The best apps and games for this month

The best apps and games for this month

Ofcom Wi-Fi Checker

Android/iOS
Ofcom’s app helps you check whether your home Wi-Fi is slowing internet speed, and while its results aren’t that detailed, it does suggest useful tips for fixing problems.

Swiftkey symbols
Android
This app has been designed for people on the autism spectrum or with other communication disabilities. It’s a symbol-based tool for children and adults alike, and predicts next symbol based on their past use.

Grayout (iOS)
Is this a game or interactive fiction? Whichever you choose, it’s a marvellous – if often unsettling – read. It’s a prequel to the equally great Blackbar, as your character battles a language-processing disorder to navigate a hospital research lab.

Endless Learning Academy (iOS)
The Endless series is among the best children’s educational apps available, and this is the best yet. It blends maths, phonics, spelling, anatomy and even Spanish in a colourful app for two- to six-year-olds, presented by cartoon monsters. Parents buy new lessons as in-app purchases.

Snap Swipe Drawer (Android)
This does what it says on the tin: a virtual drawer that you swipe out to reveal your favourite widgets, without having to flick back to your homescreen first. A simple tool, but a really useful one.

Google Cardboard Camera
(Android)
Virtual reality (VR) is going to be big news this year, with the Google Cardboard project helping Android owners turn their smartphones into VR viewers. This virtual reality fun app helps you take photos on your phone that can be panned around in 360 degrees — which Google hopes you’ll do with a Cardboard headset.

Kimoji (iOS)
Look away now if you’re not a fan of the rise of the Kardashians: this is Kim’s latest app, following her lucrative mobile game. It’s a collection of emoji — digital stickers — to be cut and pasted into other messaging apps like iMessage, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Fun for fans.

Bumble (Android/iOS)
Out on iPhone for a while but newly ported to Android, hetero-dating app Bumble aims to be a female-friendly Tinder. The key feature: when two people “swipe right” to indicate interest, the conversation can’t start until the woman says something. The aim: to up the quality of connections.

Change4Life Sugar Smart (Android/iOS)
If you’re starting 2016 with the resolution of cutting down on your sugar intake, this app may help. It’s an app for scanning the barcodes on food and drink to get information on how much sugar they contain. Useful, if possibly also terrifying.

Play Station Messages
(Android/iOS)
Any new messaging app faces a challenge competing with giants like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, but PlayStation Messages’ key feature is an app for the social features of Sony’s PS4 console. A good way to check who’s playing online, and message them.

GAMES

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (iOS)
This GTA game originally came out for Sony’s PSP handheld in 2005, and has now been ported smoothly to iOS (with Android following shortly). It’s the familiar mixture of driving, fighting and music appreciation, with missions well suited to shorter mobile sessions.

Cut the Rope: Magic (Android/iOS)
Can Cut the Rope avoid an Angry Birds-style dwindling in its fame and fortunes?This latest game in the string-snipping series deserves to find plenty of fans, with more than 100 puzzles, and more abilities to help its cuddly monster hero Om Nom do it.

Rayman Adventures (Android/iOS)
The Rayman franchise has become a gold standard for platform gaming on smartphones and tablets. Rayman Adventures is the latest excellent example: lush scenery, tight controls and inventive use of its new Incrediballs characters to keep the gameplay fresh.

Scribblenauts Unlimited (Android/iOS)
With this and Rayman Adventures, it’s a good month for platform gaming on your mobile device. This is as much about puzzling as action-adventuring, with Scribblenauts’ schtick being your ability to summon your own objects to solve those puzzles. It works beautifully on the touchscreen.

Rust Bucket (Android/iOS)
If you’re a fan of dungeon-crawling games, Rust Bucket is an essential purchase — a £2.99 in-app purchase removes its ads. You swipe to move around dungeons and traps while killing monsters. Visuals are a refreshing break from the norm: less doomy and more day-glo.

Gods of Rome (Android/iOS)
If you like beefy fighting games like Infinity Blade, then Gods of Rome is well worth a grapple. Gameloft has taken Roman mythology as its starting point, with an array of gods and monsters to battle – from Zeus and Hades to the Minotaur.

Swing Copters 2
(Android/iOS)
Remember Flappy Bird? Its developer got cold feet at that game’s success, but in 2015 he returned with Swing Copters, and now with its sequel keeps the simple cartoon graphics of Flappy Bird, as well as the punishing difficulty level. The main difference? You’re now flying upwards.

Candy Crush Jelly Saga
(Android/iOS)
As all parents know, jelly and sweets is a recipe for chaos. Yet that’s the combination for the latest Candy Crush Saga game. This time round, you have to match sweets to spread jelly across the screen, with more twists (and the familiar system of power-ups and in-app purchases) to boot.

Blown Away (Android/iOS)
Yet another well-crafted platform game, which ditches the genre trope of jumping in favour of teleportation. You ping hero Hendrik through more than 120 levels packed with enemies, traps and obstacles. Visuals are brilliant and the difficulty level is well weighted.

Lost Horizon
(Android/iOS)
Lost Horizon started life as a point-and-click adventure game for PCs, but has now been updated and converted to work on mobile. Set in the late 1930s, it sees you trying to find some lost researchers in Tibet before the Nazis do. It looks good, but the puzzles are its real appeal.

TR-REC Game (Android/iOS)
This is partly a game and partly a music-making app, released by instrument-maker Roland using real sounds from its famous drum machines. Dance music is the focus for this fun rhythm game, where you race against the clock following the notes. Electronic musicians – and fans – will enjoy it.

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