Every company likes to brag about the number of apps available for their devices. 700,000 Android apps! 120,000 Windows Phone apps! 70,000 BlackBerry 10 apps! Having lots of apps is good, but here's the thing: most apps suck. And not only does that make bad apps hard to avoid, it makes the good ones hard to find. So we'll be highlighting our favorite apps on every platform, whether it's for your phone, your tablet, your laptop, or any other device. But these aren't just cool new apps — these are the best new apps. The ones you absolutely must download, right now. The ones that will instantly make you saner, happier, drier (if and when we ever find a great weather app), and more productive. So trust us: you want these apps.
Feb 12, 2015
A number of us here at The Verge are big fans of VSCO cam, myself included. But I'm never completely satisfied with the mobile photo editing experience it offers, so I'm always on the lookout for something different. That just arrived in the form of Darkroom, a new photo editing app for iOS that is available in the App Store starting today.Read Article >
Darkroom's most impressive feature is the ability to make curves adjustments, similar to Photoshop on the desktop. You can individually adjust the blacks, shadows, midtones, highlights, and whites of any image with a simple up or down slide of your finger. The app also allows you to adjust those characteristics across individual RGB channels; for example, you could increase the amount of blue in the shadows, or decrease the amount of green in the highlights. It's the app's first paid feature (with more to come later this year), and it's essential to the experience. The $2.99 price tag sounds steep, but it works great and is really fun to use.
Dec 11, 2014
I sometimes romanticize the idea of being a "power user," someone who can get done in one click things that would take everyone else five or six. But that status often comes with a lot of time spent setting up apps and scripts, which often require very specific knowledge. That's why services like If This Then That (IFTTT) are great — they make being a power user accessible by mixing customizable functionality with a passionate community and an easy-to-use interface.Read Article >
New to iOS devices today, however, is an app called Workflow. It takes the approachability of IFTTT and tries to one-up it with a colorful drag-and-drop interface. Unlike IFTTT, which essentially can only program two parts to each "recipe," Workflow lets you program seemingly endless chains of instructions that can do everything from simple actions like "tweet what song you're playing" to gathering the addresses of all of your day's meetings in an email.
Aug 27, 2014
Instagram might be best known as an endless stream of pictures of your friends' meals, but its new standalone video app Hyplerlapse aims to change that. It's a dead simple way to create time-lapse videos accompanied by an outstanding built-in image stabilization algorithm that can make shaky videos look steady enough you might think they were filmed with a professional rig. It just takes one tap to start recording, lets you pick your playback speed after, and easily shares your video to Instagram and Facebook.Read Article >
With few controls, the creativity really comes from how you use Hyperlapse. The best ones so far tend to fall into three categories. First is the typical timelapse, where the camera is stationary and lets a subject (or subjects) move around in the scene. Second are the videos that show movement along a path, which is where Hyperlapse's stabilization really shines. These videos, done right, give the viewer the feeling that their zipping through the same scene, or tell a story with a clear beginning and end. The third combines the subject focus with movement, like following a dancing friend through an airport.
Jul 24, 2014
Ultratext is a dead-simple iOS app for creating GIFs and sending them via MMS and iMessage. It creates flashing neon messages, with the words you type blown up in all caps, accessorized with emoji and selfies and other photos from your camera roll. Every time you hit the space bar, Ultratext gives you a new box to type into, chaining your words into a looping animation. At any point you can add a picture using either the front or rear camera. The result is a message that looks more like a billboard than a message bubble, and it’s incredibly fun. "It’s like you literally discovered fire and gave it to me," one friend told me, after I tweeted a link to the app.Read Article >
Jul 21, 2014
If you have an iPhone, you should download Overcast, the new podcast app from Instapaper creator and Tumblr co-founder Marco Arment. Podcast clients are a crowded category, of course, and it's harder than ever to stand out now that Apple offers its own free solution. But Overcast sets itself apart with thoughtful design, original features, and smart ideas — and it costs nothing to check out.Read Article >
In its first release, Overcast is a pretty simple app. It's iPhone-only at present; there's no iPad version, and Pocket Casts will remain a better option for syncing between Android and iOS (though overcast.fm is a solid web player). It's also missing some basic features like live streaming, so you'll have to download each episode first. But it feels mature in other regards, with a sensible, minimalist design that uses spare translucency, attractive typography, and flourishes of orange to give the app a sense of identity. I've used a lot of podcast clients that perhaps do more, but you'll never feel lost in Overcast.
Apr 3, 2014
FTL: Faster Than Light is one of the most addictive spaceship simulations you can play — and it turns out it's even better with a touchscreen. First released in 2012 for Windows, Mac, and Linux, FTL tasks you with delivering some very important data to the Galactic Federation headquarters. Standing between you and your goal, though, is a whole lot of space, filled with hostile aliens and treacherous asteroid fields. Your hyperspace drive lets you quickly jump from one star to the next, and along the way you'll do battle with space pirates, barter for fuel, and explore abandoned relics, all while trying to move fast enough to avoid the fleet of rebel ships that's on your tail.Read Article >
Like most strategy games, FTL’s gameplay boils down to menus, whether it's diverting power to your weapons and aiming them at your enemies, or customizing your ship before you venture out into the unknown. This was never quite perfect with a mouse and keyboard, but the new touchscreen controls make the game much easier to play, especially during the intense combat scenarios. Once you get used to the interface, you'll be blasting Mantis Cruisers with ease. The game’s structure also makes an excellent portable experience. FTL is essentially infinitely re-playable — the experience is randomized each time you play, and you'll unlock different ships and equipment that let you try out different strategies. And since a single playthrough can sometimes last less than 10 minutes, it’s an ideal game for playing on the go.
Feb 20, 2014
Pocket lets me save articles so I can read them across all my devices, but a lack of official Windows Phone support means I’ve been searching for a good alternative for months. I’ve tried a variety of third-party versions like Owl Reader and Pouch, but none strike the perfect balance of features and design like the official Pocket apps for iOS and Android. The latest contender, Poki, blends the flat "Metro" design of Windows Phone with the basic features of Pocket and mixes in some rather unique additions of its own.Read Article >
Feb 11, 2014
Ever since Google clunkily integrated SMS into Hangouts and killed off the standard SMS app, I’ve been on the hunt for a better text-messaging app. I’ve tried Textra, Sliding Messaging, and even newcomers such as Evolve SMS, but they’ve all let me down in one way or another. Fortunately, I’ve found Hello SMS, a straightforward, simple SMS app that’s good-looking and easy to use. It fully replaces the built-in messaging app on your Android phone and feels like something Google itself could have built.Read Article >
Feb 7, 2014
Dark Sky has been around on the iPhone for almost a couple of years now, but the recent redesign for iOS 7 makes it worth a second look — even at the relatively steep price of $3.99. Its raison d'être is telling you what the precipitation is going to be down to your exact location and, more importantly, by the hour. That means it has the unenviable job of conveying a lot of information in a way you can quickly understand — and given the current state of weather apps, it has to look good. Though a few have offered some constructive criticism of the design choices, the overall aesthetic works as a nice example of how to redesign for iOS 7's general feel without dogmatically adhering to it. Most importantly, Dark Sky does what it sets out to do: give you shockingly accurate detail on exactly what's going to fall from the sky in the next hour or two.Read Article >
Feb 4, 2014
Here's the thing: most apps suck. And not only does that make bad apps hard to avoid, it makes the good ones hard to find when there are hundreds of thousands of apps out there. So in this series, we highlight our favorite apps on every platform, whether it's for your phone, your tablet, your laptop, or any other device.Read Article >
If Medium had an iPad app, it might look a lot like this. Storehouse, an app built by former employees of Apple, Facebook, and The Daily, is great for telling stories and for reading them. Early adopters are using it to create beautiful visual narratives that layer crisp typography, full-bleed photos, looping video clips, and background music into something that’s unusually immersive.
Dec 5, 2013
I’ve spent years "managing" my money using Mint.com — creating budgets, renaming transactions, tracking spending month over month, and using precision labels like "Alcohol / Bars" to see how much I’m boozing. But I couldn’t put a finger on why I was doing all of this: I felt a little safer being able to see a dashboard of all my money on the screen in front of me, but I hardly ever took action based on the results I saw. Only once I tried Level, a new app for iPhone, did I realize that the question I truly cared about was this: how much money can I spend today, or this week, or this month?Read Article >
Nov 14, 2013
There are plenty of great touchscreen mobile games, but few that use tilt in a way that feels right. Tilt to Live was a rare exception, a frantic arcade game that had you tilting your phone to avoid deadly dots while using all kinds of weapons to destroy them. Now the game has a sequel that features the same core game mechanic, but with one important difference — it's absolutely insane. Just like before, tilting your device moves a tiny arrow around, and after a few short seconds the screen will become flooded with red dots. It only takes one touch for them to kill you and your only hope is the weapons floating around, which will help clear away the dots to give you some breathing room.Read Article >
In Tilt to Live 2, those weapons are both ridiculous and ridiculously fun to play with, whether you're working with a double-sided lightsaber or a bouncing meteor that you can actually dribble. Some of the weapons can be linked together: you can wear a disguise so the dots will ignore you, and then grab a lightsaber to slice through them. The sequel even adds boss battles, with massive enemies that you can only destroy by hitting moving targets. Your ultimate goal is simply to stay alive and get a high score, but, as with games like Jetpack Joyride, you'll also find smaller missions to take on. They're necessary for unlocking new weapons, and they force you to use those weapons in strange and challenging ways. No matter how you play, it's an extremely difficult game — I was ecstatic the first time I lasted 60 seconds before dying.
Oct 15, 2013
Frax HD is intimidating at first. It's all about fractals; visualizations of complex mathematical equations that twist and turn to create beautifully strange images. The technical explanation is enough to make your head hurt, but thankfully you don't really need to understand any of that. All you need to know is that Frax HD is an incredible tool for crafting bizarre and fun landscapes. There are 42 different landscapes you can interact with — and close to 200 if you splurge for the "pro" upgrade — and you can alter them by playing with their color, lighting, and texture to create something new. Meanwhile, the familiar pinch-and-zoom lets you explore their massive scale.Read Article >
The touch controls mean that you don’t actually have to deal with any numbers of formulas. Instead, they let you put your fingers right into the image to tweak things like color and texture manually, and by working with several different characteristics you have a lot of flexibility to customize things how you want. The result can range from a beautiful work of art to a dark vision of horror to a seizure-inducing light show, and the app makes it easy to share and save your creations (they can make for some excellent iPad wallpapers). Frax HD might not make you better at math, but it will definitely show you it can be beautiful.
Sep 20, 2013
The most powerful to-do list manager for iOS has been redesigned for iOS 7, and the result is a beautiful and fluid productivity manager that will help you get things done. OmniFocus 2 for iPhone makes it faster than ever to see your day at a glance, check your progress on ongoing projects, and add new tasks. And it does it all with a stylish simplicity that is new to the famously complicated app.Read Article >
On one hand, OmniFocus offers more power than most people need, or even want. In a world of perfectly functional (and free) productivity managers, its $19.99 price tag is downright audacious. But OmniFocus fans rush to pay it because of the power it puts at your disposal. Designed for adherents of David Allen’s popular Getting Things Done productivity system, OmniFocus helps you organize your work in whatever way makes most sense to you, with a feature set few can match.
Sep 12, 2013
The iOS App Store is littered with beautiful hyper-minimalist text-editing apps – if you want to take quick, searchable, syncable notes on your iPhone, you're not short of options. The Android landscape is comparatively barren, with only a few options that work and even fewer that look good doing it. But thanks to Simplenote, which has launched its first native app for Android, there's now an option that rivals anything you'd find on iOS.Read Article >
The app is just one long, running list of notes you've taken, black text on a white background. Press the plus button to add another note and just start typing. You can sort by tags or pin certain notes to the top of the list, but Simplenote is designed to work like Gmail: you want something, you search for it. Search is instant and ongoing, reorganizing your list with every character you type. Everything is kept up to date with Simplenote's web service, and there are apps for almost every platform that sync with its backend; if you don't want to sign up, you can just use the app on your phone.
Aug 1, 2013
Rymdkapsel looks simple and plays slow, but it’s one of the best strategy games I’ve played in a long time. The game is all about expansion. Your team of tiny white squares starts out on a small platform floating in space, and the goal is to expand that platform as far as possible. You’ll need to produce resources like food and minerals, add new members to your crew, examine mysterious artifacts to gain new abilities, and build defenses to protect against regularly scheduled alien attacks. There’s also a puzzle element — new additions to your budding space colony come in the shape of Tetris pieces, so it’s a challenge to come up with the ideal set-up for all of the different rooms. But most of the strategy comes from your ability to balance exploration with defense, while keeping an ever-vigilant eye on your resources.Read Article >
Jul 26, 2013
Nearly the entire concept of Frontback resides in its name. Snap a picture with your iPhone’s front camera, then another with your back camera, and boom: a frontback is born. As app creator Fred della Faille puts it: "Your face is the caption." There’s a dumb fun in using this app that recalls the experience of sending your first few Snapchats. In an era where the selfie reigns supreme, Frontback elevates it to the level of art.Read Article >
You can share your frontback on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, and the image also appears within the app itself. A smooth-scrolling feed shows photos from you, your friends, and the Frontback staff’s own well curated picks. Already, users are branching out beyond basic subject and selfie combinations to capture themselves playing guitar, staring at the sky, or recording what they had for dinner.
Jul 19, 2013
Few mobile games offer single-screen action with friends as intense and fun as Lucky Frame’s Gentlemen! Sure, there are multiplayer experiences like swapping turns in Letterpress or fighting for the highest score in Ridiculous Fishing, but nothing quite like this. It’s sort of like a two-player take on Super Crate Box mixed with Spy vs. Spy, only instead of having to kill off waves of enemies, you’ll need to dispose of a human foe sitting right across from you. You’ll compete across a handful of simple levels and game modes in a duel to the death, and all you can really do is jump and attack. Sometimes the goal is to simply kill your opponent a certain number of times, while at other times you can just steal their diamonds instead. And you’ll have a wide range of weapons at your disposal, from knives and bombs to killer homing pigeons.Read Article >
This all leads to a rather frantic experience, especially with Gentlemen!’s gravity-defying physics, which let you run along both the floor and the ceiling, and to switch directions mid-air. What makes things particularly challenging is that you and your opponent are sharing the same device — all of the menus and text are mirrored, so that players can read it from either end — and you always have the option to cheat and tap their controls at inopportune moments. Add in randomly distributed weapons and you end up with a game that will have two players gripping either end of an iPad very tightly. Gentlemen! is an exciting change of pace from a studio that brought us music-focused games like Wave Trip and Bad Hotel, and it’s available now on the iPad and Android tablets for $4.99.
Jul 15, 2013
Since it launched in 2010, IFTTT (if this, then that) has been building a Lego set made out of web companies. The free service, which until now has existed only on the web, automates tasks using public APIs from companies including Facebook, Dropbox, Evernote, and Foursquare. I use IFTTT to save all my Instagram photos to Dropbox, and to note every time I check in at the gym, among other things. Now a new iOS app is making it easy to browse and enable the most popular “recipes” on the service — while also introducing recipes exclusive to the device that’s always at your side.Read Article >
The iOS app adds new recipes built around the Camera, Contacts, and Reminders apps: it can be programmed to upload all photos taken with the front-facing camera to Facebook, for example. With a couple of taps, you can now have IFTTT update your Twitter avatar every time you change your profile picture on Facebook. Or post your selfies to Tumblr. Or log all your Foursquare check-ins in Evernote.
Jun 11, 2013
You could beat Kingdom Rush, one of the best tower-defense games for iOS, and still never really finish it. The gameplay was so exquisitely balanced, with maps that remained challenging after dozens of plays, that there were always good reasons to come back to it. Now we have a new reason to return: Kingdom Rush Frontiers, the tremendous sequel from Ironhide Studios. Tasked once again with defending the perpetually endangered land of Linirea, you’ll find a range of new tools at your disposal. The game’s four towers have been redesigned and given different abilities, and a fresh crop of "heroes" (available mostly as in-app purchases) can augment your defense.Read Article >
As with the original, the genius of Kingdom Rush Frontiers lies in the way it regularly puts you on the brink of disaster. Some of the game’s 40 new enemies go temporarily invisible, rendering your attacks ineffective; others speed up as they are injured; one nasty beast kills your soldiers with a single shot. Beating them requires careful planning both in the way you lay out your towers and the order in which you upgrade them. You’re unlikely to get it right the first, second, or even third time, making Kingdom Rush Frontiers that much more replayable. The rush of the game’s title comes from the moment you finally find a strategy that works, fighting off your foes and living to battle another wave. Keep ‘em coming.
May 28, 2013
Instacast for Mac is without question the best way to listen to podcasts on OS X. And for anyone who’s been stuck using iTunes for the job, it’s something of a revelation. You can finally set Apple’s bloated media player aside — at least when it comes to podcasts — in favor of Vemedio’s sleek and efficient replacement. Most importantly, everything’s fast. Very, very fast. Adding your favorite shows is as simple as searching for them and hitting the subscribe button. Organization is equally simple; you can view all of your podcasts at once, or drag and drop individual episodes into custom lists (i.e. a collection of every podcast Zach Galifianakis has appeared on).Read Article >
Rather than applying your preferences in broad strokes, Instacast lets you set custom preferences for each podcast. That means you can tell it to check for the latest Adam Carolla Show each afternoon, or pick manual updates for This American Life and other weekly / infrequent shows. In the move from iOS to OS X, the app has also picked up some desktop-exclusive features; Up Next lets you queue up another episode before your current podcast wraps up, and there’s a MiniPlayer view designed to eat up minimal space on your Mac’s display.
May 23, 2013
I've tried WhatsApp, GroupMe, Kik, Google Voice, LINE, Trillian, and basically every other messaging app you can think of — I've even tried using Skype as an IM service, because at least my parents know what Skype is. I'd given up on finding an app that had all three things I need: cross-platform, useful online and off, and accessible enough that I could convince everyone I know to use it. But Google's new Hangouts app is all that and more.Read Article >
There are Hangouts apps for iOS and Android, plus Gmail and Chrome. You can message with one person or a hundred, either via text and emoji or on a video call, and if you're offline your messages wait for you to get back on. Hangouts is already baked into your Gmail — there's nothing new to sign up for, just a new app to download. It shows you who's online and who's not, and whether or not they've read your last message. You can send pictures back and forth, and they're saved forever in a Google+ album that's only accessible to the people in your Hangout. It's not perfect — we're still waiting for voice calling, SMS integration, and even more platform support – but it's the fastest, simplest, most integrated messaging app we've used yet. And its best feature is its sales pitch: "Mom, it's like texting but you can do it from your Gmail." Done and done.
May 1, 2013
Drafts is the starting place for anything you might tap out on your iPhone or iPad, integrated with a large and growing number of other apps. This is a notebook that works like an Alfred-style launcher, and as with launchers, the more time you spend with Drafts, the more uses you'll find for it. Launch Drafts and type something — then tweet it, post it to Facebook, send it as an email, or add it to your calendar or Reminders app all from the same place. It can be saved to Dropbox or Evernote, or sent to to-do managers like OmniFocus, Things, and Clear. Custom URL schemes let Drafts integrate with still more apps; I use one to send new events to Fantastical.Read Article >
A recent 3.0 update adds powerful new management features, including new archive and favoriting options for your notes, and a way to separate your most-used actions into tabs. It also brings tighter integration with Evernote, letting you set up templates for new notes with pre-filled notebook and tag information. If you jot down notes only occasionally, and use stock system apps for most of your needs, Drafts is probably overkill. But if you want to put your text notes to work for you, Drafts is an excellent place to start.
Apr 9, 2013
The best movies convince you that you know exactly what's about to happen, only to spin off in a direction you never saw coming. Badland is that feeling, unceasing, incarnate in an impressively long and involved iOS game. A sort of demented, Tim Burton-ized version of Jetpack Joyride or Super Meat Boy, Badland has but one control — you tap the screen to make your amorphous, squishy black blob lurch upward, and when you let go it floats back to earth. But the dystopian rainforest through which you're flying is dangerous and ever-changing, with whirring saw blades appearing as unexpectedly as the falling stalactites. Some things you must surmount, others you must weave through at exactly the right moment — you're a living Rube Goldberg machine trying to solve the world.Read Article >
Your only goal? Survive. And you won't, most of the time. There are side missions, and plenty of aids along your way that provide glimmers of hope, but your only hope is to plan three steps ahead, time everything perfectly, and hope that rock above you is sturdier than it looks.
Mar 22, 2013
What is so satisfying about upgrading gear and unlocking levels? Why does acquiring the chainsaw lure keep me up at night? Super Crate Box developer Vlambeer has mastered addictive gameplay, and its latest title is a testament to that. In Ridiculous Fishing, you are a fisherman searching for redemption, mindlessly casting your line deeper to catch eels, catfish, and footstaches — and then using a variety of high-caliber weaponry to shoot them out of the air above your boat.Read Article >
The game is filled with odd humor, exotic locales to unlock, leaderboards to compare high scores with friends, and a Pokedex-sized catalog of fish to catch. Some fish are so rare they might only come out at night, or others only while you’re wearing certain hats. Once your $2.99 is up and spent, and you’ve devoted hours to catching every last fish, you might breathe a sigh of relief. Your time with Ridiculous Fishing has ended, but you’ll always remember the lessons you learned along the way…. like to never shock a bonefish with a toaster oven.