (here depicted by loads of spooky red eyes) and so can’t hang about.As such, you’ll mostly fail by swiping the wrong way when in a panic, thereby impaling your knight. Still, grab enough bling on your journey and you can upgrade your character (and unlock new ones), giving them a fighting chance – well, at least an extra 30 seconds.
In Icarus – A Star’s Journey, you help a fallen star get back to the heavens. To make each little leap upwards, you drag back and release to catapult the star, like a celestial Angry Bird. Over time, energy is used, your star eventually exploding; to avoid that, you temporarily lurk inside other stars for a quick top up.Much of the challenge involves successfully navigating hazards – usually spinning shapes you awkwardly ricochet off of – before you burn through your health.Grab enough orbs along the way and you can lengthen subsequent attempts through leveling up and gaining extra health. If only you could burn through the ads, too, since they obliterate the tranquil vibe – but, inexplicably, there’s no IAP for that.
Given Laser Dog’s tendency to make infuriatingly difficult games, Don’t Grind at first seems like a departure. You control a little cartoon banana, keeping it in the air – and away from massive saw blades – by tapping the screen and swiping to move a bit. It’s like a pleasant keepie-uppie effort – for a few seconds.After that point, all hell breaks loose, with your worried-looking fruit having to escape a squishy, painful death by avoiding laser guns, rockets, and all manner of other hazards intent on shoving it towards the blades.Collect enough stars while tapping the screen and you can unlock new victims. If you’re terrible, there are no shortcuts to bolster your collection either – the only IAP is to get rid of the ads. Brutal.
With eye-searing colors and jagged pixels, Tomb of the Mask looks like it’s escaped from a ZX Spectrum, but this fast-paced twitch maze game is very much a modern mobile effort. In a sense, it feels a bit like a speeded-up and flattened Pac-Man 256, with you zooming through a maze, eating dots, and outrunning an all-devouring evil.But the controls here are key – a flick hurls you in that direction until something makes you stop. Hopefully, that’s a wall. If it’s a spike or an enemy, you’re dead.The procedurally generated Arcade mode increasingly ramps up the intensity as you strive to reach the end of each tomb, while a stage-based mode pits your flicking finger against 60 deviously designed set challenges.
If you’re a fan of knocking metal balls about, you’re likely frustrated with iPhone pinball. Even an iPhone Plus’s display is a bit too small, resulting in a fiddly experience replete with eye strain. Enter PinOut!, which rethinks pinball in a manner that works perfectly on the smaller screen.In PinOut’s neon-infused world, you play against the clock, hitting ramps to send your ball further along what’s apparently the world’s longest pinball table. Rather than losing a ball should it end up behind the flippers, you merely waste vital seconds getting back to where you were. When the clock runs out: game over.The result is exciting and fresh, and the relatively simple mini-tables are ideal for iPhone. Moreover, the game’s immediacy makes it suitable for all gamers, overcoming pinball’s somewhat inaccessible nature.
One of those games happy to repeatedly punch you in the face, Nekosan is a brutal single-screen platformer. The premise is that the mice have stolen all the stars, and hidden them in a dungeon. It’s up to the heroic Nekosan to retrieve them.The snag is that, unlike most platform games, Nekosan only affords you control by way of tapping anywhere on the screen. Depending on where the kittie’s positioned, said tappage might fling him into the air, have him leap from a wall, or help him bound on a mid-air switch.You must therefore figure out how to traverse each puzzle-like level, using perfect timing to ensure the jumping feline isn’t killed. And while you do, suitably, get nine lives, you’ll find they disappear extremely rapidly.
At a glance, Super Cat Tales looks like it’s arrived from a 1980s console. Bright colors, chunky pixels, and leapy gameplay put you in mind of a Mario or Alex Kidd adventure.But although Super Cat Tales twangs the odd nostalgia gland, the controls make it a thoroughly modern affair. Character movement happens by tapping the left or right screen edge – hold to move or double-tap to dash. While dashing, your moggie will leap from a platform’s edge; and if sliding down a wall, a tap in the opposite direction performs a wall jump.At first, this feels confusing, as muscle memory fights these unique controls. Before long, though, this smart design dovetails with succinct levels packed with secrets, collectible cats with distinct abilities, and gorgeous aesthetics, to make for one of the best games of its type on mobile.
The Mikey series has evolved with every entry. Initially a speedrun-oriented stripped-back Mario, it then gained swinging by way of grappling hooks, before ditching traditional controls entirely, strapping jet boots to Mikey in a kind of Flappy Bird with class.With Mikey Jumps, the series has its biggest shift yet. Scrolling levels are dispensed with, in favor of quick-fire single-screen efforts. Now, Mikey auto-runs, and you tap the screen to time jumps so he doesn’t end up impaled on a spike or plummet to his death.It sounds reductive, but the result is superb. Devoid of cruft and intensely focused, Mikey Jumps is perfect for mobile play, makes nods to previous entries in the series (with hooks and boots peppered about) and has excellent level design that sits just on the right side of infuriatingly tough.
Minimal arcade game Higher Higher! is another of those titles that on paper seems ridiculously simple, but in reality could result in your thumb and brain having a nasty falling out.A little square scoots back and forth across the screen, changing color whenever it hits the edge and reverses direction. Your aim is to tap a matching colored column when the square passes over it.The snag is that the square then changes color again; furthermore, the columns all change color when the square hits a screen edge.To add to your troubles, Higher Higher! regularly speeds up, too, thereby transforming into a high-octane dexterity and reactions test. Combos are the key to the highest scores and, as ever, one mistake spells game over.
Satellina Zero is a somewhat abstract game that borrows from endless runners and rhythm action titles. You play as a white hexagon, sliding left to right to scoop up green hexagons streaming in from the top. You can also tap, which jumps you to the relative horizontal location while simultaneously switching deadly red hexagons to green (and greens to red). It sounds complicated, but it really isn’t.Survival is reliant on observation and quick thinking, where you must constantly ensure whatever hexagons are coming up are the right color, jump across at the perfect moment, and slide to scoop them all up. Last long enough and you unlock new modes and music.It would have been interesting to see choreographed levels with percentage scores, rather than games comprising semi-randomized waves that always end on a single missed hexagon; nevertheless, Satellina Zero is a fresh, compelling arcade experience.
Blokout is a furious, high-speed color-matching game that punishes you for the slightest hesitation. The initial mode plonks you in front of a three-by-three grid, and you have to swap colored squares, Bejewelled-style, to make complete lines, which then vanish.The timer is the key to the game. A clock sits in the upper-left of the screen and rapidly counts down, giving you only a few moments to complete a line. If the timer runs dry it’s game over; make a line and it resets, giving you another few seconds.The intensity is therefore always set to maximum, nicely contrasting with the game’s friendly, bold colors (which amusingly turn stark black and white the instant you lose); and if you stick around, you’ll find further challenges by way of boosters and tougher modes.
 
There are few arcade games as refined and perfectly considered as Forget-Me-Not – and we’re talking across all platforms, not just iPhone.The game places you in procedurally generated dungeons, tasking you with eating all the flowers, grabbing a key and making for the exit. All the while, you auto-shoot ahead, blasting away at each dungeon’s denizens.What sets the game apart from its contemporaries is its energy, vitality and variety. Multiple modes shake up strategies, and the many different foes that beam in have distinct personalities to keep the gameplay varied.Some relentlessly home in on you, whereas others are content blowing anything around them to pieces – including the maze. Suitable for one-thumb play in portrait or landscape, Forget-Me-Not is an arcade classic.
Aptly named, given that it has loads of platforms and aims to make you panic, Platform Panic is a high-speed single-screen platform game. Whenever you enter a new screen, you’ve a split second to work out what’s going on before you forge ahead, trying to beat its various traps. As is so often the way on mobile gaming titles, a single slip up spells death.There’s auto-runner DNA in Platform Panic, since your little character never stops running – although you can change their direction with a swipe and, crucially, leap into the air. Over many games, you’ll figure out how to beat each screen, and then it’s just a question of chaining together a number of successful attempts.This is easier said than done, mind. Scores of over a dozen are something to be proud of in Platform Panic’s world. Still, games are short enough that when your little cartoon avatar is rudely impaled, there’s always time for another go.
One of the most absurdly generous deals we’ve ever seen on the iPhone, Cally’s Caves 3 is a monstrous platform adventure that’s given away entirely for free. Many dozens of levels across eight zones find the titular Cally searching for her parents, who’ve managed to get kidnapped by an evil genius – for the third time.Unsurprisingly, Cally’s not overly chuffed with this turn of events, and she also happens to be worryingly heavily armed for a young pigtailed girl. She leaps about, blasting enemies, finding bling, and making for an exit, in tried-and-tested platforming fashion.This is a tough game. Although you can have endless cracks at any given level, Cally’s Caves 3 is based around checkpoints, forcing you to not just blunder ahead. But smart level design and a brilliant weapon upgrade model keep the frustration to a minimum and ensure this is one of the best games of its type on the iPhone.
Apparently turned off by chess’s commitment to beauty, elegance and balance, the developer of Really Bad Chess set out to break it. You therefore start your first game with a seriously souped-up set of pieces: several queens, and loads of knights. Your hapless computer opponent can only look on while lumbered with a suspicious number of pawns.One easy win later and you’re full of confidence, but Really Bad Chess keeps switching things up. Rather than the AI getting better or worse, the game changes the balance of your set-up. As you improve, your pieces get worse and the computer’s get better, until you’re the one fending off an overpowered opponent.It’s a small twist on the chess formula, to be sure, but one that opens up many new ways of playing, whether you’re a grandmaster or a relative novice.
In Maximum Car, you careen along winding roads, smashing your chunky car into other similarly Lego-like vehicles. When possible, you lob missiles about with merry abandon, boost, drift, and generally barrel along like a lunatic. It’s a bit like a stripped-down Burnout or a gleefully violent OutRun.Your terrorising of other road users (through near misses and blithely driving on the wrong side of the road), rewards you with coins to spend on powering up your ride. Do so and Maximum Car speeds up significantly, veering into absurd and barely controllable territory.Takedowns (as in, smashing other cars off of the road) are also positively encouraged; destroy the same car over enough races and it’ll be unlocked for purchase.Along with a tongue-in-cheek commentary track, this is all very silly entertainment – great for quick bursts of adrenaline-fuelled racing, and absolutely not the sort of thing to play before a driving test.
This third entry in the Dots series, Dots & Co, will be familiar to anyone who’s played the previous efforts. The aim is to collect a pre-set number of colored dots on each level, which is achieved by dragging out paths through dots of the same color. Manage to draw a square and all dots of the relevant color vanish.Complications come by way of odd-shaped levels that often leave you with small groups of dots stranded within awkward shapes, and obstacles that need clearing. Cartoon ‘companions’ help a bit here, blasting away at the board once you’ve powered them up, and there are also a few special powers to make use of.It’s here the charms of Dots & Co fade slightly – as the game progresses, you can’t help but feel you’re being given impossible tasks, and that an awful lot of luck is required to beat levels without resorting to buying tokens to spend on powers or extra moves. Despite this, Dots & Co remains a pleasant and engaging time sink.
They don’t come much simpler than Kubix, which sums up the aim of the game in what follows the hyphen in its full App Store name: ‘Catch the white squares and avoid the black ones’. There is, fortunately, a bit more to it than that. As you’re tilting your device to sneak past black squares and scoop up white ones the latter add to an ever-depleting energy reserve.You’ll also regularly see squares with a question mark barging their way into the arena. Catch one when it’s white and you’ll get a nice surprise, such as all of the squares temporarily turning white. Grab one when it’s black and you’ll be in for a nasty time, trying to survive in a sea of black squares, or avoid such pixels of evil while piloting a suddenly awkwardly unwieldy white circle.
Two games in one, Big Bang Racing offers a breezy single-player trials experience on trap-filled larger-than-life tracks, and then multiplayer races across similarly crazy courses. The visuals are very smart, with your odd little alien rider imbued with plenty of personality; the controls work well, too, with two pairs of buttons for moving and rotating your bike.The game’s infested with the usual trappings of modern freemium titles – chests; timers; in-game gold; in-app purchases – but, surprisingly, this doesn’t make much difference nor really impact negatively on the experience. With a little patience, you can play a few races every day, gradually improving your bike, winning races, and mastering courses.Collect enough bits and bobs from chests and you can even have a go at creating and sharing your own tracks, using an excellent built-in editor.
Poker and Solitaire have been smashed together before, in the excellent Sage Solitaire, but Politaire tries something new with the combination.At all points, you can see the next three cards from the draw pile. You then swipe away unwanted cards from your hand with the aim of those remaining and any newcomers forming a poker hand, which then vanishes, automatically bringing in more new cards.When possible, you want to score ‘combos’, through multiple hands subsequently occurring with you doing nothing at all. Naturally, this requires a little luck, but there’s also plenty of skill here, in terms of managing your cards and figuring out what’s coming in the pile.It sounds confusing, but give it time and it’ll dig into your very soul.For free, you generously get the entire main single-deck game, which rapidly becomes furiously addictive. Splash out for the one-off IAP ($1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99) and you unlock double-deck mode and alternate card designs, along with getting rid of occasional ads.
illi is a quaint one-button puzzle platformer that simply requires you to tap the screen to jump from ledge to ledge and collect all the crystals in a stage.Its beautiful visuals will draw you into its simplistic yet engaging gameplay, while its puzzles will challenge you with bonus requirements and unique tricks. And there’s the 60 levels too that are sure to mesmerize and impress as you dodge through this cheeky little title.
Loop Mania is an addictive arcade game that is sure to challenge your reflexes and timing skills. In order to increase your score you need to collect as many dots as possible as your circle races around a circular loop, while avoiding bigger balls on its path.The trick is to tap the screen to launch your ball onto the others to destroy them for extra points. Just don’t tap at the wrong time or your race is over.
Choose your own path and explore the gothic avenues of the Victorian city of Fallen London. Define your destiny and craft your character’s fate with each choice you make and quest you complete.This literary RPG boasts excellent writing that is sure to pull you into its dark yet comedic world as you befriend the locals and choose the path you think you want to go on.
Spellspire rewards you for having a large vocabulary as each dungeon you plunder requires you to come up with as many words as possible to defeat its enemies and reach that elusive treasure at the end.The money you get from all that looting can then be used to upgrade your spells and weapons to make each word you spell deal even more damage. How many levels can you clear?
As its name implies, Looty Dungeon tests your survival skills as you loot your way through endless dungeons teeming with traps, bosses, and falling floors.Pick up coins to purchase additional heroes, each with different powers and stats, keeping the game fresh. Hidden dangers can easily put an end to your looting, so tread carefully and carry a big sword – which is just good advice for life really, isn’t it?Well, maybe not a sword. Perhaps a sense of self-confidence… life can sometimes be about metaphors too.
PKTBALL takes ping pong and turns into an endless arcade addiction. Outsmart your opponents to get the best score you can, get money, and unlock lots of colorful playable characters, each with their own court and soundtrack.Once you’ve mastered the basics you can challenge your friends in local multiplayer matches or simply smash your way to the top of the leaderboards. This is the kind of game that you’ll start playing while making dinner and only look up from when the fire brigade are breaking down your door.
A kingdom of Disney characters can be unlocked in this alternative look at the popular road-crossing game – intelligently titled Disney Crossy Road.It’s a ‘magical take’ on a game that has been downloaded over 50 million times, and designed to attract a new raft of players.Cross as many roads as you can and collect coins to purchase even more stars spanning various Disney films, each with their own music and world for all you film fans out there.And as you can imagine (if you’ve played the ‘normal’ Crossy Road before), you’ll see how far you can survive with your favorites from Toy Story, Lion King, Zootopia, and many more.
Colorful, casual, and addictive, Slide the Shakes is a game that stays true to its name and challenges you to slide various milkshakes onto specially marked areas on a counter without tipping them over. Simply pull back and send your glass flying and hope it lands where you want it to.
Sparkwave is a simple yet addictive game where you guide a spark of light through an endless path composed of traps, collectibles, and power-ups. You’ll need to have fast fingers if you want to stay alive as obstacles will spawn seconds before you rush into them. You can also pick up crystals to unlock new sparks and power-ups which can completely change the way you play.
The classic run-and-gun franchise takes on the tower defense genre in Metal Slug Attack. Missions in this colorful title ultimately come down to destroying your enemy’s stronghold using your own deck of troops. You can also play online with others, and go on missions to rescue prisoners, weapons, or items that can aid your campaign.
Tennis Champs Returns is a robust remake to the 1995 Amiga tennis game and brings with it plenty of great additions and mobile-friendly controls. You can move up the ranks in career mode and challenge the computer to increasingly difficult matches. Or, compete with opponents all over the world in quick bouts. Daily challenges and mini games help to keep the interest levels going.
Bring some color into a drab world in Splash Cars, a racing game that lets you drive around literally painting the town red, green, and other colors while avoiding the cops. Pick up gas to keep driving and collect coins to unlock power-ups that make completing each level’s paint requirements a whole lot easier.
A beautifully pixelated adventure, Sky Chasers requires you to use your fingers to guide your character along side-scrolling paths collecting coins and completing side-quests for his friends. Your cardboard ship has a limited fuel supply, so you’ll occasionally have to stop by checkpoints to refuel and avoid any pesky enemies that add an element of danger to your otherwise peaceful trip. Solve simple puzzles and upgrade your ship as you enjoy its rich colorful worlds.
Rust Bucket turns the concept of a turn-based game into a puzzle-like roguelike that is a blast to play. Each level requires you to navigate your way through a dungeon to reach its goal, but with every step you take, your enemies also move in different patterns. Strategy is key to surviving since you don’t want to step in front of an enemy knowing it may kill you in your next turn.
Planet Quest is a rhythm-based arcade game that has you play as an alien who abducts animals to the beat of some catchy music. Time your taps well for perfect abductions, but avoid zapping any flowers since aliens apparently don’t like them very much. Over an hour of electronic, techno, and diverse music await your ears as you aim for a better score each time you play.
Learn about clean energy as you play through beautiful worlds in The Path to Luma, a puzzler that has you traveling from planet to planet to power them back up. Rotate entire planets and use the power of natural energy like sunlight and wind to power up switches and open the way forward to your next destination. With a little hard work, dying planets come alive as you play through 20 relaxing levels.
Searching for his lost grandpa, a little boy gets lost underneath a lighthouse and now must escape from a labyrinth filled with traps and secrets. Each inventive dungeon must be rotated in order to guide the boy to the tunnel leading to the next one. You’ll need to prepare yourself for spikes, levers, crumbling platforms, and other challenges that amp up the difficulty as you try to survive Beneath the Lighthouse.
Does Not Commute is a curious puzzler that requires you to drive cars to their destination, but the catch is that previously-solved routes play live as you figure out the next one. A timer is constantly ticking down, so not only will you need to be mindful of the traffic, but you’ll also need to be fast and pick up power-ups to extend your commute. Your driving and logic skills are sure to be tested.
Choose from one of five races and classes and take on an expansive world in Order & Chaos 2: Redemption, a robust MMORPG that is made for mobile play. Whether you team up with friends or go it alone, Redemption’s plethora of rewarding quests will keep you coming back for more as you explore the beautiful and menacing kingdom of Haradon. Daily quests, challenges, and PvP duels are sure to keep you on your toes no matter how you play.
Collect teddy bears and use them to aid you in making words in the adorable Alphabear. Daily boards and challenges require you to come up with words with the letters that appear on your screen. Each time you do, bears will populate the board and get bigger the more letters you use around them. Make the biggest bear you can and rack in the points and the bragging rights.
Down the Mountain is a bit like Crossy Road, but you’re not crossing any streets or dodging traffic. Instead, you’ll need to guide your intrepid mountaineer down blocks a la Q*bert and avoid dangerous flooring, bears, and other random obstacles that will end your descent. Open presents along the way and gather coins to unlock more colorful characters to climb down with.
Dominate your friends or random strangers in Capitals, a friendly word game that takes some strategy to master. Each time you challenge someone, you need to use the letters around your “capital” to expand your area of influence. If your enemy uses your letters, he’ll capture them and slowly start to take over. A good grasp of vocabulary and some quick thinking skills are your best tools to conquering everyone’s capital.
Homage to 16-bit platformers of the past, Super Dangerous Dungeons is sure to bring you back in time with its pixelated visuals and SNES-inspired soundtrack. Forty-eight colorful levels that feature classic traps are sure to keep you challenged as you solve puzzles, turn on switches, and find that elusive key to open the door to the next one. Avoid those bottomless pits and dangerous water and you’ll be fine.
We’ve seen quite a few spot-kick flick-based efforts on the iPhone, but Tiny Striker also brings to mind old-school arcade footie like SWOS. It’s all goalmouth action here, though, with you scoring from set-pieces, initially against an open goal, but eventually by deftly curling your ball past walls of defenders and a roaming ‘keeper.
The wee knitted chap from LittleBigPlanet lands on iOS, in yet another endless runner. We should yawn and hit delete, really, but Run SackBoy! Run! is absolutely gorgeous, with stunning scenery based on the LittleBigPlanet titles. The gameplay’s intuitive and simple, but inventive level design will keep you coming back time and time again.
You know that popular Fallout 4 game we’ve all been getting excited about? Why not get in the post apocalyptic mood with this Bethesda made spin-off game? Fallout Shelter sees you take control of a Vault from the game series as you try to keep all its dwellers happy whilst protecting them from the horrors of the outside world. It’s a funny little way to get excited about the upcoming game whilst also being great in its own right.
You have to give Stranded: Mars One a little time to properly get its hooks into you. At first, it appears to be yet another auto-runner. The blocky retro graphics are cute, but, well, we’ve seen it all before. But then you notice the smart level design, and the way in which you have to keep your little astronaut’s speed up, lest they run out of oxygen. Sliding, jet-packs and wall-jumping are lobbed into the mix as the game flings increasingly complex caverns in your direction. The result ends up akin to an 8-bit Rayman in space — and that’s before you’ve even delved into async multiplayer races!
You can’t help but get a sense of having seen it all before when first playing Fallen. Pretty soon, though, you’ll be hypnotised by its subtly engaging mix of pachinko and colour-matching, along with a pleasing soundtrack that feels like someone’s sneaked Kraftwerk into your iPhone. The game itself is simple: balls drop from the top of the screen and you must rotate your coloured wheel so they hit the right bit. Three errors and you’re done. Spin all the way round between hits and you get coins that can be spent on boosting upgrades that occasionally fall from the top of the screen.
This sweet survival game is full of character, as you assist a Victorian gent, out for his evening constitutional. The problem is it’s a bit windy, and the gent’s hat is in danger of blowing away during a gust – press the screen and he holds it in place. Each step increases your score and also the chances of seeing thoughtful comments from the hatted chap.
The Boulder Dash series has a long pedigree, but this is the first time its co-creators have teamed up since the classic 1984 original. It’s also the first time (in several attempts) the game has worked on iOS. The game itself is business as usual: dig through dirt; avoid boulders and enemies; grab gems. But it looks great, controls well, and even includes the original caves as an optional IAP.
Sky Force 2014 celebrates the mobile series’s 10th anniversary in style, with this stunning top-down arcade blaster. Your little red ship, as ever, is tasked with weaving its way through hostile enemy territory, annihilating everything in sight. The visuals are spectacular, the level design is smart, and the bosses are huge, spewing bullet-hell in your general direction.
At some point, a total buffoon decreed that racing games should be dull and grey, on grey tracks, with grey controls. Gameloft’s Asphalt 8: Airborne dispenses with such foolish notions, along with quite a bit of reality. Here, then, you zoom along at ludicrous speeds, drifting for miles through exciting city courses, occasionally being hurled into the air to perform stunts that absolutely aren’t acceptable according to the car manufacturer’s warrantee.
Most developers create games from code, but we’re pretty sure Hero Academy’s composed of the most addictive substances known to man all smushed together and shoved on to the App Store.The game’s sort-of chess with fantasy characters, but the flexibility within the rule-set provides limitless scope for asynchronous one-on-one encounters. For free, you have to put up with ads and only get the ‘human’ team, but that’ll be more than enough to get you hooked.
Three bushes make a tree! Three gravestones make a church! OK, so logic might not be Triple Town’s strong suit, but the match-three gameplay is addictive. Match to build things and trap bears, rapidly run out of space, gaze in wonder at your town and start all over again. The free-to-play version has limited moves that are gradually replenished, but you can unlock unlimited moves via IAP.
While Asphalt 8 aims squarely at arcade racers, Real Racing 3 goes for the simulation jugular. Its stunning visuals drop you deep into high-quality racing action that sets new standards on mobile devices. Plenty of cars and tracks add longevity, although do be aware the game is a bit grindy and quick to hint you should buy some in-app cash with some of your real hard-earned.
Few free games are quite as polished as Hearthstone, but then this is a Blizzard game, so we hardly expected anything less.There are dozens of card games available for iPhone, but Hearthstone stands out with high production values and easy to learn, difficult to master mechanics, which can keep you playing, improving and collecting cards for months on end. Matches don’t generally take too long either so it’s great for playing in short bursts.
Think you know stress? You haven’t experienced stress until you’ve played Spaceteam, a cooperative multiplayer game that requires you to all work together as a crew (and bark orders at your friends). Sounds easier than it is; failure to cooperate will probably end with your ship getting sucked into a black hole.
In this game, golf met solitaire and they decided to elope while leaving Mr. Puzzle Game to fill the void. What’s left is an entertaining bout of higher-or-lower, draped over a loose framework of golf scores, with a crazed gopher attempting to scupper everything. You get loads of courses for free with Fairway Solitaire Blast and can use IAP to buy more.
The clue’s in the title – there’s a quest, and it involves quite a lot of punching. There’s hidden depth, though – the game might look like a screen-masher, but Punch Quest is all about mastering combos, perfecting your timing, and making good use of special abilities. The in-game currency’s also very generous, so if you like the game reward the dev by grabbing some IAP.
Social management games are big business, but are often stuffed full of cynical wallet-grabbing mechanics. While Tiny Tower does have the whiff of IAP to speed things along a bit, its tower-building and management remains enjoyable even if you pay nothing at all, and the pixel graphics are lovely.
Take dozens of classic goals and introduce them to path-drawing and you’ve got the oddly addictive game of Score! World Goals. As you recreate stunning moments of soccer greatness, the game pauses for you to get the ball to its next spot. Accuracy rewards you with stars; failure presumably means you’re compelled to take an early bath.
Tap! Tap! Swipe! Rub! Argh! That’s the way this intoxicating rhythm action game plays out. Groove Coaster Zero is all on rails, and chock full of dizzying roller-coaster-style paths and exciting tunes. All the while, you aim for prodding perfection, chaining hits and other movements as symbols appear on the screen. Simple, stylish and brilliant.
This latest rethink of one of gaming’s oldest and most-loved series asks what lies beyond the infamous level 256 glitch. As it turns out, it’s endless mazey hell for the yellow dot-muncher. Pac-Man’s therefore charged with eating as many dots as possible, avoiding a seemingly infinite number of ghosts, while simultaneously outrunning the all-devouring glitch. Power-ups potentially extend Pac-Man’s life, enabling you to gleefully take out lines of ghosts with a laser or obliterate them with a wandering tornado.Although there’s an energy system in Pac-Man 256, it’s reasonably generous: one credit for a game with power-ups, and one for the single continue; one credit refreshes every ten minutes, to a maximum of six, and you can always play without power-ups for free. If you don’t like that, there’s an IAP-based £5.99/$7.99 permanent buy-out.
The endless rally game Cubed Rally Redline is devious. On the surface, it looks simple: move left or right in five clearly-defined lanes, and use the ’emergency time brake’ to navigate tricky bits. But the brake needs time to recharge and the road soon becomes chock full of trees, cows, cruise liners and dinosaurs. And you thought your local motorway had problems!
Dots looks and feels like the sort of thing Jony Ive might play on his downtime (well, ignoring the festive theme, which is probably more Scott Forstall’s style). A stark regimented set of coloured dots awaits, and like-coloured ones can be joined, whereupon they disappear, enabling more to fall into the square well. The aim: clear as many as possible – with the largest combos you can muster – in 60 seconds.
In Smash Cops, you got to be the good guy, bringing down perps, mostly by ramming them into oblivion. Now in Smash Bandits it’s your chance to be a dangerous crim, hopping between vehicles and leaving a trail of destruction in your wake. The game also amusingly includes the A-Team van and a gadget known only as the Jibba Jabba. We love it when a plan comes together!
If you’re of a certain vintage, you probably spent many hours playing Solitaire on a PC, success being rewarded by cards bouncing around the screen. Sage Solitaire’s developer wondered why iOS solitaire games hadn’t moved on in the intervening years, and decided to reinvent the genre. Here, then, you get a three-by-three grid and remove cards by using poker hands.Additional strategy comes through limitations (hands must include cards from two rows; card piles are uneven) and potential aid (two ‘trashes’, one replenished after each successful hand; a starred multiplier suit). A few rounds in, you realise this game’s deeper than it first appears. Beyond that, you’ll be hooked. The single £2.29/$2.99 IAP adds extra modes and kills the ads.

Best all-in-one PCs 2017: top compact AIO desktops

Best all-in-one PCs 2017: top compact AIO desktops

Update: Microsoft has posited itself to challenge the iMac with its winning Surface Studio computer, which has now been included in our list.If you’re looking for the best all-in-one PCs, you’ve come to the right place, as we’ve listed the very top models that money can buy.All-in-one PCs are unlike conventional PCs, as they are desktop PCs with displays built-in. They are often made of a mix of laptop and desktop components, and while that may make them more difficult to upgrade and maintain, they are have their advantages.For a start, these self-contained all-in-one PCs typically require less desk space than a desktop tower, monitor and all their accompanying accoutrements. At the same time, they don’t produce a nest of cables for people to trip over. This makes the best all-in-one PCs excellent choices for offices that want to maintain a sleek and professional look. It’s no coincidence that all-in-one PCs are favored by professionals in the creative industry.Because of the inherent convergence that an all-in-one boasts, PC makers can rethink their design strategies entirely, thereby resulting in more innovative efforts such as the Surface Studio. Ultimately, this only benefits us – the users. Below are the best all-in-ones handpicked and regularly updated in traditional TechRadar fashion.

Resting atop an articulating stand, the Dell XPS 27 AIO comprises of a massive 4K Ultra HD touchscreen display with a whopping sextet of ear-numbing speakers. Not only is it attractive, but it’s also top-notch when it comes to delivering powerful specs. Whether you’re making your  own beats or vibing out to someone else’s; watching films or editing  them yourself, the Dell XPS 27 should be at the top of your list when shopping around for a new PC. Read the full review: Dell XPS 27 AIO

The first thing you should know about the Surface Studio is that it’s probably not for you. Unless you’re an executive at a design firm, the massive starting price is enough to turn most heads in the other direction. That said, we would argue that the Surface Studio is well worth the cost of admission. Versatile and forward-thinking, Microsoft’s all-in-one puts the iMac to shame by introducing an all-in-one that can not only replace your lingering desktop tower, but your Cintiq as well.Read the full review: Surface Studio 

The iMac has long been on the of the most affordable Macs you can get and it’s also one of the cheapest way to get a 4K screen to boot. Starting at grand and just a few hundred bucks more for that 4K upgrade, the 21-inch iMac with 4K Retina display, is a hardy MacOS machine featuring similar specs as the 5K variant but at a lower cost. For the money, what more could you really ask for from an Apple computer?Read the full review: Apple iMac with 4K Retina display

Not to be shown up by the 5K iMac or new Dell XPS AIO, HP has its own unique take on the all-in-one desktop. Though it also has all its components stored in its base like the Surface Studio, the HP Envy Curved All-in-One also adds in a booming speaker bar. Add in the ultra-wide curved screen and this is one of the best and most immersive PC for enjoying movies.

While Apple’s iMac with Retina 5K display is one of the most impressive all-in-ones around, its price places it out of the reach of most people. However, if you’re up for the expense there’s no greater MacOS machine than this — that is until the iMac Pro arrives. It comes with Apple’s sharpest 27-inch 5K Retina display. Excellent build quality and hardy specs, also makes it a PC built to last, and a fine option for productivity work, watching movies or light gaming.Read the full review: Apple iMac with 5K Retina display

Best iPad apps 2017: download these now

Best iPad apps 2017: download these now

It’s the apps that really set iOS apart from other platforms – there are higher quality apps available on the App Store for the iPad than any other tablet. So which ones are worth your cash? And which are the best free apps?Luckily for you we’ve tested thousands of the best iPad apps so that you don’t have to. So read on for our selection of the best iPad apps – the definitive list of what applications you need to download for your iPad now.
Haven’t bought an iPad yet and not sure which is best? We’ve got them listed on our best iPad ranking – or you can check out the best tablets list to see the full range available now.If you are looking for games, then head over to Best iPad games – where we showcase the greatest games around for your iOS device. Or if you’re using an iPhone 7 (or one of its excellent brethren) head over to our best iPhone apps list. And if you’re a professional, you may want to head straight to our top business apps.
New: Chambers Thesaurus ($4.99/£4.99/AU$6.99)

Chambers Thesaurus is a thesaurus for your iPad. You might argue that doesn’t sound like the most exciting app in the world – and you’d be right. But if you do any writing on your iPad, it’s pretty much essential.On macOS, Apple bundles a thesaurus with its Dictionary app, but this is absent on iOS, which merely attempts to correct spellings. Chambers’ offering therefore fills a void – and it does so in a straightforward, unassuming, highly usable manner.Entries are clearly laid out, and you get a handy search sidebar in landscape. Pages can be bookmarked, and shared, or sent to equally impressive sister app Chambers Dictionary. If you fancy both, grab the bundle to save a few bucks.
Tayasui Memopad is a drawing tool for iPad that places an emphasis on speed. Its no-nonsense approach gives you a blank canvas on which to scribble, and a small but pleasingly diverse set of tools.You get the usual brushes and pencils, but also more imaginative fare: blocky ‘pixel’ fingerprinting, and a slightly splodgy India ink pen – the latter being part of the one-off IAP pack. There are no layers or objects – everything you add is burned into the page (although you of course get an undo).But it’s with image management that Tayasui Memopad really shows its stuff: your images are automatically sent to Photos, and your current canvas is copied to the clipboard when you exit the app, ready for pasting elsewhere.As a drawing app, you might argue Tayasui Memopad is ultimately quite ordinary – if usable; but as a drawing app designed for efficiency, it excels where it counts.
MaxCurve is a professional-quality photo editor, designed for people who want plenty of control over the images they’re working on. Much of the app is based around curves you typically find in high-end editors such as Photoshop.Adjusting curves is pleasingly tactile, enabling you to make dramatic or subtle adjustments to colors and exposure settings with ease. It makes many of MaxCurve’s iPad contemporaries seem comparatively crude. Smartly, edits are stored as virtual layers, which can be toggled, and there are also tools for cropping and vignettes.The app feels at home on iPad, which provides enough space to see your photo and tools, without the latter obscuring the former. MaxCurve could probably do with some quick-fix solutions for things like exposure, but then perhaps that’s missing the point of an app more about careful, considered edits rather than speed.
The Brainstormer is designed to spark ideas when you’re working on a story. In its default state, it’s something of a visual oddity, with three wheels that you spin for a random set-up of plot/conflict, theme/setting, and subject/location. Individual wheels can be locked, and you can swap the wheels for a ‘slot machine’ interface if you prefer.Although that might seem a bit gimmicky, The Brainstormer can be genuinely useful if you need a little nudge to get going. Also, the app is extensible, vastly broadening its scope. You can buy additional wheels via IAP, such as creature and world builders.You can also directly edit existing wheels, or create your own from scratch. When you’re fresh out of ideas, a couple of bucks for endless new ones could be a bargain buy that sends you on your way to a best-seller.
Textastic is a text editor geared towards markup and coding. It’s an app that takes a no-nonsense approach – very evident the second you sit before its tasteful, minimal interface.But that doesn’t mean the app’s heavily stripped back. As you work with Textastic, you realize it’s been cleverly optimized to speed your work along. The custom keyboard row is superb, providing fast access to a slew of handy characters.Not keen on the way code is presented? Quickly flip to the settings, and tweak the fonts or choose an entirely new theme.As ever, there are limitations to an iPad editor of this kind, most notably local previews when coding web pages. On that basis, you’re probably not going to create a site from scratch with Textastic.But with its smart editor, useful settings, Split View support, and a built-in file-transfer system, it’s ideal for making quick changes or typing up Markdown notes when on the move – or on the sofa.
Thinkrolls Kings & Queens is a set of logic and physics tests for children disguised as a game.Like other Thinkrolls titles, it involves rotund protagonists working their way to the bottom of a series of blocky towers. Their way is regularly barred by various elements that must be successfully manipulated to fashion a way onward.For example, gears and racks might need combining to create a conveyor belt, or a mirror shifted to reflect light and remove a ghost.It’s all clever stuff, and also broadly stress-free. There are no time limits at all, and multiple profiles can be set up to cater for several kids on a single device.And although Kings & Queens is intended for kids between five and eight years old, the interface and design is such that younger children should be able to delve into the adventure, too – albeit perhaps with supervision to initially help them understand the trickier challenges.
Plotagraph+ is a photo editor designed to make snaps more animated. The results are essentially cinemagraphs – stills with subtle looping animations, such as a flowing river within a landscape, or waving hair in an otherwise stationary portrait. With Plotagraph+, though, you add movement to any existing single image, rather than working from a series of stills or a video.After you load a photo, you drag ‘animation’ arrows across areas you’d like to move, and use masks or anchor points to define sections that should remain stationary. Speed and crop tools add a modicum of further control. It’s all very straightforward.The effect is specialized, mind, and only works well with certain images. You won’t, for example, find Plotagraph+ successfully animate a human face. But it works wonders on flowing elements (smoke; clouds; water; hair), and can with care be used to craft visually arresting madness based around shots of architecture.
CARROT Weather is a weather app helmed by a HAL-like artificial intelligence that hates humans. As you check whether it’ll be sunny at the weekend, or if you’ll be caught in a deluge should you venture outside, CARROT will helpfully call you a ‘meatbag’ and pepper its forecasts with snark.That probably sounds like a throwaway gimmick, but it’s actually a lot of fun – adding color and personality to a kind of app usually devoid of both. Most importantly, though, CARROT Weather is a really good weather app.The forecasts are clearly displayed, the interface is superb, and the Today view widget is one of the best around. There’s even an amusing mini-game for finding ‘collectable’ hidden locations.There are some downsides: the rainfall/cloud maps are weak, and there are no notifications. But if you’re bored of the straight-laced, dull competition, and fancy a weather app that’s informative and entertaining, CARROT Weather’s well worth the outlay.
Waterlogue is all about transforming photos – or any other picture you care to load – into luminous watercolors. You shoot a photo or open one already on your iPad, and then choose from one of 14 pre-set styles. Waterlogue will then rapidly ‘paint’ your photo in a manner that looks pleasingly authentic.Although the app doesn’t offer the level of control (nor the endless playback) of Oilist, you do get a few settings. Brush size, lightness, and borders can be amended, each change providing a thumbnail preview you can tap to have Waterlogue repaint your image.Export size is reasonable (at 250dpi, you’d get roughly an 8 x 6-inch/21 x 16cm print), and the app as a whole is approachable enough for everyone, while being just about authentic enough to appeal even to those who dabble in real paint.
Axel Scheffler’s Flip Flap Safari is an entertaining digital take on those children’s games where you create weird and wonderful (and occasionally terrifying) creatures by combining different body parts. Here, you get tops and bottoms to swipe between, in order to construct the likes of a ‘zeboceros’ or ‘crocingo’.Each animal is nicely illustrated and comes with two verses of text, which the app can optionally read aloud. Also, note you don’t have to create strange new animals – you can instead match halves to make normal ones.Perfect for when your resident tiny person is getting a bit perplexed at seeing a grinning elephant propped up by a spindly pair of flamingo legs.
With Hyp, you’re essentially in digital lava lamp territory. Drag about your iPad’s display, and you’re treated to an ethereal – if somewhat neon – light show that mutates and evolves as you experiment. Ramp up the volume and a soothing responsive soundtrack plays, sucking you further into the chill-out zone.For the outlay, that alone would do the job, but double-tap and Hyp offers more. You can snap a shot of the current pattern, adjust the speed and complexity of the animation, or prod a randomizer to shake up what you’re seeing and hearing.We’d love to see an autoplay option too, so Hyp could be played indefinitely with the iPad in a stand; otherwise, this is a simple, smart, engaging slice of digital ambience.
Affinity Photo is the kind of app that should extinguish any lingering doubt regarding the iPad’s suitability as a platform for creative professionals. In essence, the app brings the entirety of Serif’s desktop Photoshop rival (also called Affinity Photo) to Apple’s tablet, and carefully reimagines the interface for touch.You’ll need at least an iPad Air 2 to run the app, but an iPad Pro for best performance. Then also armed with a digit and/or Apple Pencil, you can delve into a huge range of features for pro-level image editing, creation and retouching.The live filters and liquify tools are particularly impressive, responding in real-time as you work on adjustments, and make for a surprisingly tactile editing experience. But really pretty much everything’s great here for anyone who wants properly high-end photo editing on their iPad.
Although Addy doesn’t really offer anything new, this is an app that does an awful lot right. It manages to make adding text to images fun, along with providing a no-nonsense interface that marries usability and power.Load a photo and you can add art, text, and effects, before sharing it. ‘Art’ comprises slogans, shapes, and clip art. This can be recolored and resized, and you can add shadows and adjust opacity. Text is similarly easily added, and there are straightforward spacing and alignment options for tidying typography.Finally, the effects comprise filters and overlays, the latter being eye-catching but limited in terms of application (you can adjust opacity but not, say, rotation). Still, as a package, Addy’s easy to love, given the speed at which you can work and the quality of the end result.If you’re only occasionally adding text to an image you might be fine with a free app, but the ease of use and quality results make Addy worth a fiver for everyone else.
There are full-on screenwriting tools for iPad, such as Final Draft, but Untitled is more like a smart notepad – an app for a first draft until you feel ready for, um, Final Draft.You jot down ideas, and don’t worry about formatting – because the app deals with that. In some cases, it does so automatically – write “Inside TechRadar HQ at midday” and Untitled will convert it to “INT: TECHRADAR HQ – MIDDAY” in the full preview (which can be exported to PDF or HTML).For dialogue, place the character’s name above whatever they’re saying and Untitled correctly lays everything out.Some other formatting needs you to remember the odd character – ‘>’ before a transition and ‘.’ before a shot. But that’s not too heavy on the brain, leaving you plenty of headspace to craft your Hollywood breakthrough.
On the Mac, PDF Expert 6 is a friendly, efficient, usable PDF editor. If anything, the app’s often even better on iPad.You can grab PDFs from iCloud or Dropbox. Pages can be rearranged by drag-and-drop, and you can add or extract pages with a few taps. Adding pages from another document sadly remains beyond the app, but you can merge two PDFs in its file manager.As a reader, PDF Expert 6 fares well, ably dealing with large PDFs, and the text-to-speech mode can read documents at a speed of your choosing. Similarly, the app makes short work of annotations, document signing, and outline editing.Buy the ‘Edit PDF’ IAP ($9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99 on top of the original price) and you can directly update text, redact passages, and replace images. You’re obviously a little limited by a document’s existing fonts and layout, but this functionality is great if you spot a glaring error while checking a vital PDF on your iPad.
With visible pixels essentially eradicated from modern mobile device screens, it’s amusing to see retro-style pixel art stubbornly clinging on.But chunky pixels are a pleasing aesthetic, evoking nostalgia, and you know thought’s gone into the placement of every dot. Pixaki is an iPad pixel art ‘studio’, ideal for illustrators, games designers, and animators.At its most minimal, the interface shows your canvas and some tool icons: pencil; eraser; fill; shapes; select; color picker. But there are also slide-in panels for layers/palettes, and the frame-based animation system.Bar a slightly awkward selection/move process, workflow is sleek and efficient (not least with the superb fill tool, which optionally works non-contiguously across multiple layers), and the app has robust, flexible import and export options.Perhaps most importantly, Pixaki’s just really nice to use – more so than crafting similar art on a PC or Mac, and although pricey it’s worth the money for anyone serious about pixel art.
The iPad may not be an ideal device for shooting photos, but its large screen makes it pretty great for editing them. And Mextures is perhaps the finest app around for anyone wanting to infuse their digital snaps with character by way of textures, grunge, and gradients.The editing process is entirely non-destructive, with you building up effects by adding layers. In each case, textures, blend modes and rotation of scanned objects can be adjusted to suit, and you can experiment without fear of edits being ‘burned in’.Particularly interesting combinations can be saved as ‘formulas’ and shared with the Mextures community – or you can speed along your own editing by downloading one of the many formulas that already exist.
There are quite a few dictionary apps on iPad, and most of them don’t tend to stray much from paper-based tomes, save adding a search function. LookUp has a more colorful way of thinking, primarily with its entry screen. This features rows of illustrated cards, each of which houses an interesting word you can discover more about with a tap.The app is elsewhere a mite more conventional – you can type in a word to confirm a spelling, and access its meaning, etymology, and Wikipedia entry.The app’s lack of speed and customization means it likely won’t be a writer’s first port of call when working – but it is an interesting app for anyone fascinated by language, allowing you to explore words and their histories in rather more relaxed circumstances.
First impressions of Oilist might lead you to think it’s yet another filter app. And to some extent it is, given that Oilist enables you to feed it a photo and end up with something resembling an oil painting.However, Oilist also has much in common with generative creativity apps, since it keeps painting over and over, to mesmerizing effect. Additionally, it’s not an app where you select a preset and then sit back and wait – instead, while Oilist is painting, you can adjust settings, and even splatter the virtual canvas with ‘chaos’ paint if the mood takes you.This is all entertaining in and of itself, but Oilist also has practical benefits – at any point, you can snap the in-progress painting, and the resulting high-res image can be exported for sharing online or even printing on a canvas.
There are so many amazing music-making apps on iPad that it’s hard to choose between them. With Audiobus 3, you sort of don’t have to, because it acts as a kind of behind-the-scenes plumbing.Virtual cabling might not sound sexy, but it hugely boosts creative potential. You can send live audio or MIDI data between apps and through effects, mix the various channels, and then send the entire output to the likes of GarageBand.Much of these features are new to Audiobus 3, and this latest update also adds Audio Unit support, enabling you to open some synths and effects directly in the app.With support for over 900 iOS products in all, Audiobus 3 is an essential buy for anyone serious about creating music on an iPad.
Young children love wooden puzzles, where you plug a load of letters into letter-shaped holes (with a little luck, ones that actually fit). The thing is, those puzzles never change, whereas Endless Alphabet has over a hundred words to play with.On selecting a word, a horde of colorful monsters sprints across the screen, scattering the letters, which must then be dragged back into place. As you do so, the letters entertainingly grumble and animate. Once the entire word’s complete, a short cut-scene plays to explain what it means.From start to finish, Endless Alphabet is an excellent and joyful production. The interface is intuitive enough for young toddlers to grasp, and the app’s tactile nature works wonderfully on the iPad’s large display.
The ‘pro’ bit in Redshift Pro’s name is rather important, because this astronomy app is very much geared at the enthusiast. It dispenses with the gimmickry seen in some competing apps, and is instead packed with a ton of features, including an explorable planetarium, an observation planner and sky diary, 3D models of the planetary bodies, simulations, and even the means to control a telescope.Although more workmanlike than pretty, the app does the business when you’re zooming through the heavens, on a 3D journey to a body of choice, or just lazily browsing whatever you’d be staring at in the night sky if your ceiling wasn’t in the way.And if it all feels a bit rich, the developer has you covered with the slightly cut down – but still impressive – Redshift, for half the outlay.
Generally speaking, music apps echo real-world instruments, as evidenced by the piano keyboards found in the likes of GarageBand. KRFT is different – along with creating loops and riffs (either by bashing out a tune on a grid of pads, or tapping out notes on a piano roll), you also create the play surface itself.Designing your instrument in KRFT is all based around shapes and icons – diamonds trigger loops, dials adjust sound properties, and squares can be set to trigger several loops at once.Admittedly, staring at a blank canvas can intimidate, because you must consider composition and instrument construction as one. But KRFT bundles several inspirational demos to show what it can do – and they’re so much fun they might be worth the entry fee on their own.
Billing itself as a kind of 3D sketchbook, isolad is designed for people who want to quickly draw isometric artwork. Its toolset is simple – you get a line tool for connecting magnetic dots, a shape fill tool, undo, panning and zooming.That might sound reductive, but isolad’s straightforward nature means anyone can have a crack at doodling the next Monument Valley, and you end up focusing more on what you’re creating rather than being deluged by a load of tools you’ll never use.Future updates promise the addition of selections and layers, but for now isolad’s elegant simplicity is enough to make it a winning app.
The idea behind Printed is to transform your photos into vintage printed art. You load a photo (or choose from one of the demo images), press a filter, and are suddenly faced with something that could have fallen out of a 50-year-old book, or been posted on a wall many decades ago.But Printed is more than a tap-and-forget filter app: beyond the filter selection are tools for adjusting dot pitch, brightness, borders, and color saturation.There are some shortcomings: changes to settings are initially displayed as a thumbnail you tap to approve, which only then gets rendered at full-size (whereupon it may look different from how you thought it would); and landscape orientation appears to have been an afterthought.But on a large iPad display, the actual filters – which are excellent – are shown off to their fullest, in all their retro dotty glory.
If you’re the kind of person who likes spinning virtual decks, you’ll tell right away with djay Pro that you have in your hands something special. On the iPad – and especially on an iPad Pro – the app has room to breathe, lining up all kinds of features for being creative when playing other people’s music.You get four-deck mixing, a sampler, varied waveform layouts, and useful DJ tools like cue points and beat-matching. There are also 70 keyboard shortcuts for quickly getting at important features, such as matching keys and adjusting levels.For a newcomer, it’s perhaps overkill, and the similarly impressive djay 2 is cheaper. But if you’ve got the cash, djay Pro is a best-in-class app suitable for everyone – right up to jobbing DJs.
Even iPads with the largest amount of storage can’t cope with a great deal of on-board video. Infuse Pro is designed to access your collection, without any of it needing to be on your device.The app connects to local drives and cloud services, and plays a wide range of file types, including MOV, MKV and VIDEO_TS. If the files are named sensibly, Infuse downloads cover art and can optionally grab soft subtitles. The interface throughout is superb.On iPad, you also get full support for Split View and picture-in-picture, so you can pretend to work while watching your favorite shows. And if you continue on another device – this universal app is compatible with iPhone and Apple TV – cloud sync lets you pick up where you left off.
Reasoning that sketchbooks aren’t complicated, and so nor should your iPad be, Linea offers a friendly approach to digital sketching. The main interface puts all of the app’s tools within easy reach – colors on the left, and layers and brushes on the right. Scribble nearby and they get out of the way, or you can invoke full-screen with a tap.There’s Pencil support, but no pressure sensing by other means. Also, although some of the pens offer blend modes, the end result still looks quite digital rather than realistic. Even so, Linea’s straightforwardness and smart design tends to make it a joy to use, even if the app lacks the range of some of its contemporaries.
If you find iMovie isn’t quite doing it for you from a video editing standpoint, take a look at LumaFusion. This multitrack editor is designed with the more demanding user in mind, and is packed full of features to keep you editing at your iPad rather than nipping to a Mac or PC.The main timeline provides you with three tracks for photos, videos, titles and graphics, and you get another three audio tracks for complex audio mixes involving narration and sound effects. Should you wish to take things further, LumaFusion includes a slew of effects and clip manipulation tools seemingly brought over from the developer’s own – and similarly impressive – LumaFX.Occasionally, the app perhaps lacks some of the elegance iMovie enjoys, and LumaFusion is certainly a more involved product than Apple’s. But if you want fully-fledged video editing on your iPad, it’s hard to think of a better option.
On iPhone, Hipstamatic lets you switch between a virtual retro camera and a sleek modern camera app. On iPad, it all goes a bit weird, with the former option giving you a camera floating in space, and the latter making you wonder why you’d use a tablet for taking snaps.But Hipstamatic nonetheless gets a recommendation on the basis of other things it does. Load an image from your Camera Roll, and you can delve into Hipstamatic’s editor. If you’re in a hurry, select a predefined style – Vintage; Cinematic; Blogger – and export.Should you fancy a bit more fine-tuning, you can experiment with lenses, film, and flashes. And plenty of other adjustments are available, too, such as cropping, vignettes, curves, and a really nice depth of field effect.
Wikipedia is, in reality, a massive web of articles, but when browsing, it looks more like a sea of links. WikiLinks rethinks exploring Wikipedia through the use of spider diagrams, providing a clever visual overview of the relationship between subjects.On iPhone, you switch between views, but the app makes use of the iPad’s larger display by splitting it in two. On the left is your mind map, which grows as you tap on new articles. On the right is your current selection to peruse.As a reader, WikiLinks is less remarkable – article sections irritatingly begin life collapsed, and it all feels a bit cluttered. But when using Wikipedia for research, no other app is so helpful in enabling you to see the links between the site’s many pages.
If your iPad’s sitting around doing nothing while you work on a Mac or PC, Duet Display can turn it into a handy second screen for your desktop or notebook.You fire up the app on your iPad and a companion app on your computer, and connect the two devices using a cable – like it’s 2005 or something. Minimalist fetishists might grumble, but a wired connection means there’s almost no lag – even when using Duet Display’s highest detail settings and frame rates.With macOS Sierra, you also get one extra goodie: a virtual Touch Bar. So you needn’t splash out on a brand-new MacBook Pro to check out Apple’s latest interface innovation – you can use Duet Display instead.
One of the geekier apps around – but also one that showcases the range of a fully equipped iPad – iStat 3 is all about remote-monitoring Macs, PCs and servers.Setup is almost comically simple: launch iStat Server on a computer, then install iStat 3 on your iPad. If the devices are on the same network, everything should start communicating; if not, enter some network details and you should be good to go.iStat itself is all about graphs and histories. It’ll show all kinds of wiggly lines and numbers to represent CPU, memory, disk space, network usage, fan speeds, and temperatures. You can check out what’s happened over the past hour, day, week, month, or year, along with performing a ping or traceroute.Naturally, this kind of thing largely lends itself to professional users, but there are home applications, too – for example, keeping an eye on a home server that sends media around your house – and iStat’s user-friendliness makes it approachable for anyone.
It’s fair to say that the original WAVESTATION was one of the weirder synths that showed up in the 1990s. It worked by combining and sequencing multiple waveforms, allowing you to morph and mix what you heard by twiddling a joystick. The result was a synth where you could conceivably fashion an engaging loop simply by holding down a single key.As ever, the digital recreation is authentic, but KORG iWAVESTATION adds further smarts by way of enabling editing of sounds through the touchscreen. You also get a delightful pad-based controller option for tapping out sounds.There are some drawbacks, though, in this not being the most intuitive of synths to dig deep into, and the morphing joystick not being available on all screens. However, if you want an iPad synth that sounds like nothing else out there, and with a huge library of noises to explore, iWAVESTATION is an excellent choice.
Carl Burton’s Islands: Non-Places is listed in the App Store as a game, but don’t believe a word of it. Really, this ten-scene artistic endeavor is a surreal, mesmerizing semi-interactive animated film.Each ‘non-place’ is somewhere you’d usually ignore or stay only on a very temporary basis, but here, the mundane is subverted through unusual and unexpected juxtapositions.You’ll find yourself staring at a luggage carousel, before the bags begin a lazy Mexican wave. Elsewhere, palm trees ride mall escalators, while a run-of-the-mill seating area is suddenly flooded, a warning siren slicing its way through inane background chatter.The result is frequently disorientating, but Islands also has the capacity to surprise, and is often oddly beautiful.
There are plenty of apps out there that attempt to transform images into something that might once have appeared on the screen of an ancient piece of computer hardware, but none match Retrospecs.You either take a photo or load an image from your iPad and then select a preset. You get everything from the chunky character-oriented Commodore PET, through to relatively powerful fare such as the detailed 16-bit graphics of the SNES and Atari ST.From an authenticity standpoint, Retrospecs wins out, but the app also affords plenty of tweaking potential. You can switch modes for those machines that offered multiple resolutions, choose alternate dither patterns, and adjust contrast, vibrancy, and other settings. Best of all, you can use any of the existing presets as the basis for your own unique slice of retro-filter joy.
It’s concert time for the motley crew of Toca Band, in this toy designed to help kids explore music creatively. (And, um, adults who might get sucked in a bit.)It’s all very simple: drag weird cartoon characters (each of which plays their own instrument) to spots on the stage, and they automatically jam along with the only song that Toca Band appears to know. Lob a musician at the star and they start a unique solo improv with a modicum of user control.Toca Band is a very sweet app, which even toddlers should be able to grasp. A word of warning, though: that Toca Band riff will quickly become an earworm you’ll be hard pressed to remove. 
iA Writer provides a writing environment suitably focused for iPad, but that also makes nods to the desktop.The main screen is smartly designed, with a custom keyboard bar offering Markdown and navigation buttons; if you’re using a mechanical keyboard, standard shortcuts are supported.Further focus comes by way of a typewriter mode (auto-scrolling to the area you’re editing) and graying out lines other than the one you’re working on.Elsewhere, you get an optional live character count, iCloud sync, and a robust Markdown preview. We’d like to see a split-screen mode for the last of those (as per the Mac version), but otherwise iA Writer’s a solid, effective and affordable minimal writing app for iPad.
1972’s ARP Odyssey was a classic of the era, and reborn in 2015 with a smart new design and modern connectors. Now, the duophonic synth is on iPad and, if anything, the digital incarnation beats the hardware original.With ARP ODYSSEi, you still get the many synthesis controls of the real-world kit, allowing for a huge diversity of sound. The sliders are a mite fiddly, but any frustration is mitigated by the wealth of presets and ability to save your own.The best bit, though, is the programmable arpeggiator, which transforms sounds into rich, exciting loops. Sadly, the feature is omitted from ODYSSEi’s Korg Gadget incarnation, but as a standalone synth for iPad, this one’s hard to beat.
We’re not sure what makes this edition of the famous mockney chef’s recipe book ‘ultimate’, bar that word being very clearly written on the icon.Still, Jamie Oliver’s Ultimate Recipes is certainly a very tasty app. The 600 recipes should satisfy any given mood, whether you’re after a sickeningly healthy salad or fancy binging on ALL THE SUGAR until your teeth scream for mercy.Smartly, every recipe offers step-by-step photos, so you can see how badly you’re going wrong at any point. And when you’ve nearly burned down the kitchen, given up and ordered a pizza, you can watch the two hours of videos that reportedly tell you how to “become a real kitchen ninja”.Note: this doesn’t involve wearing lots of black and hurling sharp objects at walls, sadly.
Music-creation apps can overwhelm, even when trying to be friendly. Lily neatly takes a rather more playful – if slightly twee – stab at having you make tunes.You start by selecting a color and shape. The former dictates an instrument and the latter the number of leaves on your lily. Tap + to open the flower, and then the flower itself to access a pulsating playback head.You then tap spaces to lay down notes, which can be shifted entire octaves by prodding adjacent vertical lines. Repeat the process with more lilies and you’ll soon have an oddly delicate cacophony serenading your ears.Lily’s a very sweet app. It’s perhaps a touch too abstract to be as immediate as it wants to be, but all becomes clear with a little play. We do wish songs could be saved (although you can export a recording) – the lives of these lilies are all too fleeting.
So, you’ve picked up an iPad synth to compose music, play live, or bound about like a maniac, pretending you’re on stage at Glastonbury. Fortunately, Poison-202 is ideal for all such sets of circumstances.The moody black and red graphic design is very 1990s, but it’s Poison-202’s sounds that hurl you back to the halcyon days of electronic music. Aficionados of The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers and Orbital will be overjoyed at the familiar (and brilliant) sounds you can conjure up simply by selecting presets and prodding a few keys.And if you’re not satisfied by the creator’s (frankly awesome) sound design smarts (in which case, we glare at you with the menace of a thousand Keith Flints), all manner of sliders and dials enable you to create your own wall-wobbling bass and ear-searing leads.There are iPad synths that have more ambition, and many are more authentic to classic hardware; but few are more fun.
 
For free, Ferrite Recording Studio provides the means to record the odd bit of audio, bookmark important bits, and mash together a few such recordings into something resembling a podcast. But pay the $19.99/£14.99 IAP and this app gives desktop podcast-creation products a run for their money.Using the smartly designed interface, you can import clips and sounds from various sources, craft multi-track edits that make full use of slicing, fading, ducking, and silence stripping, and add professional effects to give vocals that bit of extra punch.On an iPhone, this is an impressive app, but on iPad, the extra screen space you get makes for significantly faster editing of your audio and a far superior user experience compared to the cramped screen.
Rather than be all things to all people, Zen Brush 2 is a painting app with a sense of focus, emulating the feel of an East Asian ink brush. It’s therefore suited to flowing, semi-abstract artistic effort with your finger to offer a digital take on calligraphy.On iPhone’s teeny screen this app feels a little redundant, but it comes alive on the iPad’s larger display, especially if you have a stylus. The selection of tools is intentionally limited to keep you focused, but you can still swap between a red and black brush, experiment with alternate brush sizes or dryness values and swap out the underlying canvas.There is a sense of give and take about Zen Brush 2’s level of realism: strokes are applied wonderfully, but inks don’t interact with each other nor the paper beneath. Still, the strong sense of character gives artwork created in Zen Brush 2 a unique feel and it’s a relaxing, almost meditative, app to spend time with.
 
There are loads of great painting apps for illustrators and artists, but Amaziograph tries something a bit different, introducing you to a world of tessellation and symmetries. This makes for an app that has plenty of potential for professional use, but also one that anyone can enjoy.To begin, you select a style. The simplest is a split-screen mirror, but there are also kaleidoscope-like options, and those that create tiled, repeating patterns. It’s then a question of scribbling on the canvas, and watching a pattern form before your eyes.The toolset is quite basic (with a bafflingly overthought color palette selector), but Amaziograph chalks up a big win when it comes to flexibility.At any point, you can adjust the settings of the current grid, or choose a different symmetry/tessellation type. This propels the app far beyond ‘toy’ territory, opening up avenues for creativity regardless of your level of artistic prowess.
As a combination clock and weather app, Living Earth works well across all iOS devices, but use it with an iPad in a stand and you’ve got something that’ll make other clocks in the immediate vicinity green with envy.As you might expect, your first job with the app is to define the cities you’d like to keep track of. At any point, you can then switch between them, updating the main clock and weather forecasts accordingly. Tap the weather and you can access an extended forecast for the week; tap the location and you get the current times and weather for your defined locations.But it’s the Earth that gets pride of place, taking up the bulk of the screen. It shows clouds by default, although weather geeks can instead choose colors denoting temperature, wind speed or humidity values. Then with a little swipe the globe rotates, neatly showing heavily populated locations during night time as lattices of artificial man-made light.
Whether you need a few minutes of peace or help to fall asleep after hours of stress, Flowing offers meditative splashy reflection. Choose from six scenes, plonk headphones on and then just sit and listen to gorgeous 3D audio recordings of streams, waterfalls and rivers.Should you feel the need, noodle about with the parallax photo – although that’s frankly the least interesting bit of the app.There is room for screen interaction though – the slider button gives you access to a mixer, to trigger ambient soundtracks by composer David Bawiec, and add birdsong and rain; while the Flowing icon houses guided meditations by Lua Lisa.There’s also a timer, so you can fall asleep to a gently meandering brook without it then burbling away all night. In all, even if you don’t make use of every feature, Flowing is an effective, polished relaxation aid.
Animation can be painstaking, whether doing it for your career or just for fun. Fortunately, Stop Motion Studio Pro streamlines the process, providing a sleek and efficient app for your next animated masterpiece.It caters to various kinds of animation: you can use your iPad’s camera to capture a scene, import images or videos (which are broken down into stills), or use a remote app installed on an iPhone. Although most people will export raw footage to the likes of iMovie, Stop Motion Pro shoots for a full animation suite by including audio and title capabilities.There are some snags. Moving frames requires an awkward copy/paste/delete workaround. Also, drawing tools are clumsy, making the app’s claim of being capable of rotoscoping a tad suspect. But as an affordable and broadly usable app for crafting animation, it fits the bill.
Scanners for iPad have come a long way from their roots as souped-up camera apps, and Scanbot 6 is making a play to be the only one on your iPad – by doing way more than just scanning.The basics are ably dealt with – the app automatically locates documents in front of your iPad’s camera (assuming there’s contrast with the desk underneath), and you can crop, rotate, color-adjust, and save the result.Buy the Pro IAP, though, and Scanbot becomes far more capable. It’ll run OCR text recognition on any document, and attempt (with a reasonable degree of success) to extract details for single-tap ’actions’, such as triggering a phone call or visiting a website, based on what it finds.There are annotation and PDF signing tools, and the means to reorder pages in multi-page documents. So rather than being a tap-and-done scanner, this app keeps helping once the scans are done, making it an essential purchase for the office-oriented. (We do miss the smiling robot icon, though – the new one is so dull.)
For the majority of iPad users, Apple’s iMovie is the go-to app for cutting footage and spitting out a movie. However, Pinnacle Studio Pro is a great option for anyone who wants a more desktop-like video editing experience.The interface is efficient, enabling you to pre-trim clips, and quickly navigate your in-progress film by way of a standard timeline, or quickly jumping to scenes by tapping clip thumbnails. Additionally, there are tools for complex audio edits across three separate tracks, and adjusting a clip’s rotation.The only downside is an initial feeling of complexity and an ongoing sense of clutter – this isn’t an especially pretty app. However, it is a usable, powerful and effective one, and that more than makes up for any niggles. 
Another example of a book designed for kids that adults will sneak a peek at when no-one’s watching, Namoo teaches about the wonders of plant life. Eschewing the kind of realistic photography or illustration you typically see in such virtual tomes, Namoo is wildly stylized, using an arresting low-poly art style for its interactive 3D simulations.Each of these is married with succinct text, giving your brain something to chew on as you ping the components of a plant’s cells (which emit pleasingly playful – if obviously not terribly realistic – sounds and musical notes) or explore the life cycle of an apple.
There are plenty of apps that enable you to plonk text over photos, but Over excels when it comes to control. Load a photo (or start with a blank canvas) and you can add words, stickers and additional imagery, gradually fashioning a card, poster or slice of social media genius.For free, you get the basic app, but a one-off IAP unlocks handy additional features, such as drop shadows and adjustments. In combination with editable layers and saved projects, these things make Over resemble something you’d find on the desktop, albeit with the kind of intuitive and immediate interface you only find in the best iPad apps.
On the desktop, Scrivener is widely acclaimed as the writer’s tool of choice. The feature-rich app provides all kinds of ways to write, even incorporating research documents directly into projects. Everything’s always within reach, and your work can constantly be rethought, reorganised, and reworked.On iPad, Scrivener is, astonishingly, almost identical to its desktop cousin. Bar some simplification regarding view and export options, it’s essentially the same app. You get a powerful ‘binder’ sidebar for organizing notes and documents, while the main view area enables you to write and structure text, or to work with index cards on a cork board.There’s even an internal ‘Split View’, for simultaneously smashing out a screenplay while peering at research. With Dropbox sync to access existing projects, Scrivener is a no-brainer for existing users; and for newcomers, it’s the most capable rich text/scriptwriting app on iPad.
At the last count, there were something like eleven billion sketching apps for iPad, and so you need something pretty special to stand out. Concepts shoots for a more professional audience – architects, designers, illustrators, and the like – but in doing so presents a far more flexible product than most.When scribbling on the infinite canvas, you’re drawing vector strokes, which can be individually selected and adjusted. The tools area is customizable and colors are selected using a Copic color wheel.Pay the pro IAP and you unlock all kinds of features, including precision tools and shape guides, endless layers, and the means to export your work as high-res imagery, SVG, DXF or PSD. In use, whether using a finger or stylus, Concepts is elegant and usable but powerful.So for free, this is an excellent tool for wannabe scribblers, and for the price of a couple of coffees, a high-end digital sketchbook suitable for professionals. Sounds like a bargain either way to us.
Your eyes might pop at the price tag of this iPad synth, but the hardware reissue of this amazing Moog was priced at a wallet-smashing $10,000. By contrast, the Model 15 iPad app seems quite the bargain. To our ears, it’s also the best standalone iOS synth on mobile, and gives anything on the desktop a run for its money.For people used to messing around with modular synths and plugging in patch leads, they’ll be in heaven. But this isn’t retro-central: you can switch the piano keyboard for Animoog’s gestural equivalent; newcomers can work through straightforward tutorials about how to build new sounds from scratch; and those who want to dive right in can select from and experiment with loads of diverse, superb-sounding presets.
There are plenty of apps that enable you to add comic-like filters and the odd speech balloon to your photos, but Comic Life 3 goes the whole hog regarding comic creation. You select from pre-defined templates or basic page layouts, and can then begin working on a Marvel-worrying masterpiece.Importing images is straightforward, and you get plenty of control over sound effects and speech balloons. For people who are perhaps taking things a bit too seriously (or actual comic creators, who can use this app for quick mock-ups), there’s a bundled script editor as well.Oddly, Comic Life 3’s filters aren’t that impressive, not making your photos look especially hand-drawn. But otherwise the app is an excellent means of crafting stories on an iPad, and you can export your work in a range of formats to share with friends – and Stan Lee.
It’s been a long time coming, but finally Tweetbot gets a full-fledged modern-day update for iPad. And it’s a good one, too. While the official Twitter app’s turned into a ‘blown-up iPhone app’ monstrosity on Apple’s tablet, Tweetbot makes use of the extra space by way of a handy extra column in which you can stash mentions, lists, and various other bits and bobs.Elsewhere, this latest release might lack a few toys Twitter selfishly keeps for itself, but it wins out in terms of multitasking support, granular mute settings, superb usability, and an interesting Activity view if you’re the kind of Twitter user desperate to know who’s retweeting all your tiny missives.
This music app is inspired by layered composition techniques used in some classical music. You tap out notes on a piano roll, and can then have up to four playheads simultaneously interpret your notes, each using unique speeds, directions and transpositions. For the amateur, Fugue Machine is intuitive and mesmerising, not least because of how easy it is to create something that sounds gorgeous.For pros, it’s a must-have, not least due to MIDI output support for driving external software. It took us mere seconds to have Fugue Machine working with Animoog’s voices, and the result ruined our productivity for an entire morning.(Unless you count composing beautiful music when you should be doing something else as ‘being productive’. In which case, we salute you.)
There’s a miniature revolution taking place in digital comics. Echoing the music industry some years ago, more publishers are cottoning on to readers very much liking DRM-free content. With that in mind, you now need a decent iPad reader for your PDFs and CBRs, rather than whatever iffy reading experience is welded to a storefront.Chunky is the best comic-reader on iPad. The interface is simple but customisable. If you want rid of transitions, they’re gone. Tinted pages can be brightened. And smart upscaling makes low-res comics look good.Paying the one-off ‘pro’ IAP enables you to connect to Mac or Windows shared folders or FTP. Downloading comics then takes seconds, and the app will happily bring over folders full of images and convert them on-the-fly into readable digital publications.
You’re probably dead inside if you sit down with Metamorphabet and it doesn’t raise a smile — doubly so if you use it alongside a tiny human. The app takes you through all the letters of the alphabet, which contort and animate into all kinds of shapes. It suitably starts with A, which when prodded grows antlers, transforms into an arch, and then goes for an amble. It’s adorable.The app’s surreal, playful nature never lets up, and any doubts you might have regarding certain scenes — such as floaty clouds representing ‘daydream’ in a manner that doesn’t really work — evaporate when you see tiny fingers and thumbs carefully pawing at the iPad’s glass while young eyes remain utterly transfixed.
Pop music is about getting what you expect. Ambient music has always felt subtly different, almost like anything could happen. With generative audio, this line of thinking became reality. Scape gives you a combined album/playground in this nascent genre, from the minds of Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers.Each track is formed by way of adding musical elements to a canvas, which then interact in sometimes unforeseen ways. Described as music that “thinks for itself”, Scape becomes a pleasing, fresh and infinitely replayable slice of chillout bliss. And if you’re feeling particularly lazy, you can sit back and listen to an album composed by the app’s creators.
Illustration tools are typically complex. Sit someone in front of Adobe Photoshop and they’ll figure out enough of it in fairly short order. Adobe Illustrator? No chance. Assembly attempts to get around such roadblocks by turning graphic design into the modern-day touchscreen equivalent of working with felt shapes — albeit very powerful felt shapes that can shift beneath your fingers.At the foot of the screen are loads of design elements, and you drag them to the canvas. Using menus and gestures, shapes can be resized, coloured, duplicated and transformed. Given enough time and imagination, you can create abstract masterpieces, cartoonish geometric robots, and beautiful flowing landscapes.It’s intuitive enough for anyone, but we suspect pro designers will enjoy Assembly too, perhaps even using it for sketching out ideas. And when you’re done, you can output your creations to PNG or SVG.
Typography is something that doesn’t come naturally to everyone. And so while there are excellent apps for adding text to images, you might want more help, rather than spending hours fine-tuning a bunch of misbehaving letters. That’s where Retype comes in.You load a photo or a piece of built-in stock art, and type some text. Then it’s just a case of selecting a style. The type’s design updates whenever you edit your text, and variations can be accessed by repeatedly prodding the relevant style’s button. Basic but smart filter, blur, opacity and fade commands should cement Retype’s place on your iPad.
Even though the iPad is an immensely powerful mobile device, there’s no getting away from it sometimes being fiddly for performing complex tasks; this is all the more frustrating if said tasks are something you must do regularly. Fortunately, Workflow is here to help.It includes over 200 actions that work with built-in and third-party apps, enabling you to fashion complex automation that’s subsequently activated at the touch of a button.To help you get started, the gallery houses dozens of pre-built workflows, and for added flexibility, you can access those you create or install from inside the app, via the Today widget, or by way of a custom Home screen app-like shortcut.
There are plenty of great distraction-free writing apps for iPad, but Ulysses for iPad adds serious management and editing clout to the mix. The idea is you use the app for all your writing — notes; in-progress text; final edits; and export. Items in your library can be manually sorted, grouped and filtered; text can be processed to PDF, DOCX, TXT, Markdown, HTML and ePub.But what’s most astonishing is how the app’s interface mirrors its Mac counterpart’s, and yet still feels entirely at home on the iPad. (And for iPad Pro users hankering after a top-notch writing app to use in Split View, look no further).
The lofty boast with RealBeat is that you can use the app to make music with everything. The remarkable thing is, you really can. The app has eight slots for samples, waiting for input from your iPad’s mic.You can record snippets of any audio you fancy: your voice; a spoon smacking a saucepan; a pet, confused at you holding your iPad right in front of its face. These samples can then be arranged into loops and songs using a familiar drum-machine-style sequencer and pattern editor.Completed masterpieces can be exported using Audio Copy and iTunes File Sharing, and the app also integrates with Audiobus.
On the desktop, Panic’s Transmit is a perfectly decent FTP client. But when it was first released for iPad, Transmit felt rather more like the future. It was smart and elegant, utilising all of the then-new iOS features, such as Share sheets.Even today, its interface seems a step beyond its contemporaries — the vibrant icons and dark lists look gorgeous and modern. Most importantly, the app remains very usable, with an excellent drag-and-drop model, smart previews, and support for a huge range of services, including local shared Mac folders.
Calling Editorial a text editor does it a disservice. That’s not to say Editorial isn’t any good as a text editor, because it very much is. You get top-notch Markdown editing, with an inline preview, and also a TaskPaper mode for plain text to-do lists.But what really sets Editorial apart is the sheer wealth of customisation options. You get themes and custom snippets, but also workflows, which can automate hugely complex tasks. You get the sense some of these arrived from the frustrations at how slow it is to perform certain actions on an iPad; but a few hours with Editorial and you’ll wish the app was available for your Mac or PC too.
Previously known as iDraw, Graphic is now part of the Autodesk stable. Visually, it looks an awful lot like Adobe Illustrator, and it brings some suitably high-end vector-drawing smarts to Apple’s tablet.All the tools and features you’d expect are present and correct; and while it’s admittedly a bit slower and fiddlier to construct complex imagery on an iPad than a PC, Graphic is great to have handy when you’re on the move. Smartly, the app boasts plentiful export functions, to continue your work elsewhere, and will sync with its iPhone and Mac cousins across iCloud.
One of the curious things about the iPad is the absence of major Adobe apps from the App Store. The creative giant instead seems content with smaller, simpler ‘satellite’ apps, assuming users will continue to rely on the desktop for in-depth work. Pixelmator thumbs its nose to such thinking, reworking the majority of its desktop cousin (itself a kind of streamlined Photoshop) for the iPad.Given the low price tag, this is an astonishingly powerful app, offering brushes, layers, gorgeous filters, levels editing, and more. You need to invest some time to get the most out of Pixelmator, but do so and the app will forever weld itself to your Home screen.
There are loads of sketching tools for iPad, but it feels like Procreate is the one really forging ahead, bringing artists a well-balanced mix of power and accessibility.If you want to keep things simple, Procreate gets out of your way. The toolbar doesn’t distract, and the only on-screen controls are handy sliders for brush size and opacity; but even these can all be auto-hidden after a user-defined period, leaving the entire screen to display your masterpiece.Whether drawing with a finger or a stylus, Procreate proves responsive and feels surprisingly tactile. The tool selection is straightforward but offers real depth, not least in how you can really delve into brushes and mess about with their characteristics.But the app has also taken to heart the fact it’s running on a touchscreen. To straighten a stroke, you simply hold its end point for a second. Undo and redo are merely a two – or three – finger tap away. And the strength of layer effects is determined by swiping across the canvas, in a pleasing and precise manner.
There are plenty of apps that provide the means to turn photos into messages and poster-style artwork. Elsewhere in this list we mention the excellent Retype, for example. But if you hanker after more control, Fontmania is a good bet.This isn’t the most complex or feature-rich app of its kind, but it is extremely pleasing to use. On selecting your photo, you can add a filter. Then it’s down to business with typography. The ‘Art’ section houses frames, dividers, shapes and pre-made ‘artworks’. The ‘Text’ section is for typing out whatever you like, and you can choose from a range of fonts.Really, it’s the interface that makes Fontmania. The simple sidebar is clear and non-intrusive, providing quick access to tools like Color and Shadow. All items added to the canvas can be manipulated using standard iOS gestures, avoiding the awkwardness sometimes seen within this sort of app.Perhaps best of all, though, Fontmania is a pay-once product. Download and you get access to everything, rather than suddenly discovering a drop shadow or extra font will require digging into your wallet again.
iPad video editors tend to have a bunch of effects and filters lurking within, but with VideoGrade you can go full-on Hollywood. On launch, the app helpfully rifles through your albums, making it easy to find your videos. Load one and you get access to a whopping 13 colour-grading and repair tools.Despite the evident power VideoGrade offers, the interface is remarkably straightforward. Select a tool (such as Vibrance, Brightness or Tint), choose a setting, and drag to make a change. Drag up before moving your finger left or right to make subtler adjustments.Smartly, any tool already used gets a little green dash beneath, and you can go back and change or remove edits at any point.All filters are applied live to the currently shown frame, and you can also tap a button to view a preview of how your entire exported video will look. Want to compare your edit with the original video? Horizontal and vertical split-views are available at the tap of a button. Usefully, favorite filter combinations can be stored and reused, and videos can be queued rather than laboriously rendered individually.
Korg Gadget bills itself as the “ultimate mobile synth collection on your iPad” and it’s hard to argue. You get well over a dozen varied synths, ranging from drum machines through to ear-splitting electro monsters, and an intuitive piano roll for laying down notes.A scene/loop arranger enables you to craft entire compositions in the app, which can then be shared via the Soundcloud-powered GadgetCloud or sent to Dropbox. This is a more expensive app than most, but if you’re a keen electronic-music-oriented songwriter with an iPad, it’s hard to find a product that’s better value.
There are quite a few apps for virtual stargazing, but Sky Guide is the best of them on iPad. Like its rivals, the app allows you to search the heavens in real-time, providing details of constellations and satellites in your field of view (or, if you fancy, on the other side of the world).Indoors, it transforms into a kind of reference guide, offering further insight into distant heavenly bodies, and the means to view the sky at different points in history. What sets Sky Guide apart, though, is an effortless elegance. It’s simply the nicest app of its kind to use, with a polish and refinement that cements its essential nature.
Every now and again, you get an app that ticks all the boxes: it’s beautiful, audacious, productive, and nudges the platform forwards. This perfectly sums up Coda, a full-fledged website editor for iPad.The app’s graphic design borrows from the similarly impressive Transmit for iOS, all muted greys and vibrant icons. It’s a style we wish Apple would steal. When it comes to editing, you can work remotely or pull down files locally; in either case, you end up working in a coding view with the clout you’d expect from a desktop product, rather than something on mobile.Naturally, Coda is a fairly niche tool, but it’s essential for anyone who regularly edits websites and wants the ability to do so when away from the office.
Mind-mapping is one of those things that’s usually associated with dull business things, much like huge whiteboards and the kind of lengthy meetings that make you hope the ground will swallow you up. But really they’re perfect whenever you want to get thoughts out of your head and then organise them.On paper, this process can be quite messy, and so MindNode is a boon. You can quickly and easily add and edit nodes, your iPad automatically positioning them neatly. Photos, stickers and notes can add further context, and your finished document can be shared publicly or privately using a number of services.
When you’re told you can control the forces of nature with your fingertips that probably puts you more in mind of a game than a book. And, in a sense, Earth Primer does gamify learning about our planet. You get a series of engaging and interactive explanatory pages, and a free-for-all sandbox that cleverly only unlocks its full riches when you’ve read the rest of the book.Although ultimately designed for children, it’s a treat for all ages, likely to plaster a grin across the face of anyone from 9 to 90 when a volcano erupts from their fingertips.
For most guitarists, sound is the most important thing of all. It’s all very well having a massive rig of pedals and amps, but only if what you get out of it blows away anyone who’s listening. For our money, BIAS FX is definitely the best-sounding guitar amp and effects processor on the iPad, with a rich and engaging collection of gear.Fortunately, given the price-tag, BIAS FX doesn’t skimp on set-up opportunities either. A splitter enables complex dual-signal paths; and sharing functionality enables you to upload your creations and check out what others have done with the app.
You might argue that Google Maps is far better suited to a smartphone, but we reckon the king of mapping apps deserves a place on your iPad, too. Apple’s own Maps app has improved, but Google still outsmarts its rival when it comes to public transport, finding local businesses, saving chunks of maps offline, and virtual tourism by way of Street View.Google’s ‘OS within an OS’ also affords a certain amount of cross-device sync when it comes to searches. We don’t, however, recommend you strap your cellular iPad to your steering wheel and use Google Maps as a sat-nav replacement, unless you want to come across as some kind of nutcase.
Adult colouring books are all the rage, proponents claiming bringing colour to intricate abstract shapes helps reduce stress – at least until you realise you’ve got pen on your shirt and ground oil pastels into the sofa.You’d think the process of colouring would be ideal for iPad, but most relevant apps are awful, some even forcing tap-to-fill. That is to colouring what using a motorbike is to running a marathon – a big cheat. Pigment is an exception, marrying a love for colouring with serious digital smarts.On selecting an illustration, there’s a range of palettes and tools to explore. You can use pencils and markers, adjusting opacity and brush sizes, and work with subtle gradients. Colouring can be ‘freestyle’, or you can tap to select an area and ensure you don’t go over the lines while furiously scribbling. With a finger, Pigment works well, but it’s better with a stylus; with an iPad Pro and a Pencil, you’ll lob your real books in the bin.The one niggle: printing and accessing the larger library requires a subscription in-app purchase. It’s a pity there’s no one-off payment for individual books, but you do get plenty of free illustrations, and so it’s hard to grumble.
We’re not sure whether Slack is an amazing aid to productivity or some kind of time vampire. Probably a bit of both. What we do know is that the real-time messaging system is excellent in a work environment for chatting with colleagues (publicly and privately), sharing and previewing files, and organising discussions by topic.There’s smart integration with online services, and support for both the iPad Pro and the iPad’s Split View function. Note that although Slack is clearly designed with businesses in mind, it also works perfectly well as a means of communicating with friends if you don’t fancy lobbing all your worldly wisdom into Facebook’s maw.
Podcasts are mostly associated with small portable devices – after all, the very name is a mash-up of ‘iPod’ and ‘broadcast’. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore your favourite shows when armed with an iPad rather than an iPhone.We’re big fans of Overcast on Apple’s smaller devices, but the app makes good use of the iPad’s extra screen space, with a smart two-column display. On the left, episodes are listed, and the current podcast loads into the larger space on the right.The big plusses with Overcast, though, remain playback and podcast management. It’s the one podcast app we’ve used that retains plenty of clarity when playback is sped up; and there are clever effects for removing dead air and boosting vocals in podcasts with lower production values.Playlists can be straightforward in nature, or quite intricate, automatically boosting favourites to the top of the list, and excluding specific episodes. And if you do mostly use an iPhone for listening, Overcast automatically syncs your podcasts and progress, so you can always pick up where you left off.
On opening Toca Nature, you find yourself staring at a slab of land floating in the void. After selecting relevant icons, a drag of a finger is all it takes to raise mountains or dig deep gullies for rivers and lakes.Finishing touches to your tiny landscape can then be made by tapping to plant trees. Wait for a bit and a little ecosystem takes shape, deers darting about glades, and fish swimming in the water. Using the magnifying glass, you can zoom into and explore this little world and feed its various inhabitants.Although designed primarily for kids, Toca Nature is a genuinely enjoyable experience whatever your age.The one big negative is that it starts from scratch every time — some save states would be nice, so each family member could have their own space to tend to and explore. Still, blank canvases keep everything fresh, and building a tiny nature reserve never really gets old.
The fairly large screen of the iPad means you can access desktop-style websites, rather than ones hacked down for iPhone. That sounds great until you realise most of them want to fire adverts into your face until you beg for mercy.Old people will wisely suggest ‘RSS’, and then they’ll explain that means you can subscribe to sites and get their content piped into an app.Reeder 3 is a great RSS reader for iPad. It’s fast, efficient, caches content for offline use and — importantly — bundles a Readability view. This downloads entire articles for RSS feeds that otherwise would only show synopses.Like on the iPhone, Reeder’s perhaps a bit gesture-happy, but it somehow feels more usable on the iPad’s larger display. And we’re happy to see the app continue to improve its feature set, including Split View and iPad Pro support, font options for the article viewer, and the means to sync across Instapaper content.
Although Apple introduced iCloud Keychain in iOS 7, designed to securely store passwords and payment information, 1Password is a more powerful system. Along with integrating with Safari, it can be used to hold identities, secure notes, network information and app licence details. It’s also cross-platform, meaning it will work with Windows and Android.And since 1Password is a standalone app, accessing and editing your information is fast and efficient. The core app is free – the company primarily makes its money on the desktop. However, you’ll need a monthly subscription or to pay a one-off $9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99 IAP to access advanced features (multiple vaults, Apple Watch support, tagging, and custom fields).
The vast majority of iPads in Apple’s line-up don’t have a massive amount of storage, and that becomes a problem when you want to keep videos on the device. Air Video HD gets around the problem by streaming video files from any Mac or PC running the free server software. All content is live-encoded as necessary, ensuring it will play on your iPad, and there’s full support for offline viewing, soft subtitles, and AirPlay to an Apple TV.Perhaps the best bit about the software is how usable it is. The app’s simple to set up and has a streamlined, modern interface – for example, a single tap downloads a file for local storage. You don’t even need to be on the same network as your server either – Air Video HD lets you access your content over the web. Just watch your data downloads if you’re on 3G!
Dropbox is a great service for syncing documents across multiple devices, and chances are you’re familiar with it already. On the iPad, we used to consider Dropbox essential as a kind of surrogate file system.Even now that Apple’s provided easier access to iCloud Drive, Dropbox remains a useful install, largely on the basis of its widespread support (both in terms of platforms and also iOS apps). The Dropbox app itself works nicely, too, able to preview a large number of file types, and integrating well with iOS for sending documents to and from the various apps you have installed.
Apple’s own Calendar app is fiddly and irritating, and so the existence of Fantastical is very welcome. In a single screen, you get a week view, a month calendar and a scrolling list of events. There’s also support for reminders, and all data syncs with iCloud, making Fantastical compatible with Calendar (formerly iCal) for macOS.The best bit, though, is Fantastical’s natural-language input, where you can type an event and watch it build as you add details, such as times and locations. On iPad, we do question the layout a little – a large amount of space is given over to a month calendar view. Still, in portrait or, better, Split View, Fantastical 2 is transformative.
You’re not going to make the next Hollywood hit on your iPad, but iMovie’s more than capable of dealing with home movies. The interface resembles its desktop cousin and is easy to get to grips with.Clips can be browsed, arranged and cut, and you can then add titles, transitions and music. For the added professional touch, there are ‘trailer templates’ to base your movie on, rather than starting from scratch.And should your iPad be powerful enough, this app will happily work with and export footage all the way up to 4K, which will likely make anyone who used to sit in front of huge video workstations a decade or two ago wide-eyed with astonishment.
Touch Press somewhat cornered the market in amazing iOS books with The Elements, but Journeys of Invention takes things a step further. In partnership with the Science Museum, it leads you through many of science’s greatest discoveries, weaving them into a compelling mesh of stories.Many objects can be explored in detail, and some are more fully interactive, such as the Enigma machine, which you can use to share coded messages with friends.What’s especially great is that none of this feels gimmicky. Instead, this app points towards the future of books, strong content being married to useful and engaging interactivity.
The idea behind Launch Center Pro is to take certain complex actions and turn them into tappable items — a kind of speed-dial for tasks such as adding items to Clear, opening a URL in 1Password, or opening a specific view in Google Maps. Although the list of supported apps isn’t huge, it’s full of popular productivity apps; and should you use any of them on a regular basis, Launch Center Pro will be a massive time-saver and is well worth the outlay.
It’s not like Microsoft Word really needs introduction. Unless you’ve been living under a rock that itself is under a pretty sizeable rock, you’ll have heard of Microsoft’s hugely popular word processor. What you might not realize, though, is how good it is on iPad.Fire up the app and you’re greeted with a selection of handy templates, although you can of course instead use a blank canvas. You then work with something approximating the desktop version of Word, but that’s been carefully optimized for tablets. Your brain keeps arguing it shouldn’t exist, but it does — although things are a bit fiddly on an iPad mini.Wisely, saved documents can be stored locally rather than you being forced to use Microsoft’s cloud, and they can be shared via email. (A PDF option exists for recipients without Office, although it’s oddly hidden behind the share button in the document toolbar, under ‘Send Attachment’, which may as well have been called ‘beware of the leopard’.)Something else that’s also missing: full iPad Pro 12.9 support in the free version. On a smaller iPad, you merely need a Microsoft account to gain access to most features. Some advanced stuff — section breaks; columns; tracking changes; insertion of WordArt — requires an Office 365 account, but that won’t limit most users.Presumably, Microsoft thinks iPad Pro owners have money to burn, though, because for free they just get a viewer. Bah.
There are loads of note-taking apps for the iPad, but Notability hits that sweet spot of being usable and feature-rich. Using the app’s various tools, you can scribble on a virtual canvas, using your finger or a stylus. Should you want precision copy, you can drag out text boxes to type into. It’s also possible to import documents.One of the smartest features, though, is audio recording. This enables you to record a lecture or meeting, and the app will later play back your notes live alongside the audio, helping you see everything in context. Naturally, the app has plenty of back-up and export options, too, so you can send whatever you create to other apps and devices.
We mention Microsoft’s iPad efforts elsewhere, but if you don’t fancy paying for a subscription and yet need some spreadsheet-editing joy on your iPad, Numbers is an excellent alternative. Specially optimised for Apple’s tablet, Numbers makes great use of custom keyboards, smart zooming, and forms that enable you to rapidly enter data. Presentation app Keynote and page-layout app Pages are also worth a look.
For a long while, Paper was a freemium iPad take on Moleskine sketchbooks. You made little doodles and then flipped virtual pages to browse them. At some point, it went free, but now it’s been transformed into something different and better. The original tools remain present and correct, but are joined by the means to add text, checklists, and photos. One other newcomer allows geometric shapes you scribble to be tidied up, but without losing their character.So rather than only being for digital sketches, Paper’s now for all kinds of notes and graphs, too. The sketchbooks, however, are gone; in their place are paper stacks that explode into walls of virtual sticky notes. Some old-hands have grumbled, but we love the new Paper. It’s smarter, simpler, easier to browse, and makes Apple’s own Notes look like a cheap knock-off.
Apple’s Photos app has editing capabilities, but they’re not terribly exciting — especially when compared to Snapseed. Here, you select from a number of tools and filters, and proceed to pinch and swipe your way to a transformed image. You get all the basics — cropping, rotation, healing brushes, and the like – but the filters are where you can get really creative.There are blurs, photographic effects, and more extreme options like ‘grunge’ and ‘grainy film’, which can add plenty of atmosphere to your photographs. The vast majority of effects are tweakable, mostly by dragging up and down on the canvas to select a parameter and then horizontally to adjust its strength.Brilliantly, the app also records applied effects as separate layers, each of which remains fully editable until you decide to save your image and work on something else.
Soulver is more or less the love child of a spreadsheet and the kind of calculations you do on the back of an envelope. You write figures in context, and Souvler extracts the maths bits and tots up totals; each line’s results can be used as a token in subsequent lines, enabling live updating of complex calculations. Drafts can be saved, exported to HTML, and also synced via Dropbox or iCloud.Initially, the app feels a bit alien, given that people have been used to digital versions of desktop calculators since the dawn of home computing. But scribbling down sums in Soulver soon becomes second nature.
We’re big fans of the Foldify apps, which enable people to fashion and customise little 3D characters on an iPad, before printing them out and making them for real. This mix of digital painting, sharing (models can be browsed, uploaded and rated) and crafting a physical object is exciting in a world where people spend so much time glued to virtual content on screens.But it’s Foldify Dinosaurs that makes this list because, well, dinosaurs. Who wouldn’t be thrilled at the prospect of making a magenta T-Rex with a natty moustache? Should that person exist, we don’t want to meet them.
When someone talks about bringing back the sounds of the 1980s, your head might fill with Human League and Depeche Mode, but if you played games, you’ll instead think of Rob Hubbard and Martin Galway, chip-tune pioneers whose music graced the C64, leveraging the power of the MOS Technology 6581/8580 SID (Sound Interface Device) chip.SidTracker64 is a niche but wonderfully designed iPad app that’s a complete production package for creating SID tunes. It’s unashamedly retro in terms of sound, but boasts a modern design, with powerful editing and export functionality. If you’re only into raw chip-tune noises, Audiobus and Inter-App Audio are supported; but if you’re an old-hand, you’ll be delighted at the bundled copy of Hubbard’s Commando, ready for you to remix.

The Best Laptop 2017: Our pick of the 15 best laptops you can buy this year

The Best Laptop 2017: Our pick of the 15 best laptops you can buy this year

If you’re looking to discover what is the best laptop to buy before the end of 2017, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve tested hundreds of the latest laptops, including all of the best models from the most popular and trusted brands, so that you can be sure you’re getting the best laptop for you at a price that makes sense.So whether you’re after a thin and light laptop to throw in a bag every day, a desktop replacement to stay at home, a gaming laptop to have fun with in the evenings, a 2-in-1 laptop that doubles as a touchscreen tablet or a cheapo Chromebook – we’ve got lots of recommendations for you!Rest assured, while there are 15 laptops in this list, the order they’re placed in doesn’t particularly matter. We’ve included something for everyone, starting with the Dell XPS 13 which we think is the out-and-out best laptop in the world right now. And underneath that you’ll find a whole range of our top recommendations – so whether the one you like the look of is at number 1 or number 15 – rest assured every laptop in this list is worth buying and gets a solid recommendation from us.What’s more, our funky price comparison tools will show you where you can buy each one for the absolute cheapest price, so you won’t have to trawl through the web comparing prices. If you want to see a more comprehensive list of prices and retailers, simply click the ‘view all prices’ link on each widget!
The best laptops of 2017:
Slim, light, powerful and majestic, Dell’s 2017 flagship XPS 13 is the best laptop in the world at the time of this writing. Although it’s bound to get even better some time into 2018, when the company plans on introducing this Alpine White model, our latest reviewed iteration of the Dell XPS 13 is just as laudable. Whether for its powerful Intel Kaby Lake processors ranging from i3 to i7 or for its nigh-bezel-less ‘Infinity Edge’ display, which shoves a 13.3-inch screen into an 11-inch frame, the Dell XPS 13 makes a significant splash on the competition. Not only that, but the port selection is equally on point. Compared to Apple’s exclusive USB-C approach, Dell’s flagship notebook impresses with – in addition to USB-C – USB 3.0 along with the elusive SD card slot. Bearing in mind those facets alone, it’s no wonder the Dell XPS 13 is the most popular WIndows laptop in the world. Yet it gets even better. You also get the choice of a super high-res or multi-touch screen as well as a breadth of options for storage and memory. Or you can save on cash and opt for more conservative specs. Read the full review: Dell XPS 13
Behold the Asus ZenBook UX310UA, a laptop that sidesteps the lofty price of the Dell XPS 13 without compromising on performance. It doesn’t quite look or feel as nice as the Dell above, and the battery life isn’t as good, but you can still expect an all-aluminum frame and fantastic performance from a 7th-generation Kaby Lake processor – whether that’s of the i3 or i5 variety is entirely up to you. Additionally, you can choose between a full HD, 1080p display or a brilliant 3,200 x 1,800-pixel, QHD+ screen with 30% more pixels compared with Apple’s 13-inch Retina screens. No matter what model you go for, the Asus ZenBook UX310UA is one of the best laptops you can buy.Read the full review: Asus Zenbook UX310UASee more like this: The best Ultrabooks 2017 
If you’re after a cheap laptop that offers something a bit special, look no further than the Lenovo Yoga Book 2017. As with all Yoga devices, the screen folds flat so you can use it either as a tablet or a laptop. To add more versatility, Lenovo has now added the option to buy it with either Windows 10 or Android 6.0 onboard – which one you choose will depend how you’re more likely to use the device. The screen on this thing defies the cheap asking price and the keyboard and capacitive touch-keyboard are both fantastic too. This is a great option if you want something cheap for basic computing tasks, for creating art using the built-in Wacom digitizer or a train device for watching movies. But for more heavy lifting you’d be better off choosing one of the options above as the Intel Atom CPU in this thing is great at saving power and making the battery last for ages but not so good at super speedy processing.Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga Book
See more like this: The best 2-in-1 laptops 2017
If you’re after the latest and greatest laptop from Apple, welcome to the 13-inch Macbook Pro with Touch Bar. It’s the best laptop Apple has ever made, building new features into the classic design. Of course, the headline feature is the Touch Bar – it’s a thin OLED display at the top of the keyboard which can be used for any number of things, whether that be auto-suggesting words as you type or offering Touch ID so you can log in with just your fingerprint. If you’re a massive fan of the Macbook Pro 2017, you’ll be happy with this model but there are some serious reasons why you should consider one of the Windows alternatives. For a start, this laptop is very expensive for what is is, especially considering the better value alternatives. On top of this, it’s not as powerful, the screen is lower-res versus the competition and isn’t touchscreen friendly, plus the battery is a bit disappointing, too. So, if you’re open to switching to a PC, definitely consider the XPS 13 as a more modern, cheaper alternative. But if you’re a steadfast Apple die hard, this is definitely the best laptop for you!Read the full review: Apple Macbook with Touch Bar (2017)See more like this: The best Macs and Macbooks 2017
The Macbook Air is dead, but it’s only the beginning for the new Apple MacBook. Not only is it the slimmest, sleekest and best-looking Macbook Apple has ever built, it’s one of the most popular and best-selling laptops on the planet. It will not serve as a main productivity machine – it’s a lot less powerful than the Macbook Pro and has only one IO port in the form of USB Type-C. But, in terms of being a super slim and light Macbook that you can take anywhere without even noticing the weight, and giving you the same slick OS X performance, the Macbook is a beautiful machine.Read the full review: Apple MacbookSee more like this: The best Macs and Macbooks 2017 
Part of a new generation of Max-Q gaming laptops in 2017, the  Asus ROG Zephyrus is both ridiculously powerful and astonishingly thin and light. Make no mistake, this thing is large compared to a Macbook Pro or Dell XPS 13, but compared to gaming laptops of the past this effort from Asus is something of a holy grail achievement. Your expectations of a 15-inch gaming laptop will never be the same after seeing the Zephyrus in action. It’s expensive of course, but with powerful Core i7 CPU and GTX 1080 graphics it’ll be easily powerful enough to play the best games for many years to come on the built-in 1080p screen. It’s an ideal top-end desktop replacement that is, possibly for the first time ever, also extremely portable.Read the full review: Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501See more like this: The best gaming laptops 2017
If you’re after a new gaming laptop and you don’t have the kind of money that you need for the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501 above, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming laptop is your best option. It comes in at well under half the price and offers absolutely fantastic value for money. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti graphics chip is easily powerful enough to lubricate the best games on the built-in 1080p display while general performance in Windows is super slick thanks to the Core i5 CPU. If you’re going to be moving around a bit, you’ll be pleased to know that the battery life on this laptop is also superb – we got nearly 8 hours out of it while watching HD video. A gaming session with Tom Clancy’s The Division on medium settings for two hours only dropped the battery to 66%. This is far better than similarly priced rivals. So in the reasonably-priced category, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 is definitely the best laptop around at the moment.Read the full review: Dell Inspiron 15 7000 GamingSee more like this: The best gaming laptops 2017 
A Chromebook doesn’t run Windows, Android or Apple’s Mac OS. Instead it’s powered by Google’s Chrome OS – a super lightweight operating system based on the Chrome web browser. It’s a great way to save money on a laptop (no Windows license to pay for and no need for top-end Intel chips etc) while still retaining all of the productivity options you’d get on a full-blown windows or Mac OS laptop. The Chromebook Flip is the best Chromebook out there at the moment, offering truly premium build quality, a fabulous touchscreen and keyboard and excellent performance. All while offering great value for money too. For students and teachers it’s a brilliant option, and it could also be for you if you’re a bit of a technophobe who just wants a simple laptop to browse the web, watch videos and write emails on.Read the full review: Asus Chromebook Flip C302See more like this: The best Chromebooks 2017
The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is 2017’s best laptop for you if you’re looking for the perfect cross between a nimble Windows tablet and a fully functional laptop. The base version of the Surface Pro 4 is just a tablet – you get the main unit itself with kickstand but if you want the Surface Pen or the fantastic Type Cover keyboard you’ll need to pay extra for a bundle or buy it separately. Often the best value option is a bundle but even the tablet on its own represents pretty good value. The Surface Pro, alongside the also-excellent Surface Book laptop, is to Windows what the Pixel is to Google’s Android. It’s the benchmark Windows device, with software and hardware working together in perfect harmony. So if you need a new laptop and a tablet, the Surface Pro is the best does-it-all 2-in-1 option. If you want this but need something a little cheaper, check out the Acer Switch 3 below!Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro 4See more like this: The best 2-in-1 laptops 2017 
If you want the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 but you want to spend a lot less, the Acer Switch 3 2017 is definitely the your best option. It’s designed around essentially the same concept as the Surface Pro and it’s a less capable thanks to slightly lower power innards, but for most tasks it’s a brilliant little machine. What’s more, to add further value this 2-in-1 laptop/tablet comes with the keyboard upgrade which means no little extras to pay for. As usual it comes in several different versions, with USB Type-C, 8GB RAM, an IPS display and Intel Core i3 7100U CPU coming with the more expensive option.Read the full review: Acer Switch 3See more like this: The best 2-in-1 laptops 2017 
While you may have been convinced that ‘budget Ultrabook’ was an oxymoron up until this point, the Acer has turned this common misconception on its head with the Swift 3. That’s because the company has taken the all-aluminum chassis of the Acer Swift 7 and stuffed some more affordable components inside for everyone to enjoy. It doesn’t run macOS, but the Acer Swift 3 does put the age-old MacBook Air to shame in about every other regard, including the nigh-unbeatable price tag. Of course, in the process of demolishing the competition, Acer did have to cut a few corners in order to keep the price so impressively low. So although you can’t expect much in the way of an Ultra HD display or quality onboard sound, the performance benchmarks alone give even the Surface Laptop a run for its money.Read the full review: Acer Swift 3See more like this: The best cheap laptops 2017
If you’re after a low cost Windows laptop that you can slip into a bag and carry around all day without noticing the weight, the Asus Transformer Mini T102HA is a fantastic device. Honestly it’s not the fastest laptop in the world, so don’t expect to do any video editing. But for simple every-day tasks it’s more than adequate. What’s more, it’s similar to the other 2-in-1 laptops in this list in that it can become a tablet – you can choose whether or not to take the keyboard with you. And it comes as standard so you don’t need to pay extra for it.Read the full review: Asus Transformer Mini T102HASee more like this: The best 2-in-1 laptops 2017 
If you love the look of the XPS 13 at the top of this list but need something a little bigger with more graphics power, the Dell XPS 15 2017 could be the best laptop for you. Packing the same InfinityEdge technology, the screen extends right to the edge of the machine which means it’s as small as it’s possible to make a 15-inch laptop in 2017. It’s quite pricey though, depending on which version you get. The very top end version has a 4K colour-accurate display which makes it perfect for graphic design, and gaming performance is decent as long as you play at either a lower resolution or on medium settings.Read the full review: Dell XPS 15
If you’re after a workhorse 15-inch laptop that’ll give you loads of grunt for your money with top features and excellent design, the Samsung Notebook 7 Spin is the best laptop for you – despite the silly name. You won’t want to be carrying it around too often as it’s a bit heavy for that, but otherwise it’s a superb laptop. The keyboard is lovely to type on and the HD screen is HDR capable which makes it ideal for watching video and editing images. It’s a cracking alternative to the Dell XPS 15 but for a lot less money.Read the full review: Samsung Notebook 7 Spin
And finally – HP’s best 2-in-1 laptop is a really stunner. It’s super thin and light while packing in fantastic performance and a fast charging battery. It’s expensive, but for the money what you’re getting is the best ultra portable laptop available in 2017. As with many laptops on the list, this laptop comes in a number of different builds – with the bottom end one starting with a full HD screen while the top end model packs in a 4K one. Whichever one you go for though, you’re getting a fabulous laptop that you’ll love carrying around with you.Read the full review: HP Spectre x360See more like this: The best 2-in-1 laptops 2017 
Which type of laptop is best for you?
General laptops: Where the best cheap laptops are found, devices that focus more on practicality than style, portability or power. That’s not to say they can’t be fast, but you’ll typically find a non-Ultrabook clamshell laptop with an HD screen and spinning drive-based storage for less than $600 or £400.Ultrabooks: Where you’ll find thin-and-light notebooks sporting SSD storage and display resolutions that exceed 1080p. Paired with powerful, albeit mobile-centric components and especially long battery life, the best Ultrabooks will cost a pretty penny – $700 or £500 to $2,000 or £1,800.2-in-1 laptops: Where notebooks that double as tablets are located. The Surface Book 2 might be a ways off, but many of the best 2-in-1 laptops are available right now. Outfitted with both detachable and 360-degree rotating hinges, these hybrids are the most versatile way to experience Windows 10 (or Chrome OS) on a touchscreen.Chromebooks: Where you’ll find the best Chromebooks running Chrome OS. These do much of what Windows and macOS can in the browser, focused on cloud storage over local, while recently getting Android app support for touchscreen models. They generally cost less than $300 or £200 and some can even withstand a slight tussle.Gaming laptops: Need a laptop to play games (almost) just like a shiny desktop PC can? Then you’ll want one of the best gaming laptops. These machines generally cost from $800 or £600 to upwards of $3,000 or £2,800 and they’ll likely be the ones to take advantage of AMD’s laptop-grade Ryzen processors first.Laptop-tablet hybrids: Designed from the tablet-first approach to laptop-tablet hybrids, the best Windows tablets pack beyond-HD touchscreens, sometimes with kickstands in their frames or provided via keyboard covers. These generally shine with a stylus, and range from the budget to the premium price ranges.

Best free iPhone apps 2017

Best free iPhone apps 2017

There are now hundreds of thousands of apps available for your iPhone 7 or iPhone 6S and, surprisingly, many of the best are free.
What’s the best phone of 2017?The following list showcases our pick of the best free iPhone apps, and includes iPhone applications for social networking, travel, news, photography, productivity and more. Most of these apps are also compatible with the iPod touch.If your top free iPhone apps aren’t covered, tell us all about them in the comments.
Green Riding Hood subverts a much-loved fairy tale, re-imagining Grandma as a hip yoga teacher, and having the Big Bad Wolf gradually learn how tasty healthy food is. Which might all sound a bit like brainwashing for tiny people if the story bit wasn’t so well designed.Each little scene in the book is interactive, so you can tap animals to make them exercise, have the wolf angrily lob a bone into the forest, or – our favorite – fashion a cacophony as the animals try to wake a dozing granny with whatever objects they have to hand.Beyond the book, you get some recipes and stickers for free. If all that takes your fancy, IAPs unlock exercise and dance routines – but, really, just the fairy tale bit alone makes this one very much worth a download.
Today Weather provides a sleek, elegant take on weather forecasting, marrying modern design, usability, and a slew of data.Set a location and you get current conditions below a supposedly representative photo. (The photo is, frankly, a bit rubbish but can fortunately be disabled.) Scroll to delve into predictions about the coming hours and days, and details about UV index and pressure, the chances of imminent rainfall, air quality, sunrise/sunset times, and what the moon’s up to.Sadly, these components can’t be rearranged, and anyone who wants a rainfall radar will have to pay for it. But these drawbacks shouldn’t stop you downloading what’s a great freebie weather app.Also, Hello Weather has a trump card in its data source menu, which lists conditions and temperatures from five different providers. If one regularly seems better than the others, you can switch with a tap. Nice.
ClippyCam is a camera app that makes use of both iPhone cameras. You shoot a still – or hold the shutter to record a short video – and once that’s done use the FaceTime camera to overlay a second photo or video.At first, you might end up with what looks like a screengrab from Skype, but play around with the various options and you can get a bit more creative. For example, take a snap on holiday and then add a video of your family waving to a loved one; or load a movie poster and unsubtly insert your head into the scene.Smartly, the app can save your ‘vanilla’ snap alongside your ClippyCam creation, although note the latter has a watermark unless you splash out on a one-off $2.99/£2.99 IAP.
Clarity is all about creating wallpaper for your iPhone’s home and lock screens. The name comes from the app’s ability to create artwork that improves the legibility of the content above it.Three options are available: Gradient, Blur, and Mask. Gradient has you choose two colors and decide on the direction of the gradient. Blur has you take a photo or picture and assign a blur level. And Mask allows you to overlay a color-to-transparent gradient atop an image.It would be good to have positioning options for imported images (Clarity just crops as it sees fit), but otherwise this is a great freebie for quickly creating sleek and effective wallpaper for iPhone.
Steller is an app about stories. On first opening the app, you get a scrolling pane of photos to explore, each with a title overlaid. It kind of resembles a minimal virtual bookstore.Tapping a picture allows you to delve into a story, which is presented as a little flick book. Depending on the author, you might just get a few pages of photos; some also add a little commentary – although text content is typically succinct in Steller stories, because pictures do the talking.Creating a story yourself is simple, too. Pick a theme, import up to 20 photos and videos, choose a template for each page, and then share with the world. And although your output’s best enjoyed within the Steller app, people can visit your creations in a desktop browser, too.
Infinite Music says it will help you “rediscover your music library”, through “smart remixing and mashups”. What this really means is the app rifles through all the DRM-free music on your iPhone, throws it up in the air, and plays the result.The theory is that Infinite Music figures out the dynamics of songs and then has everything flow together, potentially forever. And sometimes it works. Often, though, it’s more akin to a hyperactive DJ with no attention span over-excitedly live remixing your music collection.In short, then, Infinite Music is often more a mad and jolting musical journey than seamless magic, but it’s certainly interesting. And given that it’s free, it’s worth grabbing for a distinctly different take on a music collection that might have become all too familiar.
This app is one for perfectionists who also happen to spend a lot of time on Twitter. Often, people post links to articles, but want to highlight something, and so they take and attach a screen grab. With OneShot for Screenshots, these screen grabs becomes a whole lot more useful.After you’ve taken a grab, you open the app and load a screenshot. You can then crop it and even highlight the bits you want people to notice. Comments and source URLs can be added before the resulting composition is hurled at Twitter.The workflow within OneShot is admittedly not that sleek, requiring bouncing between it and other apps. But highlights on screengrabs help get across your point much more than a wall of text.
With 8bit Painter, you can pretend a couple of decades of technology evolution never happened, and create digital images like it’s 1984. On firing up the app, you select a canvas size – from a truly tiny 16 x 16 pixels, all the way up to a comparatively gargantuan 128 x 128. You’re then faced with a grid and a small selection of tools.There’s nothing especially advanced here – this isn’t Pixaki for iPhone, and it lacks that tool’s layers and animation smarts. But you do get the basics – pencil; flood fill; eraser; color selection – needed for tapping out a tiny artistic masterpiece.And, importantly, you can pinch-zoom the canvas for adding fine details, and export your image at scaled-up sizes, so it’s not minuscule when viewed elsewhere. For a freebie, this one’s pretty great.
Smartphones are supposed to save you time, but certain actions may require you to dart in and out of several apps, which can be fiddly on an iPhone. The idea behind Workflow is to create triggers that automate a string of actions.If you’re new to this sort of thing, Workflow does its best to be friendly. The interface primarily comprises big, colorful icons, and the drag-and-drop workflow creation is surprisingly approachable.Should that still sound like too much work, dozens of workflows (such as GIF creation, making PDFs, and finding local coffee shops) can be downloaded from the gallery to use as-is or experiment with. Usefully, these are not only available from within Workflow itself, but also can be saved to your Home screen, Today widget, Apple Watch, or Share sheet.
Billed as ‘your smart travel guide’, Triposo elevates itself above the competition. First and foremost, it’s comprehensive. Whereas other guides typically concentrate on a few major cities, Triposo drills down into tiny towns and villages as well, helping you get the best out of wherever you happen to be staying.50,000 destinations worldwide are included, complete with information on bars, restaurants, hotels, tours and attractions.Beyond that, the app is easy to use, and it optionally works offline, enabling you to download guides on a regional basis. This is perfect for when you’re ambling about somewhere new, without a data connection. And if you’re unsure where to head, Triposo can even build an editable city walk for you too.
If your friends and family are very much of the opinion that your singing voice resembles a particularly unhappy wounded yak, Vanido might be just the ticket. It’s akin to personal music teacher Yousician, only the instrument you spend time improving is your voice.Vanido works by way of short vocal exercises that change daily. As you attempt to sing, you get real-time visual feedback, so you can see how accurate your pitch is compared to what’s required. Got a wiggly line? Try to hold a note. A line heading north? Dig deep for those bass notes.Given enough time, you probably still won’t be troubling the pop charts – but perhaps those around you won’t visibly grimace when you start singing along to your favorites.
We’re in one-trick pony territory with Moodelizer, but it’s quite a trick. The app’s all about adding custom soundtracks to videos while you record them, and all you need is a single finger.You select a genre, and ‘rehearse’ playback by dragging your finger about the square viewfinder. As you move upwards, the music’s intensity increases; rightwards adjusts variation.Just messing about with the audio alone is quite fun, but it all properly comes together when making a video.Now, when you’re shooting yet another clip of your cat being mildly amusing, Moodelizer can add much-needed excitement by way of rousing club music or head-banging guitar riffs. Quite why you can’t import a video to add music to, however, we’ve no idea.
A sister product to the more capable iMovie, Clips finds Apple making a foray into stripped-back video apps. It’s designed for impulsive on-the-fly video capture, with scenes grabbed by holding a big red button.Recordings can also feature live captions, which work brilliantly. You’re not restricted to footage captured in the moment either – Clips can import existing video and photos. You can also add stickers, emoji, and effects to individual shots, before flinging the result online and impatiently awaiting a call from Hollywood.The lack of clip transitions is a pity, and Apple’s app feels cluttered compared to some sleeker rivals. But for no outlay, there’s plenty of fun here for fans of video who dislike extensive, time-consuming editing. And the live captions are really great.
There’s no getting around the fact that Emolfi is ridiculous – but it’s also a lot of fun. Self-described as the “first empathic selfie app”, it has you take a photo of your face, whereupon the app’s wizardry attempts to figure out your mood. The app then cuts out the background and adjusts the rest of the image accordingly.If you’re feeling happy, you might be surrounded by bubbles and sunshine. If you’re angry or scared, you’ll get something that looks like a horror movie, or a massive spider on your face with your eyes animating towards it in worried fashion.It certainly beats yet another app unconvincingly transforming you into characters from fantasy and comic-book movies.
Prisma is the best-known app for transforming photos into tiny works of painted art, but Pixify takes things further, largely by offering you more control. Although you can just select which artwork you’d like your photo to ape, the Custom tab provides tools to tweak the result through changes to brush size, style amount, image resolution, and style influence.While ramping up settings can greatly increase rendering time, the results are often worth it – Pixify simply does a better job than Prisma of fashioning a realistic virtual painting. The app also works with video – although results there are a mite more variable.Output gets a Pixify logo added to it, but the Pro IAP ($0.99/99p/AU$1.99) removes those for good, along with unlocking higher-resolution artwork and longer videos.
There are plenty of ambient noise products on the App Store, designed to help you relax, or to distract you from surrounding hubbub. TaoMix 2 is one of the best, due to its gorgeous interface and the flexibility of the soundscapes you create.You start off with a blank canvas, to which you drag noises that are represented as neon discs. These can be recolored and resized, and positioned wherever you like on the screen. A circle is then placed to balance the mix, or flicked to meander about, so the various sounds ebb and flow over time.For free, you get eight sounds, can save custom mixes, and can even import your own recordings. Many dozens of additional sounds are available via various affordable IAP.
If you wonder what your iPhone would be like if graphics technology hadn’t moved on from the age of the C64, Famicam 64 can enlighten you. This camera app uses live filtering to replicate the visuals you might once have seen on a classic games system – or other old-school kit like oscilloscopes.Filters can have their properties adjusted, and you can add text, retro-oriented stickers, freeform scribbles, and borders to a photo, before sharing the results.Note that some options are limited in the free version, and output adds a Famicam 64 banner to the bottom of the image. You can get rid of all that with the PLUS IAP ($1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99), but in either incarnation, Famicam 64 is a fun, quirky, usable way to do something different with your camera.
If you’re bored with watching the same old movies or relying on rental charts, Popcorn may be just the ticket, as the app instead aims to catch your eye with hand-picked lists. This means you delve into anything from ‘movies starring robots’ to the comparatively oddball ‘most harrowing kids’ movies’ (complete with a gruesome still from Watership Down).Open a list and you get offered a few cards, which you swipe Tinder-style: left consigns them to oblivion and right adds a film to your watchlist. If you’re not sure about whatever’s on a card, you can have a quick look at a trailer first. It’s a fast, simple, effective means of building a movie watchlist in an unusual way.
Adobe apparently has no interest in bringing full Photoshop to iPhone, but the brand’s focused Photoshop-branded apps offer a smattering of the desktop product’s power in the palm of your hand. Adobe Photoshop Sketch is a drawing and painting tool, designed for anyone who fancies dabbling in natural media.Select a canvas and you can work with virtual pens, markers, acrylic, ink and watercolor. Acrylic is nicely gloopy, and watercolor can be realistically blended as it bleeds into the ‘paper’. A layers system provides scope for complex art, and stencils enable precision when required.For free, the app’s hard to beat; and for Creative Cloud subscribers, work can be exported to layered PSD for further refinement in full-fat desktop Photoshop.
With its large display and the Apple Pencil, the iPad seems the natural home for a coloring app like Pigment. But if you fancy doing the odd bit of coloring-in when you need to relax, Pigment’s great to also have installed on the device you always have in your pocket.Even on the smaller screen, it excels. You get quick access to a set of top-notch coloring tools, and a range of intricate illustrations to work on. Sure, buy a subscription and you gain access to a much bigger range; but for free, you still get an awful lot.Amusingly, the app also offers options for staying inside the lines. By default, Pigment automatically detects what you’re trying to color and assists accordingly – but you can go fully manual if you wish!
The iPhone version of GarageBand has always been ambitious. Aiming at newcomers and professionals alike, its feature set includes smart instruments that always keep you in key, multitrack recording/editing functionality, a loops player, and superb guitar amps.But 2017’s major update takes things much further, with new synth Alchemy improving the app’s previously slightly ropey sound set. Smart piano strips have been expanded to all keyboard instruments, helping anyone to play perfect melodies.And Audio Unit support exists to load third-party synths directly inside of GarageBand, similar to how plug-ins work on desktop music-making apps.Because of these things, GarageBand is now even more suited to musicians of all skill levels – although be aware on smaller screens that the app can be a touch fiddly, what with there being so much going on.Although the app is listed as $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99 on the App Store, it’s free for anyone who’s activated a compatible device after September 1, 2014.
It’s so easy to click links you plan to get to later, and at the end of the day realize you’re left with dozens of unread tabs. With Instapaper, such problems vanish.The app is effectively time-shifting for the web. You load articles and it saves them for later. Even better, it strips cruft, leaving only the content in a mobile-optimized view ideal for iPhone. The standard theme is very smart, but can be tweaked, and there’s text-to-speech when you need to delve into your articles eyes-free.Should you end up with a large archive, articles can be filtered or organized into folders. Want to find something specific? Full-text search has you covered. It’s all great – and none of it costs a penny.
Although creative giant Adobe doesn’t seem keen on bringing its desktop software to iPhone in one piece, we’re nonetheless getting chunks of its power reimagined as smaller, more focused apps. The idea behind Adobe Photoshop Fix is to enable you to rapidly retouch and restore photos on your iPhone – using the power of Photoshop.Some of the features aren’t anything outside of the ordinary: you get commonplace tools for cropping, rotation, and adjustments. But Photoshop Fix has some serious power within its straightforward interface, too, as evidenced by excellent vignette, defocus, and color tools.The best bit, though, is Liquify. Using this feature, you can mash a photo to bits or make really subtle changes, depending on the subject matter. And if you’re facing a portrait, you can specifically fiddle with features, in a manner usually associated with high-end PC software.
Unsurprisingly, Wikipedia is an app for browsing Wikipedia, the massive online encyclopedia that makes all paper-based equivalents green with envy. It’s the official app by Wikipedia and is easily the best free option, and only rivaled by one paid alternative we’re aware of (the rather fine V for Wikipedia).Wikipedia gets the basics right: an efficient, readable layout; fast access to your browsing history; a home page full of relevant and potentially new articles. But it’s all the small things that really count.Save an article for later and it’s also stored offline. Finding the text a bit small? You can resize it in two taps.Also, if you’ve a fairly new iPhone, 3D Touch is well-supported: home screen quick actions provide speedy access to search and random articles; and when reading in the app, the Peek gesture previews a link, and an upwards swipe displays a button you can tap to save it for later.
If you need some ambient noise around you, White Noise+ proves an excellent app for blocking out distractions. The free version offers a small selection of sounds to soothe your soul – white noise, rain, wind, thunder, and wind chimes.To create some ambience, you simply drag one or more noise icons to an on-screen grid; the items towards the top play at a higher volume, and those towards the right become more complex in nature. Happen upon an especially pleasing combination and you’re able to save your mix for later use.The app smartly includes built-in mixes to provide a little inspiration – and to showcase a wider range of sounds that’s available via IAP. A single $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49 purchase also removes the ad bar, unlocks a sleep timer, alarm, and dark mode, and allows you to fiddle with the 15 additional sounds – in both the bundled mixes and also your own creations.But whether you pay or not, the combination of excellent sounds and a modern, usable interface make White Noise+ a best-in-class product on the iPhone.
Many apps attempt to emulate film stock, but most go for an over-saturated, larger-than-life take on old-school photography. By contrast, Filmborn is all about realism, arming you with tools to make you a better photographer.The icon-heavy interface takes some getting used to; but once you know where everything is, Filmborn quickly replaces the stock camera app – or any other app you had previously favored. Much of this is down to features such as manual controls and a superb blown highlights preview, which covers problematic areas of your potential snap in red.But it’s the filters that will most wow anyone keen on real-world stock. They’re few in number but extremely realistic, and Filmborn also assists regarding when to use them, thereby adding educational clout.Beyond that, there’s an editor for making post-capture adjustments, and some pro-oriented features you can unlock using IAP, such as curves and multiple set-up slots. But even in its free incarnation, Filmborn is an essential download.
This music-creation app manages the tricky combination of being broadly approachable to the masses yet providing real scope for advanced composition. Designed to be used on the go, Tize has you lay down drum, melody or audio tracks (the last of those being recordings made using your iPhone’s mic).The app automatically loops recordings, can align notes to the beat, and gives you options for adjusting tempo, scale, and effects.Its main differentiator over the competition is speed. Once you crack how it works, you can very rapidly fashion loops comprising several overlaid drum tracks, bass, keyboard arpeggios, and lush chords.Need some help? Easy Chords will play chords for the current scale when you tap a single note. Want to tweak things? Delve into the piano roll and move individual notes. For free, this is astonishing stuff.The only limit is the available sounds, but these, naturally, can be expanded via various affordable IAPs.
You might not associate taking medication with a hip and cool iPhone, but technology can be a boon to anyone with such requirements. Round Health offers great pill tracking and dosage notifications – and it doesn’t do any harm that the app also happens to be gorgeous.It’s split into three sections: in My Medicine, you add medications, and for each you can define a name, strength, individual doses, and schedules based around reminder windows of up to three hours. In Today, you view and log the day’s medication.Flexible preferences enable you to set up cross-device sync, push notifications, and to export data – and reminding users to refill will be a real help too.That the app is free is generous, given the job it does – and how well it does it. Also, the system is flexible enough that Round Health might work as a reminders system for other repeating tasks, albeit one in which jobs are labelled as ‘taken’ rather than ‘done’!
Apple’s pre-loaded Clock app has a perfectly serviceable timer – but you only get one countdown at any given moment. MultiTimer, as its name might suggest, gives you multiple timers that you can set going simultaneously.On launching the app, you’ll find six timers already set up. Each has a different color, name and icon. Tap a timer and it starts, tap again to pause, or double-tap to reset. Easy. Long press and you open the timer’s options, so you can adjust its default time, label, color, icon and sound.You also have plenty of preferences to delve into, including adjusting the default workspace. Should you want extra workspaces – or a custom layout – grab the $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99 MultiTimer Pro IAP.
There are two sides to Firefox Focus – and both make it worth installing on your iPhone. The first is in providing you with an idiot-proof private browser, for when you don’t want to be tracked.You type in a URL, visit whatever pages you like, and then tap erase to eradicate your session. (This is also suitable if someone else wants to quickly use your phone, negating anyone first having to sign out of services.) If you at any point want to jump over to Safari, you can do so by tapping a button.However, Firefox Focus can also – with permission – integrate with Apple’s browser. What this means is you can block trackers that follow you around the web, analyzing your browsing history and serving ads. And if you’re on a poor cellular connection and finding sites loading slowly, Firefox Focus can block web fonts to improve performance.It’s all very effective and simple to use. 
An app rooted in a deeply personal story, Notes on Blindness VR is a VR experience based on the notes of John Hull, who went blind in 1983. Each of the six chapters explores a specific memory, moment and location, utilizing surround audio alongside Hull’s spoken notes, and glittery visuals akin to echolocation.Purely as a documentary watched on a standard iPhone display, Notes on Blindness VR is well worth experiencing, as Hull adjusts to his new life and experiences – objects ‘disappearing’ as their related sounds fade, and how rain makes the world beautiful because for Hull rainfall gives objects form.But the full VR experience (assuming you’re also using headphones) takes things further; you gain greater insight into Hull’s life as your own senses are taken over, leaving you with flickers of light but a world of sound.
There are loads of to-do apps on the App Store, but Productive has a different goal: rather than having you merely tick items off of a list, it wants to encourage you to change your routines and habits.You create habits within the app that are designed to be simple and assigned to a period of the day, making for straightforward but flexible planning.Bright icons atop a deep gray background make your list simple to browse, and the calendar pages ensure tracking progress is a breeze. You can add iOS reminders to any item, too, although we preferred regularly visiting the app – a nice habit in itself.For free, you’re limited to five ongoing habits, but that should make for a good start – and adding too many could make sticking to new routines less likely. However, if you hanker for unlimited habits, you can upgrade for a one-off $3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99.
MuseCam dispenses with the gimmickry seen in many iPhone camera apps, instead concentrating on manual control over shutter, ISO, white balance and focus. There’s no means to use a volume button for the shutter, nor RAW support, but otherwise it’s a solid camera.The app is also an editor. You select a Camera Roll item, add film-inspired filter presets, and make further adjustments. Again, this feels like serious fare, but MuseCam wisely provides enough tools for pro-oriented iPhone photographers while remaining accessible enough for newcomers.Interestingly, edits made on Camera Roll items remain accessible in MuseCam regardless of whether you export your final work, meaning you can later return to and update in-progress projects.All in all, MuseCam feels refined and mature. That it’s free (bar the option of splashing out on additional presets by way of IAP) and also ad-free is remarkable.
 
It’s safe to say that the original promotional video for Bohemian Rhapsody – which popularized the medium – is on the weird side, but it doesn’t compare to The Bohemian Rhapsody Experience.This experiment by Google aims to send you on a journey through Freddie Mercury’s subconscious mind, and recreate the sensation of being on stage with the band.With VR glasses strapping your iPhone to your face, the experience is at once deeply strange and excitingly varied. Wherever you look, something’s happening, whether on stage with a distinctly stylized animated take on the band, and then looking behind you to see the crowd, or standing before a rock face, watching singing creatures in the distance, only to peer down and see a stomach-churning chasm below.Smartly, the app also works as a standard 360-degree video, which might not have the same immersive clout, but remains impressive all the same. 
Google and Apple may be rivals, but that doesn’t stop them building on each other’s work, as evidenced in Motion Stills, an app which takes the idea of Live Photos and runs with it.Putting your Live Photos through Motion Stills adds Google’s stabilization technology to them, reducing the amount of visible camera shake, but that’s just the beginning.You can also transform them into GIFs which can be shared in messaging apps, or even combine your Motion Stills into longer movies, and do cool things like invert the direction of the action to make your subject look like it’s dancing.If you like the idea – but not the reality – of Live Photos then Motion Stills is the app for you, and you’re not limited to using it for new images – you can also fix up any Live Photos you’ve already taken.
If you lack the patience for working with full-on stop motion apps, but nonetheless fancy yourself as a mini-Aardman, Loop by Seedling is just the ticket.You shoot frames using your camera, and can handily overlay your previous photo in semi-transparent form, to ensure everything is properly lined up.Once you’re done, you can play your photos as an animation, where tools are available to adjust the frame rate, add a filter, and mess about with grid collages, creating a Warhol-like animated GIF to share.The interface is a bit opaque – quite a lot of controls need to be ‘discovered’ before you become comfortable with using this app.But once you know where everything is, Loop becomes a smart and efficient way to create charming miniature animations; amusingly, it also works within Messages, so you can reply to friends with a tiny movie should you consider the written word passé.
VPNs have become commonplace in a world where countries routinely block internet access to key content. In some cases, you may merely be blocked from accessing media libraries; elsewhere, even news and social media may be beyond reach. The idea behind Opera VPN is to enable anyone to access otherwise inaccessible online content, entirely for free.Set-up takes only a minute or so, and the VPN itself is toggled in the Opera VPN app. You get a small selection of regions to choose from, after which point your iPhone effectively thinks it’s in whatever country you selected.During use, Opera VPN typically feels snappy, rivaling paid VPNs we’ve used elsewhere. Although it won’t unlock all overseas services (Netflix, notably, is wise to VPNs these days), it’s at the very least a good first place to try if you find you can’t get at a particular corner of the internet.
From the brains behind game-like language-learning app Duolingo comes Tinycards. The aim is to enable people to memorize anything by way of friendly flashcard sets.Duolingo itself offers a number of sets based around language, history and geography. Smartly, though, anyone can create and publish a set, which has led to hundreds of decks about all kinds of subjects, from renaissance art to retro computing.The memorizing bit is based around minutes-long drills. You’re presented with cards and details to memorize, which the app then challenges you on, by way of typing in answers or answering multiple choice questions.Some early teething problems with typos and abbreviations (for example, stating ‘USA’ was incorrect because ‘United States of America’ was the answer) have been dealt with by way of a handy ‘I was right’ button. Just don’t press it when you don’t really know the answer, OK?
With Google having extended its tendrils into almost every aspect of online life, Google Trips is the company’s effort to help you explore the real world more easily.Tell the app where you want to go and it’ll serve up a selection of things to do, itineraries for day trips, food and drink recommendations, and more.This being a Google app, some of the smart bits are somewhat reliant on you being ensconced in the Google ecosystem – reservations need to be sucked in from Gmail, for example.However, with offline access for any downloaded location, Trips in tandem with Maps (which can also work offline) is an excellent app to have handy while on your holiday, and with the included ‘need to know’ section (emergency numbers; hospitals; health centers) could even be a life-saver.
Following in the footsteps of MSQRD, FaceRig enables you to embody a virtual character by controlling it with your face.Everything happens entirely automatically – you just select a character and background, gurn into the camera, watch a seemingly sentient floating hamburger mirror your very expression, and have a little sit down to think about the terrifying advance of technology.For those not freaked out by the hamburger to the point that they hurl their iPhones into the sea, FaceRig provides plenty of characters, unlocked using tokens earned through regular use or bought using IAP.You can also snap and share photos of your virtual visage, or record entire videos where you pretend you’ve turned into a sentient goggles-wearing raccoon, an angry dragon or a slightly irritated-looking turkey.
We’re not in the habit of recommending stickers for the Messages app in this list of best free iPhone apps, but we’ll make an exception for Classic Mac.An official Apple production, you get a whole host of Susan Kare’s perfect pixel art as taken from the original Mac, and which looks pin-sharp on a modern iPhone.There’s perhaps not a great deal of utility in some of the stickers (the paint can icon from the original MacPaint, for example), but we’d be much happier to always see the Happy Mac icon (and evil twin Sad Mac) in place of boring emoji smilies when chatting away in Messages.(And we’re pretty sure we’ll find a use for Clarus the Dogcow any day now.)
One-time darling of the digital check-in crowd, Foursquare in 2014 reworked its app to focus entirely on local search. Although this irked fans who’d been there since the beginning, it’s hard to criticize the app we’ve been left with.On iPhone, you start with a search field, beneath which sits a handy list of relatively local places of interest. Tap an item and you gain access to a photo gallery, basic details, and a slew of reviews.In the main, Foursquare is quite obsessed with food, drink and nightlife, but the ‘fun’ and ‘more’ categories house plenty of additional places to visit, from gig venues and cinemas to rather more sedate options like parks and historic sites.Filters and ‘tastes’ options within the app’s settings enable you to further hone down recommended choices, and anything you fancy reminding yourself of on a more permanent basis can be added to a custom list.
When you see an app describe itself as a ‘workout and kitchen timer’, you might wonder what its developers get up to. (“Well, that’s dinner sorted, time for some press-ups!”) But Timeglass ably showcases how timers for cooking and exercise have plenty of overlap.The app itself is extremely user-friendly. You get three types of timer – single-use, stopwatch, and reusable. The last of those can have one or more steps. This means you can, for example, devise an exercise routine, and Timeglass will methodically work its way through the steps, optionally barking each one’s name or playing an alert noise.It’s a pity there’s no looping timer – that would enable Timeglass to assist with repeating workouts and run work/rest Pomodoro cycles. Otherwise, this is an excellent timer app, and it’s also properly free, entirely lacking IAP.
Although most fans want to cheer on their soccer team by hollering from the stands or, second best, yelling at a TV in a pub, that’s not always possible. When you’re otherwise busy, Onefootball is a great means of keeping track of your favorites.The app’s a cinch to set up. Choose your teams, allow Onefootball to send notifications, and then let the app work its magic. On match days, you’ll be notified of every goal, which, depending on your team’s fortunes, may make you thrill at or dread hearing the notification sound.If you at any point need a little more detail, venture into the app and you’ll discover everything from live tickers to customized news feeds.
If you like the idea of editing home movies but are a modern-day being with no time or attention span, try Quik. The app automates the entire process, enabling you to create beautiful videos with a few taps and show off to your friends without needing talent – surely the epitome of today’s #hashtag generation.All you need do is select some videos and photos, and choose a style. Quik then edits them into a great-looking video you can share with friends and family. But if your inner filmmaker hankers for a little more control, you can adjust the style, music, format and pace, along with trimming clips, reordering items, and adding titles to get the effect you desire.Cementing its friendly nature, Quik offers a little pairs minigame for you to mess about with while the app renders your masterpiece. And there’s even a weekly ‘For You’ video Quik compiles without you lifting a finger.
We’ve seen quite a few apps that try to turn your photos into art, but none manage it with quite the same raw ability as Prisma. The app is almost disarmingly simple to use: shoot or select a photo, crop your image, and choose an art style (options range from classic paintings through to comic book doodling).The app within a few seconds then transforms your photo into a miniature Picasso or Munch, and it’s instantly better than most of us could ever hope to achieve with Photoshop.On trying Prisma with a range of imagery, we found it almost never comes up with a duff result thanks to some insanely smart processing. But if you find the effects a bit jarring, a slide of your finger can soften your chosen filter prior to sharing your masterpiece online.Our only criticism is the app’s fairly low-res output, making Prisma pics only suitable for screen use – but it’s a real must-have.
Unashamedly retro, BitCam is like shoving a Macintosh Plus into your iPhone’s camera. It snaps retro pixelated black and white photos, with dithering right out of Mac co-creator Bill Atkinson’s playbook. But what really sets BitCam apart is its authenticity. Tap the settings button and a window zooms in, using the same effect Mac old hands will remember from the 1980s.Even the interface apes old-school Macs, from the checkboxes and OK button to the trashcan that appears after you take a photo.There are, though, some concessions to post-1984 living: you can apply the effect to existing images through a Photos extension, and if you need a bit more colour in your life, a ‘Color Graphics Card’ is available as a one-off $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99 IAP.
The camera sitting inside your iPhone is pretty amazing. In fact, plenty of people think it’s too amazing, the clarity and purity of digital shots having lost the ‘character’ found in photography of old. Retrica brings a sense of creativity and randomness to iPhone snaps – and more besides.Filters are Retrica’s main trick. You can manually select one from a list (which can be managed, for faster access to favorites) or try your luck by stabbing the shuffle button. A selected filter’s strength can be adjusted, but there’s sadly no quick ‘filter off’ switch.The filters, though, are varied and interesting, and you can optionally add a blur and vignette. It’s also possible to apply Retrica filters to shots taken elsewhere, if you prefer taking ‘clean’ pics and messing around with them later.Retrica also plays with time. You can take multi-shots, your photos subsequently being stitched together on a grid (there are well over a dozen options to choose from), or played in sequence as an exportable GIF.Alternatively, hold the shutter and the app starts recording video, using your chosen filter. For five dollarpounds, we’d have written a glowing review about Retrica, but for free this is an astonishing gift – a superb and unmissable creative camera app.
If you’re forever hunting down trailers to see what’s worth flinging money at in the cinema, iTunes Movie Trailers is an essential download. The interface is split between featured films, charts (by popularity, box office take or rating), and favorites.Selecting a film doesn’t immediately fire up the trailer. Instead, you get some artwork, a synopsis of the movie, information (cast, run time, genre, and so on), and a list of trailers to play.Like most movie apps, there’s a whiff of US-first here. (The app is at the time of writing restricted to the USA, Canada and the UK, and uses US ratings and charts.) But for the movie-mad, it’s an elegant and usable means of accessing trailers, some of which are even temporarily exclusive to Apple.
If you used to sit there at school, doodling flick-animation masterpieces in the corner of your jotter, Animatic is the iPhone equivalent. You use simple tools to scribble on a small canvas, and then build your animation frame-by-frame.The app uses a basic onion-skin approach, meaning you can see the previous few frames faintly behind the current one, ensuring whatever you draw doesn’t lurch all over the place. Once you’re done, you can adjust the animation speed of your creation and export it to video or GIF.Given that you’re scribbling with what amounts to the iPhone equivalent of felt pens, you won’t be crafting the next Pixar movie here. But Animatic is fun, a great way to get into animation, and a useful sketchpad for those already dabbling. The app also includes a bunch of demos, showcasing what’s possible with a little time, effort and imagination.
Plenty of apps claim they can get you making music in seconds, but Figure really means it. The app’s heritage helps, as it comes from Propellerhead Software, creators of the legendary Reason and ReBirth.In Figure, though, working on loops and beats is stripped right back from what you’d find in those complex PC apps; instead, you tap out drums, and slide your finger around to fashion monster bass and playful leads.Sounds can be tweaked or swapped out entirely at any point. Once you’re done, finished tracks can be uploaded and shared online. For serious musicians, there’s even Audiobus support.
There’s a tendency for weather apps to either bombard you with facts or try to be too clever with design Hello Weather, by contrast, simply wants to get you all the weather information you need, but nothing you don’t.This focused approach doesn’t mean Hello Weather is an ugly app. On the contrary, it’s very smart, with a clean layout and readable graphs. Mostly, though, we’re fond of Hello Weather because it eschews complexity without limiting the information on offer.The single-page view is split in three, covering current conditions, the next few hours, and the week’s forecast. If you need more detail, a swipe provides access to things like sunrise/sunset times for the current day, or written forecasts for the coming week.The app doesn’t quite check off our entire wish-list – the lack of a rainfall radar (or at least a precipitation prediction graph for the coming hour) is a pity. But as a free no-fuss weather app, Hello Weather is hard to beat.
The idea behind Cheatsheet is to provide fast access to tiny chunks of information you never remember but really need to: your hotel room, your car’s number plate, Wi-Fi passwords, or, if you’re feeling suitably retro, the Konami code.Set-up is pleasingly straightforward. Using the app, you add ‘cheats’ by selecting an icon and then typing your info nugget. When you’ve got yourself a number of ‘cheats’, they can be reordered as you see fit. Once you’re done, the entire lot can be displayed on the Today widget or an Apple Watch.Cheatsheet saves some features for a $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49 ‘pro’ upgrade – a custom keyboard, an action extension, some of the icons, and iCloud sync. But the free version is nonetheless useful and generous, along with making really good use of the Today view on your phone.
With the vast range of movies available at any given time, keeping track of what you’d like to see and what you’ve watched already isn’t easy. TodoMovies 4 aims to simplify the process and aid discovery.The app starts off with the discovery bit, having you check out lists that range from Academy Award nominees to those with the ‘greatest gun fights of all time’. Beyond this, you can browse by genre, explore upcoming films and what’s on in theatres, or perform a search for something specific.Selecting a film loads artwork, and most have a trailer. Tap the big ‘+’ to add the current film to your To Watch list, which can be searched or browsed (alphabetically, by date added, or by release date).Watched films can be removed or sent to your Watched list, whereupon they can be rated. This mix of focus and friendliness – along with some very smart design – makes this app a no-brainer download for movie buffs.
Snapseed is an extremely versatile photo editor for iPhone. You choose from a number of tools and filters, and proceed to pinch and swipe your way to a transformed image. You get all the basics — cropping, rotation, healing brushes, and the like — but the filters are where you can get really creative. There are blurs, photographic effects, and more extreme options like ‘grunge’ and ‘grainy film’, which can add plenty of atmosphere to your photographs.The vast majority of effects are tweakable, mostly by dragging up and down on the canvas to select a parameter and then horizontally to adjust its strength. Brilliantly, the app also records applied effects as separate layers, each of which remains fully editable until you decide to save your image and work on something else.
It’s no secret that Apple Maps doesn’t have the best reputation, although it has got better in recent times.Fortunately, Google Maps is a free download, and a far better solution than the old Google Maps app as well, thanks to the inclusion of turn-by-turn navigation and – in some cities – public transport directions. Handily, it can also save chunks of maps for offline use – great when you’re heading somewhere with poor connectivity.It’s an easy way to supercharge your iPhone’s mapping capabilities and one of the first apps you should grab for the iPhone 7.
If you live in or visit one of the supported cities (which include London, Paris, Berlin and New York), Citymapper is an essential download, assuming you want to find your way around more easily.It’ll zero in on your location and then intelligently get you from A to B, providing all kinds of travel options and routing, and, where relevant, live times for transit.
Sometimes with apps, it’s the seemingly little things that make a big difference. With Overcast, for example, you get a perfectly decent podcast app that does everything you’d expect: podcast subscriptions; playback via downloads or streaming; a robust search for new shows.But where Overcast excels is in attempting to save you time and improve your listening experience. Effects (which can be assigned per-podcast) provide the smartest playback speed-up we’ve heard, voice boost for improving the clarity of talky shows, and smart speed.The last of those attempts to shorten silences. You won’t use that setting for comedy shows, but it’s superb for lengthy tech podcasts. As of version 2.0, Overcast is free, and betters all the other iOS podcast apps that also lack a price tag. (Should you wish to support the app, though, there’s an entirely optional recurring patronage IAP.)
Although Apple introduced iCloud Keychain in iOS 7, designed to securely store passwords and payment information, 1Password is a more powerful system. Along with integrating with Safari, it can be used to hold identities, secure notes, network information and app licence details. It’s also cross-platform, meaning it will work with Windows and Android.And since 1Password is a standalone app, accessing and editing your information is fast and efficient. The core app is free – the company primarily makes its money on the desktop. However, you’ll need a monthly subscription or to pay a one-off $9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99 IAP to access advanced features (multiple vaults, Apple Watch support, tagging, and custom fields).
We’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop with Duolingo, but it seems this organisation really does want you to learn new languages entirely for free.And it’s a fantastic app — fun, friendly, and packed with bite-sized quizzes that hold your interest and never become onerous. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to dabble in a bit of Spanish, French, German, Portugese, Italian, Irish, Dutch, Danish, Swedish or even English!
It’s interesting to watch the evolution of an app. Starting out on iPad, Paper was something of a design industry darling, offering a beautiful and stylish, if ultimately slightly limited, digital notebook of sorts.Then it went free, the developer positioning Paper as the perfect app to use with its Pencil stylus.But the latest update not only brings the app to iPhone it also radically reimagines and expands it. Alongside existing sketch tools, you now get notes and the means to add photos, transforming Paper from nice-to-have to essential.
Back in 2009, Jorge Colombo did some deft iPhone finger painting using Brushes, and the result became a New Yorker cover.It was a turning point for iOS and suitably handy ammunition for tech bores who’d been drearily banging on about the fact an iPhone could never be used for proper work. The app sadly stagnated, but was made open source and returned as Brushes Redux.Now free, it’s still a first-rate art app, with a simple layers system, straightforward controls, and a magnificent brush editor that starts you off with a random creation and enables you to mess about with all manner of properties, from density to jitter.
We keep hearing about how important coding will be to the future of everything. That’s all very well, unless code makes about as much sense to you as the most exotic of foreign languages.The idea behind Lrn is to gently ease you in. Through friendly copy and simple quizzes, you gradually gain confidence across a range of languages.For free, you get courses on HTML and CSS, along with introductions to JavaScript, Ruby and Python. You can complete any course for $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49; but even if you don’t pay anything at all, you’ll get a lot out of this app if you’ve an interest in coding but don’t know where to start.
The science of sleep is something few people delve into. But you know some days that you wake up and feel awful, even if you think you’ve had a decent night’s sleep. Sleep Cycle might be able to tell you why. It analyses you while you sleep, using sound or motion, and provides detailed statistics when you wake.Additionally, it’ll constantly figure out what phase of sleep you’re in, attempting to wake you at the best possible time, in a gentle, pleasing manner.That probably all sounds a bit woo-woo, but here’s the thing: this app actually works, from the graphing bits through to helping you feel refreshed and relaxed on waking up.
Developer Pixite is best known for its eye-popping filter apps, and so Assembly was quite the surprise. The app is all about building vector art from shapes.Individual components are dropped on to the canvas, and can then be grouped or have styles applied. It feels a bit like the iPhone equivalent of playing with felt shapes, but you soon realise that surprisingly complex compositions are possible, not least when you view the ‘inspirations’ tab or start messing about with the ‘remix’ projects.For free, you get loads of stuff to play with, but inexpensive IAP unlocks all kinds of bundles with new themed shape sets to explore.
It’s interesting to see how far the App Store has come. Time was, Apple banned apps that gave you the chance to build prototypes. Now, Marvel is welcomed by Apple, and is entirely free.Using the app, you can build on photographed sketches, Photoshop documents, or on-screen scribbles. Buttons can be added, and screens can be stitched together.Once you’re done, your prototype can be shared. If you’re not sure where to start, check out existing prototypes made by the Marvel community.
The Weather Underground app (or ‘Wunderground’ to your iPhone, which sounds like an oddly dark Disney film) is one of those products that flings in everything but the kitchen sink yet somehow remains usable.Whatever your particular interest in the weather, you’re covered, through a slew of ’tiles’ (which can be moved or disabled to suit) on a huge scrolling page.At the top, you get a nicely designed tile detailing current conditions and showing a local map. Tick and cross buttons lurk, asking for input regarding the app’s accuracy. During testing, we almost always tapped the tick — reassuring.Scroll, though, and you find yourself immersed in the kind of weather geekery that will send meteorological nuts into rapture. There are rainfall and temperature graphs for the next day and hour, along with simpler forecasts for the week.You get details on humidity, pressure and dew point. Sunrise, sunset and moon timings are presented as stylish animations. You can investigate local and global webcams and photos, and then head to the web if not satisfied with that deluge of data.Weather Underground is funded by non-intrusive ads (which you can disable annually for $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99 if you feel the need), and is easily our favourite free iPhone weather app; in fact, it even rivals the best paid fare on the platform.
On the iPad, Novation Launchpad is one of the best music apps suitable for absolutely anyone. You get a bunch of pads, and tap them to trigger audio loops, which always sound great regardless of the combinations used. This isn’t making music per se, but you can get up a good head of steam while imagining yourself as a futuristic combination of electronic musician, DJ and mix genius.On iPhone, it shouldn’t really work, the smaller screen not being as suited to tapping away at dozens of pads. But smart design from Novation proves otherwise. 48 trigger pads are placed front and centre, and are just big enough to accurately hit unless you’ve the most sausagey of sausage thumbs.Effects lurk at the foot of the screen — tap one and a performance space slides in, covering half the screen, ready for you to stutter and filter your masterpiece.As on the iPad, you can also record a live mix, which can be played back, shared and exported. This is a really great feature, adding optional permanence to your tapping exploits.
In a sense, there’s something of an old-school feel about Guides by Lonely Planet. Whereas some iPhone travel guides are desperate to funnel information into your eyes about even the most far-flung or obscure locations, Guides is more interested in covering a handful of famous cities: London, New York, Paris, Barcelona and the like. This might seem limited, but it gives the app a sense of focus, and also enables it to be blazing fast.When we tapped Paris, we expected to be hanging around while information downloaded, but Guides is done in about a second. Almost instantly, a map appears, detailing where interesting things are located. Inviting icons provide quick access to sights, restaurants, shops, and so on, and popular interests for a given city sit behind buttons masquerading as photographs.For tourists and day-trippers alike, there are overviews and basic budget planners, and you can bookmark any page. There’s nothing like Triposo’s city walks creator, nor even basic built-in routing, though, and the offline maps take an age to download. However, there is ‘near me’ functionality when you’re online, and, most importantly, the guides appear to be written by people who genuinely love the cities in question.
We’re big fans of iMovie. Apple’s video editor for iPhone is usable and powerful. In our lazier moments, we also really like Replay, which takes a bunch of videos and edits them on your behalf. But there are times when you hanker for a middle ground, and that’s where Splice fits in.Getting started is simple — select some videos and photos to import (from your Camera Roll, or online sources like Facebook and Google Photos), along with, optionally, a soundtrack. Name your project, choose an orientation, and the app lays out your clips. These can be reordered by drag and drop, and transitions can be adjusted with a couple of taps.If you want to delve deeper, individual clips can be trimmed and cut, and you can apply effects. Several filters are included, as is a speed setting, and the means to overlay text.These tools perhaps won’t worry the Spielbergs of this world, but a few minutes in Splice can transform a few random iPhone clips into something quite special — and all without a price-tag or even any advertising.
In a sense Evernote is an online back-up for fleeting thoughts and ideas. You use it to save whatever comes to mind — text documents and snippets, notes, images, web clips, and even audio. These can then be accessed from a huge number of devices. (We suspect any day now, Evernote will unveil its ZX Spectrum app.)The app itself could be friendlier, and there’s a tendency towards clutter. But navigation of your stored bits and pieces is simple enough, and the sheer ubiquity and reliability of Evernote makes it worthy of investigation and a place on your iPhone’s Home screen.
The nature of social media is it’s all about the ‘now’. With Timehop, you get the chance to revisit moments from this day, based around your online history.The service connects to whatever accounts you allow it to, and then shows you what was happening in your world. It’s a simple concept that’s perfect for iPhone.
The world’s biggest social network brings a tightly honed experience to the iPhone and iPod touch, but nonetheless still enables you to access your contacts, feeds and other important information. This sense of focus makes it in many ways superior to using Facebook in a desktop browser.If you pick up an iPhone 7, Facebook will likely be one of the first apps you’ll want to download.
AKA ‘Stalk My Contacts’, but Find My Friends does have practical uses: if you’re meeting a bunch of iPhone-owning friends and want to know where they’re at, for example, or for when wanting to check where your spouse is on the road, to see if it’s time to put the dinner in the oven/pretend to look busy when they walk through the door. (Or maybe that’s just what freelance tech writers do.)It’s all opt-in, so you won’t be able to track your friends / be tracked without explicit consent, so you can rest easy once you start using it.
Plenty of apps exist for transferring content between your computer and your device, but Dropbox is free and easier to use than most of its contemporaries.And even now that Apple’s provided easier access to iCloud Drive, Dropbox remains a useful install, largely on the basis of its widespread support (both in terms of platforms and also iOS apps). The Dropbox app itself works nicely, too, able to preview a large number of file types, and integrating well with iOS for sending documents to and from the various iPhone apps you have installed.Love Dropbox? Then check out our article Essential tips for every Dropbox user.
FaceTime is a great alternative to standard voice calls, but it’s no good if you’re trying to contact someone without a Mac or compatible iOS device. Therefore, Skype remains an essential download.The interface is simple and usable (even if you get the distinct impression it desperately wants to be a Windows Phone app), enabling anyone with a Skype account to make free calls to other Skype users and cheap calls to anywhere in the world. If you’re on Pay and Go, this is particularly handy, but the app also enables iPod touch users to utilise their devices for calls.
Google’s own YouTube app works much as you’d expect, enabling you to search and watch an almost limitless number of cats playing pianos, people moaning about stuff to their web-cams, and more besides.Despite Google’s adherence to its own distinct design language, YouTube tends to be a good iOS citizen, supporting AirPlay. It also naturally integrates well with your Google Play account, providing access to purchased films, which can be watched or flung at your telly if you’ve the relevant hardware.
A great many Today view widgets seem quite gimmicky, but Vidgets provides a great mix of monitoring and utility.The standalone app enables you to add and organise the likes of world clocks, network indicators, and widgets outlining remaining space on your device. These are then immediately available in Notification Center.
Although you get the sense eBay’s designers can’t get through a month without redesigning their app, it’s always far superior to using the online auction site in a browser.eBay for iOS works nicely on the iPhone, with browsing proving fast and efficient. Speedy sorting and filtering options also make it a cinch to get to listings for whatever it is you fancy buying.
Shazam is an app that feels like magic when you first use it. It’s deceptively simple—hold your iPhone near to a music source, and wait while the app listens and tells you what track is playing.But the sheer technology behind this simplicity is mind-boggling, and while Shazam doesn’t always guess right, it’s worth a download.
The revamped keyboard in modern incarnations of iOS is far better than what we had before, not least because of the predictive word bar, but SwiftKey takes things a step further.Rather than laboriously tapping out individual keys, you just glide your finger across them. This can make for some comical typos initially, but SwiftKey soon speeds up iPhone text entry.
For the most part, Yousician Guitar feels quite a lot like Guitar Hero, only you use a real guitar and the app is cunningly teaching you how to play it.Things start with the absolute basics, but before you know it, you’re strumming and picking with the best of them. The app’s free, although with limited daily play time. Subscriptions enable you to learn more rapidly.
For the paranoid souls out there (or the unlucky ones who’ve had their devices pilfered), Find My iPhone is a must-have download.Assuming you’ve a 2010 or later iOS device, you can set up a free account and locate your devices within seconds. (Note that older devices can also be added to Find My iPhone – you just need a recent one to get things going.)
Google Translate is a bit like an insanely portable and entirely free gaggle of translation staff. When online, you can translate written or photographed text between dozens of languages, or speak into your device and listen to translations.And for English to French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish (and back), the app will attempt to live-translate (even when offline) any text in front of the camera.
The idea behind TunnelBear is to keep browsing private and to get around censored and geo-locked websites. The interface is insanely simple — you just tap the country you want to browse from and wait a bit.Connections are generally robust but easy to restart if they drop. For free, you get 500 MB per month. Spam your Twitter feed and you’ll get an extra GB.
Skyscanner’s a great website, which enables you to punch in airports and find out the cheapest way of getting from A to B.The Skyscanner app is the same, but it’s on your device and with a spiffy AI. Well worth a download, even if only to check flights for an upcoming holiday.
These days, the bigger problem isn’t deciding what you want to watch on the telly, but where you want to watch it. And where has a couple of meanings: the device you’re going to peer at and the service you use. With telly becoming so decentralised, JustWatch aims to bring coherence to browsing content offered by a range of providers.Search for a show or movie and the app tells you where you can buy, rent or stream it; click New, Popular or Price Drops and you can, respectively, find newly added content, see what everyone else is watching, and discover bargains that might only stick around for a day or two.
The thinking behind Slack is to free teams from the drudgery of email. It’s essentially a real-time messaging system, where people have group conversations based around user-defined hashtags, or send private messages to one-another.Support for inline images, videos and Twitter-like summaries boost pasted content, and the app integrates with cloud storage from the likes of Dropbox and Google Drive.It’s worth noting that while Slack is clearly aimed at businesses, it works perfectly well as a means of communication for groups of friends who aren’t thrilled about storing their personal insights and details on Facebook.
The prospect of Nike+ but better and for free might sound unlikely, but that’s what RunKeeper provides. Previously split into ‘pro’ and ‘free’ versions, the developer now generously includes all the features in one free app.That means you can spend no money, yet use your iPhone’s GPS capabilities to track your jogging and cycling routes, and examine mapping and details of your pace and calories burned.Activities can be shared online, and treadmill runs and other exercise details can be entered manually.
Around Me figures out where you are and lists local stuff – banks, bars, petrol stations and, er, Apple Retail Stores.The app’s reliance on Google Maps info means there are gaps, but it’s nonetheless handy to have installed when in unfamiliar surroundings, and the ‘augmented reality’ landscape mode is amusing, if flaky.
Over two million definitions, synonyms and antonyms are available in the palm of your hand with this free, offline dictionary and thesaurus.The app is fast and efficient, includes phonetic and audio pronunciation of words, and its interface seems perfectly suited to the iPhone.
XE Currency is a fine example of an app that does what it needs to, without fuss. You configure a list of currencies, and it shows current conversion rates.Double-tap a currency to set its base rate or to define values for custom conversions.
Don’t bother buying a DAB radio – just install TuneIn Radio instead and plug your device into a set of speakers.TuneIn Radio has a great interface for accessing over 100,000 digital stations; it also has AirPlay support, and you can use it as an alarm clock.
TED is brain food. The app provides access to talks by insanely clever people, opening your mind to new and radical ideas.You can also save your favourite talks locally, for even easier access, or ask the app to inspire you, based on your mood and available time.
The App Store has so many to-do apps that it’s in severe danger of tipping over, due to the sheer weight of digital checkboxes, but Wunderlist is one of the very few that really stands out.The interface is very usable, and the app’s ability to seamlessly sync across devices and platforms makes it a great download.
“But Gmail works in Apple Mail,” you might say. And this is true, but it doesn’t work terribly well. For the best of Gmail, Google’s own offering is unsurprisingly the app to opt for.The Gmail app provides a full experience, enabling you to search, thread, star and label items to your heart’s content – and is far better when your connection is patchy.
You might get the sense that GPS trackers are all very much alike, and there’s some truth in that. But we nonetheless reckon Runtastic is worth installing, on the basis that it’s nicely designed, frequently updated, and quite generous with its free tier.The app tracks your movements, calculating distance, speed, pace and calories burned. For free, you get a map view of your run, charts (speed, elevation and heart rate), access to your training history, and the means to manually add activities.You can even have other users cheer you on. Splash out for ‘pro’ and you can add routes, voice coaches, smartwatch connectivity and more; but as a starting point, the free app gets you moving.
We’re told the ‘S’ in Vert S stands for ‘speed’. This is down to the app being an efficient incarnation of the well-regarded Vert unit converter.The older app had you browse huge category lists to pick what you need, but Vert S is keener on immediacy. There’s a search, but the app’s core is a Favorites page, where commonly used conversions are stored.Tap one and you enter a basic calculator, enabling you to convert between your two chosen units, which can be quickly switched by tapping the Vert button. (Note that currencies are behind an IAP paywall — $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49 for ‘Vert Pro’ — but conversions for other units are free.)
Apple’s Music Memos is all about getting music ideas down — fast. You launch the app, hit record, play your guitar or piano, and your riff is safely recorded, rather than vanishing from your head the moment you see something vaguely interesting outside.Smartly, the app provides additional toys to experiment with. There’s a tuner, and during playback, you can add automated electronic bass and drumming. The virtual instruments attempt to match tempo and energy with whatever you recorded (and with some success, although more complex inputs can confuse this feature to an amusing degree).Music Memos also tries to transcribe the chords being played; its accuracy is questionable beyond the basics, but not bad as a trigger when you later want to learn how to play your own spark of inspiration.Usefully, you can fling recordings at GarageBand and Logic (bass and drums going along for the ride as separate tracks).Less usefully, you can sing into the app, and still add bass, drums and chord transcription, for some kind of madcap tech-based cacophony of awfulness that we felt entirely compelled to try in the name of a thorough review. Expect our effort to (not) trouble the charts shortly.
You’ve got to hand it to NASA: in naming its app ‘NASA App’, you’re well prepared for a product bereft of elegance, and so it proves to be. This is a clunky app, with ugly graphic design, and that’s heavily reliant on you being online to download its content.Oh, but what content! It’s the wealth of eye-popping imagery and exhaustive commentary that will keep anyone with an interest in space glued to their iPhone, devouring items by the dozen. The ‘Images’ section is particularly lovely, with a huge range of photos.There are pictures of star clusters that look unreal, moody shots of planets and moons, and snaps of engineers doing clever things. These can all be rated, run as a slideshow, shared, or saved locally.Elsewhere, you get a ton of informative and educational videos, guides to missions, news, and, slightly weirdly, access to NASA’s Twitter feed. And if you fancy turning your brain off for a bit, there’s a live feed from the ISS, the blue marble that is Earth slowly rolling underneath.

Everything You Want to Know About Fibromyalgia

Everything You Want to Know About Fibromyalgia

There’s absolutely no definitive diagnostic test for fibromyalgia that may determine for sure which FMS is the origin of the signs. Fibromyalgia is a intricate disorder involving many symptoms and is essentially a rule-out diagnosis. A rule out identification usually means that you can’t definitively diagnosis fibromyalgia based on any 1 evaluation, symptom, or evaluation. There are lots of conditions which may mimic and present like fibro, and needs to be ruled out until the diagnosis is authoritative. Some of the ailments include autoimmune disorders, tick-borne disease, genetic deficiencies as well as many others. Some common ailments to rule out comprise lymes disease, lupus, irritable bowl ailments, arthritis, and many others. Diagnosis is going to be discussed in additional detail individually in the publication.

Many physicians, research workers, and associations have attempted to Determine the main cause of FMS. FMS affects mostly girls and generally the symptoms start in young adulthood. However, as with the majority of medical problems, I believe that we over-complicate things. Within this novel, I’ll attempt to describe complicated medical conditions, hypothesis and remedies in simple to comprehend terminology and recommendations.

There are a lot of elaborate medical words and massive theories that we could utilize to inform you about fibromyalgia. It’d make me seem smart and just like I understood what I was referring to, but it would not help you all that much. Plus, the majority of those large words are only Latin that us physicians use to make ourselves seem smart. I’d love to describe fibromyalgia for you in easy terms. I believe anybody that has been diagnosed with fibro, believes they might have fibro, or even has a buddy with fibro, understands that if you have 10 physicians in an area to go over fibro, four would not feel that fibro exists, and then you’d get 10 opinions in another six physicians. But, I think that it’s readily explainable; we simply attempt to over-complicate the matter.

Fibromyalgia is a disease, Which is made up of an overly busy, excessively sensitive nervous system. That’s it! I could not make it a lot easier. Fibromyalgia is made up of a human body’s very own nervous system over-reacting. Your body can endure about 6 weeks with no food, approximately 6 weeks without water, about 6 minutes with no heart, and approximately 6 milliseconds with no nervous system. The nervous system is the master control of what that your body does. The brain sends messages through this management system, along with the cells send back messages, which forms the two-way communicating, that is the heart of health and life. This messages allows the mind track and capture everything that each small cell is performing, and it creates adjustments, or corrects, depending on the data it receives. This program lets our mind track, adapt, and enhance our environment and health.

1 way I inform my patients To consider this would be to envision a garden hose coming from the front of your residence. The sprinkler is similar to the smaller nerves which supply the cells that are smaller. Now, it’s essential for the bud to find the perfect quantity of water. A great deal of individuals in my clinic come to see me having a pinched nerve. Today, pinched nerves are similar to somebody standing on the nozzle. The water does not come out as far as it needs to, and the water does not provide the bud its nutrition, it wilts, and dies. Pinched nerves are extremely similar. Water flying up in the air, all around the area, putting a great deal of pressure on sprinkler mind, and probably giving far too much water into the bud. And what’s going to happen if you continue over mowing the grass like that? It is going to also acquire brown and die. The firehouse into a sprinkler is your best analogy that I could give to fibromyalgia. The nervous system is hyper active.

Just we’ll be speaking about identification shortly; nonetheless, among those definitive diagnostic evaluations for fibro is your cause point evaluation. Fundamentally, the evaluation finds, if specific points within your system are over-sensitive. This is analyzing the nervous systems reaction. Should you touch a certain part of the body, at a specific way, your nerves ought to react a certain way. Back in fibro patients, these particular points with a particular pressure, elicit a more reactive and more sensitive reaction. This shows the human body’s hyperactive condition. Scientifically, this notion was shown by many studies, that have shown an elevated amount of substance P, a neurotransmitter in the brain and spinal cord which leads to pain.

This over energetic nervous system is more responsive to pain compared to a standard nervous system. Additionally, the elevated amounts of substance P, inform us that the brain and spinal cord are causing more pain. My neurology teacher in grad faculty told our class that when our mind confessed all of the pain that our nerves felt daily, we’d go crazy. In actuality, it’s been demonstrated in studies which 99 percent of all pain signals listed by the nerves have been disregarded at the mind. The mind is normally attempting to safeguard us from all of the pain that we believe. The nerves do a fantastic job at tracking all that happens in the human body particularly pain signals. To choose which are significant and which aren’t. Regrettably, with FMS those edits do not appear to be operating, and the individual feels a whole lot greater than is generally tolerable.

Naturally there are additional hypothesis for the origin of fibromyalgia. Some physicians have indicated that fibro happens because of chronic of preceding infection, some assert sleep disturbances may cause this, and a few even feel that there’s a hereditary component. More research will be performed, however many are from the overall agreement that the nervous system is crucial, and that it’s overreacting. Nonetheless, this is my view based on years of clinical expertise and the research that’s been performed. Unfortunately like many facets of FMS, there’s not any definitive widely considered root cause of FMS, but most research and opinions studies have proven an over-active nervous system as the reason for fibromyalgia.

Dr. Cody Elledge has been a chiropractor in OKC for more than seven years. He’s a writer for chiropractic economics as well as regular public speaker, and has done medical test for UPS and other big businesses.

iOS 11 release date, news and features

iOS 11 release date, news and features

Update: iOS 11 release date is here, at least for public beta testers who want to install it on their iPhone and iPad in these early stages. 

What's it like? Is it worth the hassle of testing unfinished software? We've added  our updated thoughts on each and every new iOS 11 feature below.  

We've heard word that the second public beta of iOS 11 has been release and we're busy testing it out. Be on the lookout for an update coming soon.

iOS 11 is transforming your iPhone and iPad, and Apple's update is either out right now or just a few months away, depending on who you are. 

It's an especially big upgrade for the iPad. Apple's tablet becomes a possible laptop replacement (for some people) with revamped iOS multitasking. Both the iPad and iPhone get a much-needed Control Center reorganization, too.

There are new camera modes, Siri is smarter, and iOS 11 (finally) thrusts Apple to the forefront of augmented reality innovation. The iPhone 8's AR rumors are all but confirmed at this point.

Here everything you'll experience in the iOS 11 beta that's now open to the public.

iOS 11 dock makes iPad multitasking easy

The new iPad Pro 10.5 and iPad Pro 12.9 are becoming a laptop replacement for many people, and iOS 11 makes that easier to realistically pull off.

New multi-tasking grid view with a redesigned Control Center

iOS 11 includes a dock just like a Mac computer, and it follows you from app-to-app along the bottom. It's hidden, but you can always swipe up to access it.

The bottom app dock also shows up in the multitasking menu, which is now laid out in a grid. It's so much easier to jump between apps now, like on a MacBook.

TechRadar's take: This is the most important iOS 11 change if you own a newer iPad. We found that the new dock and multitasking grid menu less like siloed app switching and more like a multi-window-friendly computer. That's important for the growing number of people who use the iPad Pro as a laptop-replacement.

Drag and drop comes to the iPad

Drag and Drop also debuts on iOS 11, and instantly launches apps into split-screen mode when you drag them to the side of the screen.

You can also transport items across a halved screen: text, photos, hyperlinks and files. This – not the iMac Pro – is Apple's answer to a touchscreen computer.

iOS 11 makes the iPad feel closer to a laptop than merely a super-sized iPhone, and it's something that no Android tablet, not even the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, offers today.

Drag and Drop for iPhone may be a possibility in the future, but according to beta testers, it's currently disabled in the ongoing developer beta.

TechRadar's take: This removes several unnecessary steps when using an iPad for productivity purposes. In our testing, we were relieved to no longer be forced to copy and then paste simple text and photos between a split-screen menu. It's all right there. You should be able to drag and drop, we thought for the last two years. Now we can.

iOS 11 release date

Now that all of the iOS 11 news is out there – and before we get to the rest of the changes – let's stop to tell you when the iOS 11 release date happens.

iOS 11 will launch this autumn, according to Apple, but developers enrolled in Apple’s developer program can download iOS 11 now, at least in its early form.

You can test it out, too, as Apple just launched the iOS 11 public beta on June 26, 2017 and it works on both the iPhone and iPad.

TechRadar's take: Should you download iOS 11? We've done it (clearly). For the most part, it's been an amazing upgrade, but some apps that rely on Bluetooth –like our smart door lock –  can be problematic. It's up to the developer to sort this out, but that may not happen until September with the rumored iPhone 8.

iOS 11 features hint at iPhone 8 AR

iOS 11 gives Apple the largest AR platform in the world – overnight, thanks to so many iPhones and iPads out there. It's an instant boon for augmented reality fans and developers alike.

That's why the developer-focused Apple ARKit is a big deal for everyone, not just app makers. It hints at the biggest features to come from the iPhone 8 three months from now. Get ready for a futuristic life in augmented reality.

What is Apple ARKit on iOS 11 exactly? Developers will be able to place virtual objects into the real world using your iPhone or iPad and its camera. 

It's like a really advanced version of Pokemon Go, but with many more possibilities.

The table has nothing on it. But on the iPad, it’s an interactive world

In fact, Pokemon was one of several AR demos Apple showed off. But we were even more impressed with what Peter Jackson's studio Wingut AR demoed.

Its complex AR showcase involved a battle between an outpost and spaceships, and it all happen on an otherwise peaceful, empty living room table.

Speaking of tablets, Ikea is reportedly a launch partner for the iOS 11 AR feature, letting you place imaginary furniture in rooms down to the millimeter. 

Apple just created a new playground for million of existing devices and put the Microsoft Hololens and Google Tango on notice.

TechRadar's take: Don't expect a whizbang augmented reality experience if you download the iOS 11 beta right now. These are developer tools meant to craft an AR future for the iPhone and iPad. That said, we're very hopeful for Apple's big AR push given how many iOS devices there are out there.

iOS 11 puts Apple Pencil to the test

Apple Pencil is a great little tool for the iPad Pro series, but our one complaint in our iPad Pro 9.7 review was that you can't use it everywhere you'd like to in apps.

That all changes with iOS 11. Instant Markup lets you draw on PDFs and photos and Instant Notes lets you jot things down ASAP – right from the lockscreen.

All of your Instant Notes on the lockscreen are saved in Notes, so don't worry. And drawing on Notes near existing text cleverly now moves the text out of the way.

Document Scanner in Notes defeats the need to painstakingly scan important documents that you need to sign. 

It scans, crops edges, removes tilt and glare and lets you fill in the blanks or sign away with an Apple Pencil.

TechRadar's take: This is another significant update for the iPad Pro series. We're not saying the Apple Pencil was useless, but the scenarios for it were very limited (hello, artists). Now, iOS 11 makes it a productivity tool and it goes hand-in-hand with the wizardry of Apple's document scan.

New iPad keyboard shortcuts 

Apple is making a big productivity push with the iPad Pro 10.5-inch, and iOS 11 is doing its part with tweaked keyboard shortcuts.

You won’t have to switch to the second keyboard layer anymore

It combines letter keys with numbers, symbols and punctuation marks (normally reserved on the second keyboard layer) and accessed by a new flicking gesture.

Flicking these secondary numbers and symbols downward is easier than having to switch back and forth between the two layers. We kind of wish it were coming to the iPhone 7 Plus, too.

TechRadar's take: This is one of the smallest iOS 11 changes, but also one of the most important. Not having to flip back and forth between keyboard layers saves you a step, which results in about half a second of saved time. Add them up over the course of the day, and you've got more time on your hands a less stressful means of typing out an real email that's longer than one line and filled with typos. We really like this new iOS 11 feature.

Apple Files opens up your many clouds

Apple is debuting a new Files app in iOS 11 that lets you sort through all of your files. Your can browse, search and organize them all in one place.

Apple Files not only has recent files from your iPad, but on other iOS devices, in iCloud Drive and from other services, including Box, Google Drive and Dropbox.

It's just one more way Apple is trying to make the iPad Pro a de facto computer for people who don't need a MacBook 2017 or iMac Pro.

TechRadar's take: This move, like announcing the Apple Pencil two years ago, goes against what we expected from the company. However, it's a welcome change with iOS 11. You may not use files right away, but as you rely on the new remote document and photo repository more and more, it'll become essential to your device.

iMessages won't take up your storage anymore

iOS 11 is making iMessages even better than it already is with seamless iCloud syncing across your iPhone, iPad and Mac.

That means two things. First, when you delete a conversation bubble on an iPad, it'll also disappear on your iPhone and MacBook Pro. Great.

Second, it frees up all of your iMessage storage, a real problem for rabid texters who have been with Apple since iMessage first launched.

Whether or not you know it, iMessages take up a bunch of space in your iPhone and iPad. It's all of that 'Other' storage in yellow if you ever look in iTunes.

Soon, with iOS 11, you'll be able to back up all of your iMessages to iCloud as they get archived to Apple's secure internet servers. That's a big relief.

TechRadar's take: The fact that iOS 11 syncs iMessages between devices via iCloud may be a bigger change than all of the cosmetic, sticker-filled additions we got with iOS 10. Why? Because even though it's a great texting app, especially since you can message people on a Mac and iPad (something that's not easy to do natively on Android), messages can get out of order or remain on your other devices once you delete them. The fact that it frees up a lot of storage from the yellow 'Other' mystery bar is a bonus. 

Apple Pay payments to friends

Apple Pay is expanding to include person-to-person payment features when you upgrade to iOS 11. It's exactly what Venmo and PayPal do right now, but via an app-free solution.

Apple Pay payments use Touch ID for authentication and iMessages to send between friends or other contacts who owe you money.

With so many contactless payment options on iOS right now, including Gmail and Facebook, there's no reason avoid paying back your friends.

TechRadar's take: This is Apple's me-too attempt to expand Apple Pay into a Venmo rival, and it's overall a good thing. Whether or not most users will get a lot of use out of it remains to be seen. It's hard to drive awareness to this new iOS 11 feature, even if it can be handy in everyday life with friends.

Welcome to the new App Store

We didn't get an iTunes refresh at WWDC 2017, but iOS 11 is giving us a brand new App Store on the iPhone and iPad.

The Today tab leads things off by refreshing its app picks daily and telling stories behind the top apps. The format feels very much like what Apple did in Music last year.

Don't worry, every app will still have a product page, but iOS 11 is putting a lot of focus on the new 'Games' and 'Apps' tabs to spotlight the best in those areas.  

Apple says the new App Store on your mobile devices is 'designed for discovery' and is a way to make app downloading exciting again, like it was nine years ago.

TechRadar take: We've looked around the new App Store on iOS 11 and like what we see for the most part. The updates tab isn't as streamlined due to more white space among menus and larger text that spans more lines than before, but everywhere else that's a benefit. It's about time things changed for this app.

iOS 11 for better lossless audio

It's not confirmed, but it's been hinted that iOS 11 could support lossless audio, all thanks to the new Files app.

Apple's FLAC lossless audio support on iPhones and iPads would finally give us a way to listen to uncompressed without convert everything to its ALAC standard.

It's a small, but meaningful change for Apple's formerly music-driven portable audio player and for its future with AirPlay 2 and the Apple HomePod.

TechRadar's take: We haven't been able to experience this iOS 11 feature just yet, we it's a promising change for audio lovers. We're also excited by the prospect of iOS 11 allowing us to control multiple speakers individually or all at the same time – even if they're from different manufacturers. 

Siri is smarter and sounds different

Siri is getting a more natural-sounding voice with the iOS 11 update, and you're able to pick between female and male voice options.

To make Siri sound like AI from the future, Apple gave it a way to say the same word with different tones. It's not always the same robot-like pronunciation.

Siri is boosting its contextual learning, too, going as far as surfacing different word suggestions after you read a specific news story in Apple News or Safari.

Did you just read a news about Iceland and are starting to type in a word like Reykjavik? Let Siri finish up that forthcoming typo of yours.

Siri is on 375 million devices, and is in more languages and more countries than any other personal assistant. So Apple is taking advantage of that with iOS 11.

It uses deep learning for quick translations like we haven't seen before. Want to order an authentic dish in Chinese? Just have Siri say it for you.

TechRadar's tech: iOS 11 beta proves that Siri isn't only smarter, but sounds more human in this version of the operating system. Whether or not it can answer more contextual questions (understanding 'it' and 'they' when asking a second question based off the first) like Google Assistant can remains to be seen in the final version.

iOS 11 revamps Control Center

iOS 11 gives Control Center a complete overhaul with an all-in-one look to put quick controls at your fingertips – without having to swipe between menus.

Everything is combined now: system controls, app shortcuts and music controls. Just pull up from the bottom of the screen and there they are.

It's a lot different than before, so the design will force you to get used to the new arrangement (you'll probably hate it on day one, love it on day two). Of course, it'll be easier and faster once it becomes second nature.

You'll also be able to disable Control Center in apps. This is helpful for games where swiping up may be a means to control on-screen characters or maps.

TechRadar's take: Don't let Control Center's unrefined, button-filled looks fool you. It's a great new addition to the iOS 11 feature list. We've been asking for custom shortcuts in this menu since it first launched, and now we finally have them (at least for a lot of first-party apps and settings). it still doesn't have a fast way to connect to new Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals – you'll need to go to the settings app for that. But everything else is a step in the right direction compared to the multi-pane Control Center from years past.

Lockscreen and notification center are now one

Lockscreen notifications and notification center are joining forces in iOS 11, and that makes it easier to see which older alerts you've missed.

Swiping up on the normal lockscreen will display notifications from earlier in the day, essentially giving you access to notification center from the lockscreen. 

Meanwhile, the usual notification center gesture (swipe down from the top of your iPhone) brings up the new lockscreen/notification center menu.

TechRadar's take: Remember how getting rid of slide to unlock in favor of using the Touch ID button really threw you in last year's update (and many people disabled the press down means of lockscreen entry). This is one the same level. It takes some time to get used to. It's helpful, but we're used to swiping notifications left or right on the homescreen, which now leads to the Today menu or the camera app, even if you're overtop of a notification. This is requires more of a muscle memory retraining than anything else.

New camera modes and photo storage

The iOS 11 camera app debuts new modes that further chip away at the need to always bring a high-end DSLR with you. It's that advanced.

Apple's Live Photos take on Instagram's Loop app with its own Loop and Bounce  options. Either play them in a loop or have them rock back and forth endlessly.

Long exposures are going to let you capture still photos with proper motion blur. Think: waterfalls, car traffic tail lights, stars moving across the night sky.

New filters are also coming to iOS 11, with Apple promising that portrait photos will be expressive and skin tones more natural in the end.

It's also changing the way we store videos and photos with new standards, HEIF (High Efficiency Image Format) and HEVC (the High Efficiency Video Codec).

The good news here is that these next-generation compression technologies won't take up nearly as much storage – and you'll never even notice.

TechRadar's take: Live Photos have been fun, but they're never perfect, especially if you have a cool motion photo that ends with you pointing your camera down toward the ground because you thought the moving photo would have stopped recording by then. Now you can trim  them and loop them for better effects.

Driving without distraction thanks to iOS 11

You shouldn't be driving and texting anyway, but Apple is literally driving that point home with a new Do Not Disturb While Driving feature in iOS 11.

It'll shut off notifications just like Do Not Disturb, but do so automatically if you are behind the wheel. Apple concedes not everyone has Apple CarPlay just yet, which it argues is a safer, hands-free solution. But this feature allows you to drive safely without it. It will even shoot a text over to those who try to contact you with a message saying that you will get back to them shortly. 

What if you're just a law-abiding passenger? It's easy to confirm that, so you can continue to ignore the driver by looking at important cat GIFs on your iPhone.

What if you really need to get in contact with someone? You can enter the word "urgent" to break through the Do No Disturb feature.

TechRadar's take: We have already found this useful driving in our car. It turns on automatically and asks us if we're the one driving, just in case we're not. You do have an out as a passenger. We also found there's an automatic text reply that can optionally be sent to anyone who messages you while you're driving. Another step-saving iOS 11 improvement.

Apple Maps goes indoors, adds lane assist

One less distraction comes with Maps, which is getter smarter on the road and even indoors as of the iOS 11 update.

Lane assist and speed limits are coming to Apple Maps, which is handy for safe driving in all ways. Maps has come a long way since its disastrous inception.

And while Apple isn't done improving Apps outdoors, it's going indoors, too with detailed maps of hundreds of airports and malls around the world. 

This is the future: finding out which restaurants are past security at LAX or which stores are on level three of the multi-story mall is possible with iOS 11.

TechRadar's take: Apple Maps has only become reliable in the last year, and it's starting to give Google some competition with these new features. It's playing catch-up with lane assist, but we're intrigued by the possibilities of indoor mapping in the final iOS 11 version. That's not really a thing other mapping apps do, and that may still be the case come September. 

Your music just got better with iOS 11

Apple is expanding its already leading presence in Smart Home control with new iOS 11 multi-speaker controls and further tweaking the Apple Music design.

This is great news ahead of the Apple HomePod launch.

AirPlay 2 will let you control your several speakers throughout your house with a new Apple Home menu. Everything can be in sync on all of your home speakers

Apple Music is getting equally exciting changes. You'll be able to amass better playlists by consulting with your friends – without ever having to ask them thanks to shared playlists, albums and stations.

Siri is getting in on music curation, too, with Apple promising that as of iOS 11, its virtual assistant knows sounds you love and can answer band trivia.

TechRadar's take: Multi-room audio, whether or not you have Apple's new speaker, is a great addition to iOS 11. it remains to be seen, however, if your existing speaker will be able to upgrade to support Apple's AirPlay 2 standard. Everything else about the Music app changes we like, especially the ability to curate playlists based on what friends are listening to.

More iOS 11 features to come

The official iOS 11 release date is still three months away, but developers are sure to discover new features in between now and then. 

You may be able to unearth additional features from the public beta that just launched. If that happens, let us known and we'll add it to our iOS 11 guide.

You'll also find our thoughts on the new iPad Pro 10.5, Apple HomePod and iMac Pro, and our increasingly popular iPhone 8 rumors round-up.

Read on for everything we heard about iOS 11 ahead of WWDC 2017!

Apple's iOS 11 update marks the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, and it's poised to grace a completely redesigned iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.

The iOS 11 release date therefore has tremendous hype surrounding it, and we'll get a chance to check out the first iOS 11 features in the new developer preview, out now.

Here's all the iOS 11 news and rumors that we found prior to the OS' official unveiling, along with features we hoped topped Apple’s priorities list.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The next version of iOS
  • When is it out? Likely June 5 announcement and September launch
  • What will it cost? iOS 11 will be free to download

iOS 11 release date

The official iOS 11 release date is likely mid-September, along with an iPhone 8, according to Apple's scheduling history.

Good news: you should be able to download iOS 11 beta as soon this week, as it's expected to be unveiled at the WWDC keynote today.

Apple's WWDC keynote is where Apple previews the first iOS 11 features. Just don't expect iOS 11 to be completely finished by Monday morning.

With iOS 11 beta (including a iOS 11 public beta in July), we'll see several iterations over the course of three months until the final public release.

Again, this is all based on past iOS releases rather than any news or rumors, but there’s no reason to think Apple will change its rock-solid schedule.

iOS 11 Siri upgrade

iOS 11 is expected to have Siri graduate from voice assistant to full-blown a AI bot thanks to a new version of Siri, according to multiple rumors.

The big iOS 11 change is due in part to the Apple Siri Speaker release date and news we expect at WWDC. Siri will finally rival Google Home and Amazon Echo.

Siri in 2017 is supposed to learn your habits and change how it treats you based on what you've done in the past. We may also be able to type to Siri in iOS 11. That's great news for anyone who wants to turn to Siri in noisy environments.  

Not only is Siri expected with answer your questions more quickly, it's poised to anticipate how you'd act. It's geared toward "What's your next question?" and having that answer prepared, too.

Major iPad changes

We're already anticipating a 10.5-inch iPad Pro announcement on Monday, and WWDC conference may give us new software too.

iOS 11 needs to help Apple put the 'Pro' in iPad Pro 2. To do that, we expect to see easier ways to switch apps and harness its multitasking potential.

iOS 10 didn't bright enough iPad-specific changes, not next to iOS 9 did, so we're due for software that bridges the gap between an iPhone and MacBook 2017.

If iPads are the future of mobile computing, we need to see Apple create software that takes advantage of its Apple A10 Fusion processing power.

Group FaceTime

It's time to break out of those 1:1 video calls and, with iOS 11, invite the whole group to your FaceTime chat – or at least do a 3-way FaceTime call.

More audio, fewer pictures

Apple is reportedly a Group FaceTime feature, something that's long overdue, as already a part of Google Hangouts, Skype and  Facebook Messenger.

It's still an iOS 11 rumor, but we fully expect to see this logical feature launch in the post-WWDC 2017 beta or, more likely, in the final software this autumn. 

FaceTime Audio takes over phone calls

Prepare to make more FaceTime Audio calls  because that's supposed to be the default of future iPhone-to-iPhone phone calls – like iMessages, but for calls.

FaceTime Audio will become the normal calling mode between Apple devices, according to a now-deleted post from Reddit user cyanhat.

Replacing cellular calls and saving your once-precious minutes would have been ideal ten years ago when unlimited data plans and limited minutes existed. 

Now, data is more precious than minutes in most countries, so we'll see if Apple makes with a Wi-Fi only change when iOS 11 is announced on June 5. 

An official sleep tracking app

Apple could make quick use of its acquisition of Beddit, an app company that's been described as the 'Fitbit of Sleep tracking.'

iOS 11 could get an official sleep tracking app – though we don't expect to see such an app launch right away in the iOS 11 beta.

Apple could save the feature for the Apple Watch 3, but there's bound to be some sort of iOS 11 integration in order to display your sleep score and graph.

Apple Pay with friends

Apple Pay is already in 15 countries, including the US, UK, Australia and most recently, Taiwan. Italy will make the 16th soon. 

The next big step for the iPhone's contactless payment system may have Apple taking a direct shot at popular mobile payment iOS apps like Venmo.

Peer-to-peer Apple Pay payments will be a part of an Wallet app update, notes to the same Reddit post. It's said to have a social feed and iMessage integration, too. 

More from Apple Clips

Apple was also rumored to be working on a new video sharing and editing app, similar to Snapchat. We got that with Apple Clips (so far, everything rings true). 

But we could see the filtered video app get a proper spotlight and new features with the iOS 11 launch, maybe right inside the default camera app. 

After all, Apple really needs to redesign its barebones camera app (Why can't you switch resolutions in the camera app instead of in the settings menu?).

Better sharing

Apple is also apparently working on enhanced social features, according to sources speaking to Bloomberg.

The company's tipped to make sharing and connectivity with contacts a system-wide feature, and it may consolidate communications to a single optional menu.

This way, you'll be able to see all your SMS messages, emails and social network interactions with a given person on a single screen.

iOS 11 low-power mode

Apple needs a small rethink on the great, but unrefined low-power mode. That could very well happen in the iOS 11 update.

Rumors point to a more intelligent low-power mode that will learn your habits battery conserving habits and try to create a schedule to automatically put itself into low-power mode, according to cyanhat.

It's also said to be geographically adaptive, so if you want to be in low-power mode whenever away from your house, iOS will automatically make those changes for you.

The other change we're hoping to see is bringing low-power mode out of its settings menu confines and into the Control Center. My, my, that giant Night Shift button is mighty big. Low-power mode could easily fit in half of Night Shift's Control Center real estate.

Dark Mode

One thing we’re expecting to see soon from iOS is a Dark Mode, which would make backgrounds black, so you don’t strain your eyes when using an iOS device at night or in other dim environments.

Resources for the feature have already been found within iOS 10, so it’s probably something that Apple plans to add imminently.

Of course, there’s already a Night Shift mode, but that’s a bit different, as it reduces the amount of blue light rather than making the display darker.

What we want to see

That can't be everything from the iOS 11 update, so we're diving into theories about other features ahead of this week's WWDC announcement.

Here's our wish list for addition iOS 11 features.

1. Customizable Control Center 

Control Center is a handy shortcut to a number of quick settings, but it’s not customizable, meaning that for certain options, such as music controls, you must swipe to the second tab – an annoying extra step for anyone who listens to a lot of music or podcasts on their device.

Worse, some actions, such as GPS, don’t have Control Center toggles at all, so we’d like to see the ability to customize both what options are displayed and which tab they appear on.

2. Always-on display 

Samsung impressed us with the always-on display of phones like the Galaxy S7 – giving you a constant clock and a window onto your notifications, and we’d like to see a similar option built into iOS 11.

Raise to wake makes it quicker than ever to view the lock screen, but if we just want to check the time we'd rather not have to even raise the phone, and an always-on display would be a solution.

3. Home screen widgets

Apple’s lock screen widgets are handy, and help stop the home screen getting too cluttered, but we’d still like the option to put widgets on our home screens.

It’s not just about having quick access to apps and information, but also about customizing devices to make them our own, whether that means having a big custom clock and weather forecast on our main home screen, an overview of upcoming calendar events, or whatever else.

4. Smarter Siri

Siri is getting better all the time, but there’s still room for improvement, especially as in many ways Google Assistant has it beat.

We’d especially like to see improvements to Siri’s context awareness – so for example reliably being able to answer follow-up questions without you having to clarify the subject again.

5. Grouped notifications

Everyone likes to be loved, and there's nothing better than your WhatsApp blowing up – until that is, you take a gander at your lock screen or notification bar. 

Currently, iOS seems unable to group messages from the same contact, or message group, together, giving you an almost never-ending stream of notifications. 

Come on Apple, give us "19 new messages from 2 chats" and the ability to expand to see more if we so desire. Pleeaassssseeeeee.

6. Clear all background apps

Being able to hop quickly between different apps is handy, but sometimes we like to clean up the multi-tasking panel and start fresh. Thing is, on iOS 10 that involves swiping each individual app to close it.

For iOS 11 we’d love to have a “clear all” option, allowing us to shut all the background apps with a simple tap of an icon.

7. Easy video resolution changes

iOS is often thought of as simple and intuitive, and for the most part it is, but glaring usability issues sometimes emerge, and one of those is the inability to change video resolution from the camera app.

Instead you have to dig down into the main settings screen, which takes time, isn’t intuitive at all and could leave some users unaware that it’s even an option.

This should be an easy fix, so hopefully with iOS 11 Apple will add a video resolution toggle to the camera app itself.

8. Improved Mail app

Apple's Mail app got a bit of love in the iOS 10 upgrade, but the new look isn't overly slick. Scrolling through an email conversation feels clunky, and rival apps such as Gmail feel better put together overall.

In iOS 11 we'd like to see a cleaner, slicker and more user friendly Mail app, and if Apple wants to take a few pointers from Google's Gmail offering we won't complain.

Also, we want to be able to insert hyperlinks into anchor text with the Mail app. Yes, that's still not possible today, resulting in Long URLs for all links you send.

  • After a new tablet? The iPad Pro 2 could be coming soon

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Facebook Spaces’ new live video feature broadcasts your VR shenanigans

Facebook Spaces’ new live video feature broadcasts your VR shenanigans

Facebook is all about live video and virtual reality these days, so why not combine both? 

The mega social network is doing just that, introducing live video broadcasts to the Facebook Spaces app that you can share direct to Facebook. 

Facebook Spaces is a virtual reality playroom and chatroom in one, a hangout app that lets multiple people wearing Oculus Rift VR headsets interact in the same virtual space. It's still in beta, but we got to try it at Facebook's F8 2017 conference, and deemed it the most fun we've ever had in virtual reality.

One of the reasons is that you can still interact with people in the real world. During our demo, we were able to have a Facebook Messenger video call with someone who wasn't wearing a VR headset. With today's new feature, Facebook is taking this physical / virtual connection to a whole new level.

With live video, Facebook Spaces users can start a live broadcast and beam it to their Facebook feed. Those not in Facebook Spaces can watch and interact with the video, leaving comments and reacting in real time. 

One neat feature is the ability to pull out real-world viewers' comments as an object in the VR world. The comment becomes a card and serves as a way to highlight a question or compelling comment (or, let's be real, probably a killer joke) that everyone can see. 

Introducing live video to Facebook Spaces is yet another way Facebook is looking to turn VR into a social experience, blending the real and virtual worlds in compelling ways. We actually can see this be useful for school and business situations, though remember you'll need at least one Oculus Rift headset to use Facebook Spaces. 

Oculus Rift and Touch controllers are currently on sale for a whopping $200 off, bringing the price to $399 on Amazon USA and £399 on Amazon UK.

Facebook Spaces is available in beta in the Oculus Store, and if you've got an Oculus Rift, you can start going live today.

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