The 5 Best Apps of 2018by Peter Griffin
Some new entrants and revamped favourites like Bumble and Google News make our Best Apps of the year list.
The multiple-award-winning sketching and illustration program was the app revelation of the year for me. I can’t draw or paint to save myself, but after an afternoon doodling on an iPad Pro with Apple’s Pencil stylus in Procreate, I was making the most of the digital artist’s toolbox provided. Powerful, engineered to get the best out of the iPad Pro and with a gentle learning curve, it’s a must-have app for creative types who happen to be iPad owners.
iOS (exclusive to iPad)
The video-streaming service got a big upgrade during the year, which suggests owner Spark has no intention of capitulating to Netflix any time soon. The improvements add features already offered by Netflix, such as the ability to download TV series episodes for watching offline. There’s also a movie rental service, with prices ranging from $4.99-$6.99. Interface tweaks make it easier to navigate and stumble upon new shows. It doesn’t have the breadth of Netflix, but it is great to see a committed local streaming service.
Android, iOS, supported smart TVs, via web browser
$12.99-$15.99 a month
3. Google News
In the face of fake news, the search giant has overhauled its Google News app to provide more credible and engaging news content. A daily briefing based on artificial intelligence collects five stories Google thinks you are most interested in. The Full Coverage section brings together news articles, opinion pieces and Twitter updates and new AI tools organise stories and weed out bogus items. The Newsstand feature allows you to subscribe online to your favoured news sites.
Although it mimics Tinder’s signature left or right swipe matchmaking engine, Bumble has other things going for it and takes a different approach. For one, it is a safer environment for women, who always initiate contact on Bumble. Setting up a profile is easy and will suit those looking for friends, networking opportunities or love. There are good tools for reporting bad behaviour and easily deleting your profile. It deserves kudos for making the dating scene more respectful.
Free (with in-app purchases)
The world’s most popular video game is now also a mobile app. The iOS version, in particular, is one of the most compelling smartphone games in years. Fortnite pits 100 players against each other to be the last person left on a gradually shrinking island. The game is a winner on many levels, not least for the multiplayer support. Android users can download it via the website of Epic, Fortnite’s makers.
iOS, Android, PC, Mac, Nintendo, PlayStation, Xbox
Free (with in-game purchases)
This article was first published in the December 15, 2018 issue of the New Zealand Listener.
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