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Six great App Store titles we think deserve a little more attention
Our mission is to help you get the most from your iPhone and iPad. This often means scouring the App Store, to find and review for you the very best apps. But the App Store is huge, meaning there’s no way we can cover everything.
So as we head towards the end of the year, it’s time for our traditional round-up of new and updated apps from the previous 12 months that we reckon deserve a bit more attention – and a place on your Home screen.
There’s a lot to please your ears this year, with some superb music apps. Artists are also catered for by the best painting app to ever grace the iPad. Read on to see what else made the cut this year!
David Bowie is…
$10/£10 • v1.0.5 • 187 MB • By Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc.
We last year enthused about Shepard Fairey AR – Damaged, an app that revolutionized the virtual exhibition, squeezing an entire warehouse of art into your phone. David Bowie is… exists in similar territory, although the presentation makes this a far more intimate affair.
Rather than exploring a building, you instead set the virtual exhibition before you on a table. What then follows is the opportunity to delve into Bowie’s life, through costumes, video, handwritten notes, and lyrics. Via a thematic map, you can jump to everything from Bowie’s earliest influences through to his final work, Blackstar.
Like the original exhibition it’s based on, this app is no mere grab-bag of curiosities, but a coherent collection with a soul. With 38 songs, 23 videos, and excellent narration by Gary Oldman, this is a treat for veteran Bowie fans and relative newcomers alike.
$10/£10 • v5.0 • 319.9 MB • By Savage Interactive Pty Ltd
If there’s one app that springs to mind when you think of virtual painting on iPad, it’s Procreate. In December, it further cemented its lead on the platform with Procreate 5, described by the app’s creators as “the biggest release we’ve ever given birth to”.
That might sound hyperbolic, but this really is a superb app. The underlying engine is faster and more versatile. Procreate now helps you experiment with color dynamics, and adds complementary color schemes to the color picker. An animation assistant lets you unleash your inner Disney.
Then there’s Brush Studio. Along with 100 new settings, there’s a wealth of sliders that provide huge scope for creating custom brushes. And in a nod to Adobe Photoshop’s arrival on iPad, Procreate cheekily notes that you can import Photoshop brushes – and that they will run faster in Procreate than in Adobe’s app.
Free • v3.3 • 64.7 MB • By Walter Monecke
Calendars help make sense of your day. The Health app monitors your wellbeing. Moodflow exists somewhere in-between, helping you track your moods and emotions, and potentially start to understand why you feel the way you do.
At its most basic, the app is a calendar with a grid of colored squares, their hues determined by whichever wellness rating you decide on for any given day. But the app lets you dig much deeper. You can assign specific moods to a day, write quick journal entries, and kick-off and track good habits you want to infuse into your routine.
The app’s lack of a price tag is generous, and its level of customization is welcome, making it possible to really tune Moodflow to your needs.
Cs Music Player
$1/£1 • v5.1.1 • 2.9 MB • By Mike Clay
Long-time users of Apple’s Music app can’t have helped but notice how Apple Music (as in, the subscription service) has rather taken over. Cs Music Player attempts to turn the clock back – in a good way – to concentrate specifically on your music collection.
It works with on-device audio, and anything added to your collection from the iTunes Store and Apple Music. You can then use the tabs (which can be customized) to quickly get at artists, albums, songs, and playlists – and quickly sort any list’s order.
For 2019, the app was entirely rebuilt for iOS 13, adding contextual menus, new gestures and haptic feedback, Dark Mode support, a revamped search, and a fresh new look. So if you want a simple, efficient music player, Cs is a great choice – especially given the generously low price.
Infuse Pro 6
Free + IAP or $25/£24 • v6.2.3 • 87.5 MB • By Firecore, LLC
The idea behind Infuse is to free you from syncing DRM-free movies and TV shows to your device. Instead, the app delves into folders on cloud storage or local network drives. The interface is automatically populated with cover art and synopses, and when you start playing video, everything is silky smooth.
2019’s major update has a powerful new playback engine, Files integration, and cloud libraries. The last of those lets you start watching on one device and pick up on another. Subtitles are improved as well – they’re now ad-free – and there’s Dark Mode support.
If you’re not sure about splashing out, try Infuse 6. It lacks cloud sync, cloud streaming, and HD audio support, but you get almost everything else. If all you want to do is stream content from a local network drive to an Apple TV or iPhone, it’s one of the best freebies on the App Store.
AudioKit L7 – Live Looper
$20/£20 • v1.12 • 28.7 MB • By Coda Labs Incorporated
Live looping is a niche area of music, where a performer gradually fashions a soundscape by recording short audio passages that continue looping as more layers are added. Vocalists like Reggie Watts have used the technique to stunning effect, and it’s popular with guitarists like KT Tunstall and James ‘Land Observations’ Brooks.
Inspired by classic Roland hardware, AudioKit L7 brings pro-grade functionality of this kind to your Apple device – and in a package that’s accessible and immediate. Plug in headphones and use your device’s mic, and you can quickly get started, recording up to 16 tracks, and applying effects like reverb and autotune.
Don’t expect to top the charts on day one, but because you can use your voice and anything around you, AudioKit L7 gives you a fighting chance to make some interesting noise. It’s certainly a good bet if you’re turned off by apps that demand you learn to play an actual instrument first!