TIME apps

The 5 Best iPhone and Android Apps You Should Try This Week

From Flickr to hands-free music control

It seems like hundreds of new smartphone apps pop up every day, but which ones should you bother trying? Here, TIME offers a look at five apps for iPhone, iPad and Android that stand out and are worth a shot.

 

  • Alien Blue

    There have been a series of unofficial Reddit apps available for a while now, but last week the social networking/news website that receives over a million uniques a day sanctioned the official release of a Reddit app, Alien Bue. It’s a clean, mobile-friendly version of the site, allowing users to keep up on threads and receive notifications as well as discover new subreddits. For a short while, users can also upgrade to Alien Blue Pro for free in order to access features like switching between multiple accounts.

    Alienblue is available free in the App Store.

  • Flickr for iPad

    Flickr for iPad App Store

    Although imgur has nearly replaced Flickr on many social media sites, the decade-old photo-sharing site just released an iPad app that offers extensive editing tools for mobile devices. And because of the iPad’s retina display, early reviews suggest that Flickr’s iOS app may be more efficient than using older model computers for light editing. Flickr also offers 1TB of free storage space.

    Flickr for iPad is available free in the App Store.

  • WishBeen

    Wishbeen Google Play

    When Tripadvisor fails and your outdated travel books begin to weigh down a suitcase, WishBeen offers a solution to the most complicated, time-consuming parts of planning a vacation. WishBeen, also a popular travel website, delivers an app that allows users to search, modify, and create travel itineraries, find nearby spots to visit and tailor activities to a budget. Most importantly, travel plans can be downloaded for offline use when Internet access is limited.

    WishBeen is available free in the Google Play store.

  • Hooks

    As football season stats to pick up and a different fall television show airs every night of the week, the hardest part may be keeping track of scores and when new episodes go up on Hulu. Hooks eliminates this strange, 21st century anxiety; it is a task reminder app not for obligations, but for the things you care about and actually enjoy. No more missed parties, no more delayed celebration until you check the final results of your team’s game, no more missing your favorite band next time they’re in town.

    Hooks is available free in the App Store.

     

  • Brainwave

    Brainwave Google Play

    Brainwave integrates the sleek, Minority Report technology of hands-free device operation with Android phones. Brainwave asks which music application you wish to use (it’s compatible with Spotify, Pandora and iHeart Radio, among others), and then allows you to control these various music apps by swiping a hand in different directions over the phone. Not only is it good for the moments in which you need to play DJ with greasy kitchen hands or are serving drinks at a party, but it’s precisely the kind of fascinating technology that reminds us why we’ve allowed our lives to be run by phones.

    Brainwave (beta) is available free in the Google Play store.

TIME Video Games

The 5 iPhone Games You Should Play This Week

Give these games a shot

Looking for a new iPhone game for your commute to work or lunch break at school? TIME rounded up some recent favorites that are worth a try.

  • War of Ages

    App Store

    It’s hardly a surprise that War of Ages is in the top 100 apps in the App Store. For those of us who played games like Age of Empires in the late 90s and early 2000’s, everything from the similar title, to building a nation, to developing a reliable army makes War of Ages feel like a throwback to these original strategy games. But War of Ages allows you to play online against millions of players, which adds a fascinating dimension to the classic medieval strategy genre.

    War of Ages is available free in the App Store.

  • Goat Simulator

    App Store

    When Goat Simulator was announced earlier this year, it was given web-wide attention due to its premise: a surreal Grand Theft Auto-type game involving a goat. Some believed it was an absurdist work of art; others called it a glitch-ridden disaster. Either way, Goat Simulator allows players to control a third person goat and explore the animal’s world, slingshotting the goat from object to object using its extremely elastic tongue while destroying everything in its path.

    Goat Simulator is available for $4.99 in the App Store.

     

  • Banner Saga

    App Store

    While many game developers have started using the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus’ larger screen sizes as a way to explore three dimensions, Banner Saga still delivers a stunning 2D landscape. Players choose their own characters and can follow any number of paths in this role-playing game that feels more like a Norse epic than a game one might plan on a phone. The art itself looks a lot like a detailed cartoon, which seems all the more appropriate when you take your Vikings into battle or sneak through a dark forest to avoid being seen by an enemy patrol.

    Banner Saga is available for $9.99 in the App Store

  • Daddy Long Legs

    App Store

    Daddy Long Legs is as hypnotic as it is simple. The premise sounds almost like a bad joke: successfully tap your screen to guide a hairy black cube with two gigantic legs down a track. Every time the cube falls, it splatters on the ground and the player starts over. For the cube, the road is endless. The only limit is how many hours a player is willing to spend trying to beat a shamefully low high score.

    But Daddy Long Legs also inadvertently delivers a disturbingly poignant message to its players: sometimes baby steps and persistence and a little luck yield greater results than big strides.

    Daddy Long Legs is available free in the App Store.

  • Jack B. Nimble

    App Store

    The first thing one notices about Jack B. Nimble is that it looks almost exactly like an original Game Boy game. With hints of Mario and Sonic and obvious traces of Indiana Jones, Jack B. Nimble is an endearingly old-fashioned monochrome game that lends a dash of eeriness to this hand-held style game. But Jack B. Nimble moves at a decidedly faster pace than its predecessors, and developers didn’t forget that players would be using a tool far more powerful than an old-school Game Boy. Somehow it’s as much at home on the iPhone than it would have been on a Christmas wish list in 1992.

    Jack B. Nimble is available for $1.99 in the App Store.

TIME apps

The 5 Best Smartphone Apps You Should Try This Week

From budgeting to travel

It seems like hundreds of new smartphone apps pop up every day, but which ones should you bother trying? Here, TIME offers a look at five apps for iPhone and Android that stand out and are worth a try.

Pennies

pennies2
App Store

Although online budgeting tools like Mint have helped streamline the way many people track expenses, the genius of Pennies is that this iOS app understands how time-consuming (not to mention nerve wracking) it can be to maintain an expense file that looks like an Excel spreadsheet. The developers say Pennies works because it’s flashy and not boring, but this young app’s success may stem from the fact that it’s about as intuitive and easy-to-use as a Fisher Price toy. Gone, perhaps, are the days of daunting month-to-month graphs.

Pennies is available in the iTunes App Store for $1.99

MiFlight

miflight1
App Store

A new app available only on iOS for now, MiFlight allows airline passengers to crowdsource wait times at different airports, aiming to eliminate the anxiety of arriving at an airport a few hours too soon, or worse, a few minutes too late. Passengers on line in security send their wait times, allowing the rest of us to plan ahead. Although it depends entirely on the connectivity and kindness of strangers, users may quickly understand that MiFlight is an efficient, guerrilla-style approach to circumnavigating mostly useless airline guidelines.

MiFlight is available free in the iTunes App Store.

Push

Push2
App Store

Most people have a collection of news and social media apps that will regularly send notifications to lock screens. Push allows users to aggregate notifications from various news outlets as well as curate pings from other online sources, alerting you to events like trending topics on Twitter or football scores. In short, the app turns your phone into a highly personalized news wire.

Push is available free in the iTunes App Store.

Snowball

For those who regularly use Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp or other messaging apps, Snowball, an Android app still in beta, curates notifications from these different apps onto one platform. Snowball makes sure you can keep track of different conversations in various apps, and, at the very least, that you don’t accidentally leave one conversation idle for hours before remembering to respond.

Snowball (beta) is available free in the Google Play store.

Seasonal Cities

Released a few weeks ago just in time for Fall (and Oktoberfest), Seasonal Cities is a mobile tour guide for major cities that offers new content packages every season. The recommendations in each update change depending on the weather, and the app even tailors suggestions based on the weather that week. 11 cities are on the list so far, including London, New York, Tokyo, and Paris. Guides are written by travel journalists and take different travel budgets into consideration.

Seasona Cities

Season Cities is available free in the iTunes App Store, every seasonal update will cost about $1.

Read next: 50 Best iPhone Apps, 2014 Edition

TIME

The Magic of Dubliners

James Joyce portrait Irish
A portrait of James Joyce taken in January 1941. Culture Club/Getty Images

One hundred years since its publication, here’s how James Joyce still kicks readers in the heart

It was half way through “The Boarding House,” a story from James Joyce’s collection Dubliners, published exactly 100 years ago, that I realized what good writing really was. In the story a young man staying in a boarding house becomes involved with the owner’s daughter. One morning, the owner asks to see him, and the young man waits in anguish before meeting with her: “He had made two attempts to shave but his hand had been so unsteady that he had been obliged to desist. Three days’ reddish beard fringed his jaws and every two or three minutes a mist gathered on his glasses so that he had to take them off and polish them with his pocket-handkerchief.” The moment I read those lines I knew right away what it felt like to be unshaven and to wait for a girl’s mother, even though I couldn’t grow a beard in 8th grade, and I certainly never had a girlfriend. Before “The Boarding House,” I had never imagined that anxiety could have collateral damage—that one might not be able to shave even though one might desperately want to, or that a scared fog might collect on one’s glasses. I had never imagined that writing could ever be that incisive, or that precise.

I had borrowed the book from my high school library—I heard the name Joyce thrown around the house, and Dubliners was the shortest of his volumes. I tore through several stories during lunch, and even reread “Araby,” a story about a young boy who offers to buy a trinket for a girl he likes. I finished my math test early so that I could get back to my book, I was asked to leave English class the next day when my teacher caught me reading the copy of Dubliners I had tucked into my backpack. We were supposed to be studying Travels with Charley, but could anyone really expect me to read Steinbeck after Joyce? That year, I decided that I would go to University College in Dublin, and if that failed, then I would go to the nearby Trinity College.

What struck me about those lines in “The Boarding House” was how expertly they disguised themselves as banal. There was nothing flashy about them—unlike the lyrical final paragraph of “The Dead,” arguably the most famous story in the whole collection, or the heart-wrenching moments in “Eveline,” a story about a girl leaving home. With almost no disquisition, Joyce unpacks everything there is to know about this young man. He uses a patch of crimson stubble to describe the sensation of being afraid, and on edge. Joyce puts to shame the clichés meant to act as subtle indications of a character’s tormented mental state—Gatsby’s long disappearances from parties, Holden Caulfield’s underage drinking habit. These supposed hallmarks of dark and tortured characters have allowed us to forget that fear doesn’t make us cling onto a flask, but rather, makes it hard to hold a razor straight enough to shave. Joyce’s three-day beard is a way of staring down all of our anxieties and apprehensions by pointing out something so simple about ourselves that we may never even have noticed it.

This is, perhaps, the magic of Dubliners. The stories convince us that they and their characters are almost unimportant until they kick us in the heart. When we read Dubliners we know that each of Joyce’s Dubliners is stuck, but unlike many authors, Joyce never actually has to say She was working a dead-end job that was only meant to last a few months. And then 15 years went by. Good writing, Joyce reminds us, makes a deeper incision because anything else might just as well be anecdotes around a dinner table. Joyce reminds us that there is something inelegant about relying on the universal, Hollywood stand-ins for certain emotions. A good surgeon does not simply remove the bulk of a tumor, but cuts deep enough that he inevitably ends up scraping off some living, human tissue as well. The two sentences of “The Boarding House” are a constant reminder that it is not enough to have good depth of field, but that nothing—not even the stubble on a chin 100 years ago in Dublin—should be out of focus. And now, ten years after reading those sentences for the first time, I think of Joyce when I run my anxious fingernails across a red, scruffy, three-day beard of my own.

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