Best Apple Based Apps - 2012
Best apps of the year: From social networking to managing our finances, mobile apps have come a long way. Here are some of our favourites of 2012.
It's four years since Apple drove mobile applications into the mainstream with the launch of the iPhone App Store. There had been mobile applications for years, but Apple's smartphone brought the concept to the masses in a way that few others had managed. These days the power of mobile apps has improved considerably and the arrival of the iPad has ushered in a range of titles designed for the tablet's larger screen. Now it's not uncommon to see games with console-style graphics or an app with the look and feel of a luxury coffee-table book, only with added video and animation.
GAMES: Feldrunners2 (iPhone and iPad, £1.99) Fieldrunners was one of the first hit games for Apple's iTunes App Store and it remains a classic of the tower-defence genre. Stop the bad guys reaching the other side of the screen by deploying a range of weapons. Killing more bad guys gets you more cash for weapons. Fieldrunners 2 takes this simple concept and expands it in a range of entertaining ways.
FINANCE: Budget with Back in Black(iPhone, £2.49) Keeping track of your finances can be tricky but this app makes it a lot simpler. Set a budget, then enter your spending as you go and Back in Black will let you know how you are doing. You can set specific saving goals or simply use it to stay on track each month.
KIDS: Toca Tailor(iPhone and iPad, £1.49) Sweden's Toca Boca makes wonderful 'interactive toys' for children. Almost any of its apps could have made this list. Toca Tailor, its most recent title, designed for the over-fours, lets children dress a range of characters. The app is brilliantly simple but the range of options feels almost endless. A great toy for encouraging creativity.
HEALTH: Nike+Running(Android and iPhone, free) Brought to Android for the first time this year – and significantly updated for iPhone – the Nike+ Running app is an ideal companion for runners. Track your runs using the phone's in-built GPS, compare your time and distance with previous runs and connect your account to your social network if you want to receive encouragement while you exercise.
CULTURE: London, a City through Time(iPad, £9.99) Learn about the history of the capital with this absorbing iPad app. It's an encyclopedia of London, complete with fascinating panorama images, interactive maps, video documentaries and audio tours from Blue Badge guides. It will keep you absorbed for hours.
BOOKS: The Sonnents(iPad, £9.99) All 154 of Shakespeare's sonnets are included in this astonishingly deep app. There are video readings from the likes of David Tennant, Patrick Stewart and Fiona Shaw, the full Arden notes for each sonnet and a facsimile of the 1609 Quarto, the first published edition of the sonnets. Essetial.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Camera Awesome(iPhone and iPad, free) There are so many options in this camera app, developed by the picture-sharing website SmugMug, that it's hard to know where to begin. It has a variety of grids to help you line-up your shot, image stabilisation, a burst mode for shooting multiple pictures and a wealth of editing options. This might replace your default smartphone camera.
SOCIAL NETWORKING: Echoer(iPhone and Android, free) Get a different view of what's going on around you with Echoer, which shows you local social media updates. That's fine as far as virtual people-watching goes, but Echoer concentrates on the 'loudest echoes' in a bid to show you what's most relevant. It might find you a little-known cafe or a secret show by a hot new band.
MUSIC: WhoSampled(iPhone, £1.99) Discover the secrets of your music collection with this fascinating app. WhoSampled scans your library to find cover versions of your songs and to identify where they have been sampled or pinpoint the tracks they have sampled. It's well-designed, simple to use and essential for any music fan's phone.