From automated DJing with Serato Pyro to audio broadcasting with Anchor, via The Walking Dead, Final Fantasy IX and Kendall & Kylie Jenner
Apple’s iOS continues to be a hotbed of new app ideas and inventive games in 2016, as developers continue to scrap it out for success on the company’s App Store.
The last month’s crop of new releases has plenty to offer, from an automatic DJ in your pocket and a news app that you chat to, through to baby-feed tracking and a tool for blind and visually-impaired people.
Here is the Guardian’s pick of new – as in brand new, not merely updated – iPhone and iPad apps from the past month: 10 apps and 10 games. Prices are correct at the time of writing, and “IAP” signifies use of in-app purchases.
Looking for Android recommendations instead? There’s a separate best Android apps and games roundup for that.
Serato Pyro (Free)
Serato Pyro is essentially a DJ in your pocket, mixing your songs or Spotify playlists together seamlessly, while also – if you want – suggesting tracks that might work well next in your stream of music. The perfect tool for house parties, but just as good when you’re cueing up a session of music to work to.
Messaging apps are hot! Everyone wants news! So why not combine the two?! This appears to be the logic behind Quartz’s quirky new app, which relates stories as a blend of text, photos, GIFs and links, all within a chat-like window that prompts you with follow-up questions to dig deeper.
BBC Music (Free)
Currently a UK-only app, this brings together live performances and interviews with musicians from the BBC’s TV and radio output, as well as playlists curated by its DJs. The app learns your tastes as you use it to refine its recommendations, with songs available as 30-second clips or – via Spotify or Deezer – in full.
Glow Baby (Free)
Glow’s previous apps have focused on helping women track their periods and pregnancies, so it makes sense to follow them with one for babies. This isn’t just about tracking breast or bottle feeds: you can also use it to log sleep, nappy changes, weight and other milestones.
BuzzFeed Video (Free)
There’s already a good app for watching BuzzFeed’s fast-growing video output: YouTube. But now the news site has launched a standalone app for its video division, including alerts when shows you’ve subscribed to have a new episode, and a trending feed to spot popular videos.
Professor Astro Cat’s Solar System (£2.29)
Based on a popular science book for children, this is a beautifully-designed app that aims to get kids excited about space. It gets them exploring spaceships, planets and moons with clear text and fun, colourful characters. It’s never dry, but packs a surprising amount of information in.
An app laser-focused on vinyl heads, here: the official app of the popular Discogs website. You can use it to refer to your own collection when out buying new records, as well as checking prices on Discogs’ own marketplace, and adding new finds to your wishlist.
Sleepfulness (Free + IAP)
This is a truly intriguing use of smartphones for blind and visually-impaired people: using their device’s camera to take pictures of objects in the real world, and identify what they are. The app uses Android’s TalkBack feature to read out the details, with photos snapped by double-tapping the screen.
TapTapSee (Free + IAP)
This is a truly intriguing use of smartphones for blind and visually-impaired people: using their device’s camera to take pictures of objects in the real world, and identify what they are. The app uses iOS’s VoiceOver feature to read out the details, with photos snapped by double-tapping the screen.
Finally, a new twist on the well-established world of fantasy football. This gets you to pick some footballers as usual, but then compete against friends in daily challenges – with real money at stake if you like.
Clash Royale (Free + IAP)
This is the long-anticipated next game from Supercell: the company behind Clash of Clans, Hay Day and Boom Beach. Clash Royale is a cross between the card-battling and tower defence genres, as you collect and upgrade your warrior cards, and take on players around the world in short, sharp battles.
The Walking Dead: Michonne (£3.99 + IAP)
This is the return of Telltale Games excellent episodic-adventure series based on The Walking Dead – the comic books, note. This focuses on the Michonne character’s absence from the main plotline, and what she was doing (non-spoiler: zombies are involved). It’s another highly playable adventure, with more episodes to come.
“Touch shapes and patterns to unfold sacred geometry and reach the ethereal soul,” invites the App Store listing for _Prism, which may set off all your new-age-blather warning klaxons. But this is a fabulous puzzle game, even if it’s hard to explain how it works: you tap on shapes to solve puzzles and progress through its beautiful geometric world.
Love You To Bits (£2.99)
It has been a very good month for games that cost less than the price of a pint on the App Store. Love You To Bits tells the tale of a space explorer whose robot girlfriend has been scattered across the galaxy. It’s a point-and-tap adventure with well-crafted graphics and some inventive puzzles to solve.
Final Fantasy IX (£15.99)
A big price (in mobile terms) for a big game – this weighs in at 3.9GB. If you love the Final Fantasy games, though, it’s well worth the cost and space. This is one of the best episodes of the classic RPG, faithfully translated to the touchscreen. Whether you’re replaying it from your youth or new to the game, it’s a joy.
Super Tribes (Free + IAP)
Super Tribes is “a game about ruling the world, fighting evil AI tribes, discovering new lands and mastering new technologies”. Sounds familiar? Yup. This is heavily inspired by the Civilization games, but in all the best ways: it’s a blast back to playing the original Civ, and works very well on your phone.
Blackbox (Free + IAP)
A game inviting you to “think outside the box” sounds like the worst kind of management jargon, but here it’s true: Blackbox is a series of puzzles that use everything but the touchscreen. Instead, the solutions are found through tilting, talking and moving (among others). It’s very clever, but very fun.
Assassin’s Creed Identity (£3.99 + IAP)
If you’ve got a recent-enough iOS device to play it, this is the most console-like Assassin’s Creed mobile game yet. Expect a familiar blend of sneaking, killing and… well, more sneaking and killing. It’s a polished game that fans of the franchise will enjoy, and it may well attract some new players too.
Tennis Club Story (£3.99)
If you’re new to the work of Japanese developer Kairosoft, perhaps start with Game Dev Story, the title that made its name in the west. Tennis Club Story is a good showcase too: an addictive business-simulation (no, really) that has you running a tennis club. It’s quirky, but its charms are hard to shake off.
Kendall and Kylie (Free + IAP)
Kim Kardashian: Hollywood was a massive hit for mobile publisher Glu Mobile, but the similar Katy Perry Pop follow-up was a flop. Now the company is heading back to US TV’s favourite reality-show family in search of more success. Kendall and Kylie focuses on the Jenner sisters, who mentor your character’s journey to fame.
That’s our selection, now tell us what you think. The comments section is open for your thoughts on the apps and games above, as well as your recommendations for new ones that we missed.
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