This week some of the world's biggest apps just got better. Snapchat introduced an in-app payment system, powered by Square, called Snapcash, and WhatsApp began rolling out the largest implementation of end-to-end encryption ever. Oh yeah, and Facebook released a thing.
But amidst all these blockbuster headlines, lots of great apps joined iOS and Android, not to mention two official apps for Windows Phone in its ongoing quest to close the app gap. Here are the best apps of the week.
Grabbing headlines with its return to the hardware game with the N1 Android tablet, Nokia also launched an Android launcher meant to make Google fans lives a little bit easier. This app was originally announced in June but Nokia released the Z Launcher beta earlier this week. Perhaps its most interesting feature is letting you quickly search your app drawer by physically drawing letters on the screen with your finger. It's a little quirky and has a few rough edges that need smoothing, but it's worth the test drive considering it requires no monetary commitment. [Free]
The Hunt has been a popular iOS app for improving your wardrobe, and now it comes to Android. It doesn't hide behind the fact that it's geared toward young women, but you can also find a men's tab as well as finding matches for other odds and ends you may be looking for. I know for certain that I could use some clothing assistance. Maybe there really is an app for that.
My version of The Hunt works fine, but some have reported issues signing in or seeing their profiles, so this release might need a little bit more work before it's running optimally. [Free]
Reddit isn't built for convenience with its utilitarian user interface. Mobile clients, like the recently made legitimate Alien Blue, apply some much needed organization to the front page of the internet, but Beam for Reddit also makes this sprawling source of the web easier to consume. Beam is just a simple and well-designed way to find interesting topics and follow subreddits. You can give it a test spin for the price of nothing. [Free]
Have you listened to Serial yet is a question I've heard too many times this past week (and yes, I have.) But podcasts are nothing new, in fact I had one myself when I was an enterprising high school kid, but the medium's latest interest makes Opinion for iPhone's launch perfect timing. If the technical aspects of creating a podcast have scared you from venturing into the world of internet radio, give Opinion a try. It makes recording, editing, producing, and sharing your podcast as simple as possible. Though being in a nice, soundproof room is still recommended. [Free]
Here's an app to keep an eye out for. It's called Sway, which Microsoft announced in early October. Essential this new Office app aims to bring PowerPoint into the digital age. Now releasing on iPhone (only in New Zealand for now), Sway reimagines content creation for mobile so you can build scrollable and responsive presentations (like the one above) without the annoying working confines of a smartphone. It's not available in the States yet, but I was able to get a brief hands on last month and this is something you'll want in your app arsenal.
Wolfram Alpha is one of the most powerful knowledge engines ever created, and now you can have it on your Windows Phone for just three bucks. That's really all I have to say about that. [$3]
Learning a language isn't easy, especially when you're an adult and your brain loses much of its language elasticity, but Duolingo uses the "a little bit a day" approach to language-learning. The app as been mega successful on iOS and Android and now Windows Phone users finally get an official app and can become the polyglots they've always wanted to be. [Free]
Super is a content creating app that mashes together stylish text with pictures and video, which either you or the app provides, that you can then share with friends. The app creates a "sentence starter" like "I Love..." and you fill in the rest. You can also go anonymous when posting, which scrubs your profile info from the post. It's a strange little app, but conceivably fun if you can rope in enough of your friends. [Free]
There is nothing worse than unexpected car trouble. Dead battery, no gas, or some other problem you can't diagnose on hand. The subsequent search for the right person for the right job can also be a nightmare or just blind Googling and hoping for the best. Honk tries to bring some peace of mind to the process and is a handy app to have in your back pocket on a rainy day. Honk requires no subscription fee but all road side services start at a $49 minimum. These are one of the apps you actually hope you never have to use but is a godsend when the inevitable strikes. [Free]
I know my beers pretty well, a skill honed over a years of imbibing and bad decisions, but when I need to be a little bit fancier, I buy wine—and I often have no idea what I'm doing. I know there are reds and whites, and that's about it, so that's why an iOS or Android app like Next Glass sounds so appealing. Over time, Next Glass learns about about what wine (or beer) you like or dislike and makes suggestions accordingly, so you're not stuck with the same thing over and over again. [ Free]