XDA Picks: Best Apps of the Week (July 11 – July 18)
Apps are at the front and center of any smartphone experience, and with over a million apps on the Google Play Store and new apps being submitted to our forums every day, staying up to date on the latest apps and games can be a hassle. At XDA we don’t discriminate apps – if it’s interesting, innovative, original or useful, we mention them. The XDA Portal Team loves apps too, and here are our top picks for this week.
Cortana for Android [FREE/BETA]
A build of Cortana was leaked, and now Google Now has extra competition in its own mother platform. Cortana offers you cards like Google Now, but with more granular control and customization options. The voice assistant service works great and does all as one would expect – alarms, calendar events, questions, suggestions, and even jokes. It is not quite as integrated with many OS functions as it is on Windows Phone nor Google Now on Android. This is a pre-release version, so it might not be fully compatible with your device. But nevertheless, this is one of Microsoft’s biggest Android releases and it’s worth a look.
Swivel is a lightweight utility app that allows you to select custom screen orientations on a per-app basis. This means that you can lock your videoplayer to landscape mode, for example, or your music player to portrait mode. While I doubt it is an absolute necessity for anyone, it can certainly relieve some frustrations for apps that you would never want to use on a different orientation. Finally, if you prefer holding your phone on landscape in a particular orientation, this can make it so that the app will follow suit. Small, niche but handy screen orientation manager!
This app displays a map full of Wi-Fi hotspots around your location so that, in case you are out of data or service, you can easily hook up to the internet. There are over 650 million hotspots, they are added by users, and you can check bits of information and comments regarding performance and password security on them. You can also access a history of the Wi-Fi hotspots you’ve connected to, and the developers are working on many extra features such as password sharing for public hotspots and… leaderboards. If you are always on the go, or plan on visiting a new city, this is a good app to have.
Slide for Reddit [FREE]
Slide is a new free Reddit client with no ads nor in-app-purchases (other than voluntary donations). This app features a “Slide UI” that is both pretty and sleek, very intuitive and it allows for a great vertical browsing experience. On top of its great design, the app has all the features you would expect from a Reddit client, from content viewers to many customization options (theming). Given it was released very recently, there are some bugs here and there, but if you haven’t jumped to a new voat, check it out!
Red Bull Alert [FREE]
If you hate waking up to an alarm, but love beating your friends, this is the app for you. Red Bull Alert solves the problem of morning inertia by turning alarm snoozing into a competition. As ridiculous as it sounds, the apps attempts to motivate you to get up faster by allowing you to set up goals, improve your wake-up time and even compete with your friends to see who’s the earliest riser and who’s the laziest. This is a rather bizarre app, but turning annoying alarms into a competitive game is, at the very least, inventive.
HBO NOW [NO ROOT ALLOWED]
If you were frustrated with the iOS exclusive HBO NOW app, that might end now that the service has hit Android. But given you are on XDA, and you are probably rooted, you won’t be able to use this app. The service itself is great, as it allows you to stream and watch every episode of popular HBO series. But if you are rooted… then tough luck, as it seems that root automatically makes you a pirate in HBO’s eyes. At least you get a 30-day trial. Try using a cloak ?
- Microsoft’s Hyperlapse is now out of beta. If you want a great timelapse video maker, accept no substitutes as the technology behind this one is top notch.
- VLC for Android Beta 1.5 removes unnecessary permissions, received UI refinements and extra features such as playlists and audio/video switches.
- Google Drive now lets you prevent others from copying or download files that you have shared with them. About time!
- A new version of Google Play Services is out bringing more of Google’s typical “stability and performance improvements”.
- A new Google Play Music has fixed a bug where music was being erased from one’s SD card.
That is it for this week. We hope that you might have found some of these apps as interesting, useful or entertaining as we did. Whether you are a student, a developer, a designer or a gamer, Android has you covered. We will try to reflect that each week with a variety of picks to spark your interest, and if you see (or publish!) any new apps that you think are worthy of a feature, be sure to send us a tip and we’ll give it a look. Until next time!