Mobile apps are amazing. Without them, we’d be forced to eyeball strangers on the train, count sheep while awaiting sleep and drink alone while our mate’s at the bar. Human interaction is a terrifying experience that should be avoided at all costs. Thank god then for an array of smartphone apps to keep those IRL horrors at bay.
Download 2014’s best apps and you’ll never have to think for yourself again.
The bare essentials
Just as a kitchen is stocked with basic ingredients, your smartphone should already contain the essentials. Apps you can scarcely breathe – let alone leave home – without. Twitter, Snapchat, Tinder, WhatsApp and Vine: these are the basic apps that will get you through the day.
Now here come the specialist ingredients – apps that will help you acquire a very particular set of skills. Skills that would otherwise have to be acquired over a very long career. You don’t even have to hunt them and find them, because all the information you need is right here, complete with links to the Google Play and iTunes stores. Isn’t life great sometimes?
I don’t like Bandsintown – I love it. Link your Facebook and Google Play accounts and the app will import your favourite artists and alert you when they’re coming to town. A slick interface and useful tailored recommendations complete my love affair with this sexy piece of kit. You can download the app, but your favourite bands will never be as good as mine. That’s just how musical snobbery works.
There are two apps on this list that I love more than my own children. One is Bandsintown – the other is Pocket. I first bigged it up in my New Year’s resolutions article, explaining: “Because Pocket syncs across your devices, you can discover something interesting on your smartphone and read it later on your tablet.”
With the Pocket extension added to Chrome, saving content is as simple as tapping a button. Once it’s auto-synced to your phone or tablet, you can read the article offline – perfect when you’re faced with the horror of a wifi-less long journey. Stock up on interesting content at Longform and Longreads before you step on that train.
Adrian James Boot Camp
At the last count, there were a gazillion fitness apps vying for space on your smartphone. Adrian James Boot Camp stands out thanks to the meticulous attention to detail that makes it a pleasure to use – or as least as pleasurable as can be expected of an app that will leave you in a gasping heap on the floor. (Disclosure: I know the team behind Boot Camp). Bodyweight exercises that can be performed at home are complemented by a challenge mode, meal plan and train with friends feature. The brainchild of celeb fitness trainer Adrian James, Boot Camp works – provided you actually use it!
Band of the Day
Band of the Day curates artists you’ve yet to discover and delivers them at the rate of one a day. In theory there are a million different bands on the web you could listen to. In reality, the paralysis of choice ensures that nine times out of ten you’ll whack on an album you already know and love. BoTD promises to get you out of that rut and into the habit of discovering new music again, just like you used to as an eager teenager.
Umano brings you interesting articles read by real people. There are no robotic voices to be found here: just interesting content read by ‘professional voice actors’. (Apparently speaking is now performance art.) If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if you were to freeze water into a container too strong to expand, but can’t be arsed reading the science behind it, Umano is for you. Let the Americlap voice actors take the strain while you search for dirties on Tinder. This is 2014 after all, when multitasking is mandatory. What do you mean you’re giving this article your undivided attention? Th-thanks I guess.
We’d all like to learn another language. We all find excuses not to. (“Everyone understands English these days.” “I can just use Google Translate.”) Duolingo promises to be a fun way of learning Spanish, French, German, Portuguese and Italian and it’s as good as its word. Give it a try and you’ll soon be using Italian for more than questioning the morality of the referee’s mother. For added entertainment, follow the (unaffiliated) Shit Duo Says Twitter account.
Learnist allows users to curate articles and other interesting titbits they’ve found while browsing the web. Select topics of interest and then browse through the array of videos, blogs, books and articles that other users have recommended. Learnist is a neat concept, even if it’s occasionally lacking in must-read content. One to download and keep an eye on.
DuckDuckGo allows you to search the web anonymously, without cookies tracking your every click and swipe. Perfect when you’re trying to locate the red light district on a business trip but don’t fancy Google storing your search history for the next 9,000 years.
If you’re interested in mobile privacy, be it to shake off the watchful eye of your spouse or the NSA, there’ll be an Ed Uncovered article on the topic in the next couple of weeks. Follow EU on Twitter or hit the subscribe button at the bottom of the page to keep up with all the awesome new content we’ve got coming your way.
Eight essential apps to make you a fitter, smarter, more interesting person in 2014. It’s just a shame you’ll be too lost in your smartphone to grace humanity with your newfound awesomeness. Sad face.