Got a new smart­phone or tablet on your Christ­mas list? Here are 10 apps you’ll love

Llanelli Star - - Tech Now - With Justin Con­nolly

1 ASANA REBEL (iOS and An­droid, free with in-app pur­chases) THERE are a gazz­il­lion yoga apps on the var­i­ous app stores, more if you count the ones that of­fer other kinds of work­outs, too.

Some of them are rub­bish, some of them are OK, and some of them are ex­cel­lent. Sadly, the ex­cel­lent ones usu­ally re­quire the most out­lay in terms of cash. But, you get what you pay for, as they say.

Asana Rebel is one of the very best, with all kinds of yoga rou­tines to meet all kinds of needs, but it costs a few bob – £58.99 a year to be pre­cise. For an app this well made, it’s worth it.


(iOS and An­droid, free) THE BBC’s iPlayer Ra­dio was, ap­par­ently, not cool enough for young­sters to “en­gage with”.

Old peo­ple like me got on with it just fine, how­ever, so I was a bit per­turbed when it was re­placed with the much “funkier” Sounds app.

I need not have wor­ried – it’s an ex­cel­lent way to en­joy all the BBC has to of­fer au­dio­wise.

You can lis­ten in live to ra­dio shows, or catch up later with things you’ve missed.

The BBC’s prodigious pod­cast out­put is also ac­ces­si­ble, bring­ing it all to­gether in a nice, neat, and sim­ple pack­age.

3 HEADSPACE (iOS and An­droid, free with in-app pur­chases) IF YOU’RE go­ing down the yoga route to fit­ness, you might also con­sider a bit of yoga for the mind, and Headspace is the clear win­ner in this, erm, space.

Again, it is not cheap to sub­scribe (£9.99-a-month or £74.99-a-year), but you do get a lot for your money, and you can try out the in­tro­duc­tory course for free to see if you like it. There’s a vast ar­ray of help avail­able, tack­ling all kinds of what Headspace like to re­fer to as ob­sta­cles – lack of sleep, lack of con­fi­dence, worry, bore­dom… it’s all in there, and there’s a sooth­ing voice just wait­ing to help you med­i­tate your way out of vir­tu­ally any cor­ner.

4 THINGS 3 (iOS, £9.99) THINGS is a task man­ager that is as beau­ti­ful as it is use­ful. Its de­vel­op­ers also have not rested on their lau­rels af­ter its ini­tial re­lease and are ac­tively adding fea­tures and im­prov­ing Things as we speak.

So if you find your mind is brim­ming with too many things to do, just pour them into this app where you’ll find they be­come a lot eas­ier to man­age, or­gan­ise and, ul­ti­mately, ac­tu­ally get done.

5 MON­U­MENT VAL­LEY II (iOS and An­droid, £4.99) WE ALL need a game on our phones for those idle mo­ments in the su­per­mar­ket queue – the se­cond in­stal­ment of the beau­ti­ful puz­zler Mon­u­ment Val­ley is per­fect for such oc­ca­sions.

It’s like a liv­ing Escher il­lus­tra­tion that you have to ma­nip­u­late to work out the route from A to B – and it’s a lot harder than it sounds.

When you add in sprin­kles of charm­ing per­son­al­ity and some beau­ti­fully drawn art­work, you’re onto a real win­ner.

6 ADOBE RUSH (iOS, free) DE­SPITE al­ready hav­ing a few video edit­ing apps on the go, the king of cre­ative soft­ware Adobe is hav­ing an­other go with Rush.

It’s a fairly straight­for­ward af­fair, and does all the things you’d ex­pect it to do, but has a bit of an ad­van­tage over some of its ri­vals – it can edit por­trait videos, and so is per­fect for those look­ing to make a name for them­selves on In­sta­gram TV.

It ties into the wider Cre­ative Cloud com­mu­nity (which in­cludes desk­top apps like Pho­to­shop and Il­lus­tra­tor), and while you don’t need a CC sub­scrip­tion to use Rush, its ca­pa­bil­i­ties are ex­panded if you do. An An­droid ver­sion is in the works.

7 DUOLINGO (iOS and An­droid, free with in-app pur­chases) I WON’T’ stop telling peo­ple about Duolingo, de­spite the fact that it’s been around for ages and ev­ery­one should al­ready know about it.

It’s sim­ply the most fun way to learn a new lan­guage on the app stores.

If you’ve tried it be­fore, give it an­other chance – it’s just had a bit of a vis­ual makeover that makes it more ap­peal­ing than ever.

8 VSCO (iOS and An­droid, free with in-app pur­chases) VSCO (short for Vis­ual Sup­ply Com­pany, since you ask) is a great photo ed­i­tor from a very cool com­pany that used to spe­cialise in light­room plug-ins that em­u­lated clas­sic film looks of yore.

These have found their way into this app, which is one of the most top knotch photo ed­i­tors around.

To get the full set you have to sub­scribe to VSCO X for £19.99 a year, but you also get ac­cess to some “ex­per­i­men­tal” fea­tures, like video edit­ing, for that. As well as the cam­era and ed­i­tor, though, VSCO also fea­tures its own fully-fledged so­cial plat­form for shar­ing im­ages that is about as far away from the noise and nas­ti­ness of other plat­forms as you can imag­ine.

9 CITYMAPPER (iOS and An­droid, free) IF YOU live in Lon­don, Birm­ing­ham, or Manch­ester you’re in luck – CityMapper cov­ers your manor.

If you don’t, get on the CityMapper web­site and vote for which­ever spot you do live in – be­cause this app of­fers door-to-door guid­ance for com­muters us­ing any kind of pub­lic trans­port you can think of to get you home as fast as pos­si­ble and with the min­i­mum drama.

Beats car­ry­ing around a load of bus timeta­bles in your pocket, that’s for sure.

10 STREAKS (iOS, £4.99) STREAKS is iOS-only, but might be one of the best rea­sons to bag your­self an iPhone this win­ter. It’s a sim­ple habit form­ing app – you tell it what you want to do, or not do, ev­ery day, and check off the task when it’s done.

The app records when you do the thing you want to do, and counts ‘streaks’ of con­sec­u­tive com­ple­tions. Once you’ve hit a streak, the de­sire not to break it keeps you on tar­get, and the longer you go, the less likely it is you will fail.

It’s a great idea, beau­ti­fully ex­e­cuted, and has the po­ten­tial to bring real change to your life.

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