Apps! (11 Non-Games in Review)

hello all,

Every little tech nerd is a wannabe app-maker. (App-artist? I feel like the best apps all look really good.) Anyway, I reviewed some of my favorite games and am back to give you guys the scoop on all of the non-gaming apps I’ve used. Unfortunately, my little brother was unavailable for comment.


Duolingo: I feel like this app is great, even if it’s overrated. I’ve had a number of people IRL recommend it to me (the joke’s on them because I’ve been using it for ages) and they always describe it as like, “the best way to learn a language.” My personal feeling about it is that it’s a really good way to practice a language, but that it doesn’t do the whole job on its own. (You need to practice with real people and watch real media and read real books.) However, for the casual learner, it’s definitely a fun way to get to know a language, and it’s set up in a way that’s pretty fun and encourages daily practice.

SpanishDict:  This is the app I use when I need a Spanish translation, and it does an adequate job. Obviously, you can’t really use translators as a crutch but it works for when you’re reading something and have no clue what a word is. I have one main issue with SpanishDict, which is that it gives you a word of the day but all of the words are really basic. If you have a functional level of Spanish, the word of the day for this app is just another annoying notification. However, if you’re a beginner this aspect of the app would be a definite plus.

“Productivity” (ugh):

30/30: If you have lots of stuff to do and no ability to keep track of time while you’re doing stuff, this is the app to use. It’s a glorified timer: you set up your list, specify how much time you want to spend on each thing, and GOGOGO. I use it when I have a ton of homework and need to keep moving through stuff, and it’s a good way to stay on track while working. The only thing I don’t like about it is that even though editing your list is really simple, you have to learn a series of tapping/swiping methods that just feels overly complicated. It’s by no means difficult to remember, but it does feel a little unnecessary.

Swipes: Swipes is a to-do list app that makes it easy to see what you actually need to do right this minute, and what things on your to-do list can wait. (In a Tinder-esque way, you swipe left to procrastinate and swipe right when you finish a task.) If you’re like me, you have lots of stuff you need to do, but a lot of it doesn’t need to happen right now. So for those things, you swipe them left and select the time that you want to be reminded of them.

The other reason that I use this app for my to-do list is because I use the iPhone “Reminders” app to brainstorm writing ideas, and to be honest that whole list is just a hot mess so I can’t put anything there that I actually need to do.

Your Chain: Say you’ve got something that you want to do everyday, but you don’t always have the motivation to do it. (For example: writing, flossing, exercising, etc.) All this app does is give you a calendar where you mark the days that you do your desired habit. This is supposed to build up your motivation to keep doing that thing, because you won’t want to “break your chain” of pretty little x’s on the calendar. It will also remind you to do that thing every day, if that’s what you want.

I personally don’t have a very good chain…I shoot for writing something four days a week, and the calendar layout still lets me keep track of that. So it’s not like you can’t use it for some reason other than the intended purpose.

Photo Editing: 

Afterlight:  This app is my go-to when I need a filter a little bit more interesting than the basic filters in instagram. The filters come in three different categories: original (which are all shown by pictures of horses), guest (which are all shown by pictures of what I think is a buffalo), and seasons. You can also add effects like dust and light leaks, in case you want to look like you took a crappy picture.

Pop Art Draw: I use the free version, and while it’s really basic it’s kinda fun to play around with. You could, for example, color in a picture of yourself like an Andy Warhol parody.

Fuzel: Currently my favorite collage app, Fuzel has a decent variety of templates and you can adjust a ton of aspects of the collage, like the size and roundness of the panels.


Mr. Mood: This is literally the only app that I’ve shelled out real money for (99 precious pennies, to be exact) and to me it’s worth it. It’s almost a journaling app of sorts, but radically simplified. Basically, every day, it asks you “how are you feeling?” and you select either a :( :/ :l :) or :D face. The app compiles your “moods” into colorful charts and tells you if you get too sad. (Which you’d already know, but now you’ve got an app to tell you about it.) You can also include tiny little blurbs with the emoticon, just in case you want to write next to your :D that Johnny asked you to the prom.

Circa: I’d say that Circa is a pretty decent app, with the caveat that it can be really annoying. The main page includes some news stories, and you have to option of “following” a story. If you follow a story, you will get every update about that story, even if there are five identical ones. For example, if you made my mistake and followed the disappearing airline story, it gave you an update on the story twice a day. Not all of the news was this annoying, and it’s a pretty okay way to keep track of things, but the number of notifications is truly intense.

Band of the Day: Band of the Day, or BoD as it says under the app, is (unsurprisingly) an app that shows you a new band every day. (Like today, I’m listening to this “modern doo wop” group called pep and yes, it’s damn cute.) The only flaw I really find in it is that a new band every day is actually a lot more music than I can really handle…like when I find a good band I have to spend time properly obsessing over them and one day for turnaround is waaay too fast. So what happens is that I end up not checking it every day, but then I’m scared that I’m going to miss something good. (FOMO is a powerful enemy.)

get back on your phones,