iPhones. iPads. Android. We've updated all of our essential apps lists to include a few forgotten favorites, some long awaited arrivals and, as always, even more amazing apps. Check them out!
If you want to jump to see the best apps in a specific platform, click here:
The Best iPhone Apps January 2012
The end of the month is here, and that means it's time to do a little housekeeping on our list of the absolute best iPhone apps. Who will be inducted?
Hardest Shot: Using the iPhone's microphone, the NHL's new Hardest Shot app can actually measure the speed of your slapshot and your NHL potential. With the right setup of course.
Shazam Player: The Shazam Player looks to replace the iPod app on your iPhone with an app that shows you the lyrics of the song you're currently listening too. Called LyricPlay, the feature attempts to find the lyrics to all the songs on your iPhone. When a compatible song is played, the app shows the lyrics to that song in real-time so you can sing along.
Highlight: Highlight uses information from your Facebook account to determine if other Highlight users in the vicinity should know about each other. It also tells you when one of your actual friends is nearby-roughly within one-and-a-half blocks. The app will send a push notification once someone journeys into that radius.
LightBomber: LightBomber takes long exposure photos specifically for light painting. Settings are minimal, but include tips on how to take the best photograph. In fact, the app is full of tips to help you capture the best light panting photographs. The app also includes "lights" that can be used to create paintings when your friend is attempting to become an "artist."
yumPower: Tell the app what type of diet you want to find food for. There's diabetes friendly, fiber focus, calorie wise, and one to keep your kids trim. Once you've made your selection and hit find, the app displays local chain restaurants with items that meet your diet criteria. Users can tell the world they really like an item at a resturant by leaving a yum. That's right, a yum.
GymPact:The service works like this. You set days for the next week that you want to go to the gym. This is your "Pact." Now if you decide to bot go to the gym, you're penalized and the app takes your money. You get to decide how much money you lose ($5 min per session) if you don't get off your keister. If you do make your weekly Pact, you're rewarded with cash paid out of a pool funded by lazy people.
Launch Center: It works by providing a number of built-in, configurable shortcuts-such as launching a web site, turning on the LED light on your phone, and googling the contents of your clipboard-and scheduling them as alerts. When the alerts pop up, you can just tap them to initiate the shortcut immediately or grab them anytime in your notifications drawer.
Commit: Commit is a simple app that keeps you committed to a daily task. If there's something you want to do every day to form good habits or get the practice you need to be great, this app can help you get there with a nicely designed, simple interface and helpful reminders.
Mattebox: The app's wonderfully minimalist controls are based on the Konica Hexar, an iconic 35mm point-and-shoot that's easy to use, but does't skimp on image quality. The app has a two-step focus-then-shoot feature. Hold the button down to lock focus and exposure, slide it to take a photo. Now you can create those depth-of-field images you've been faking with Instagram.
Agenda Calendar: We're always trying to get our readers to organize their lives. We figure if you're more organized, you'll visit the site more often and leave sane comments. So you see, telling you to check out Agenda Calendar helps everyone.
Expedition White Shark: It's like Shark Week in your pants all the time. Track Great White sharks as the swim in the oceans searching for delicious sea lions and surfers the have rubbed themselves in bacon. The app also has a game, but you should steer clear of that wreck and stick to tracking sharks.
Todo.txt Touch: To do lists don't need to be extravagant affairs. They certainly don't need to be tied into weird proprietary formats. Todo.txt stores a .txt file in your Dropbox account users can open it with any text editor on the market and edit.
Measured: You have two choices. You could climb a ladder and measure that section of gutter that's broken. Or, you could take two photos with the Measured app and let it do the measuring for you. The app will also tell you the distance of objects. So you can see how far you threw the tape measure when you fell off the ladder.
The Best Android Apps January 2012
It's a new year with new apps.
Darth Maul Me: Take a photo of yourself. Make a few adjustments and you'll see what you would look like as a Dathomirian Zabrak. Seriously, I had to look up what species Darth Maul was.
Plex: Plex offers a dead simple media streaming and conversion utility for Android (and other platforms, including iOS and-coming soon-WP7) that requires little to no setup. Install the Plex media server on your home computer, install Plex for Android on your handset, create a myPlex account and log in to it, and you're pretty much finished.
MoneyWise: The app that lets you manage your budget and transactions on your phone without being a gateway to a web app or desktop client.
Embark: Embark: It's not just one app, but rather a series of apps that provide simple and straightforward public transportation directions and related information, like advisories, on your smartphone. They're simple, fast, and really useful whether you're exploring a new city or just need to know how to get around the one you live in.
Decide: The app scans barcodes in the store to see if an item is at a low price point or if you should wait for an upcoming drop. Woohooo deals!
Tape-a-Talk Voice Recorder: The app will record audio at variable bitrates. It'll even record in the background and share those recordings via email and DropBox.
MineCraft Sweeper: Marry two addictive titles into one app and you're sure to create a sort of new super game addict. The app is cross between Minesweeper and MineCraft. Good luck getting anything done after downloading this.
Aldiko: Lifehacker found the best eReader for Android. I can't imagine how many books they had to read to come to this conclusion. I'm guessing hundreds. The reader can open, ePUB, PDF and DRM-locked Adobe books. To appease the demands of your eyes, you can customize the interface.
Mixologist Drink Recipes: You like booze? Yeah, you like booze. Mixologist was voted one of the best drink app for Android in a recent Lifehacker poll. Just because New Year's is over doesn't mean the party has to stop.
The Best iPad Apps January 2012
The iPad apps that made the beginning of the year bearable.
Air Media Center: IThere are tons of media streamers for the iPad. What sets Air Media Center apart from the crowded streaming party is its ability to stream content with on-the-fly conversion turned off for higher quality streams and price. It's only a $1. I think I can handle a buck for video streaming.
FlipShip: The most clever twist of FlipShip didn't reveal itself to me until, about a half-dozen rounds into this top-down shooter, I finished a game with a score of exactly zero. Then I realized that this game wasn't predicated on twitch skills but knowing, in an arcade sense, when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em. Or, in this case, when to flip 'em.
Frederic - Resurrection of Music: Play as Chopin as he battles for musical supremacy. To mix things up, Chopin's masterpieces are transformed into electronic, reggae, and spaghetti Western songs. Music blasphemy? You won't know until you play.
AntiCrop: It's content-aware fill on your iPad. Well it tries to be. It won't work every time, but it'll help fix those missing spots on most of your photos.
Zombie Minesweeper: In real life the person who dawdles while playing Minesweeper must worry that their boss will catch them. In Zombie Minesweeper, the dawdling player must worry that the game's suburban zombies will.
Super Crossfire HD: You've got a ship that travels the bottom of the screen, endlessly firing at waves of enemy fighters intent on doing you harm. To destroy them you simply move back and forth, spraying them with pretty purple space bullets. Bright explosions fill the screen.
Popular Mechanics QuakeTracker: If you live in an earthquake zone in the lower 48, you should get this app for the iPad. It'll help feed your tectonic obsession by showing you the earthquake action of the past seven days. Don't forget to update your emergency kit.
CloudOn: Run Microsoft from your iPad. Not an app that looks like Microsoft Office. The actual suite. You'll need an Internet connection to access the suite on CloudOn's servers. It's like being at your desk. Maybe that's not a good thing.
Dijit: Control your fancy home theatre with your iPad. Not so fast there buddy. Before you get to downloading, you'll need to purchase Griffin's Beacon. But once you have them both, you'll feel pretty powerful controlling everything from the same device you tweet cat pictures from.