Welcome to Apps of the Week, where we take a look at the latest smartphone software that makes us oh-so-glad to be living in the 21st century. We’ve got apps to challenge your email allegiances, bring smarts to your photo library, and a new voice assistant that looks to challenge the Siris and Cortanas of the world.
Let’s have a look.
Google Photos was the big app release this week, and the reviews have been almost universally positive. We were creeped out by just how good it is, and wrote a whole piece about how we got hooked. Honestly, this app is a trifecta of awesome: great UI design, smart photo-tagging abilities, and unlimited storage. It’s easily one of the most impressive photo apps out there and you need to try it. Right now. [Free for iOS and Android]
Need a voice assistant, but don’t want to trust Google Now? Try Hound. It’s a surprise competitor that’s actually pretty quick with answers, considering it’s not built into an operating system like Siri, Google Now, and Cortana. Much like Google Now, you activate the assistant by saying, “OK, Hound.” One missing feature is that it doesn’t actually talk back, so it’ll be a pretty one-sided conversation. If you’re looking for another way of navigating your smartphone and the internet, Hound is worth a shot. [Free]
Dunbar’s Number is the idea that the human brain can only comfortably maintain a maximum of 150 stable relationships. Well, Popcorn Buzz, an new app from LINE, is going to push that boundary by at least 50. At its most basic, the app lets you connect with friends through a phone call—just like the good ol’ days. But here’s the trick, you can add up to 200 people to the call. Is that excessive? Well, yeah probably. But the technical feat is pretty impressive considering services like Skype only support 25 people on a call at once. This might be more directed at businesses that want to do big calls with clients, but even your average Line user can benefit from the added feature. [Free]
When I was in high school and needed to kill a few minutes, I’d usually turn to my closest friend and play a quick game of hangman. It’s fast, easy, everyone knows the rules, and it supports a strange antiquated way of capital punishment. But when I was in high school, smartphones weren’t really a thing, so now—I imagine—I’d be using HangKeys instead. It’s a keyboard for iOS specifically built so you can play Hangman with anyone via SMS. It’s not exactly going to revolutionize the way we use our personal pocket computers, but it’s fun nonetheless. [Free]
There are a lot of great email clients out there, and at first glance, Spark seems pretty similar to what we’ve already seen. The UI reminds me of Acompli (or Outlook), but Spark does have a neat design element where it smartly batches similar emails together so you can easily consume, read, and delete email quickly. There’s a stressful moment I face every day when I log onto Gmail and see 100+ unread messages. If Spark can help lessen that moment of dread, I’m all in. [Free]
There are like a jigabazillion ways to watch television now—live, subscription streaming, YouTube, etc. It can be overwhelming just to figure out what’s where and when and on what. Yidio is a one-stop-shop for all the digital streaming accounts in your life.
The app pipes in 15 sources, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Lifetime, A&E, History, Crackle, Comedy Central, Syfy, VH1, MTV, ABC, FOX, AMC, Crunchyroll, Yahoo and YouTube. There are few noticeable missing links, including HBO Go, Showtime, and the like, but if you’re a serious TV fiend living the cord-cutter life, Yidio could bring some much-needed organization to the chaos. [Free]