Travel, weather and health
Chances are, you’ve already got this beauty installed on your Android device. If not, what are you waiting for? Google’s mapping app is the best around, with excellent routing by car, public transport, or bike/foot. But it’s more than just a massive map. You get Street View for nosing around selected spots (including national monuments – and a TARDIS, if you can find it) by way of panoramas, fast access to information about local amenities and entertainment, and an offline mode. That last one enables you to save a chunk of a map to your device, using it as a turn-by-turn driving aid even when you’ve no internet connection.
Google Maps might be the best mapping app around, but if you find yourself immersed in a massive city, you might want something a bit more focussed. Citymapper is all about zipping about by the best modes of transport possible, and dozens of cities are supported.
It figures out where you are and plugs into all available transit information, enabling you to rapidly plan journeys via train, bus, bike, or ferry. Journey overviews enable you to compare how many calories or bucks you’ll burn, along with discovering which are ‘rain safe’, and those that’ll require you to hang around for ages before getting going.
Google Earth used to feel like Google Maps wrapped around a massive ball. But it’s now ideal for anyone who fancies doing tourism, but who’s too lazy to get out of a chair.
You can scoot about the planet by way of search, a randomised ‘feeling lucky’ option, or Voyager tours. The tours enable you to gawp at bits of NASA, modern wonders of the world, or where the dinosaurs bought it.
Some of the 3D landscapes still look like a dodgy PC videogame, but it’s nonetheless rather nice to see low-poly visuals transform before your eyes into something recognisable and almost photographic. The Alps, in particular, look superb.
We’ve seen a few clever translation apps in our time, but Google Translate now crushes them all. It offers (sometimes clunky) word-for-word translations of over 100 languages with input via text, handwritten words or symbols, spoken words or even text recognition via the camera. It can then give you the translation in the form of text or speak it for you.
The core app can do all this with a data connection, but if you’re abroad and fearing nasty roaming data charges, Google Translate may still come to your aid: over 50 of the languages work entirely offline for basic translation.
This one’s ideal for weather geeks and anyone who just wants to know whether walking the dog will result in them getting drenched. Select a location and the app flings data into a bunch of tiles you can shuffle about, depending on your needs.
Current conditions (temperature; local rainfall map; conditions) always stay at the top along with a day/hour/summary forecast; below those, you can delve into dew points, a lovely sunrise/sunset animation, air quality details, and local webcams for when you don’t believe the app and someone’s annoyingly painted over your windows.
If you're putting yourself through a fitness grind alone, this virtual back-patter will help spur you on. It tracks all your runs, walks and rides, then does the maths to tell you (and the entire world via social media) how many calories you've burnt, how far you've gone and generally how heroic you've been over the past week or so. The in-app purchase model keeps it all nice and tidy too, so even in the basic free format it's a very neat app to use.
If you’ve piled on the flab, it can nonetheless be a drag working up the enthusiasm to slog along local streets in trainers that have seen better days. But you can spice up running/jogging/hobbling (depending on your competence) with Zombies, Run!
It’s more or less a post-apocalyptic Walking Dead-style scenario smashed into Runkeeper, sending you out on vital missions that rather suspiciously always involve running. Periodically, zombies will show up, and unless you up your pace, they’ll tear your face off – a handy motivator. Want more structure? Take a look at the built-in training plans.
When everything’s getting a bit much, TaoMix 2 takes you to a calm place by filling your ears with meditative noise. But this isn’t some noodly new-age app – the interface is all neon minimalism.
It’s nicely tactile, too: you drag sound discs to adjust your mix, long-press and drag to change their prominence, and then flick a ring-shaped playhead to create a constantly evolving soundscape.
For free, there are timers and alarms, and a basic set of sounds. Splurge on IAP for extra sets, serenading your ears with additional aural bliss – or terrifying them by adding a dozen sounds and pinging the playback ring around at high speed.