Our weekly app picks
Give these a look and then take a minute to tell us all about the apps you are using and love so we can give them a try. We all find some of our favorites right in the comments on these posts!
Russell Holly — Crashlands
I'm going to take a wild leap and say the people at Butterscotch Shenanigans played a lot of Toe Jam and Earl as kids, and channeled all of that weird space nonsense into an ARPG of their very own. Crashlands is well written, well animated, and thoroughly ridiculous. It also promises 60+ hours of gameplay that somehow manages to avoid things like grinding for hours and mindless side quests. So far that seems to be true, but I am nowhere near the end of the game yet.
For $5, you can't really go wrong when the primary healing tool in the beginning of the game is called Baconweed. I guess I should have lead with that.
Jen Karner — Marvel: Contest of Champions
I've been a Marvel fan since I was about 6 years old, and a sucker for fighting games for nearly that long. So it's no surprise that I've gotten hooked on Marvel: Contest of Champions. Fight against characters like Colossus, Storm, and Black Panther, using your own roster of super powered characters in a bid to save the galaxy. You can play through the story, join an alliance, and even fight in a PvP arena. There is tons going on with this game, no real need to spend money on the in-app purchases, and a beautiful execution.
Besides, who doesn't want to save the galaxy using their own personal roster of superheroes?
Phil Nickinson — Touchnote
My younger daughter's kindergarten class (as such classes are prone to do) asks parents to send in postcards when traveling. And I tend to travel a decent amount. So I send postcards. But I very quickly decided that I wasn't going to just snag the usual ones out of the rack, and then deal with stamps, and then finding a mailbox. Enter my phone. Touchnote's long been a popular app for this sort of thing. You pick the design and the pictures, and send the postcard on its way. They ship from Arizona in the U.S. and arrive in 2 to 5 days. Price can vary a little, and you pay in credits. But postcards end up being a little less than $2 each.
And that's well worth showing off how traveled you are to a bunch of 5-year-olds.
One item of, erm, note. Touchnote
Ara Wagoner — Talon
So, I've been walking on the treadmill when I wake up in the morning, and as a girl with an incredibly short attention span, I spend most of that time staring at the phone I have propped up on the treadmill. I'll check email, I'll respond to notifications, and I'll read twitter on the newest client I've shelled out for: Talon. Talon is incredibly customizable, including choosing your own colors/themes, choosing what appears on your main pages (including lists), and the option to make the text bigger for easy reading on the treadmill. Talon also includes a great widget, which I'm sure will come up in one of my themes at some point, especially themes on Action Launcher.
Alex Dobie — Folio
If you're among the growing numbers of Android users
But the biggest difference is battery life. Folio is a far cry from the bloated, battery-hungry monster that is the official Facebook (and Messenger) apps. Better still you can set the notification check interval to help further manage your power consumption. So if you've come to the end of your patience with Facebook's own Android app, Folio is a really great free option that's worth checking out.
Andrew Martonik — PackPoint
No matter how good you think you are at getting packed for a trip, you're bound to forget something from time to time. And while you can use just about any method to make a list of necessary items for going on trips, having a dedicated packing app like PackPoint can be a good choice.
PackPoint starts off by asking you where you're going and for how long, and then asks you to select the different activities you expect to do while you're on your trip. It'll then generate a packing list based on the weather at your destination (packing for weather is the best way to efficiently use bag space!) and all of the other information it has. Sure you could start a list from scratch every time, but having some thought put in by the app itself to get you started is extremely useful.
The auto-generated lists are a good starting point for most, but in order to get the most out of PackPoint you'll want to drop $2.99 on the premium version. You'll be able to create and edit packing lists so you can have everything packed in one location, and you can even integrate your lists with TripIt and Evernote.
Jerry Hildenbrand — Blown Away
Since there is no app that turns your phone into a little person with a backhoe that will dig your car out of the snow, I went with a game this week. A really good game.
Blown Away is a simple platformer, but it's challenging and a load of fun. Work your way from east to west by tapping the screen in the spot you want to teleport to. You can only teleport when your battery is full, and you need to collect the remains of your home that was blown away in some apocalyptic weather event. Of course, there are a handful of sharp and spiky enemies that you can't touch, as well as terrain obstacles and assorted other things that will kill you. It's fun and the controls are perfect for touch.
You get the first level and its 30 stages for free, while the full game costs $2.71 via an in-app purchase.