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Appy-go-lucky: 11 apps to put a smile on your face

When you’re feeling low, these apps can cheer you up

We regularly explore apps for iPhone that are designed to make you more productive, or to occupy your brain in other meaningful ways. This time, we’ve focused solely on apps we believe will bring a smile to your face.

Some are slight and others have depth and utility beyond making you grin. What unifies them all is an ability to fill odd moments with joy – something we could all do with more of.

Bandimal ($3.99/£3.49)

This one’s described as a “music composer for kids” but Bandimal’s best thought of as a goofy audio toy. It has you use a basic sequencer to direct animals to dance and emit strange noises to a user-defined beat.

The cartoonish visuals are superb – each creature can contort itself in ways that would give the average vet heart palpitations. And all your surreal compositions can be saved for later perusal.

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Carrot Weather (free + IAP)

It sometimes feels like the weather is out to get us. Forecasters, at least, tend to be friendlier, but not the malevolent AI at the heart of this weather app, who hates humans to the degree HAL 9000 seems reasonable by comparison.

While she plots, Carrot dishes out snark along with forecasts. The ferocity can be dialed up or down, and politics removed from her utterances. Otherwise, you’re at her mercy as she fires out venom alongside the day’s weather predictions.

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Sandbox – Physics Simulator (free)

In one sense, there’s a meditative angle to this sandbox game. You can build ponds into which you drop pixel-sized fish. Or you can craft levitating platforms you fill with dirt and plant flowers in.

But there’s also a destructive side to the app, which invites you to discover what happens when a lightning bolt hits firework powder, or how fire affects your creations. Either way, this app’s mesmerizing and grin-inducing stuff.

Get Sandbox – Physics Simulator

Metamorphabet ($4.99/£4.49)

In theory, this is another app designed for children, in that it’s an interactive alphabet. However, this animated treat appears to have escaped from the mind of a surrealist filmmaker.

This is apparent from the get-go as the A turns into an arch and goes for an amble, and then a B grows a beard before a beak then spews forth butterflies and bugs – at which point you’ll ‘B for beam.’

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Clips (free)

Whereas iMovie aims to bring serious desktop-style video editing to iPhone, Clips revels in immediacy. Tap the effects button to access – among other things – Memoji and Scenes.

The former feature brings Memoji to selfie videos, letting you capture yourself (expressions and all) as a robot, a unicorn, a lion, and more besides. Scenes immerses you in virtual locations that range from a neon-infused metropolis to a terrifying monster lab. Fun!

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Animaze (free + IAP)

If you enjoy Clips but wish it would head further into CGI-style realism, try Animaze. You choose an avatar and control it with your face. Various backgrounds can be swapped in, to up the atmosphere/weirdness level accordingly.

You get a few characters for free and can buy more using coins. Honestly, doing so is pricey, but for no additional outlay you at least get to be a surprisingly expressive fish, a dog, or a terrifying living burger.

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Laugh My App Off (free + IAP)

Most joke apps are clunky, but this one was created by someone with an eye for design. Select a category, swipe up and you get a new joke. If it makes you guffaw, add it to your favorites to annoy people with later.

There’s a premium mode to eradicate the ads and unlock all the content. But even for nothing, there are plenty of laughs to be had here – and ‘notification’ jokes to keep you chuckling throughout the day.

Get Laugh My App Off

Note: The usual warning applies with this kind of app, in that some people may find certain jokes offensive.

NextUp Comedy ($7.99/£6.99 monthly)

Want comedy to be deeper than a brief pun? NextUp Comedy gives you comedians on tap. Sort of. What you do get is over 250 live shows and dozens of live streams per year.

It’s like Netflix, if that service deleted all but its comedy section and added the live bit. Which makes it pricey at $8/£7 per month – but the $27/£24 annual IAP is good value if you’re into stand-up comedy.

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Sneaky Sasquatch (subscription)

Exclusive to Apple Arcade, Sneaky Sasquatch is like an interactive classic cartoon. The titular hero echoes Yogi Bear as he sneaks about a campsite, trying to pilfer food and gear, while avoiding capture.

The game’s rich character and gradual ramp-up of the absurd should elicit a grin. The Sasquatch’s tip-toeing is pitch-perfect, and when he ends up golfing or skiing in human garb, everything feels very silly indeed.

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Chuchel ($4.99/£4.49)

The risk with Sneaky Sasquatch is smiles being squashed due to a lack of arcade skills. If that’s you, Chuchel could be a good alternative. Again, it’s akin to an interactive cartoon, this time featuring a hairy hero determined to retrieve a cherry.

This game, though, is all about trial and error – finding the path that gets you through canned animated sequences. It’s visually very smart indeed – and entertainingly ridiculous in the best possible way.

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Rowdy Wrestling (free)

Our final entry is a wrestling game from a warped dimension where the canvas is a trampoline, and where contestants have arms that whirl like helicopter blades. Everyone bounces around in barely controllable chaos.

The game’s farcical, comical nature means you’ll even see the funny side when you lose. And if you’re not a big wrestling fan, creator Colin Lane has you covered with similar titles based on basketball (Dunkers), football (Touchdowners) and gladiator battles with pointy swords (Knight Brawl).

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