Just unwrapped a smartphone or tablet? Here are ten apps you should download right now – yes, before you’ve even munched your first mince pie.
Dropbox (iOS, Android, BlackBerry)
A free cloud storage service that makes files accessible across all your phones, tablets and computers (and from the web too), Dropbox is a simple and effective way to archive and share important stuff – so even if you lose your phone, your photos and the like will still be available.
Spotify (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry)
It requires a £9.99 a month Premium account, yes, but the mobile version of Spotify will quickly find a place among any music lover’s most-used apps. Not only does it let you stream songs over Wi-Fi or 3G, it also lets you sync your playlists for offline listening. Chuck in the rest of Spotify’s features and it’s a must-have.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City 10th Anniversary Edition (iOS, Android)
Regarded by many in the know as the greatest GTA game ever, Vice City brings 1980s Florida to your iPad, iPhone or Android device for a pittance – and in a range of fetching pastel shades. The soundtrack is peerless, while Rockstar's deft references to the 80s take in everything from Miami Vice to Scarface, perfectly capturing the neon-tinged decadence of the era.
Improving on almost every aspect of the iPhone’s built-in camera, this app (on sale at the time of writing) lets you set separate exposure and focus points using two fingers, use the LED as a continuous fill light, crop images and add a truckload of effects, filters and borders. Essential for any photo obsessive.
Accuweather (iOS, Android, BlackBerry)
The default weather app on the iPhone is pretty limited, and those on Android phones aren’t much better. If you need detailed reports on what’s going on outside – or in a place you’re about to head to – the free version of Accuweather is a great bet. Providing detailed hour-by-hour forecasts for the next 24 hours, plus weekly forecasts and details on how warm or cold the day will feel based on humidity and wind chill, it’s always handy.
Angry Birds: Star Wars (iOS, Android)
The latest instalment of the phenomenally successful fowl-flinging game is arguably the best, blending simple yet compelling physics-based puzzles with the characters and settings of the Star Wars movies. The squawk is strong with this one.
Instapaper (iOS, Android)
Chances are that every day you see loads of web pages that you want to read – but you’re in the middle of something and don’t have the time. Rather than forget about it, you can save a page (or series of pages), then use Instapaper to access them when you’re not rushed off your feet. Instapaper features offline reading too, making it ideal for underground train journeys and flights.
SwiftKey 3 (Android)
£2.99, Google Play
Stuff’s favourite keyboard app for Android, SwiftKey (also available for a free month-long trial) uses magical predictive tech that turns the sloppiest of drunken texts into beautiful prose, even adding spaces. It learns from your habits too, making it more effective the longer you use it.
Xbox SmartGlass (Windows Phone, iOS, Android)
Got an Xbox 360? Then you need SmartGlass in your life. It turns your mobile device into a Wii U-style second screen to selected Xbox games, giving you new ways to interact with them (With Forza Horizon, for instance, you can view the map on your SmartGlass-equipped tablet or phone, saving you the bother of pausing the game). On top of that, it turns your device into a general controller for the UI, letting you use its keyboard, search directly and control the playback of videos and music.
If the iPhone’s native email app is getting you down, consider taking a flight with Sparrow. Recently acquired by Google, this email client features a unified inbox, pull to refresh (yes!), direct attachments, a built-in web browser and a host of great UI touches.
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