Best Apple Watch apps for your smartwatch in 2017

Update: The best Apple Watch apps list is one we're constantly updating. Here's what's been making our iPhone smartwatch tick.

The Apple Watch has now been superseded by the Apple Watch 2, and yet these much-hyped iPhone smartwatches are just now seeing their true potential through apps and games in 2017 following the Watch OS 3 launch.

Why? It's the fact that this is a brand new product category, so while it's one of the best smartwatch options out there, even Apple CEO Tim Cook admits it's still in "learning mode."

The number one question we hear from new Apple Watch owners is "Well, what apps should I download first?" To make answering that query easier, we devised a thorough best Apple Watch apps list.

Here are the best apps, going along with our selection of the best apps for Android Wear and the best apps for Pebble. With the right apps, your beautiful timepiece will become so much more.

Is there anything more annoying than missing a delivery of something you’re really excited about? Yes: there’s missing a delivery of something that you really need to have in a hurry. Deliveries can help ensure that neither of those things happen to you.

It supports stacks of services including UPS, FedEx, US Postal Service, DHL, TNT, Canada Post, City Link and Royal Mail, can track packages, can add delivery dates to your calendar and can record past deliveries in case you need to refer to them later.

It’s unnecessary for the odd package, but it’s useful if you do a lot of online shopping or if you’re in the middle of a project, such as furnishing a flat.

On the Watch the app acts as a ready reminder of what’s in and what’s incoming, so for example it’ll show you if an item has just been delivered as well as the ETA of any other outstanding deliveries.

There’s a Complication too, which works particularly well on the Utility watch face and shows you the most recent delivery. If you have the macOS version of the app too you can automatically sync between Mac and mobile via iCloud or the developer’s own cloud sync service.

We’ve described the iPhone as the Very Hungry Caterpillar of tech, munching its way through entire product categories as stand-alone devices become iOS apps. We’re often delighted by the simplest things, and Clicker is one of those things. 

It’s a replacement for those hand-held clickers people use to count things, and it’s appropriate for counting people, days, laps, drinks or anything else you might want to quantify. 

To use it, just tap on the screen and tap again when you want another click. Haptic feedback means you don’t need to look at the watch, and you don’t need to have the clicker display all day: when you’re ready for a new click you can pull it up from its Complication. You can record up to 2,147,483,647 taps.

And that’s pretty much it: there are only two other options: subtract, to remove a mistaken click, and reset, to start again.

It’s hardly a must-have but it’s actually very handy, so for example we’ve seen users tracking how often they smoke during the day or how many glasses of water they’ve had. We wouldn’t recommend using it for counting sheep, though – or at least, not on the first-generation Apple Watch, whose battery isn’t really up to working nights.

We’re not convinced by the supposed science of brain training – it’s a sector that makes bold claims based on very flimsy evidence – but there’s no doubt that spending time learning or practicing useful things is better for you than mindlessly swiping through trivia on Twitter.

Elevate claims that its brain training app will “improve critical cognitive skills that are proven to boost productivity, earning power, and self-confidence”, and it does so by setting little tasks for you: choosing the correct meaning of words, calculating percentages and so on.

Correct answers earn points, and you can track your progress on the main iPhone/iPad app as well as on your Watch. The Watch’s small screen means the games you get are very simple ones, but that works well when you’re on the move.

The app is free and lets you play 4 mini-games. If you want to access the full selection of 40+ Elevate games you’ll need your iPhone or iPad and a subscription to the premium membership package, which is $4.99/£3.99/AU$7.99 per month or $44.99/£34.99/AU$69.99 per year.

If you could do with a boost to specific skills – working out restaurant tips, perhaps, or improving your vocabulary – then you might feel that’s well worth the money.

You may know CARROT from its weather app, which combines Dark Sky-style weather forecasting with sarcasm and lies. But CARROT wants to make you unhappy in many other ways – and what’s better for a sadistic AI than being in control of a fitness app?

Enter CARROT Fit, which takes a somewhat unusual approach to motivating you to get healthier and lose weight.

CARROT promises to “get you fit – or else”. To achieve that it offers a dozen punishing exercises (more are available via in-app purchases) accompanied by threats, ridicule, bribes and the occasional compliment.

It’s rude, crude and much more entertaining than trying to complete the rings on Apple’s own activity tracker, and we’re pretty sure it’s the only fitness app that rewards progress with cat facts. But there’s a proper fitness tracker in here too: it’ll track your steps and weight loss, remember your workouts and add data to Apple’s health app.

Most of the personality is in the main iPhone app, but the Watch alerts include such cheery prospects as “seven minutes in hell”. If you find getting fit or losing weight a little bit tedious, CARROT might be the, ahem, carrot that you need to get motivated.

  • Knock
  • $5.99/£5.99/AU$9.99

Passwords are essential, but they’re also rubbish. The ones you can remember are easy to guess, the ones that are hard to guess are equally hard to remember, and if you do passwords properly it can be a pain to enter complicated strings of text and characters when you’re in a hurry.

Wouldn’t it be better if you could prove your identity to your Mac with your Watch? That’s exactly what Knock does.

Knock is a simple idea brilliantly executed. Provided your Mac is of relatively recent vintage – an Air from 2011 or better, a MacBook Pro or iMac from late 2012, a 2013 or later Mac Pro and so on – you can use Knock to automatically unlock your Mac or Macs by tapping the Apple Watch app.

It’s connecting via Bluetooth Low Energy – hence the reliance on relatively recent Macs; older ones don’t have Bluetooth LE – which uses tiny amounts of energy, so you don’t need to worry about the app killing your Watch’s battery any more than usual, and it works instantly if your Mac isn’t in sleep mode.

It may seem quite pricey for such a simple app, but think about how much time you spend locking and unlocking your Macs in a year.

Note that you may not need this if you have a recent Mac running macOS Sierra, as there’s a similar feature built in, but Knock is compatible with slightly older Macs too.

When we first got an Apple Watch we thought we’d use it for everything, but years later we’re still using Post-It notes when we go to the supermarket.

That’s mainly because list apps are often overkill for something as straightforward as a shopping list – so can the excellently-named and quite expensive Buy Me A Pie! app finally persuade us to leave the sticky notes at home?

User reviews certainly think so: it’s had nearly 3,000 ratings, averaging four and a half stars.

On the iPhone the app offers flat design and color coding, which by necessity has to be adapted for the Watch: the colored lozenges of the iPhone app are replaced with little colored lines beside items.

But the key feature here isn’t the appearance: it’s synchronization. Buy Me A Pie! syncs across all your iOS devices, so your partner could add an item to your shopping list on their iPad and have it automatically sync to your Watch along with a push notification.

It supports location-based reminders, stores multiple lists and has a learning function that automatically stores unfamiliar items in the app’s dictionary for future use. It’s very good at what it does, although it’s rather pricey if you only do the occasional big shop.

Mindfulness, the art of focusing on being present and aware in the world instead of being constantly distracted by things and thoughts that don’t matter, isn’t something you’d associate with the Apple Watch. If you aren’t careful with your notification settings your Watch pings away merrily all day, interrupting countless trains of thought.

But the Happier app hopes to use the Watch to make you feel better, not more harassed.

The app itself is free, but it’s designed as a gateway to paid-for mindfulness courses. If you don’t go for them you can still take advantage of the app, though. You can tell the app how you’re feeling – we suspect “meh” is the most-used option – and it then responds with uplifting quotes to help you feel a bit more optimistic.

It can pop up to remind you to take a meditation break, and you can dictate a positive thought to a private journal or to the Happier community. That’s not as daft as it sounds: there’s some evidence that keeping a journal of positive things can boost your mood over time.

Just be careful what and how you share: one iTunes reviewer says that they were able to locate their private journal with Google.

Readers of a certain age will remember Tamagotchi, the infuriatingly addictive electronic pets that took over the world in the late 1990s with their incessant demands for care and attention.

And now they’re back! Back! BACK! And this time, they’re on your wrist – which is fitting, because Tamagotchi is apparently a portmanteau of the Japanese words for egg and watch. If you’ve never used your watch to raise a virtual pet, here’s your chance.

This app is the Tamagotchi L.i.f.e Gen1, and it uses the Apple Watch in several ways: when your Tamagotchi wants your attention it’ll pop up on your wrist, you can monitor your Tamagotchi’s health, and you can carry out care actions – such as feeding it a meal or making it go to the toilet.

There are two modes to choose from: toy mode, which recreates the originals, and App Mode, which adds special colors. The app also enables you to put multiple Tamagotchi into a gallery, where you can then take pictures of them, and save said digital snaps to your Camera Roll.

It’s spectacularly pointless, of course, but it’s also pretty cute and faithful to the original toys – so it’s an app for rose-tinted spectacle wearers as well as for people who’ve never encountered Tamagotchi before.

As you’ve probably guessed, this app is a remote control for VLC. If you’re not familiar with those initials they belong to one of our very favorite apps, the VLC media player.

It’s a kind of Swiss Army Knife for playing or streaming music and video, and it’s available on iOS and on desktop computers too. We love it for many reasons: it’s fast, it’s free and it can read media formats most of us forgot ever existed.

The remote app solves a simple problem with computer media playback: if you’re on the sofa you probably aren’t anywhere near the computer that’s got all your media files on it.

It works with VLC on Mac, Linux or Windows, automatically finds any running copy of VLC on your local network and enables you to control the on-screen action with your phone.

The Watch app reduces that to bare bones: it gives you volume and transport controls, shows cover art and offers additional options – repeat, shuffle, audio on/off and subtitles on/off – via Force Touch.

If you’ve made VLC the heart of your home entertainment, this app should save you from wearing a path in the carpet between computer and couch.

  • TripIt
  • Free / in-app purchases

Whether you’re a road warrior or an occasional holidayer, keeping track of the various aspects of your trip can be a pain. TripIt solves that by pulling all your travel-related documentation together.

All you need to do is send your travel confirmation emails – flights, hotels, car hire – to TripIt and the app will automatically organize them and tell you the information you need when you need it.

If you use Gmail, Outlook.com or Yahoo mail you can get TripIt to monitor your mailbox automatically, which makes things even easier. If you’re in the US, it even tells you when it’s time to head for the airport.

The phone app stores your itinerary and key documents, and the Watch app lets you know what’s important right now – so if you’re about to board a flight you’ll see the flight number and departure time, if you’re checking in you’ll see a booking reference and so on.

Things get really clever with the Pro subscription ($48.99/£38.99/AU$77.99), which adds live flight notifications, seat tracking and alternative flight finding should your plans change.

That’s probably unnecessary for most people, though: the free version of the app includes all the essentials you need for any kind of travel.

If your Watch strap is feeling a little more snug than it used to, this app may be the answer: it’s designed to help you achieve your weight loss goals “without the unsustainable gimmicks, fad diets, restrictive foods, on-site meetings, or large price tags of other weight-loss companies.”

It tracks the calories you’ve consumed and the goals you’ve set, focuses on nutrition as well as overall calorie intake, works happily with other fitness apps and trackers and provides an online peer group where everybody encourages each other to achieve their ideal weight.

It also enables you to set exercise goals and focus on general wellness, so it’s not just about losing weight.

The Apple Watch app doesn’t replace the phone app completely – for example, you’ll need your phone handy if you want to use the barcode scanner to automatically record what you’re eating, and the team-based features such as group challenges are phone-based – but it’s a great way to focus on your goals, monitor your progress and keep your motivation no matter how sorely tempted you may be.

The program is $39.99/£29.99/AU$62.99 per year but you can explore the app for free without signing up.

Microsoft earned well-deserved death stares from many Watch users when it bought and retired the excellent Sunrise Calendar iOS app, but its Outlook app is worth adding to your wrist.

It’s from the new, interesting Microsoft, not the staid bore of old: it works well, looks great and won’t crash your watch.

Outlook is a combined email and calendar app that connects to Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, Outlook.com, Hotmail, MSN, Gmail, Yahoo and iCloud, and its main claim to fame is the focused inbox: instead of showing you everything emailed, it shows the most important stuff only and learns by watching your swipes.

It’s particularly good in a corporate environment, where its talents cope admirably with endless meeting requests, time changes and backside-covering email traffic, enabling you to prioritize things that matter and forget about things that don’t.

That doesn’t mean it’s only for corporate types, though. Outlook is a really, really good email app and boasts a useful Complication that enables you to see what’s next on your schedule from the main Apple Watch display. If you have a busy life, a busy inbox or both it’s a very useful app to have on your arm.

Fitness fanatics look away now: for those that find exercise really boring, and their get up and go often gets up and goes while they stay sedentary. Mount Burnmore could be the answer to that lethargy: it turns fitness into a game.

The concept is quite clever. Mount Burnmore depends on “active energy”, which it pulls from the Health app: the more calories you’ve burned, the more active energy you have in the game.

When you have sufficient energy you can attempt to solve the game’s puzzles, which involve finding routes around the titular mountain, collecting in-game items and smashing things with a pickaxe.

There’s a Complication that enables you to see your progress without launching the full game, and the app makes good use of the Digital Crown to help you navigate around larger levels later in the game. There are also leaderboards to compare with other players and in-game challenges to win freebies.

It’s bright, breezy and a bit brash, and we suspect it’s best suited to older children rather than grown-ups – although if you do give this one to the kids you might want to disable in-app purchases, as they can be used to buy in-game items.

This one’s US-only for now. It’s a way to pay for fuel and car washes with your Apple Watch via the magic of Apple Pay, and it syncs with Ford SYNC 3 so you can use voice commands in the car too.

You can use it in 10,000 participating Exxon and Mobil stations across the US, and it’s capable of more than just payment: the app records sales for electronic receipts and enables you to manage your loyalty points as well.

It’s really straightforward to use, assuming you’ve got funds in the bank. Just roll up to the pump or automated car wash, pull up the app and tell it which pump you’re parked at. Use the app to approve payment to that pump and then double-tap your watch’s side button to pay with Apple Pay. As soon as you do that, you’re free to pump all day long.

You’ll see more apps like this over time, as many manufacturers are looking into mobile payments, so – for example – Jaguar and Shell in the UK have an Apple pay app for their customers, and fuel companies are keen too: in addition to ExxonMobil, Chevron’s also experimenting with Apple Pay.

  • Babbel
  • Free / in-app purchases

Sometimes the best way to learn new things is to have fun, and that’s particularly true of languages: we can’t remember a taught word of the languages we rote-learned in school, but we can remember all the swear words and rude ones our peers snickered about on the bus home.

Babbel takes a more mature, but no less effective, approach to language learning, using data from the check-in service Foursquare to tell you about nearby words you need to find and translate on its Watch app. For example: you might learn the foreign word for a type of drink when you’re at a coffee shop.

The main iPhone app is more formal but still concentrates on real-world language, so you’re more likely to learn how to ask if somebody’s married or if they want some wine than tell them that your aunt’s pen is in the garden.

It’s proven to be effective and has more than a million subscribers, making it one of the most popular language learning tools around.

Just watch out for those in-app purchases, though: each language pack costs money, but some cost a lot more than others.

Sleep tracking is an area where the Apple Watch lags due to its charging requirements, and while the second generation Watch does last longer, you can’t keep it on for a week i the vein of some dedicated fitness trackers.

That means any sleep tracking app has to overcome that obstacle, and in the case of Sleep Watch that means making sure you’ve still got 65% battery left at night and Power Reserve off.

You may need to get into the routine of a pre-bed charge if you want to use the app regularly… so decide now if this is an app that could be one of your ‘best’.

Is it worth it? It is if you think your sleep is subpar, as that can make it hard to concentrate and damage your health.

The app is very good at differentiating between deep, restless sleep and cheese-fueled tossing and turning, and version 2’s new trends feature enables you to see if there’s a pattern emerging that suggests a possible cause. The app also tracks your sleeping heart rate, and again you can see if there are trends emerging there.

It’s a clever app but it’s up against the Achilles Heel of the Apple Watch: little smartwatches can’t have big batteries. But if you don’t mind establishing a new charging routine it might just help you sleep a little better more often.

This is an interesting one: the pitch is that Activity Tracker doesn’t require you to have a wearable device, but it also boasts about the Apple Watch app that enables you to track your progress.

It’s designed for the iPhone 5S onwards and uses that device’s motion coprocessor to track your progress – even if you have a second generation Apple Watch, which has its own GPS tracker. That means it’s an alternative to Apple’s own Activity app, rather than something bringing features Apple doesn’t already offer, and you’ll still need to take your phone with you.

The main iPhone app is pretty and makes it easy to see your key stats, and the Watch app can help motivate you by showing your steps, burnt calories and distance travelled. The parent app also enables you to set weekly goals and track your progress against them.

The main app is free, but there’s also a $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49 unlock that adds weekly and monthly activity visualizations and the ability to import data from or export data to another iPhone.

It can also pull in data from Apple’s own Health app, which is useful if you’ve been filing your fitness data in that for some time.

  • Free

Yes, we know you might have heard of this one and it’s technically not an app… but did you know that Siri in the Apple Watch became a lot more powerful in the March 2017 watchOS 3.2 update?

That’s because Apple has opened Siri up to third-party developers, so instead of asking Siri to send a message and seeing the Messages app open, you’ll be able to ask Siri to send a WhatsApp message instead.

This is important because previously Siri could only work with Apple’s own apps. Now s/he can talk to third party apps too. You’ll be able to ask Siri to call you a cab, to start and stop workouts, to make payments… apps such as Spotify aren’t currently invited to the Siri party, but we’d expect Apple to open its voice assistant up further in the not-too-distant future.

Don’t expect Siri support to appear in everything overnight: the developers need to add it to their apps, but the list of imminently-compatible apps includes a whole host of exercise apps such as Fitso, mySwim Pro, RunGo, Seven, Slopes, Streaks, Zones, Zova and the forthcoming Ace Tennis.

Other apps with Siri support include the aforementioned WhatsApp and Lyft in the US.

This app might be free, but it’s designed to work with some reassuringly expensive hardware: it’s from B&O, makers of high-end speakers and headphones such as the really impressive BeoPlay H4 Bluetooth headphones, and it’s for their hardware and nobody else’s.

If you’re fortunate enough to own the right cans or speakers then there’s lots here to like: good design and usability, really easy wireless pairing, the ability to link two identical speakers in stereo or ambient modes and audio presets for different kinds of content or listening environments.

One of the great features of this phone-based control, though, is what B&O calls Tonetouch, which uses your phone’s touchscreen to control the overall sound and make it warmer or brighter, more relaxed or more exciting, and to customize it according to the particular device you’re listening to.

That control isn’t available on the Beoplay Watch app, but you can access your saved Tonetouch presets from it.

The app works with the BeoPlay A1, A2, S3, H5, H7, H8, H9, M5 and Beolit 15, although you may need to update the software before they’ll play nicely with it. Where appropriate the app will also provide access to headphone settings such as noise cancellation and battery status.

On the face of it, and by face we mean Apple Watch face, Drafts doesn’t seem to offer much for six quidbucks: it enables you to dictate text and save it for later. But it turns out that it does an awful lot…it just does it in a really simple way.

On the iPhone, Drafts is designed to make it easy to capture ideas, thoughts, to-dos or anything else.

It has an email-style interface for easy navigation and it enables you to send your Drafts to a whole bunch of other apps and services: email, message, apps in your Share sheet, social media and so on.

It supports Markdown for easy formatting, and it hooks into the iMessage app to provide stored “snippets” of text and/or emoji for instant replies.

Bringing Drafts to the Watch makes it even faster. Tap on the microphone icon to capture and it does just that – but it also enables you to add to existing drafts using either your voice or the Scribble input, which means it’s brilliant for those moments when you think of something really clever to write or something you’d missed from your to-do list. It’s the kind of app you’ll quickly learn to love.

  • Strava
  • Free / in-app purchases

Strava is one of the most popular running and cycling apps around, but it’s always required you to have your phone or a non-Apple smartwatch to track your travels and record your vital statistics. Not anymore.

If you have an Apple Watch 2, the Strava Apple Watch app can use its GPS to record your run without requiring you to strap a phone to anything. The interface isn’t as pretty as the iPhone app’s interface, but when you’re running or cycling that doesn’t matter: the information you need is presented cleanly enough and the app is simple and straightforward to use.

The main app is free and offers essential features including distance, pace, speed, elevation and burned calories, and there’s a premium service for $5.99/£5.99/AU$9.99 per month or $59.99/£54.99/AU$89.99 per year that offers more detailed post-exercise analysis, live performance feedback and personalized coaching – although not through the Watch.

However, if you’re someone who uses the premium features like Beacon on the main app, you might not find Strava on the Apple Watch to your liking compared to using it on the phone.

  • Hours
  • Free / in-app purchases

Many of us need to track the time we spend on specific tasks, but the team behind Hours rightly point out the three big pitfalls of time tracking: we forget to start tracking in the first place, forget to stop when we change tasks, or just forget to stop the timer(s) altogether. Hours hopes to address that by making it really, really easy to start and stop and switch.

The iPhone app is a very beautiful thing, with a visual timeline that makes it easy to see what you’ve been up to. The Watch interface is much simpler, but just as effective: you can see the list of tasks with a timer icon for each, and if you tap on a task you can add a verbal note as well as starting or stopping the timer.

There’s a Complication for instant access, and the app will prompt you from time to time to see if you want to keep the selected timer running.

The standard version is free and ideal for self-employed or freelance types, but the $7.99/£5.99/AU$12.99 upgrade to Pro adds multi-device synchronization, web access, reporting and data visualizations, team creation and management, and online backup, which means it’s a great team tool too.

There’s no shortage of apps promising to make email fun again, and Spark is one of our favorites: on our Mac and on our iPhone it does a superb job of showing us what we want and hiding what we don’t.

The Apple Watch app is as well thought-out as its siblings, with the ability to use Messages-style quick replies as well as emoji and dictation. It’s quite possible to reply to most everyday emails without reaching for your iPhone, although the option to Handoff is there if a message is too long to bother scrolling through on your wrist.

The main selling point for Spark is its Smart Inbox, which groups messages from multiple accounts into personal, notification and newsletter categories. It then displays how many unread messages you have for each category in the Watch app’s home screen.

You can pin messages for quick access, and you can snooze them to hide them for a specified period of time. We find ourselves using that last one a lot: messages we can’t process properly on our wrists are quickly snoozed so they’ll resurface when we’re back at our Macs. If you have to handle a lot of email Spark is a massive time saver.

Your Watch has a pretty good stopwatch app, but what happens when you need to time several things that happen at the same time?

Workouts involving high intensity training are the most obvious application, but you might need to time a marinade here, a slow cook there, a bit of boiling over there and some roasting over there, or time a presentation, test, exercise or video recording.

Whatever the scenario, MultiTimer can handle it without getting complicated, erring firmly on the side of simplicity.

With MultiTimer you can run multiple timers simultaneously, getting reminders when it’s time to do something, and the period can be from seconds to 100 hours, which should be enough for most situations. The app runs continuously in the background and takes up hardly any system resources: it’s just 20MB in size.

The main app displays multiple timers at once and has a Today widget for easy access, but the Watch version takes a more streamlined approach: timers appear in list format, and you tap on the list item to see the timer for it.

If you aren’t already familiar with Hailo, it’s a high-tech way to hail a taxi cab. It started in the UK but it’s also available in Ireland, Spain and Singapore, although if you’re in the US you’re out of luck for the time being. For US readers we’d recommend the Uber app, which uses the Watch’s maps to great effect.

In some respects Hailo is the anti-Uber, because it’s designed to put you in touch with taxi drivers rather than self-employed Uber contractors. If you’re in one of the countries that Hailo covers, it’s beautifully simple and feels suitably Dick Tracy-esque: when you want a taxi, you just tap on your location and then tap on the big yellow button to call a cab.

It allows you to pay from the app too, and there’s no need to work out a tip (if you want to leave one): the Watch app can calculate the right amount for you. While you wait for the cab to arrive, you’ll see its ETA in real time.

It’s a good example of developers keeping the Watch features to the absolute minimum: you get everything you need without unnecessary bells and whistles.

If you love to listen to podcasts and you don’t already have Overcast, you’re in for a nice surprise: it’s a superb app, and its Watch integration is particularly well thought out.

In addition to the usual controls and lists of shows and episodes, it gives you quick access to two really useful features: Smart Speed, which can make the podcast play more quickly without turning into Alvin and the Chipmunks; and Voice Boost, which can make indistinct speech noticeably clearer and compensate for podcasters who can’t pick a single spot in front of the mic.

If you’ve ever strained to hear something only for the host to move closer to the mic and nearly blow your eardrums out, you should be rushing to the App Store already

Overcast is free, or $9.99/£8.99/AU$12.99 without the ads. We’d recommend going for the ad-free version, because while the advertising isn’t too invasive this is an app that’s been put together by people who really care about the end user experience, and paying for the full app is a great way to ensure that they’ll keep on caring. 

  • $3.99/£3.49/AU$5.99 monthly subscription

A reliable and secure password manager is a must-have in these days of security breaches and hacks, and 1Password is one of the best. And it turns out that it’s also one of the best password managers you can use on your Apple Watch.

Our favorite apps don’t just port entire iPhone apps across. They think about what you’re actually likely to need on your wrist, and do that instead. In the case of 1Password that means you choose the pieces of information you want available on your Watch, so for example you might want details of a few logins, one credit card and a couple of notes, or perhaps the PIN codes for everyday locks.

If you’ve ever frantically scrolled through an iPhone app or contacts list to try and find the PIN for a bank card you don’t use very often, the appeal should be obvious.

Where 1Password gets particularly clever is in its support for team and family accounts, so you can share sets of information with everybody who needs it. And if a site you use has been compromised, 1Password will alert you to change your password. It’s great stuff, and comes with a glowing recommendation from Apple.

  • $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49

Sometimes it’s hard to remember everything, especially when you’re traveling. What level did you park the car on? What’s the hotel room number? What did you change the combination on your locker to this time? Say hello to Cheatsheet, which is designed to remember the things you probably won’t.

It’s important to stress that Cheatsheet is not a secure app: it’s not designed to store any sensitive information. What it does instead is make it really easy to jot down all the little bits of information you might need during the day, from registration plates to flight numbers, bus routes, clothes sizes and bike lock codes.

It has 160 icons you can use to label each bit of information for easier identification, and you can add, edit and delete bits of information without having to open the phone. If you wish, you can use a Complication that shows your top memory-refreshing nugget of information right on the Watch face.

The main app is offered free, but if you want to use it on your Apple Watch you’ll need the Unlock Everything in-app purchase, which is currently $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49. If you’re constantly juggling, looking for or misplacing Post-It notes and scribbled-on scraps of paper, this app might just change your life.

  • Free

You know you’re living in interesting times when one of the best apps for an Apple device comes from Microsoft. But Translator is superb.

We refer to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy in another entry, and Microsoft Translator is the closest we’ve come to its Babel Fish – a fish you stuck in your ear to translate the universe’s many languages.

Translator sits on your wrist rather than in your ear canal, but it does much the same thing. Speak into your watch and you’ll see the translation, and it remembers recent translations on Watch or phone so you can find them again easily. You can also pin translations for instant access to essential words or phrases.

It gets even better if you use it on your phone, because it can translate in real time as you message somebody. You’ll see your typing with the translation in the same bubble, and it can even handle simplified Chinese and Arabic script.

The amount of thought that’s gone into Translator is obvious. Want to translate a sign? Point your camera at it. Want to have a conversation in a language you don’t speak? The phone display splits with your words facing you and the translation facing them.

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If you don’t have a dedicated fitness tracker but fancy being able to track your sleep patterns, Sleep++ can help. It turns your Watch into a sleep monitor, using its motion detection to track your twists and turns as you have that cheese-fueled nightmare again.

Using it is simple: tell the app when you're going to bed, tell it when you wake up in the morning – and the resultant reports can be eye-opening.

Your sleep is broken into blocks according to quality and movement, so you can see whether you're restless at particular times.

There is a downside to all of this, and that's the Watch itself: you can only track your sleep if you keep the Watch on, and clearly you can't do that and charge it at the same time. That's a particular issue for the first-generation Apple Watch, which doesn’t have a brilliant battery life – and the newer Apple Watch 2 isn’t a whole lot better.

We found that the answer was to pop the Watch on charge while we breakfasted and showered, but sometimes that didn't give us enough juice for a full day's wear.

If your Watch usage means you already struggle to make it through the day before running out of juice then you might want to skip Sleep++, but if you've got battery life to spare it's a fascinating insight into what happens when you're asleep. 

  • Free

The Iconfactory’s Twitterrific 5 is one of the best third-party Twitter apps around, and its Apple Watch app does a superb job of turning the Twitter firehose into something more manageable and useful.

You don’t want the full Twitter experience on that little screen, but you do want to know if anything important or interesting happens. With Twitterrific you can do that without being overwhelmed.

You can set notifications to let you know of new replies, mentions, Retweets, favorites or Direct Messages, force-press to dictate new tweets via Siri, follow or block new followers and track your Twitter stats in real-time. The app uses Handoff to keep the Watch app in sync with the iOS one, so the tweets you compose on your Watch (if you’re so inclined with the small screen) will be there on your phone too.

The main iPhone app is pretty special as well. It color-codes tweets for easy identification, has a Today mode that acts as a dashboard for anything important, and allows you to mute specific words, phrases, hashtags, people or websites.

That can make an enormous difference to your Twitter experience, especially if you’re tracking controversial subjects or popular Tweeters.

The only irritant is the advertising, but you can banish that and add push notifications for $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99 via in-app purchases.

  • $3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99

We like to personalize our technology: we can’t be the only ones who’ve caught ourselves saying “thanks” to Siri. But while digital assistants can be sassy if you ask them the right questions, apps tend to be rather less interesting.

Except for CARROT Weather, which often appears to be channeling Marvin the Paranoid Android from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

CARROT uses the same weather data as the fantastic Dark Sky app, but presents it rather differently: a typical update might say “It’s a beautiful, sunny day!” and then add “Ha ha, just kidding. It’s raining.”

You’ll either find this highly amusing or intensely annoying. We think it’s funny: who can resist an app that urges you to “bask in the glorious warmth of the partly-obscured sun”?

CARROT doesn’t just have personality, though. It also has radar and satellite weather maps, a time machine with up to 70 years of historical weather data to look at, and forecasts for right now, the next 24 hours and the next 7 days.

The basic app costs $3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99, but to unlock some of the Watch features you’ll need an annual Premium subscription, which is currently $2.49/£2.29/AU$3.49. This unlocks the half-hourly updates and the option to customize the Watch complications. 

  • $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99

One of the most useful things about the Apple Watch is that it enables you to do things without having to take your phone out of your pocket or bag. Just Press Record brings that handiness to voice recording, enabling you to capture bright ideas, rambling monologues or memos when you’re out and about.

The interface is just a big red button with a picture of a microphone on it, and as you might expect you tap it to start recording. The phone app can transcribe your recording to turn it into text – which means your recordings become searchable by keyword – and it recognises formatting commands such as “new paragraph” and “comma”.

To use it is to feel like you’re living in the future: we remember when dictation and transcription required a powerful PC and endless patience, and now you get much better results with a watch. Isn’t technology brilliant?

In addition to its recording and transcription features, the app syncs automatically via iCloud, so you can access it on all your devices – including macOS, for which there’s a separate app – and it uses the Watch’s own local storage so that you can record even if your phone isn’t currently connected.

  • Free

The best apps are those which the developers have thought: “what watch-based features would actually be worthwhile?” and TripAdvisor definitely falls into that category: while the iPhone app is a veritable feast of information about absolutely everywhere, the watch app is much more focused.

To take a typical example, imagine you’re hungry. Tap on the app, tap restaurants, and the first thing you’ll see is a list of restaurants within 1km of your current location.

The key data is right there: the star rating, its rank in the local area, and what kind of food it does, so you can see immediately if the place offering easy cuisine is more likely to serve salmonella than smoked salmon.

Tap on the listing and you get a map, individual reviews and a photo gallery from users, not the establishment itself. There’s also a Save button, so if you like it you can add it to your favorite places.

When we say it’s focused we mean it: other than restaurants, the only options are Things To Do and Hotels. TripAdvisor clearly thinks that if you want to use other features, like damning a diner or praising a pie shop, you’ll do that in the iPhone app. And it’s right.

  • $2.99/£2.29/AU$4.49

Getting Fantastical 2 up and running on your watch can be time consuming, but it’s worth it: one of the very best iPhone calendar apps around develops even more powers when you add its app to your watch.

You can also add it as a complication, which means you’ll see details of your schedule right there in the watch face.

To actually make it work you’ll need to install Fantastical to your watch and then open the iPhone app, not the Apple Watch one. This is where you specify what information should be sent to the watch, and the options are extensive.

You can choose from events, calendars, reminders and lists, include a map of the event location, show end times and specify how reminders should appear, and you can even specify what should happen if you tap on the Fantastical 2 complication on your watch face.

It’s that kind of thought and attention to detail that makes us love the app so much.

The best thing about Fantastical 2, though, is that it understands you. Force Touch the app, tap on Add Event and Siri starts listening.

It knows what you mean by “lunch with Dave”, automatically putting the appointment at 12 noon, and it knows that if you say “to-do get dinner on the way home” you’re adding an item to a to-do list. Siri’s voice recognition performs brilliantly when it’s limited to such a specific set of instructions.

  • Free

eBay’s a strange old thing these days. What started off as a haven for Pez collectors is full of high street retailers and no-name knock-off factories, professional power sellers and the usual bunch of con artists.

Browsing all of that on a watch would be absolutely horrible, which is why the eBay app doesn’t do that.

What it does do is concentrate on the ways an Apple Watch app can actually be useful in online auctioning. It pings you when an item in your Watch List – as in items you’re watching, not a list on your watch – is coming to a close, it pings if you’re outbid while an auction progresses, and it lets you know when your auction purchases are en-route.

It’s particularly great for those occasions when you don’t want to miss out on a great bargain but you can’t bring out your phone, such as when you’re attending the birth of your child, defusing a fiendishly complicated bomb or hiding from a jealous husband or wife.

Being able to stick your watch into silent mode and surreptitiously update your auctions is an absolute godsend in any situation where poking at your phone would be considered rude.

  • $3.99/£2.99

Dark Sky is the first app we put on any new Apple device, and the Apple Watch is no exception. In fact, we think Dark Sky is at its most useful when you’re wearing it on your wrist.

What Dark Sky does seems very simple, but is actually very clever. It tells you what the weather’s going to do – not in a vague sense, but as in telling you that it’s going to bucket down in ten minutes and that the storm won’t stop for an hour.

That means it’s the perfect app for anybody who’s thinking about going outside for any reason, or who’s already outside and really ought to be getting inside in a big hurry.

In more dramatic climates it alerts of dangerous weather such as storms, and you can set it to notify you of specific kinds of weather that you select in the companion iPhone app.

We use it to decide if now is a good time to walk the dog, if it’s time to get the kids back to the car or if we really shouldn’t be going out dressed like that; you might use it when you’re hiking or biking, or doing any other activity that could be affected by changes in the weather.

If you used Dark Sky in the early days of the Apple Watch and found it painfully slow and unresponsive, give it another go: the current version runs on the watch, not on the phone, and the difference in performance really is dramatic.

  • Free

You’ve probably noticed something of a trend in our favorite apps: they tend to approach their mission by asking what useful things the watch can do rather than trying to cram an entire phone app into that tiny screen, irrespective of whether that’s sane or useful. Yelp is a great example of an app that gets it right.

When you open it you’ll see just four icons: Restaurants, Bars, Coffee & Tea, and Hot & New. Tapping on the one you’re interested in then shows you a list sorted by distance, with the all-important star ratings and average cost listed on top of a photograph. Tap again and you’ll get the opening hours and a map, and of course you can read the reviews too – that’s what Yelp is all about.

It’s particularly good for the kind of venues and experiences popular among bright young things in big cities, (the most committed Yelpers), but the database is truly enormous and doesn’t turn into tumbleweed whenever you venture into the countryside. Yelp’s app is very good for finding places in unfamiliar towns, or unfamiliar places in towns you know very well.
 

  • Free

“Wouldn’t it be great if you could read an entire newspaper on a screen the size of a postage stamp?” said no-one, ever. That hasn’t stopped people from trying, often with terrible results. So all credit to The Guardian, which has taken a completely different approach that actually works. It’s a news app, but rather than tell you everything it only tells you a little bit.

Rather than deliver a newspaper, The Guardian’s watch app only wants to do one thing: to show you something interesting every time you look at it. In practice that means the app is looking at your preferences in the larger iPhone app and showing you one story that it thinks you’ll be interested in.

You’ll see a headline, a small photo and a synopsis, and you can either Force Touch to save the item to your reading list, or use Handoff to open the full item on your phone.

Trust us, it’s a lot more useful than it sounds. Provided you’ve personalized the main app, the one-shot suggestions do generally fall into the “hmm, that’s interesting” category, and we think it’s a much better approach than some other apps that give you half a headline for a whole bunch of stories.

  • Free

Some people bought their Apple Watch to track their fitness. Others, like us, hoped we’d be able to control every appliance by shouting at it. That dream hasn’t quite been achieved yet, but in the meantime we can command our Philips Hue lights with the power of Siri, or access pre-installed lighting effects with the tap of the wrist.

Hue is Philips’ HomeKit-compatible bulb system, enabling you to create light recipes that you can save for easy access. It’s based around a hub that connects to your wireless router, allowing control via phone, tablet or watch.

If you plump for the colored bulbs or colored lightstrips you can mix and match the colors and brightness by mood or activity, so you might have warm whites for reading, soft pastels for dining and something spookier for watching horror films.

The Watch bit of the app isn’t the most straightforward to set up – once installed you need to create its widgets using the Hue app on your phone – but once you’ve done that you can then tap on the appropriate icon to call up its settings.

And because the Hue setup is HomeKit compatible, it also integrates with Siri. The novelty of asking Siri to turn the lights on or off or to call up a particular ‘light scene’ never really wears off.

  • Free

Foursquare’s mission has changed somewhat over the years: what started off based around location check-ins and “king of the castle” bragging had to change when Facebook promptly copied the idea.

Robbed of its raison d’être, these days Foursquare has separated the check-ins from the venue recommendations. Foursquare City Guide’s job is to find decent bars and restaurants wherever you are in the world (if you still want to be the mayor of wherever, that’s the companion app, Foursquare Swarm).

The main interface of City Guide has five tappable areas: Search, Favorites, Food, Coffee and Nightlife.

Tapping on the appropriate option takes you to a list of venues, but instead of just filtering by distance the app also filters by Foursquare user ratings – so a rating of 9.5 that’s 500m away will appear below a 9.7 that’s 100m further.

The list gives you the name, price bracket, average rating and distance for each venue, and if you tap on a venue you’ll see reviews, photos, maps and other key information. The big selling point here is Foursquare’s global reach: it’s a really good app for travellers who don’t want to spend their time in the hotel bar or eating in faceless chain restaurants.

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What makes a good watch app? We think it’s one that tells you exactly what you need to know, when you need to know it, without fuss or fluster.

And that’s what UK Bus Checker does. From the no-nonsense name onwards, it’s a fine example of a focused app – and it’s so good we’re adding in here even though it’s only of use to Brits.

Open up the apps and you’ll be staring at four icons and your location, with Favorites showing your saved stops, Nearby the stops around you, Journeys enabling you to plan a trip, and Get Home finding the best way to get you there from here.

We use the Favorites one a lot, because it offers real-time data so you know if the number 60A is running late again or if you’ll need to sprint to the bus stop. It includes mapping and points of interest too, so you can use it to find a coffee shop when you’re on foot.

The only real downside to UK Bus Checker is that it’s only as good as the data supplied to it, and unfortunately if – like us – you live in an area where the buses are operated by the devil himself and driven by his henchmen, that data isn’t always accurate.

But you can say the same about the signs on the bus shelters – that’s the bus company’s fault, not the technology.

  • Free

Do your colleagues do much thinking outside the box? Do they talk about "going forward" with projects or "surfacing" information? Is the oldest person in the building still in their mid-30s? Then you're probably all too aware of Slack, the corporate communications system that's replaced email and instant messaging for more than a 1.7 million daily users.

We're kidding, but only a little bit: Slack has become the go-to communication platform for tech and media businesses and start-ups. The iOS app provides a fully-featured Slack experience with file sharing, social media integration and powerful search and archiving features, while the Apple Watch app doesn't.

That's entirely deliberate, because if your Watch app tried to cover all the different interactions in a typical Slack team it'd be pinging away so often your Watch would run out of power before your second cup of coffee (and do be careful – Slack on the wrist does munch the battery of your smartwatch in our tests).

What the developers have done instead is focus on what you want a watch to do, which is to notify you only of the things you really need to know about. That means the same push notifications you've set for your iPhone, direct messaging and incorporating Handoff so you can move from watch to iOS without losing your train of thought.

  • $9.99/£7.99/AU$14.99

If you aren’t already familiar with Tweetbot 4, it’s the best Mac and iOS Twitter client bar none. This is why it can charge $9.99/£7.99/AU$14.99 for an iOS app and people gladly pay it, and it’s worth checking out on the Apple Watch too.

Tweetbot doesn’t unleash the Twitter firehose onto your wrist – we can’t think of anything guaranteed to kill your battery more quickly – but it does give you exactly the information you need when you aren’t looking at your phone.

The developers have rightly assumed that if you have your phone to hand you won’t be using the watch instead, so they’ve concentrated on making an app for when you can’t or don’t want to pull your phone out of your pocket or purse. And that’s clever.

Its Activity pane shows you what’s happening in your feed, so if somebody’s followed you or replied to you or tweeted you then you’ll see it in Activity. Tapping on the item opens the appropriate tweet or user page, and with tweets you’ll see icons for a quick reply, a retweet or a like.

If you push into the screen using Force Touch you get an offer to create a new tweet, and both it and the reply option use Siri for dictation, because on-watch typing would be frankly horrible – and you can dictate a direct message or follow/unfollow accounts from the app too.

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If you've tried Twitter or Facebook on the Apple Watch you may well think that social networking doesn't really work on such a small device, but Instagram begs to differ. The Facebook-owned photo sharing service concentrates on the basics and does them very well.

Like most Watch versions of iPhone/iPad apps the Instagram app is limited compared to its bigger sibling; for example you can't use it to take photos with your phone camera and upload them from the Watch, with snapping and uploading remaining a job for your iPhone.

What the app does do is show a shortened version of your Instagram feed, offering the most recent posts from people you've chosen to receive notifications about. (You can change that list in the iPhone app).

Instagram works surprisingly well on your wrist. You can swipe through photos to view or like them, see recent comments and likes on your own photos, and send emoji replies to people's posts.

It's great for a bit of time-wasting when you're out and about, and it's compatible with Handoff so you can effortlessly switch from Watch to iPhone when you want to use a feature the Watch app doesn't have.

  • $9.99/£7.99/AU$14.99

The apps we tend to love the most are the ones that solve real-world problems, and PCalc falls into that category. Yes, it's a fantastically useful calculator and scientific calculator, but much more importantly it prevents fisticuffs in restaurants.

That's because of its handy bill splitter. Simply tell it how much the bill comes to, how many people are paying and how big a tip you want to leave, and the Watch app calculates how much each person should hand over. It supports watchOS 3's Scribble feature too, so you don't need to dictate or tap on a tiny keypad if you've downed that second bottle of wine. Alternatively you can use the Digital Crown to enter the figure in the tip calculator.

That's not all the Watch app can do, though. It includes a converter for distances and other measurements, and if you Force Touch the app you'll see a Send To iPhone icon as well as the clear and undo buttons.

And on the iPhone the main app is a great tool for serious calculating (and quick sums: there's a mini-calculator if you Force Touch the app icon). It's not the cheapest calculator app, but it's worth the money.

  • $2.99/£2.49/AU$4.99

One of the Apple Watch's most impressive features is the remote camera option, which enables you to use the Watch's display as a viewfinder and shutter button for your iPhone.

It's as useful for looking in awkward places as it is for snapping selfies, but that usefulness only applies if you stick with the default Camera app – or if you use a Camera replacement such as ProCamera, which has its own remote shutter app for the Apple Watch.

The ProCamera Watch app offers more options than the standard Apple one, with easy selection of photo, lowlight mode, HDR or video and the option to set a timer too. But the real draw here is the main iPhone app, which offers a range of image formats, RAW and UHD shooting, filters and effects and easy social media sharing.

Some of its best features require in-app purchases – Lowlight Plus and vividHDR are $2.99/£2.49/AU$4.99 each – but that's still not much when you consider the kind of money you'd spend on real camera kit.

The app has just been updated for the new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus too, with a clever option to switch between the iPhone 7 Plus's two lenses and Wide Color Capture on both models.

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Shazam was a genuine gee-whizz app when it debuted on the iPhone, and it's even more impressive when it's on your wrist. It does one thing and does it brilliantly: it listens to the music around you and lets you know what it is.

Its recognition algorithms are superb, and having it on your Watch means you can probably win pop quizzes without getting caught. Not that we'd recommend such behaviour, of course.

The experience  on the Watch is very well thought out: instead of staring at a progress icon while the song is being recognised, you simply tap the app and then drop your wrist. It'll then notify you when the song has been identified, at which point you can raise your wrist, see the song and then tap on the lyrics if you want to know the words too. The lyrics even scroll along with the music.

The Watch app uses Handoff, so you can pick up the iPhone to see more about the track, watch videos or buy the download, plus the iOS app also boasts Rdio and Spotify integration and artist recommendations. Jfriel1995scotland reckons it's "lol best free app ever", and he or she might have a point.

Now Watch users have a choice of transport apps on their Watch. The built-in Maps app from Apple is still the most versatile thanks to excellent maps, directions and now public transport options in some cities like London. But Google's answer is straightforward and attractive.

Google Maps gives directions (though not maps) for two destinations, home and work, but will also show routes recently followed on your phone. A Force Press on the Watch screen lets you switch between walking, driving and public transport modes.

The cycle routing that the phone app offers isn't here, perhaps because you shouldn't be taking your hand off the handlebars to read your Watch screen as you ride.

You may have missed the built-in Camera Remote feature since the Apple Watch doesn't have a camera, but you should use it to your advantage every time you take an awkwardly framed photo. It let's your frame a shot remotely with your Apple Watch by seeing a preview of what's in the phone viewfinder via the Watch screen.

It also has a shutter button and initiates a countdown. It works with both the front and back cameras and is free. Use this tool wisely to achieve less awkward selfies at a distance. 

I sometimes wear my messy Chipotle burritos while scarfing down the healthy-ish Mexican platters, but I'm also purposely wearing Chipotle on my wrist to send order to the store via my Apple Watch.

While it's not the most groundbreak app, I can create a one-tap order with the Chipotle Apple Watch app and have my meal ready to go while I'm on the treadmill at the gym next door. It's as efficient as it is calorie rich. The best part is, I get the skip the always massive line.

Facebook Messenger on Apple Watch got a late start, but it finally lets you respond to those pressing messages to friends and family without opening up the sioled-off app on your phone or website on a computer.

You can initiate and reply with a thumbs up (which I see as kind of curt and rude) or dictate a reply. Sending Facebook's ugly smiley face or your current location can be done with the press of one or two taps too. No, there's still no WhatsApps for Apple Watch, but this is the next best thing from Facebook.

What's better than controlling the lights throughout your entire household with your iPhone? Doing it with a flick your your wrist with an Apple Watch. That's what the Philips Hue app does – if you have the WiFi-enabled lightbulbs popular among early adopters.

Calling an Uber isn't too difficult, unless of course your hands are full or running down last-second tasks. That's me right before I leave for a flight.

Often times, I'm packing my suitcase with last second gadgets and taking out the trash so it doesn't take on another lifeform by sitting there for a week. The Apple Watch makes it easier to hail the 21st century taxi.

The Uber Apple Watch app is not only simple to use, it lets you see vital information, like the time the driver will take to get there and the car he or she drives, complete with a picture (when they have one). 

This sleep monitor app works when you keep the Watch on at night. This may mean some users have to switch the recharging cycle to first thing in the morning, though as the Watch charges quickly this may not be a problem. Then, when you're going to sleep tell the app that you're doing so and then when you wake up, tell it that.

Sleep++ suggests putting your Watch into inflight mode to save battery. Although it's no match for a dedicated health band like the Jawbone UP3, the sleep data it collects is interesting and useful.

It divides sleep into light and deep, and also tells you how much of the night you were restless for. The data can be included in Apple's Healthkit so you can share it with other apps. A Watch complication is also available. 

Lose It! is a weight loss program and calorie counter. It's sophisticated and has advanced features. So you can set different kinds of goals such as weight loss or the steps you want to take. If you have aims that involve body fat, sleep or blood pressure, the app can help.

The Watch reminds you to log your food which can be done by tapping in details on the Watch or using a barcode scanner in the iPhone app.

There are also insights related to calories and nutrients and the app integrates with other devices and apps such as the Withings Body scale or RunKeeper. Clear, simple and accessible. 

 Like Citymapper, ETA will help you get somewhere. The title refers to its front-and-centre information. You add a location on the iPhone and save it. Then it'll give you timings for driving, walking or taking public transport.

Some watch faces allow it as a complication, where it'll show the time it'll take to your top saved route. It knows what traffic is like so allows extra time for a drive in rush hour, say. On the Watch app you tap the chosen saved destination and it'll take you through to Maps for directions.

Similarly, for public transport directions in select cities Maps will provide the directions. Like Dark Sky this is a paid-for app: £2.29/$2.99.

From a team of developers, psychologists and neuroscientists, Peak is a great app for keeping your brain active. The Watch version offers three games, ideal for the smaller screen. Some of these seem simple at first, but they quickly become more challenging.

There are workouts to test memory, focus and problem solving – all of them fun, engaging, and the ideal to while away the daily commute. 

Currency converters abound on the iPhone and XE Currency is one of the best. While the Watch version doesn't have the calculator feature found on the phone, it's a clear chart of how many euros, Argentine pesos or Australian dollars a British pound buys.

You can add more currencies on the phone version – whatever's there is replicated on the Watch. A button at the base of the screen lets the iPhone app control the refresh rates, so you can avoid roaming charges.

Headspace is a meditation app with lessons as short as two minutes or as long as an hour. It's free to learn the basics in 10 beginner sessions, then £9.99 if you want to go further, with sessions divided into packs titled Creativity, Focus or Happiness.

It's a great app, and becomes increasingly rewarding thanks to its down-to-earth approach and decent design.

On the Watch there's only one function, but it's a neat one. Opening the app reveals the SOS button. If you're feeling stressed, tap this and it plays a two-minute session designed to help with what Headspace calls "meltdown moments."

If you're frustrated by trying to remember all the passwords you need, 1Password means you only have to recall one, which guards all the others safely. It also works with the iPhone's Touch ID. It's free, but for Watch functionality, you need the Pro version (£7.99).

Secure notes and logins have an option marked "Add to Apple Watch." When you launch the Watch app, added items are viewable on your wrist. They're still safe because as soon as you take the Watch off, it locks, so someone else can only read them if they enter your Watch passcode.

This powerful translation app works in 90 languages. It's free but for full Watch use you'll need the £3.99/$4.99 in-app purchase which offers voice recognition and unlimited translations.

A Watch complication means you can tap on the screen to start translating straight away and if you'll let it, iTranslate will use your location to figure out what language it should be translating to or from.

It also responds to Time Travel so by winding the Digital Crown you can see phrases which change such as "Good afternoon" which is replaced by "Good evening" as you scroll forward.

Fantastical 2 is a great alternative to the Apple Calendar. It has strong natural language understanding, so on the iPhone you can type "lunch with John on Monday at 12" and it'll know you mean noon and next Monday. It also understands more complex details like "every third Thursday until September".

On the Watch you can view reminders and events or create new ones by speaking the details. It looks good, too, with events colour-coded to match your calendars. £3.99 – and worth it.

This is the app that aims to give you up-to-date information on upcoming flights. Set up your App in the Air account, enter the flight dates on your iPhone (or your booking reference, though this feature is still in beta) and in the Glances screen on your Watch it'll show the flight number and time until check-in closes.

Tap through to the app itself and there are more details, including gate number when known.

There's also a packing list to remind you to check travel insurance and roaming settings on your phone. Added features include gate change and status updates which can be sent by SMS to avoid data charges overseas. That's £3.99/$4.99 for five flights. Boarding time, departure and gate can be displayed as a complication on the Watch face.

If you use the Boris Bikes, as London's Santander Cycles bike hire scheme is affectionately called, this is handy. Since Transport for London releases bike and dock data every three minutes, apps are the best way to check availability. And unlike the official app, Cycle Hire has Watch compatibility.

In the Watch's Glances screen it shows you how many bikes and spaces are available nearby. Then with a tap it'll reveal more detail either on a map or in list form. The iPhone app offers expanded features such as routes and reminders to return your bike when the 30-minute free hire period is running out.

This is a comprehensive London Tube app, with a journey planner, live departure boards and more. On the Watch, London Tube Tracker shows details for stations you've picked as favourites on the iPhone, down to what trains will be arriving when. Meanwhile, on the Glances screen it'll tell you how long it is until your next or last train home and how long that journey should take.

The cool live Tube map, showing trains shuffling round London is restricted to the iPhone version, sadly. Still, the route planning and line statuses on the Watch are useful.

What are the tasks you really want to achieve? Pick six from the hundreds of icons on the iPhone and they'll appear in the Watch app or the Streaks complication on the Watch face. So whether you want to read more, practise a musical instrument or walk the dog, there are icons you can invoke and reminders it can offer.

You can even choose to brush your teeth as a goal, though, frankly, I'd have thought that was a given. It works with the Health app to nudge you towards fitness goals and the name refers to the fact that you should aim to hit the targets for a streak of consecutive days.

Of course, bigger screens such as phones and, you know, TVs are best for expansive looks at the news, so the Watch's little face is reserved for headlines and photos with BBC News. These appear in Glances and tapping on one takes you to a very slightly fuller version, and lets you access the other headlines.

You can create a personalised news list on the iPhone and these show up in the Watch app, too. Ideal for snacking on headlines and letting you follow up with the main story elsewhere. 

If you've been meaning to get that six-pack tummy but just don't have time to go to the gym, this iPhone app has high-quality videos of avatars performing crunches, situps, stretches and core twists that you can do in your own time on your bedroom floor, say.

Initial workouts with Runtastic are free, more come as in-app purchases. And if squinting at your precariously perched iPhone isn't doing it for you, the Watch app means you can see an animation on your watch, with vibrations on your wrist to start and end a set. It's easy to use and works well. Now you'll have to find another excuse not to work out.

Live journey planning and scheduled bus times for over 40 UK cities are the heart of this app, and once you've planned a journey on the phone, you can track it on the Watch. It uses the iPhone's GPS and displays your location at the bottom of the screen.

Touch Nearby and UK Bus Checker will show you the Departure Board for the nearest bus stop. There are also helpful messages to help you plan your journey – for example, warning of train strikes that will make buses busier. Slick and efficient.

Clear is a beautifully designed to-do list app that uses gestures and colour to make for a really enjoyable experience – though whether that makes you actually do more of what's on the list is another matter.

Still, confirming you've completed a task is satisfying and you can do that on the Watch as well as the iPhone. You can add tasks to the list on the Watch, thanks to Siri, or set reminders for when you need a nudge. Clear is an exceptional app and the Watch app is neatly realised. 

There are plenty of seven-minute workout apps (consisting of 12 30-second exercises with 10-second rests in between) but 7 Minute Workout Challenge appeals because it's comprehensive and well-designed.

The Watch element includes a simple timer or animations to remind you how to know your lunges from your jumping jacks, and you can choose your workout from the selection available. The pause and restart buttons are also useful.

This app makes working out accessible, attainable, and (importantly) fast.

Organise your life better with Evernote, the brilliant note-taking app which saves photos, text, recipes, bookmarks, voice notes and more. On Apple Watch you can set reminders and check off tasks easily enough.

You can dictate new notes for those brilliant ideas you mustn't forget just by tapping the Plus button or Force Touching the screen. The Watch app can search existing notes using voice – though this wasn't as reliable as I'd have liked. Even so, if you're an Evernote fan it brings an extra level of convenience.

You can use Lark to lose weight or just for general fitness. It mines the information in your iPhone's Health app to understand how active you've been, and you tell it what you've eaten in text message conversations. Eat too much bacon and it'll tell you to find protein elsewhere, for instance.

On the Watch it offers quick pep talks and you can log a meal by dictating what you've eaten. Lark can be a bit naggy so won't suit everyone, but if you like it, the Watch offers simple extra functions that work well.

National Rail Enquiries is a brilliant app that if you're a regular train user is quickly essential. It's full of data like live departure boards and notifications if there are service disruptions, all colour-coded (green is on time, red means it's late).

On the Watch it works in three ways: to show the nearest stations, your favourites (which usually includes your home station) and recent enquiries. A useful adjunct to the great iPhone version.

Check out the Easyjet app on the Glances screens and you'll see that even if you don't have a flight booked it's kind enough to tell you the temperature in Tenerife, Palma or some other warm place!

When you have upcoming bookings, it gives you a countdown to your flight date, and shows you weather for the week ahead at your destination. It even provides you the latest exchange rate.

There's also flight status info in Glances and more features are arriving, airport by airport to show gate notifications and reminders of when to head from duty-free to the plane.

Strava is perfect if you're competitive, even if it's just against yourself. It's great for tracking your training on foot or bicycle. On the iPhone it shows your outdoor runs and rides on maps, records your progress and more. It's also plenty social if you want to share details with friends.

The Watch app is very simple: a sneaker or cycle in an orange circle, and you press this to start or end a ride or run. Force Press lets you change from one sport to the other. Then it shows the timing, speed and distance accurately – handier than pulling your phone out of your pocket.

Practising yoga is easier with clear instructions and guidance, which FitStar Yoga provides alongside high-res video. That's not on the Watch, though there are useful features for when you're more familiar with the poses.

You can start and pause sessions and the Watch reminds you what's up next. And you can let the app know if that last exercise was too hard, just right, or too easy. It integrates with Apple's Health app so calories burnt are noted in the app.

Information is power and if you're trying to lose weight, calorie tracking is a good way to stay focused. MyFitnessPal works out a daily calorie allowance based on how much weight you want to shed. Eat a meal and your allowance is spent, take exercise and you earn credit.

The Watch gives you a running total of remaining calories and how that breaks down into protein, carbohydrates and more. It can integrate with your steps total so you don't have to add those manually. It's simple but convenient and helpful.

If walking's your thing, Walkmeter helps track your every step, showing your perambulations on a map and generating detailed graphs. The Watch app has clear data reporting and you can start and stop a walk from your wrist using the Watch's Force Touch actions.

Apple's own Workout app does a lot, but this app has more detail and the mapping detail on the iPhone is great. The app is free but for full Watch performance you need to upgrade to the Elite version for £3.99. There's a lot here, including training plans and announcements as you hit targets or distances.

Withings makes a series of devices to help measure health including bathroom scales and a blood pressure monitor which connect wirelessly to the Withings site or the iPhone to store data.

The Health Mate Watch app shows some of this data including latest weight on the Glances screen plus in the app itself recent changes, BMI and how much of your weight is fat (I know, I know, but it can be important). The iPhone app can be used to track heart rate and count steps, too.

With the right Withings gadgets, this can lead to comprehensive and effective health monitoring.

The British Airways app doesn't do a great deal until you're close to travelling, but as soon as you're within a week of wheels up, everything changes.

The Glance screen shows flight details with departure time and countdown to takeoff with more details in the Watch app itself. There's also info on the weather at your destination, which obviously becomes more accurate and useful as you get nearer to flight day.

It tells you when to check in and which gate you're flying from (once that information is available). And of course, once you've checked in, Passbook means you can use your Watch as a boarding pass at security and the gate.

Oh my, this is good. It's a weather app, but it's mighty specific. The iPhone Dark Sky Weather app lists your exact address moment by moment. So it'll tell you when it's going to rain where you are, with surprising accuracy.

The Watch app gives you a detailed forecast of the next hour on one screen, the day ahead on the next, and then the week on the third. The latest version works as a complication on compatible Watch faces so you don't have to even touch the Watch to see that today is "13 degrees, mostly cloudy" or whatever.

The Weather Channel is the world's most downloaded weather app, apparently. As well as instant weather descriptions for right now and forecasts for the next 15 hours or more, the Watch app shows details of how long until sunset, temperature and cloud cover now.

There's also the current outlook, wind speed and chance of rain. Most of these details also appear in the app's Glances screen. Since the arrival of watchOS 2, The Weather Channel is also available as a complication, appearing on some Watch faces as an icon, such as an umbrella when rain is expected. It's free, or you can remove ads for £2.99/$3.99.

The Watch Hailo app makes it exceptionally easy to order a cab. You need to set up an account in the iPhone app first, but then the location features on the phone mean the app knows where you are so the cab can find you.

This means it takes just one click to order a Hailo – which also makes it easy to call one by accident, so thank goodness there's a swift Cancel option using Force Touch.

No, pressing the record button on an iPhone isn't a giant hassle, but as a journalist, capturing what's being said – often impromptuly – at a moment's notice is of the utmost importance sometimes. That's why we're a fan of the appropriately named Just Press Record Apple Watch app.

It's more than a handy off-site button, though. It also syncs records across all devices big (like an iMac) to small (like the iPhone SE), making the recording and listening back process a tad easier.

Citymapper is the pre-eminent public transport app, so no wonder it's an Apple Watch essential. It tells you how to get around selected cities including London, Manchester, Paris, Barcelona and New York.

As well as bus, train and subway times and directions, the Watch app even offers cycling routes and bike hire details such as London's Boris Bikes. Once you've set up the journey on the phone, step-by-step notifications will appear on the Watch screen.

You can start journeys to home or previously saved destinations right from the Watch, and it will even help you find your way to nearby bus stops and train stations. Brilliant, just brilliant.

Dave Phelan also contributed to this feature

via Click on the link for the full article

The best iPhone 7 Plus deals in August 2017

This plus-sized phone from Apple was launched alongside the iPhone 7 in September last year – and it's the best iPhone on the market in our opinion, with big improvements on the camera and battery fronts.

Prices took a tumble at the start of the summer, but they've begun to plateau now. In fact, in some cases, they've actually gone up a bit (Vodafone, we're looking at you). It feels a bit like the calm before the Black Friday 2017 storm.

But if you're dead set on grabbing this huge iPhone now, then to help you navigate we've got a handy comparison tool which is designed to help you zero in on the cheapest deals. Underneath that we've chosen what we think are the best value options overall and also on a network-by-network basis. Let's get cracking with those iPhone 7 Plus deals…

See also: iPhone 7 deals | iPhone 6S deals | iPhone 6S Plus deals | Mobile phone deals | iPhone 7 Plus review

The best iPhone 7 Plus deals this month:

Unlike some other sites we don't manipulate the order of these deals for commercial gain, so the handpicked deals below really are the best iPhone 7 Plus deals for EE, O2, Three and Vodafone right now. Don't forget – if you're looking for something a little different, our comparison widget above is the perfect way to sniff out your perfect deal. This page is for the best iPhone 7 Plus deals in the UK, but if you're after Australian deals, check out the best Australian iPhone 7 Plus deals page. 

iphone 7 Plus deals


iphone 7 Plus deals on o2

iPhone 7 Plus 32GB | £200 upfront (with 10OFF code) | Unlimited calls and texts | 3GB data | £27 per month
The O2 Double Data discount is no longer, making the network's prices far less enticing. This 3GB tariff is OK in isolation if you can forget that you used to get 6GB. Make the huge handset cost easier to swallow by using our 10OFF code to knock off a tenner. Total cost over 24 months is £848

View this deal: at Mobiles.co.uk

iphone 7 Plus deals


iphone 7 Plus deals on o2

iPhone 7 Plus 32GB | £149.99 upfront | Unlimited calls and texts | 5GB data | £32.99 per month
If you tend to use apps and maps away from your Wi-Fi regularly, then 5GB will afford you a much greater buffer before you start hitting your limit. And it's EE –
UK's fastest 4G network – that currently has the best tariff. It's the iPhone 7 Plus, so it's unsurprisingly expensive upfront. But the £32.99 monthly payments are very attractive indeed. Total cost over 24 months is £941.75

View this deal: at Affordable Mobiles

iphone 7 Plus deals


iphone 7 Plus deals on Three

iPhone 7 Plus 32GB | £144.99 upfront (with code 10OFF) | Unlimited minutes and texts | 16GB data | £44 per month
If you want Voda and loads of data, this is the way we reckon you should go (although better prices are available from other networks if you check out our widget to compare…). But 16GB on the 7+ just got really expensive – over £100 dearer than last month. Total cost over 24 months is £1200.99

View this deal: at Mobiles.co.uk

iphone 7 Plus deals


iPhone 7 Plus deals on EE

iPhone 7 Plus 32GB | FREE upfront | Unlimited minutes and texts | 30GB data | £42 per month
This is definitely one the best iPhone 7 Plus deals for near-unlimited data right now, and it just got even better thanks to the price of the handset being reduced to a big fat ZERO! There's acres of data on offer to help you get the most out of the larger phablet screen and put and end to the data scares. And you even get £10 cashback, too. Total cost over 24 months is £1008

View this deal: at Affordable Mobiles

iphone 7 Plus deals

Now let’s break down the best iPhone 7 Plus deals by network…

iphone 7 Plus deals

iPhone 7 Plus deals on EE

Best iPhone 7 Plus deals on EE

iPhone 7 Plus 32GB | £149.99 upfront | Unlimited calls and texts | 5GB data | £32.99 per month
If you tend to use apps and maps away from your Wi-Fi regularly, then 5GB will afford you a much greater buffer before you start hitting your limit. And it's EE –
UK's fastest 4G network – that currently has the best tariff. It's the iPhone 7 Plus, so it's unsurprisingly expensive upfront. But the £32.99 monthly payments are very attractive indeed. Total cost over 24 months is £941.75

View this deal: at Affordable Mobiles

iphone 7 Plus deals

iPhone 7 Plus 32GB | £119.99 | Unlimited calls and texts | 10GB data | £37.99pm
There are good iPhone 7 Plus deals to be had at the moment with 6GB and 30GB allowances, but not much in between. This one's from EE – the UK's fastest 4G network. 10GB a month should be more than most average users need, but you get more data from the next deal for less cash. Total cost over 24 months is £1031.75

View this deal: at Affordable Mobiles

iphone 7 Plus deals

iphone 7 Plus deals on o2

Best iPhone 7 Plus deals on O2

iPhone 7 Plus 32GB | £200 upfront (with 10OFF code) | Unlimited calls and texts | 3GB data | £27 per month
The O2 Double Data discount is no longer, making the network's prices far less enticing. This 3GB tariff is OK in isolation if you can forget that you used to get 6GB. Make the huge handset cost easier to swallow by using our 10OFF code to knock off a tenner. Total cost over 24 months is £848

View this deal: at Mobiles.co.uk

iphone 7 Plus deals

iPhone 7 Plus 32GB | £124.99 upfront (with 10OFF code) | Unlimited calls and texts | 20GB data | £41 per month
We know that £41 is a lot to see on your bill every month, but the low upfront cost and HUUUGE amount of data makes it just about worth it. Plus it's a fiver less than last month. You'd have to do a lot of downloading, streaming and social media scrolling to get close to using 20GB every 30 days. Total cost over 24 months is £1108.99

View this deal: at Mobiles.co.uk

iphone 7 Plus deals

iphone 7 Plus deals on vodafone

Best iPhone 7 Plus deals on Vodafone

iPhone 7 Plus 32GB | £144.99 upfront (with code 10OFF) | Unlimited minutes and texts | 16GB data | £44 per month
If you want Voda and loads of data, this is the way we reckon you should go (although more is available if you check out our widget to compare…). But 16GB on the 7+ just got really expensive – over £100 dearer than last month. Total cost over 24 months is £1200.99

View this deal: at Mobiles.co.uk

iphone 7 Plus deals

iphone 7 Plus deals on Three

Best iPhone 7 Plus deals on Three

iPhone 7 Plus 32GB | £54 upfront | 2GB data | Unlimited minutes and texts | £38 per month
Here you get the iPhone 7 Plus for a good upfront spend (although a fiver more than last month) and 2GB of data. But then again, for an extra £2o-odd over the two years you could get quadruple the data – see below. Total cost over 24 months is £966

View this deal: at Affordable Mobiles

iphone 7 Plus deals

iPhone 7 Plus 32GB | £100 upfront | Unlimited calls and texts | 8GB data | £37 per month
Three will give you a tasty amount of bytes for streaming video on the larger phablet screen, and while the phone will set you back a fairly large amount after that it's a reasonable rate per month for a lot of data and unlimited everything else. A few quid more a month will get a better deal below, however. Total cost over 24 months is £988

View this deal: at Affordable Mobiles

iphone 7 Plus deals

iPhone 7 Plus 32GB | FREE upfront | Unlimited minutes and texts | 30GB data | £42 per month
This is definitely one the best iPhone 7 Plus deals for near-unlimited data right now, and it just got even better thanks to the price of the handset being reduced to a big fat ZERO! There's acres of data on offer to help you get the most out of the larger phablet screen and put and end to the data scares. Total cost over 24 months is £1008

View this deal: at Affordable Mobiles

via Click on the link for the full article

Twitch vs YouTube Gaming vs Microsoft Mixer: which streaming service is for you?

Update: Twitch has made some changes that should make the service more easy to maneuver for those interested in Blizzard's Overwatch and Hearthstone. Considering how popular these titles are with both streamers and viewers this certainly gives Twitch something of an edge over other services.

With Overwatch it'll now be possible to filter streams by Hero. This means that if you have a favorite Hero, you'll be able to find streams starring them much more quickly.

For Hearthstone on the other hand, it's now possible to filter games by game mode, player rank, number of wins and hero class. If you're only interested in getting tips to improve specific Hearthstone skills, this is perfect for you. 

The technology that makes this possible has come to Twitch thanks to its recent acquisition of ClipMine which uses machine learning and computer vision to identify what's on player screens. 

Original article continues below…

We have come a long way from gaming being a solitary 'best-enjoyed-in-the-dark-whilst-wearing-one’s-luckiest-pants' hobby. Now, it’s a hugely popular social experience accounting for incredible amounts of web traffic with millions of people not only playing online together, but watching other people play via online streaming services. 

Thanks to video game live streaming services, gamers can now broadcast their play sessions to those that wish to watch them and interact with them too. Live streaming is one of the biggest things happening in gaming right now alongside eSports, so big in fact that some of the most popular streamers are able to make a decent living from it. 

As video game streaming has become more popular, though, the number of services facilitating it has naturally increased. Now there’s more than one place you can go to watch and broadcast live video game action. But which is best for you?

We’ve delved into the features of three of the biggest video game live streaming services (YouTube Gaming, Twitch, and Mixer) to weigh up the good and bad points of each to help you choose the one that’s best for you, whether you’re a streamer or a viewer. 

YouTube Gaming

  • Pros: Familiar layout, useful DVR functions, can stream directly from Android devices.
  • Cons: No direct streaming from Xbox One, recently made it harder to become a partner.

What is it?

YouTube Gaming is essentially Google's response to Twitch. It looks and acts a lot like standard YouTube but with a darker color scheme and focuses purely on live and on-demand video game videos. 

There's a wide breadth of game-related videos to explore, ranging from simple soundtrack compilations, to walkthroughs, to cookery channels. 

Is it easy to discover new things?

The home page has Recommended, Spotlight, and Trending sections all of which draw out videos or playlists that aren’t live right at that moment but have been uploaded previously. The videos here could be anywhere from a few hours to several weeks old but it’s a great way of discovering content you may have missed.

To get the newest stuff as it’s happening you simply have to click into the ‘Live’ tab. Here you’ll be able to see the top live videos happening at that moment. It’s easy to see when a video is live considering it has a big red ‘Live’ tag in the bottom right hand corner. 

There are also sections that allow you to explore by game and by channel and they pull out the most popular titles and channels. There is, of course, a search bar to help you find something a little more specific.

Anyone familiar with the ordinary YouTube layout should find YouTube Gaming fairly easy to navigate which, naturally, makes it easier to delve in and find new videos whether they've been uploaded weeks ago or are being broadcast at that moment.

Is it easy to be discovered as a streamer?

A problem creators may face is that user subscriptions on YouTube Gaming are separate from their main account. 

When you subscribe to a channel in YouTube Gaming, it won’t be added to your subscriptions on YouTube, so though it’s good for viewers in terms of organizing their subscriptions it does mean that as a streamer your subscribers will sometimes miss a lot from your YouTube Gaming account, especially if they're more inclined to watch things on standard YouTube. 

This isn't so much a problem with being discovered as it is a problem with being re-discovered. 

That said, those who have a large following on YouTube will probably find it easier to transfer this audience to YouTube Gaming than Twitch as it's much more familiar and closely aligned.  

In addition, though subscriptions don't cross-over, any content uploaded to YouTube Gaming will also appear in search on standard YouTube but not vice versa which does make it more likely those interested in the content you're uploading are going to be able to find you via search and recommendations.

How's the viewing experience?

YouTube Gaming’s player is very similar to YouTube’s standard player, pulling up related videos and other videos from the creator you’re watching to catch your attention. Rather than underneath the videos, the comments section is to the right of the video which means you can continue watching while you read the comments (something that’s obviously essential during live streams). 

In-stream DVR is also useful for viewers as it means they can go back up to 3 hours in a live stream if they show up late to the party. You can also pick the quality you’d like to watch in, which is especially useful if you don’t have an internet connection that’s up to a high quality stream. 

You can watch on mobile, PC, and on your consoles. 

How's the streaming experience?

Streaming on YouTube Gaming is fairly simple and can be done directly through the app on your PlayStation 4 console or on an Android smartphone (this isn’t currently possible on iOS devices). Unfortunately, there’s no live streaming straight from Xbox One consoles like on Twitch and you’ll have to use a capture card for this. 

On PC you’ll need an encoder but YouTube has plenty of good suggestions for you. You don’t have to worry about frame rates and resolutions – YouTube detects the best stream resolution for you and transcodes to lower resolutions so that no matter what a persons’ internet connection is they can access your stream at a quality that suits them. 

What's the community and chat like?

Chat moderation is possible on YouTube Gaming but it’s a little less well-developed than on Twitch. You can, however, assign moderators to live chat and block the use of specific words or block specific users from taking part in your chat entirely. 

Of the three services we're comparing YouTube probably has the middle ground in terms of audience size. 

Can I monetize my content?

Once your channel is relatively successful your largest amount of money is likely to come from securing sponsorship deals. You'll find opportunities to partner with big gaming brands and publishers, work with them to make sponsored content whether that's incorporating their products into your videos in some way or having a full video centered around them.

Before you get to this stage, though, you have to start on ad revenue.

It’s fairly easy to monetize your content on YouTube from early on thanks to ad revenue. Once you’ve become a YouTube Partner and your channel has had more than 10,000 lifetime views you’re able to start making a small amount of revenue from ads on your videos. 10,000 is a much higher barrier than YouTube Gaming set originally and this has raised the ire of some streamers just starting out. 

Pre, post and mid-video ads will all make you some money, bearing in mind that the more impressions or views the ads get the more money you make, so having more regular viewers will generate more income though it will still be a small amount. 

YouTube has also introduced the ability to add cards to your live videos. This means that when you’re live streaming you could have a Fan Funding card appear on the screen. This would allow your fans to donate to donate money to your channel as they watch. Of course, this is really only a good way to monetize if you’re already a popular and established content creator.  

Twitch

  • Pros: Large audience means it's easier to grow a following, good chat moderation, bringing in new ways to monetize content, can stream straight from both Xbox One, PS4, and mobile.
  • Cons: Can be easy to get lost as a new streamer, no DVR.

What is it?

Twitch is the live streaming platform owned by Amazon and it's been around since 2011. It's the biggest and oldest service on here, boasting around 10 million daily active users.  

Here you'll find everything from walkthroughs, to tips and tricks and cosplay tutorials. Most large gaming events and companies have dedicated Twitch channels and you'll find it's the place to watch official events. 

Is it easy to discover new things?

Twitch’s UI is fairly neat and it’s easy to find your way around the site. Big names are featured at the top of the home page, and you can also find streams broadcasting live at that moment by game, console, and channel. And, of course, there’s a search bar if you’re looking for something more specific. 

The community is so large and diverse that you're likely to find a new channel every day and perhaps even a new interest/title. 

Twitch has made some changes that should make the service more easy to maneuver for those interested in Blizzard's Overwatch and Hearthstone. 

With Overwatch it'll now be possible to filter streams by Hero. This means that if you have a favorite Hero, you'll be able to find streams starring them much more quickly.

For Hearthstone on the other hand, it's now possible to filter games by game mode, player rank, number of wins and hero class. If you're only interested in getting tips to improve specific Hearthstone skills, this is perfect for you. 

The technology that makes this possible has come to Twitch thanks to its recent acquisition of ClipMine which uses machine learning and computer vision to identify what's on player screens. 

Is it easy to be discovered as a streamer?

Twitch is a funny one. Being so filled with well-established streamers and newbies it can be hard to get your foot on the first rung and get noticed. However, once you do start building something the potential for growth is much higher than on YouTube Gaming purely because there are so many more people watching and looking for gaming content. 

If you already have an established presence on YouTube, you may find it more rewarding to stream via YouTube Gaming rather than try to move all of your fans over to Twitch. But if you’re starting out fresh, Twitch is probably the service with the most potential if you're willing to push hard.  

How's the viewing experience?

Twitch offers a good viewing experience and the area around the video player isn’t too cluttered – you just have the chat off to the right and you can hide that if it becomes too distracting. 

You can watch on Roku, Chromecast, FireTV, on Xbox, PS4, PC and mobile. 

Something that’s a nice touch is that the video you’re watching is pulled into a smaller window when you decide to explore for something else to watch, meaning you don’t have to miss anything from the stream you’re currently watching. For some reason this is something YouTube does on its mobile app but not online. You also have control over what quality you watch the video in. 

Twitch's mobile app has recently had an update that makes it more pleasant to use and brings it more in line with the desktop experience – you might find yourself watching more on mobile than you have before. 

The Pulse discovery feed and the notification center are now in the app and the interface improvements mean it'll be easier to find and use these features. Swipe-based controls have improved navigation across the app and dark mode will be ideal for when you're watching in the evening.

If you prefer watching on your PC you can do so on the web or through Twitch's recently created desktop app for Windows and PC. This app offers all of the features you can get through Twitch on the web but adds exclusive features too. 

If you opt for the Twitch desktop app you'll find mobile app features such as Dark Mode, which should make those night time viewing sessions a little easier on your eyes.  

Something it’s lacking, though, is DVR capabilities. Although you can pause a stream you’ll still miss things from it as when you play again it jumps straight to the present rather than catching up. If you miss something in a stream you have to wait for it to be archived before you can go back through it. 

How's the streaming experience?

Streaming on Twitch is much the same as on YouTube Gaming. It’s possible through console apps and PC. 

A recent update to the mobile app has brought Twitch's app much more in line with YouTube Gaming by making it possible to stream directly from iOS and Android devices. Add in the fact that you can stream directly from your Xbox One to Twitch (which you can't do on YouTube Gaming) and Twitch certainly looks like the more egalitarian service from a streaming perspective. 

The service is able to tell you how well your internet connection is performing and what quality you’re able to stream in and will adjust automatically meaning there’s very little for you to worry about other than being entertaining. 

What's the community and chat like?

Chat moderation is pretty good on Twitch. It uses a tool called AutoMod which combines machine learning and natural language processing to identify messages that are inappropriate and will either block them entirely or flag them for later human moderation.  

Streamers are also able to ban specific words links and phrases from appearing in their stream chats as well as employ community moderators or limit chat accessibility to their subscribers. There are also official support staff available 24 hours a day. 

In its new desktop app, Twitch has added text and voice chat rooms that remain accessible even when servers are down so you never need to worry about not being able to engage with your favorite communities. It's also possible to do voice and video calling with friends and overlay these private calls into your games so you don't have to switch between tabs. 

Twitch has said that more features will be added to the app in the future and says these will include cloud storage to make it possible to access your game data from any computer. 

Can I monetize my content?

Once your channel is relatively successful your largest amount of money is likely to come from securing sponsorship deals. You'll find opportunities to partner with big gaming brands and publishers, work with them to make sponsored content whether that's incorporating their products into your videos in some way or having a full video centered around them. 

Before you get there, though, you have to start small.

Like YouTube Gaming, Twitch has a partner program that allows streamers to make money from ads. There are no hard and fast numbered requirements when it comes to becoming a partner and applications are determined on a case by case basis. The ad revenue is generally similar to YouTube Gaming’s though the overall revenue of Twitch streamers is generally higher than for those who use YouTube Gaming.

Twitch users who have achieved partner status can also make money from paid subscriptions and merchandise. With subscriptions, users choose to pay between $4.99 and $24.99 to have more access to their favorite streamers, with higher subscription fees naturally bringing bigger perks.

Merchandise sales is an interesting one. Twitch has partnered with an apparel company and if you'd like to start selling your channel's brand you can post an image of a branded T-shirt or hoodie to your channel dashboard. If someone chooses to buy one the apparel company handles everything from selling to manufacturing to shipping and you make the largest amount of the profit. 

The new affiliate program offers an easier way to make money for those just starting out and haven't reached partner levels but whose channels look promising. The threshold to access this is much lower and at the moment the money-making opportunity only takes the form of something called Bits to Cheer, though other revenue streams such as advertising and subscriptions are due to be added in the future. 

This allows viewers to pay to offer support in a streamer’s chat with the streamer getting a share of the revenue. The affiliate program will expand in future and it looks like Twitch will soon be the streaming site of choice for those hoping to make money from live streaming. 

Mixer

  • Pros: Creative interactivity features are fun for viewers and streamers, integrated PC and Xbox streaming, low latency means next to no lag for viewers, co-streaming can't be found anywhere else
  • Cons: Much smaller audience, no integrated streaming for mobile (though mobile is coming) or PS4, no DVR, can be hard to find non-live content.

What is it?

Mixer is the youngest competitor here, having been launched in early 2016 and acquired by Microsoft later that year. 

Like the other services, you'll find live streamed and previously broadcast gaming-focused content but Mixer stands apart from the rest by being a much more interactive experience for viewers. It's also the service that's likely to appeal most to Xbox and Windows 10 players as it becomes fully integrated into Microsoft's cross-platform plans. 

Is it easy to discover new things?

Mixer's interface isn’t drastically different from YouTube Gaming and Twitch. There are featured streamers, streams happening at that moment and you can search by game or by a specific channel. It’s much harder, however, to find older content that’s been broadcast previously. 

You'll also find the content on Mixer is less diverse than on YouTube Gaming and Twitch. Where the other services are large enough that you'll now find more left-field things like Cosplay guides or gaming-inspired cooking channels, Mixer is still much more focused on pure livestreaming gameplay. 

In changing the brand to Mixer, Microsoft is making some improvements to search that will be implemented soon. Viewers will now have a couple of new ways to find the most popular content on the service, firstly through a moderated channel of content called ‘Channel One’ and secondly through a new page on the Xbox One Dashboard. 

Is it easy to be discovered as a streamer?

Compared to Twitch, Mixer's audience isn’t impressive so you’ll probably find it hard to become the world’s biggest game streamer if you’re only using Mixer purely because you’re reaching less people. However, a caveat is that being slightly quieter, Mixer is a less crowded space for those just starting out and you could build a more solid audience.

How's the viewing experience?

You can watch Mixer streams on Xbox, your PC,  iOS, Android, Kindle, AppleTV, and through Google Chromecast from iOS and Android apps. 

Low latency should mean that you won’t experience any delays but if you decide not to watch in low latency you’ll also be able to select what quality you want to watch the stream in.

Being a viewer on Mixer is a much more interactive experience than with other services. This interactivity ranges from bringing sound effects into the game or voting on what actions the player should take or what weapons they should use. Interaction is rewarded and further interaction options can be unlocked.

There’s no DVR functionality like YouTube Gaming for live streams but you can access previous broadcasts like on Twitch, it's just not as easy. 

How's the streaming experience?

Mixer has a distinct advantage for PC owners in that it doesn’t require any third party broadcasting software or a capture card. Like the Twitch and YouTube apps for console, you just click a button to get started. It also works with popular third-party broadcasting apps such as OBS and XSplit, though, for those that prefer those services. 

This is the same for Xbox One owners, though there’s no app available for streaming through your mobile device or PS4 console just yet. Considering Mixer is a Microsoft service, it’s unlikely that we’ll see PS4 integration any time soon but mobile has been confirmed to be on its way. 

Mixer is also extremely low latency, meaning that interaction between streamers and viewers is almost instantaneous. This is particularly important because one of Mixer's big USPs is a higher level interactivity between streamers and viewers than any other service. According to Mixer itself there’s only ever under one second of delay.

Mixer also has an interesting new feature that allows for multiplayer co-streaming. Now, up to four streamers who are playing the same multiplayer game can stream simultaneously on one page and viewers can easily swap between them. 

What's the community and chat like?

Mixer's chat is much more interactive than the chats of YouTube Gaming or Twitch and it’s extremely fast. However, its moderation is fairly limited. Like YouTube it allows for user banning and reporting and users can also use moderation bots to keep an eye on the language used in their chats though Microsoft has said it plans to introduce ways to help streamers build a moderation staff for their channel. 

Can I monetize my content?

Once your channel is relatively successful your largest amount of money is likely to come from securing sponsorship deals. You'll find opportunities to partner with big gaming brands and publishers, work with them to make sponsored content whether that's incorporating their products into your videos in some way or having a full video centered around them. 

At its current scale, sponsors may be less inclined towards Mixer streamers for sponsorship as the audience is smaller, but this could easily change and it's important to remember that being tied to Xbox, Mixer partners may get priority when it comes to Xbox sponsorship.

When you're starting at the bottom, though, monetizing on Mixer is very similar to YouTube Gaming and Twitch. It involves becoming a partner, and to become a partner you should have more than 750 followers, a registered viewer count consistently in the 50s through whole stream for at least 2 months, a marked sign of growth and be streaming at a resolution of 720p or better. 

Once you become a partner you’ll then receive benefits like a portion of the subscription and synthesized ad revenue, priority feedback & support, test access to new features, a special forum and chat room, monthly codes to give away, and access to promotional opportunities with Xbox on its partners. 

Less users does, of course, mean that the amounts you'll get from ad revenue will be less than those you'd get from other sites. Compared to the other services, there's also a much lower barrier to entry – that's an opportunity to reap the benefits of the service before the masses join in. 

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Scientists erase fear memories in the minds of mice using light

A team of scientists working out of the University of California has successfully managed to delete a memory of fear from the minds of mice, potentially opening up another avenue for treatment in fear conditions like PTSD and neurotic phobias.

Fear is one of the essential tools for any living organism to survive. The instinct to avoid dark woods and deep water is a deep rooted fear that keeps us safe from bears and sharks.

But there are times when fear goes beyond our necessity for survival, and becomes debilitating. The ability to delete negative memories could prove life changing for people who have experienced traumatic events and have their lives negatively affected by the repercussions.

According to its findings, the team has managed to achieve this feat by using a technique called optogenetics. Mice were injected with a virus that was able to affect the activation of specific neural pathways after being exposed to light. 

Shocking results

The mice were given a fear response to sound by associating a small electric shock with a high pitched tone. To test that a fear response had been created, the mice were played the sound without the electric shock and still showed a negative reaction.

The mice were then injected with the virus that created light sensitive proteins in the section of the brain associated with that specific memory, and after the light stimulation, the mice completely lost their fear response.

This is not the first time that optogenetics has been used to try and manipulate fear. In a paper published in 2014, a team used a similar technique to reprogram a negative emotion to a positive one. 

When The Guardian spoke to Peter Giese, a professor of mental health at King’s College London, he said that this technique is still a long way off being useable in treatment of people: “Exactly how this can be applied to humans is a little bit unclear to me.”

So while this is an interesting development, there is the possibility that we're still closer to curing PTSD with technology like VR

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The best free iPhone games on the planet

The days when you had to buy a dedicated gaming rig and spend a load of cash for a quality gaming experience are long gone. Thanks to the iPhone (and iPod touch) and the App Store, you can get an excellent mobile gaming experience for just a few bucks (or quid, for that matter), or even less.

In fact, a lot of the games out there are free. But can you get great games for nothing at all, or is the ‘free’ section of the App Store just a shoddy excuse to bombard you with in-app purchases?

The answer is, of course, both. The trick is finding the gems amongst the dross, and what follows are our picks of the bunch: our top free iPhone games, presented in no particular order, including both long-time classics and brilliant cutting-edge recent releases. We’ve even included a VR game for you… aren’t you lucky?

Flick Soccer is all about scoring goals by booting a ball with your finger. It looks very smart, with fairly realistic visuals and nicely arcade-y ball movement. You can unleash pretty amazing shots as you aim for the targets, and occasionally bean a defender.

The game includes several alternate modes, providing a surprising amount of variation on the basic theme. There’s a speed option that involves flicking at furious speed, and the tense sudden-death Specialist, which ends your go after three failed attempts to hit the target.

Rather more esoteric fare also lurks, demanding you repeatedly hit the crossbar, or smash panes of glass a crazy person has installed in the goalmouth.

Like real-world sport on the TV, Flick Soccer is a bit ad-infested. You can, though, remove ads with a one-off $0.99/99p/AU$1.99 IAP, or – ironically – turn them off for ten minutes by watching an ad.

Drop Wizard Tower is a superb mobile take on classic single-screen arcade platform games like Bubble Bobble. Your little wizard has been thrown in jail by the evil Shadow Order, and must ascend a tower over 50 levels to give his enemies a good ‘wanding’ (or something.)

It’s all very cute, with dinky pixelated enemies, varied level design (skiddy ice; disappearing platforms; watery bits in which you move slowly), and fast-paced boss battles against gargantuan foes.

Most importantly, it’s very much designed for mobile. You auto-run left or right, and blast magic when landing on a platform. Said blasts temporarily stun roaming enemies, which can be booted away, becoming a whirling ‘avalanche’ on colliding with cohorts.

The auto-running bit disarms at first – in most similar games, the protagonist stays put unless you keep a direction button held. But once the mechanics click, Drop Wizard Tower cements itself as a little slice of magic on your iPhone.

This blast from the past (of PC gaming) masquerades as a racer, but often feels like you’re hunting prey – albeit while encased in a suit of speeding metal.

The freeform arenas find you in a dystopian future where people and cows blithely amble about while deranged drivers smash each other to bits. Victories arrive from completing enough laps, wrecking all your opponents, or mowing down every living thing in the vicinity.

In the 1990s, this was shocking to the point of Carmageddon being banned in some countries. Today, the lo-fi violence seems oddly quaint. But the game’s tongue-in-cheek humor survives, sitting nicely alongside bouncy physics, madcap sort-of-racing, and deranged cops attempting to crush you into oblivion should you cross their path.

One Tap Rally distills the top-down mobile racer into a one-thumb effort. Press the screen and you accelerate; let go and you slow down. In the nitros mode, you can also swipe upward for an extra burst of speed.

It feels a bit like slot-racing, but the tracks are organic and free-flowing, rather than rigid chunks of plastic. Learning each bend and straight is essential to get around without hitting the sides – important because such collisions rob you of precious seconds.

You’re also not alone – One Tap Rally pits you against the online ghosts of other players. Each time you better your score, you improve your rank on the current track, ready to face tougher opponents. This affords an extra layer of depth to what was already an elegant, playable mobile racer.

Crazy Taxi is a port of a popular and superb Dreamcast/arcade title from 1999. You belt around a videogame take on San Francisco, hurling yourself from massive hills, soaring through the air like only a crazy taxi can, and regularly smashing other traffic out of the way.

Given the ‘taxi’ bit in the title, fares are important. Getting them where they want to go in good time replenishes the clock. Excite them and you’re awarded bonuses. Go ‘crashy’ rather than ‘crazy’ and the fare will take their chances and leap out of your cab, leaving you without their cash.

Crazy Taxi looks crude, but still plays brilliantly, and even the touchscreen controls work very nicely. For free, you must be online to play, however – a sole black mark in an otherwise fantastic port (and one you can remove with IAP).

Yeah Bunny is an enjoyable platform game featuring a speeding rabbit, who blazes along in a cartoon world, collecting carrots, grabbing keys, and trying to not get impaled on the many spikes some irresponsible dolt has left lying about.

It’s an auto-runner, so controls boil down to tapping the screen to jump at the most opportune moments. This nonetheless affords you plenty of control, such as double-jumping in mid-air for extra distance, or wall-jumping like a bunny ninja.

The game looks superb, with plenty of neat touches like the smoke trail behind the rabbit. And although it can be frustrating when the furry hero is spiked yet again, you can always continue your progress by watching an ad or dipping into your reserve of collected carrots.

In Fish & Trip, you command a single smiling fish, happily swimming in the ocean depths. Using your finger, you direct the fish towards eggs and other stragglers, the latter of which join you to gradually form a school. Unfortunately, everything else in the sea is hungry for a fish dinner.

At first, you’ll spot spiky anemones and the occasional sluggish green fish with big teeth. But eventually, you’ll be zig-zagging through claustrophobic seas, trying to find new friends to keep your school alive, and avoiding massive sharks that show up to the theme from Jaws.

It’s all rather simple, and may eventually pall. But in the short term at least, Fish & Trip is one of those wonderful and rare iPhone games pretty much guaranteed to plaster a smile on your face.

Topsoil, like its subject matter of gardening, is something that only really works if you’re willing to put in the investment. And that’s because it’s a puzzler that’s easy to grasp within seconds, but that rewards long-term play, as you slowly master new strategies to lengthen your games.

The board is a four-by-four grid, into which you add plants. Every four moves you can harvest a plant – or group of adjacent plants – which turns the soil. A reckless approach soon leaves you with non-contiguous chunks of land and no chance of removing loads of plants at once.

Even when planning ahead, the game’s inherently random nature can rapidly end a game. But Topsoil’s charm and gradual drip-feeding of new items to plant makes for a leisurely and enduring brain-teaser ideal for filling spare moments.

There’s a lot going on in 3D racer NASCAR Heat Mobile. There’s the racing bit, obviously, which is rather nicely done. You find yourself on an oval of tarmac, attempting to slipstream and weave your way to the checkered flag, avoiding a horrible pile-up along the way. It all looks rather smart, even if vehicle movement is occasionally suspect; the controls are simple and responsive too.

Away from the racing, you can delve into a meta-game of sorts, erecting buildings to generate resources that support your little race team’s efforts. This can be a bit of a distraction, but adds depth to the game.

And while the entire package doesn’t hold a candle to the madcap racing in the likes of Asphalt, it works nicely if you fancy speeding along in a manner that’s a bit more grounded.

rvlvr. is an easy game to dismiss. Despite the pleasant piano soundtrack and clear visuals, it doesn’t seem like anything special. You get a bunch of interlocking circles with dots on, and must select and rotate them so the puzzle matches the image at the top of the screen. Easy!

Only rvlvr. is anything but. Once you’ve blazed through the initial levels, everything becomes a mite more complicated. You end up staring at half a dozen or more rings with dots liberally sprinkled about, realizing one wrong move might wreck everything you’ve to that point worked so hard for.

This mix of progression and challenge, alongside rvlvr’s quiet elegance, will keep it rooted to your home screen. And that you can skip any of the 15,000(!) puzzle combinations is a nice touch, ensuring you won’t remain stuck on a single test you can’t get your head around.

There’s ambition at the heart of Full of Stars, which so easily could have been yet another run-of-the-mill tap-based survival game.

Much of your time is spent in space, tapping screen edges to deftly weave your ship through space debris. When possible, you scoop up stardust to charge up your weapons system and a hyperdrive that blasts you towards your destination at serious speed.

But Full of Stars is also a role-playing game of sorts, finding you immersed in a plot that puts humanity on the brink. Along with your deft arcade skills, you’ll need to manage resources and make vital decisions to ensure your survival.

It can get repetitive, and the arcade sections are sometimes harsh, but Full of Stars is a commendable effort at trying something different – a story-driven journey that demands both arcade and strategic smarts.

Swordigo is a love letter to the classic side-scrolling platform adventures that blessed 16-bit consoles. You leap about platforms, slice up enemies with your trusty sword, and figure out how to solve simple puzzles, which open up new areas of the game and move the plot onwards.

The plot is, admittedly, nothing special – you’re embarking on the kind of perilous quest to keep evil at bay that typically afflicts videogame heroes. But everything else about Swordigo shines.

The virtual controls are surprisingly solid, the environments are pleasingly varied, and the pace ranges from pleasant quiet moments of solitude to intense boss battles you’ll struggle to survive. All in all, then, a fitting tribute to those much-loved titles of old.

It appears we’ve got to the stage where taping up boxes is considered a viable subject for an iOS game. Bizarrely, though, Tape it Up! appeals.

It takes place on an endless scrolling conveyor belt, with your little dispenser leaping from box to box as you swipe. It’s easy to grasp, but tough to survive when everything’s moving at breakneck speed.

Grab enough coins and you unlock rather more esoteric dispensers that give the game a surreal edge. You might end up sealing boxes with milk, while cows moo in the background, or controlling a little console-style dispenser while an exciting-looking shoot ’em up taunts you by playing itself below.

Ah well – everyone knows taping up boxes is more fun than blowing up spaceships, right?

Playing football on your own can be dull – that is, unless you’re the sporty hero of Footy Golf. As ever, scoring is the main aim – and there’s a goal to be found somewhere on each course. But along the way, you can also collect coins someone’s generously left lying around.

The controls are straightforward (aim with a directional arrow and then let rip); much of the challenge comes in trying to maximize your star rating by reaching the goal using the fewest possible kicks. You’ll also have to navigate increasingly complex courses as you move through a city, caverns, a factory, and a scorching desert. 

The game’s a bit ad-infested, with a mildly hateful level unlock mechanism that encourages grinding, but played in bite-sized chunks, it’s definitely more ‘match winner’ than ‘own goal’.

You know when a game’s entire App Store description is “an exciting new thumb-sport” that you’re probably not heading for a title with oodles of depth.

And so it proves to be with Jelly Juggle, which is more or less a one-thumb take on Pong that you play by yourself.

Here, a little fish swims in a circle whenever you press the screen, aiming to keep a square jelly in play. If you don’t think that’s hard enough (and, frankly, it is – this game’s like juggling at speed), crabs eventually mosey on in to complicate matters, and new levels open up where you’re juggling multiple jellies.

A simple title, then, but one with immediacy (given how simple it is to grasp) and relentless intensity. Plus, games are short enough that you can probably have several attempts to beat your high score while waiting in a queue at the grocery store.

It’s always the way: there you are, a mage, supplying everything for your town’s increasingly slovenly citizens, when the ruckus from a particularly rowdy party causes a beaker of something potent to fall into your cauldron, blowing up your tower and turning you into a living skeleton. A typical Friday, really.

In Just Bones, the skeleton appears to be in a kind of Groundhog Day scenario, collecting up his various parts across tiny 2D platform game worlds, before flinging himself into a portal and repeating the process somewhere new.

It’s all very silly, but also a novel take on a platform game; and for those who like a challenge, there are some seriously tough speedrun targets to beat.

In this auto-running platformer, titular hero Yobot dodders about cavernous rooms within a robot manufacturing plant. Using his not-very-super powers of jumping and being able to stop a bit, you must help him to the exits, grabbing switches and keys along the way.

The stopping aspect of Yobot Run is complicated by you only having limited stop power – you can’t just sit there for ages, waiting for a moving platform to be just so.

The result is a game where you’re always anxiously searching for a route to the next waypoint, trying to avoid dying on one of the plant’s many hazards.

(Although, frankly, someone needs to have a word with the architect, given the number of spikes the plant has, and the exits being on impossible to reach platforms.)

Although, at its core, this is a fairly standard lane-based survival game (swipe to avoid traffic; don’t crash), Dashy Crashy has loads going on underneath the surface. It’s packed full of neat features, such as pile-ups, a gorgeous day/night cycle, and random events that involve maniacs hurtling along a lane, smashing everything out of their way.

It also cleverly adds value to mobile gaming’s tendency to have you collect things. In Dashy Crashy, you’re periodically awarded vehicles, but these often shake up how you play the game. For example, the cop car can collect massive donuts for bonus points, and an army jeep can call in tanks – just like you wish you could when stuck in slow-moving traffic.

Flinging a plastic disc about isn’t the most thrilling premise for a game, which is why it’s a surprise Frisbee Forever 2 is so good. The game finds a little toy careening along rollercoaster-like pathways, darting inside buildings and tunnels, and soaring high above snow-covered mountains and erupting volcanos.

You simply dart left and right, keeping aloft by collecting stars, and avoiding hazards at all costs – otherwise your Frisbee goes ‘donk’ and falls sadly to the ground. Grab enough bling and you unlock new stages and Frisbees.

This game could have been a grindy disaster, but instead it’s a treat. The visuals are superb – bright and vibrant – and the courses are smartly designed. And even if you fail, Frisbee Forever 2 lobs coins your way, rewarding any effort you put in.

Pixel Craft takes no prisoners. No sooner have you found your feet in your little auto-firing spaceship than hordes of aliens blow you into so much stardust.

Before long, you clock formations and foes, learn to dodge huge arrows fired by a massive space bow, figure out how to avoid kamikaze ships, and discover how to best an opponent that’s apparently ambled in, lost from arcade classic Caterpillar. Then you face a massive boss and get blown up again.

It’s staccato at first, then – even grindy. But Pixel Craft has a sense of fun and urgency that makes it worth sticking with. The aesthetics and controls are impressive, and death always feels fair – to be blamed on your fingers failing you.

But with perseverance comes collected bling and ship upgrades. Then you’re the one dishing out lessons in lasery death!

(At least until you meet the next boss.)

Depending on your way of looking at things, Narcissus is either a weird platform game for one or an amusing 50-level leapy game for two.

The basics are essentially based on the game Canabalt – Narcissus leaps from platform to platform, lest he fall down a gap and go splat. But if you recall your Greek mythology, Narcissus had a reflection; in this game, the reflection is visible on the screen.

The snag is the world in which the two characters jump isn’t a mirror image. For the single player, this makes for a tough challenge, keeping track of two tiny leapers, who often need to jump at different times. With a friend, it’s easier, so long as you don’t hurl your iPhone at a mirror should one of you badly mis-time a jump.

If you’ve played Super Dangerous Dungeons, you’ll be well aware developer Jussi Simpanen knows how to make a cracking platform game. Even so, Heart Star is a disarmingly charming treat.

You aim to guide two friends to a goal in each of the 60 tiny single-screen levels. The chums are typically surrounded by platforms, spikes, and switches – and that’s before you consider the perilous drops into a bottomless void. Also, there’s usually no obvious way for both to reach the goal.

It’s a head-scratcher until you start utilizing Heart Star’s world-swapping. Prod a button to switch character, whereupon the other friend’s platforms vanish. With a combination of brainpower, deft finger-work, and having the friends collaborate – often by one hopping on the other’s head – a solution should present itself, allowing you to continue on your journey.

It’s another vertically-scrolling endless survival game, where you’re pursued by a world-eating evil, but Remedy Rush is novel in subject matter and the way in which it plays.

The basics are familiar: you direct the protagonist by swiping about, aiming to keep ahead of your inevitable demise for as long as possible. But in Remedy Rush, you play as an experimental remedy (such as a cookie or sunglasses) exploring a grid-like infected body.

As you scoot about, toxins are destroyed to open up pathways, and health bursts can be collected to take out any cells and germs that are in your way. Over time, the host gets sicker and the fever more ferocious; when the end comes, you can try again with a new remedy, each one having its own game-altering side-effect.

King Rabbit has some unorthodox enemies. Having kidnapped his rabbit subjects, said foes have dotted them about grid-based worlds they’ve filled with meticulously designed traps.

Mostly, this one is a think-ahead puzzler, with loads of Sokoban-style box sliding. But instead of being purely turn-based fare, King Rabbit adds tense swipe-based arcade sections, with you running from scary creatures armed with rabbit-filleting weaponry.

Really, this isn’t anything you won’t have seen before, but King Rabbit rules through its execution. Visually, everything’s very smart, from the clear, colorful backgrounds to the wonderfully animated hero (and the little jig he does on rescuing a chum). But the puzzles are the real heroes, offering a perfect balance of immediacy and brain-scratching.

This one’s not freaky, nor is it even a racing game – so, sorry for luring you in with that. Instead, Freaky Racing is an endless runner of sorts. With visuals that appear to have lumbered in from 1981, the game has you steer a blocky black car along a vertically scrolling track. The problem is, you haven’t got any brakes – and things speed up really quickly.

Before long, you’re weaving through chicanes, avoiding your doddering racing chums, and trying to avoid going near the road edges, which are apparently made from some kind of material that makes cars instantly explode. Chances are, you won’t last long in Freaky Racing’s strange little world, but it’s a weirdly compelling title that’ll keep you coming back for more.

There’s a bit of cheating going on in Moveless Chess. Although your opponent plays a standard game, you’re some kind of wizard and apparently don’t want the hassle of moving pieces.

Instead, you’ve limited action points, which are used to transform pieces you already have on the board. (So, for example, with three points, you can cunningly change a pawn into a knight.) The aim remains a game-winning checkmate, and, presumably, avoiding the ire of your non-magic opponent.

It’s chess as a puzzler, then, and with a twist that’ll even make veterans of the game stop and think about how to proceed at any given moment.

After all, when you get deep into the game’s challenges, you might find wizarding powers don’t always make for a swift win when you can’t move your pieces.

We’re sort of in Crossy Road territory here, but instead of a chicken hopping along an endless landscape of roads and rivers, Redungeon finds a little knight dumped in a seemingly infinite dungeon full of traps.

Credit to whoever wanted to make the knight suffer, because said traps include endless inventive ways to kill someone, from squelching blobs of goo to massive metal panels that slam together, squashing flat anyone daft enough to get in their way.

As ever, you’re being chased by some kind of unrelenting evil (here depicted by loads of spooky red eyes) and so can’t hang about.

As such, you’ll mostly fail by swiping the wrong way when in a panic, thereby impaling your knight. Still, grab enough bling on your journey and you can upgrade your character (and unlock new ones), giving them a fighting chance – well, at least an extra 30 seconds.

In Icarus – A Star’s Journey, you help a fallen star get back to the heavens. To make each little leap upwards, you drag back and release to catapult the star, like a celestial Angry Bird. Over time, energy is used, your star eventually exploding; to avoid that, you temporarily lurk inside other stars for a quick top up.

Much of the challenge involves successfully navigating hazards – usually spinning shapes you awkwardly ricochet off of – before you burn through your health.

Grab enough orbs along the way and you can lengthen subsequent attempts through leveling up and gaining extra health. If only you could burn through the ads, too, since they obliterate the tranquil vibe – but, inexplicably, there’s no IAP for that.

Given Laser Dog’s tendency to make infuriatingly difficult games, Don’t Grind at first seems like a departure. You control a little cartoon banana, keeping it in the air – and away from massive saw blades – by tapping the screen and swiping to move a bit. It’s like a pleasant keepie-uppie effort – for a few seconds.

After that point, all hell breaks loose, with your worried-looking fruit having to escape a squishy, painful death by avoiding laser guns, rockets, and all manner of other hazards intent on shoving it towards the blades.

Collect enough stars while tapping the screen and you can unlock new victims. If you’re terrible, there are no shortcuts to bolster your collection either – the only IAP is to get rid of the ads. Brutal.

With eye-searing colors and jagged pixels, Tomb of the Mask looks like it’s escaped from a ZX Spectrum, but this fast-paced twitch maze game is very much a modern mobile effort. In a sense, it feels a bit like a speeded-up and flattened Pac-Man 256, with you zooming through a maze, eating dots, and outrunning an all-devouring evil.

But the controls here are key – a flick hurls you in that direction until something makes you stop. Hopefully, that’s a wall. If it’s a spike or an enemy, you’re dead.

The procedurally generated Arcade mode increasingly ramps up the intensity as you strive to reach the end of each tomb, while a stage-based mode pits your flicking finger against 60 deviously designed set challenges.

If you’re a fan of knocking metal balls about, you’re likely frustrated with iPhone pinball. Even an iPhone Plus’s display is a bit too small, resulting in a fiddly experience replete with eye strain. Enter PinOut!, which rethinks pinball in a manner that works perfectly on the smaller screen.

In PinOut’s neon-infused world, you play against the clock, hitting ramps to send your ball further along what’s apparently the world’s longest pinball table. Rather than losing a ball should it end up behind the flippers, you merely waste vital seconds getting back to where you were. When the clock runs out: game over.

The result is exciting and fresh, and the relatively simple mini-tables are ideal for iPhone. Moreover, the game’s immediacy makes it suitable for all gamers, overcoming pinball’s somewhat inaccessible nature.

One of those games happy to repeatedly punch you in the face, Nekosan is a brutal single-screen platformer. The premise is that the mice have stolen all the stars, and hidden them in a dungeon. It’s up to the heroic Nekosan to retrieve them.

The snag is that, unlike most platform games, Nekosan only affords you control by way of tapping anywhere on the screen. Depending on where the kittie’s positioned, said tappage might fling him into the air, have him leap from a wall, or help him bound on a mid-air switch.

You must therefore figure out how to traverse each puzzle-like level, using perfect timing to ensure the jumping feline isn’t killed. And while you do, suitably, get nine lives, you’ll find they disappear extremely rapidly.

At a glance, Super Cat Tales looks like it’s arrived from a 1980s console. Bright colors, chunky pixels, and leapy gameplay put you in mind of a Mario or Alex Kidd adventure.

But although Super Cat Tales twangs the odd nostalgia gland, the controls make it a thoroughly modern affair. Character movement happens by tapping the left or right screen edge – hold to move or double-tap to dash. While dashing, your moggie will leap from a platform’s edge; and if sliding down a wall, a tap in the opposite direction performs a wall jump.

At first, this feels confusing, as muscle memory fights these unique controls. Before long, though, this smart design dovetails with succinct levels packed with secrets, collectible cats with distinct abilities, and gorgeous aesthetics, to make for one of the best games of its type on mobile.

The Mikey series has evolved with every entry. Initially a speedrun-oriented stripped-back Mario, it then gained swinging by way of grappling hooks, before ditching traditional controls entirely, strapping jet boots to Mikey in a kind of Flappy Bird with class.

With Mikey Jumps, the series has its biggest shift yet. Scrolling levels are dispensed with, in favor of quick-fire single-screen efforts. Now, Mikey auto-runs, and you tap the screen to time jumps so he doesn’t end up impaled on a spike or plummet to his death.

It sounds reductive, but the result is superb. Devoid of cruft and intensely focused, Mikey Jumps is perfect for mobile play, makes nods to previous entries in the series (with hooks and boots peppered about) and has excellent level design that sits just on the right side of infuriatingly tough.

Minimal arcade game Higher Higher! is another of those titles that on paper seems ridiculously simple, but in reality could result in your thumb and brain having a nasty falling out.

A little square scoots back and forth across the screen, changing color whenever it hits the edge and reverses direction. Your aim is to tap a matching colored column when the square passes over it.

The snag is that the square then changes color again; furthermore, the columns all change color when the square hits a screen edge.

To add to your troubles, Higher Higher! regularly speeds up, too, thereby transforming into a high-octane dexterity and reactions test. Combos are the key to the highest scores and, as ever, one mistake spells game over.

Satellina Zero is a somewhat abstract game that borrows from endless runners and rhythm action titles. You play as a white hexagon, sliding left to right to scoop up green hexagons streaming in from the top. You can also tap, which jumps you to the relative horizontal location while simultaneously switching deadly red hexagons to green (and greens to red). It sounds complicated, but it really isn’t.

Survival is reliant on observation and quick thinking, where you must constantly ensure whatever hexagons are coming up are the right color, jump across at the perfect moment, and slide to scoop them all up. Last long enough and you unlock new modes and music.

It would have been interesting to see choreographed levels with percentage scores, rather than games comprising semi-randomized waves that always end on a single missed hexagon; nevertheless, Satellina Zero is a fresh, compelling arcade experience.

Blokout is a furious, high-speed color-matching game that punishes you for the slightest hesitation. The initial mode plonks you in front of a three-by-three grid, and you have to swap colored squares, Bejewelled-style, to make complete lines, which then vanish.

The timer is the key to the game. A clock sits in the upper-left of the screen and rapidly counts down, giving you only a few moments to complete a line. If the timer runs dry it's game over; make a line and it resets, giving you another few seconds.

The intensity is therefore always set to maximum, nicely contrasting with the game's friendly, bold colors (which amusingly turn stark black and white the instant you lose); and if you stick around, you'll find further challenges by way of boosters and tougher modes.
 

There are few arcade games as refined and perfectly considered as Forget-Me-Not – and we're talking across all platforms, not just iPhone.

The game places you in procedurally generated dungeons, tasking you with eating all the flowers, grabbing a key and making for the exit. All the while, you auto-shoot ahead, blasting away at each dungeon's denizens.

What sets the game apart from its contemporaries is its energy, vitality and variety. Multiple modes shake up strategies, and the many different foes that beam in have distinct personalities to keep the gameplay varied.

Some relentlessly home in on you, whereas others are content blowing anything around them to pieces – including the maze. Suitable for one-thumb play in portrait or landscape, Forget-Me-Not is an arcade classic.

Aptly named, given that it has loads of platforms and aims to make you panic, Platform Panic is a high-speed single-screen platform game. Whenever you enter a new screen, you’ve a split second to work out what’s going on before you forge ahead, trying to beat its various traps. As is so often the way on mobile gaming titles, a single slip up spells death.

There’s auto-runner DNA in Platform Panic, since your little character never stops running – although you can change their direction with a swipe and, crucially, leap into the air. Over many games, you’ll figure out how to beat each screen, and then it’s just a question of chaining together a number of successful attempts.

This is easier said than done, mind. Scores of over a dozen are something to be proud of in Platform Panic’s world. Still, games are short enough that when your little cartoon avatar is rudely impaled, there’s always time for another go.

One of the most absurdly generous deals we’ve ever seen on the iPhone, Cally’s Caves 3 is a monstrous platform adventure that’s given away entirely for free. Many dozens of levels across eight zones find the titular Cally searching for her parents, who’ve managed to get kidnapped by an evil genius – for the third time.

Unsurprisingly, Cally’s not overly chuffed with this turn of events, and she also happens to be worryingly heavily armed for a young pigtailed girl. She leaps about, blasting enemies, finding bling, and making for an exit, in tried-and-tested platforming fashion.

This is a tough game. Although you can have endless cracks at any given level, Cally’s Caves 3 is based around checkpoints, forcing you to not just blunder ahead. But smart level design and a brilliant weapon upgrade model keep the frustration to a minimum and ensure this is one of the best games of its type on the iPhone.

Apparently turned off by chess’s commitment to beauty, elegance and balance, the developer of Really Bad Chess set out to break it. You therefore start your first game with a seriously souped-up set of pieces: several queens, and loads of knights. Your hapless computer opponent can only look on while lumbered with a suspicious number of pawns.

One easy win later and you’re full of confidence, but Really Bad Chess keeps switching things up. Rather than the AI getting better or worse, the game changes the balance of your set-up. As you improve, your pieces get worse and the computer’s get better, until you’re the one fending off an overpowered opponent.

It’s a small twist on the chess formula, to be sure, but one that opens up many new ways of playing, whether you’re a grandmaster or a relative novice.

In Maximum Car, you careen along winding roads, smashing your chunky car into other similarly Lego-like vehicles. When possible, you lob missiles about with merry abandon, boost, drift, and generally barrel along like a lunatic. It’s a bit like a stripped-down Burnout or a gleefully violent OutRun.

Your terrorising of other road users (through near misses and blithely driving on the wrong side of the road), rewards you with coins to spend on powering up your ride. Do so and Maximum Car speeds up significantly, veering into absurd and barely controllable territory.

Takedowns (as in, smashing other cars off of the road) are also positively encouraged; destroy the same car over enough races and it’ll be unlocked for purchase.

Along with a tongue-in-cheek commentary track, this is all very silly entertainment – great for quick bursts of adrenaline-fuelled racing, and absolutely not the sort of thing to play before a driving test.

This third entry in the Dots series, Dots & Co, will be familiar to anyone who’s played the previous efforts. The aim is to collect a pre-set number of colored dots on each level, which is achieved by dragging out paths through dots of the same color. Manage to draw a square and all dots of the relevant color vanish.

Complications come by way of odd-shaped levels that often leave you with small groups of dots stranded within awkward shapes, and obstacles that need clearing. Cartoon ‘companions’ help a bit here, blasting away at the board once you’ve powered them up, and there are also a few special powers to make use of.

It’s here the charms of Dots & Co fade slightly – as the game progresses, you can’t help but feel you’re being given impossible tasks, and that an awful lot of luck is required to beat levels without resorting to buying tokens to spend on powers or extra moves. Despite this, Dots & Co remains a pleasant and engaging time sink.

They don’t come much simpler than Kubix, which sums up the aim of the game in what follows the hyphen in its full App Store name: ‘Catch the white squares and avoid the black ones’. There is, fortunately, a bit more to it than that. As you’re tilting your device to sneak past black squares and scoop up white ones the latter add to an ever-depleting energy reserve.

You’ll also regularly see squares with a question mark barging their way into the arena. Catch one when it’s white and you’ll get a nice surprise, such as all of the squares temporarily turning white. Grab one when it’s black and you’ll be in for a nasty time, trying to survive in a sea of black squares, or avoid such pixels of evil while piloting a suddenly awkwardly unwieldy white circle.

Two games in one, Big Bang Racing offers a breezy single-player trials experience on trap-filled larger-than-life tracks, and then multiplayer races across similarly crazy courses. The visuals are very smart, with your odd little alien rider imbued with plenty of personality; the controls work well, too, with two pairs of buttons for moving and rotating your bike.

The game’s infested with the usual trappings of modern freemium titles – chests; timers; in-game gold; in-app purchases – but, surprisingly, this doesn’t make much difference nor really impact negatively on the experience. With a little patience, you can play a few races every day, gradually improving your bike, winning races, and mastering courses.

Collect enough bits and bobs from chests and you can even have a go at creating and sharing your own tracks, using an excellent built-in editor.

Poker and Solitaire have been smashed together before, in the excellent Sage Solitaire, but Politaire tries something new with the combination.

At all points, you can see the next three cards from the draw pile. You then swipe away unwanted cards from your hand with the aim of those remaining and any newcomers forming a poker hand, which then vanishes, automatically bringing in more new cards.

When possible, you want to score 'combos', through multiple hands subsequently occurring with you doing nothing at all. Naturally, this requires a little luck, but there's also plenty of skill here, in terms of managing your cards and figuring out what's coming in the pile.

It sounds confusing, but give it time and it'll dig into your very soul.

For free, you generously get the entire main single-deck game, which rapidly becomes furiously addictive. Splash out for the one-off IAP ($1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99) and you unlock double-deck mode and alternate card designs, along with getting rid of occasional ads.

illi is a quaint one-button puzzle platformer that simply requires you to tap the screen to jump from ledge to ledge and collect all the crystals in a stage.

Its beautiful visuals will draw you into its simplistic yet engaging gameplay, while its puzzles will challenge you with bonus requirements and unique tricks. And there’s the 60 levels too that are sure to mesmerize and impress as you dodge through this cheeky little title.

Loop Mania is an addictive arcade game that is sure to challenge your reflexes and timing skills. In order to increase your score you need to collect as many dots as possible as your circle races around a circular loop, while avoiding bigger balls on its path.

The trick is to tap the screen to launch your ball onto the others to destroy them for extra points. Just don't tap at the wrong time or your race is over.

Choose your own path and explore the gothic avenues of the Victorian city of Fallen London. Define your destiny and craft your character’s fate with each choice you make and quest you complete.

This literary RPG boasts excellent writing that is sure to pull you into its dark yet comedic world as you befriend the locals and choose the path you think you want to go on.

Spellspire rewards you for having a large vocabulary as each dungeon you plunder requires you to come up with as many words as possible to defeat its enemies and reach that elusive treasure at the end.

The money you get from all that looting can then be used to upgrade your spells and weapons to make each word you spell deal even more damage. How many levels can you clear?

As its name implies, Looty Dungeon tests your survival skills as you loot your way through endless dungeons teeming with traps, bosses, and falling floors.

Pick up coins to purchase additional heroes, each with different powers and stats, keeping the game fresh. Hidden dangers can easily put an end to your looting, so tread carefully and carry a big sword – which is just good advice for life really, isn’t it?

Well, maybe not a sword. Perhaps a sense of self-confidence… life can sometimes be about metaphors too.

PKTBALL takes ping pong and turns into an endless arcade addiction. Outsmart your opponents to get the best score you can, get money, and unlock lots of colorful playable characters, each with their own court and soundtrack.

Once you’ve mastered the basics you can challenge your friends in local multiplayer matches or simply smash your way to the top of the leaderboards. This is the kind of game that you’ll start playing while making dinner and only look up from when the fire brigade are breaking down your door.

A kingdom of Disney characters can be unlocked in this alternative look at the popular road-crossing game – intelligently titled Disney Crossy Road.

It's a 'magical take' on a game that has been downloaded over 50 million times, and designed to attract a new raft of players.

Cross as many roads as you can and collect coins to purchase even more stars spanning various Disney films, each with their own music and world for all you film fans out there.

And as you can imagine (if you've played the 'normal' Crossy Road before), you'll see how far you can survive with your favorites from Toy Story, Lion King, Zootopia, and many more.

Colorful, casual, and addictive, Slide the Shakes is a game that stays true to its name and challenges you to slide various milkshakes onto specially marked areas on a counter without tipping them over. Simply pull back and send your glass flying and hope it lands where you want it to.

Sparkwave is a simple yet addictive game where you guide a spark of light through an endless path composed of traps, collectibles, and power-ups. You’ll need to have fast fingers if you want to stay alive as obstacles will spawn seconds before you rush into them. You can also pick up crystals to unlock new sparks and power-ups which can completely change the way you play.

The classic run-and-gun franchise takes on the tower defense genre in Metal Slug Attack. Missions in this colorful title ultimately come down to destroying your enemy’s stronghold using your own deck of troops. You can also play online with others, and go on missions to rescue prisoners, weapons, or items that can aid your campaign.

Tennis Champs Returns is a robust remake to the 1995 Amiga tennis game and brings with it plenty of great additions and mobile-friendly controls. You can move up the ranks in career mode and challenge the computer to increasingly difficult matches. Or, compete with opponents all over the world in quick bouts. Daily challenges and mini games help to keep the interest levels going.

Bring some color into a drab world in Splash Cars, a racing game that lets you drive around literally painting the town red, green, and other colors while avoiding the cops. Pick up gas to keep driving and collect coins to unlock power-ups that make completing each level’s paint requirements a whole lot easier.

A beautifully pixelated adventure, Sky Chasers requires you to use your fingers to guide your character along side-scrolling paths collecting coins and completing side-quests for his friends. Your cardboard ship has a limited fuel supply, so you’ll occasionally have to stop by checkpoints to refuel and avoid any pesky enemies that add an element of danger to your otherwise peaceful trip. Solve simple puzzles and upgrade your ship as you enjoy its rich colorful worlds.

Rust Bucket turns the concept of a turn-based game into a puzzle-like roguelike that is a blast to play. Each level requires you to navigate your way through a dungeon to reach its goal, but with every step you take, your enemies also move in different patterns. Strategy is key to surviving since you don’t want to step in front of an enemy knowing it may kill you in your next turn.

Planet Quest is a rhythm-based arcade game that has you play as an alien who abducts animals to the beat of some catchy music. Time your taps well for perfect abductions, but avoid zapping any flowers since aliens apparently don’t like them very much. Over an hour of electronic, techno, and diverse music await your ears as you aim for a better score each time you play.

Learn about clean energy as you play through beautiful worlds in The Path to Luma, a puzzler that has you traveling from planet to planet to power them back up. Rotate entire planets and use the power of natural energy like sunlight and wind to power up switches and open the way forward to your next destination. With a little hard work, dying planets come alive as you play through 20 relaxing levels.

Searching for his lost grandpa, a little boy gets lost underneath a lighthouse and now must escape from a labyrinth filled with traps and secrets. Each inventive dungeon must be rotated in order to guide the boy to the tunnel leading to the next one. You’ll need to prepare yourself for spikes, levers, crumbling platforms, and other challenges that amp up the difficulty as you try to survive Beneath the Lighthouse.

What do bears and artwork have in common? Not much, but this pairing makes for a great puzzler starring a bear whose mission is to take down various art galleries that have invaded his woods. Bears vs. Art gives you dozens of levels where you’ll need to destroy paintings, bowl over snooty patrons, or a mixture of both. A ticking clock, limited moves, and even artful traps will change things up and challenge you as you play rough.

Does Not Commute is a curious puzzler that requires you to drive cars to their destination, but the catch is that previously-solved routes play live as you figure out the next one. A timer is constantly ticking down, so not only will you need to be mindful of the traffic, but you’ll also need to be fast and pick up power-ups to extend your commute. Your driving and logic skills are sure to be tested.

Choose from one of five races and classes and take on an expansive world in Order & Chaos 2: Redemption, a robust MMORPG that is made for mobile play. Whether you team up with friends or go it alone, Redemption’s plethora of rewarding quests will keep you coming back for more as you explore the beautiful and menacing kingdom of Haradon. Daily quests, challenges, and PvP duels are sure to keep you on your toes no matter how you play.

Collect teddy bears and use them to aid you in making words in the adorable Alphabear. Daily boards and challenges require you to come up with words with the letters that appear on your screen. Each time you do, bears will populate the board and get bigger the more letters you use around them. Make the biggest bear you can and rack in the points and the bragging rights.

Down the Mountain is a bit like Crossy Road, but you’re not crossing any streets or dodging traffic. Instead, you’ll need to guide your intrepid mountaineer down blocks a la Q*bert and avoid dangerous flooring, bears, and other random obstacles that will end your descent. Open presents along the way and gather coins to unlock more colorful characters to climb down with.

Dominate your friends or random strangers in Capitals, a friendly word game that takes some strategy to master. Each time you challenge someone, you need to use the letters around your “capital” to expand your area of influence. If your enemy uses your letters, he’ll capture them and slowly start to take over. A good grasp of vocabulary and some quick thinking skills are your best tools to conquering everyone’s capital.

No one really knows why the chicken crossed the road, but Crossy Road doesn’t feature just chickens, and the reason why you’ll be crossing each dangerous street is to climb that leaderboard. Time your jumps carefully, and tap and swipe the screen to move as you collect coins to unlock new characters and hilarity. Just be sure to avoid traffic, cannon balls, gaps, and so many other random bits of danger that can end your travels in an instant.

Homage to 16-bit platformers of the past, Super Dangerous Dungeons is sure to bring you back in time with its pixelated visuals and SNES-inspired soundtrack. Forty-eight colorful levels that feature classic traps are sure to keep you challenged as you solve puzzles, turn on switches, and find that elusive key to open the door to the next one. Avoid those bottomless pits and dangerous water and you’ll be fine.

Make words as fast as you can in this fast-paced game that combines falling blocks with a bit of wordplay. The object of Coolson’s Pocket Pack is to survive for as long as you can while you make words of a set length using the letters that start falling down. Think fast and move letters around to make your way through consecutive words for extra chain combos, but take too long and the screen will overflow – game over.

We’ve seen quite a few spot-kick flick-based efforts on the iPhone, but Tiny Striker also brings to mind old-school arcade footie like SWOS. It’s all goalmouth action here, though, with you scoring from set-pieces, initially against an open goal, but eventually by deftly curling your ball past walls of defenders and a roaming ‘keeper.

The wee knitted chap from LittleBigPlanet lands on iOS, in yet another endless runner. We should yawn and hit delete, really, but Run SackBoy! Run! is absolutely gorgeous, with stunning scenery based on the LittleBigPlanet titles. The gameplay’s intuitive and simple, but inventive level design will keep you coming back time and time again.

You know that popular Fallout 4 game we’ve all been getting excited about? Why not get in the post apocalyptic mood with this Bethesda made spin-off game? Fallout Shelter sees you take control of a Vault from the game series as you try to keep all its dwellers happy whilst protecting them from the horrors of the outside world. It’s a funny little way to get excited about the upcoming game whilst also being great in its own right.

You have to give Stranded: Mars One a little time to properly get its hooks into you. At first, it appears to be yet another auto-runner. The blocky retro graphics are cute, but, well, we've seen it all before. But then you notice the smart level design, and the way in which you have to keep your little astronaut's speed up, lest they run out of oxygen. Sliding, jet-packs and wall-jumping are lobbed into the mix as the game flings increasingly complex caverns in your direction. The result ends up akin to an 8-bit Rayman in space — and that's before you've even delved into async multiplayer races!

You can’t help but get a sense of having seen it all before when first playing Fallen. Pretty soon, though, you’ll be hypnotised by its subtly engaging mix of pachinko and colour-matching, along with a pleasing soundtrack that feels like someone’s sneaked Kraftwerk into your iPhone. The game itself is simple: balls drop from the top of the screen and you must rotate your coloured wheel so they hit the right bit. Three errors and you’re done. Spin all the way round between hits and you get coins that can be spent on boosting upgrades that occasionally fall from the top of the screen.

This sweet survival game is full of character, as you assist a Victorian gent, out for his evening constitutional. The problem is it’s a bit windy, and the gent’s hat is in danger of blowing away during a gust – press the screen and he holds it in place. Each step increases your score and also the chances of seeing thoughtful comments from the hatted chap.

The Boulder Dash series has a long pedigree, but this is the first time its co-creators have teamed up since the classic 1984 original. It’s also the first time (in several attempts) the game has worked on iOS. The game itself is business as usual: dig through dirt; avoid boulders and enemies; grab gems. But it looks great, controls well, and even includes the original caves as an optional IAP.

Sky Force 2014 celebrates the mobile series’s 10th anniversary in style, with this stunning top-down arcade blaster. Your little red ship, as ever, is tasked with weaving its way through hostile enemy territory, annihilating everything in sight. The visuals are spectacular, the level design is smart, and the bosses are huge, spewing bullet-hell in your general direction.

At some point, a total buffoon decreed that racing games should be dull and grey, on grey tracks, with grey controls. Gameloft’s Asphalt 8: Airborne dispenses with such foolish notions, along with quite a bit of reality. Here, then, you zoom along at ludicrous speeds, drifting for miles through exciting city courses, occasionally being hurled into the air to perform stunts that absolutely aren’t acceptable according to the car manufacturer’s warrantee.

Logic? Pah! Sanity? Pfft! We care not for such things, yells Super Monsters Ate My Condo. It then gets on with turning the match-three genre and Jenga-style tower-building into a relentless time-attack cartoon fest of apartment-munching, explosions, giant tantrums and opera. No, really.

Most developers create games from code, but we’re pretty sure Hero Academy‘s composed of the most addictive substances known to man all smushed together and shoved on to the App Store.

The game’s sort-of chess with fantasy characters, but the flexibility within the rule-set provides limitless scope for asynchronous one-on-one encounters. For free, you have to put up with ads and only get the ‘human’ team, but that’ll be more than enough to get you hooked.

Three bushes make a tree! Three gravestones make a church! OK, so logic might not be Triple Town‘s strong suit, but the match-three gameplay is addictive. Match to build things and trap bears, rapidly run out of space, gaze in wonder at your town and start all over again. The free-to-play version has limited moves that are gradually replenished, but you can unlock unlimited moves via IAP.

While Asphalt 8 aims squarely at arcade racers, Real Racing 3 goes for the simulation jugular. Its stunning visuals drop you deep into high-quality racing action that sets new standards on mobile devices. Plenty of cars and tracks add longevity, although do be aware the game is a bit grindy and quick to hint you should buy some in-app cash with some of your real hard-earned.

Few free games are quite as polished as Hearthstone, but then this is a Blizzard game, so we hardly expected anything less.

There are dozens of card games available for iPhone, but Hearthstone stands out with high production values and easy to learn, difficult to master mechanics, which can keep you playing, improving and collecting cards for months on end. Matches don’t generally take too long either so it’s great for playing in short bursts.

Think you know stress? You haven’t experienced stress until you’ve played Spaceteam, a cooperative multiplayer game that requires you to all work together as a crew (and bark orders at your friends). Sounds easier than it is; failure to cooperate will probably end with your ship getting sucked into a black hole.

In this game, golf met solitaire and they decided to elope while leaving Mr. Puzzle Game to fill the void. What’s left is an entertaining bout of higher-or-lower, draped over a loose framework of golf scores, with a crazed gopher attempting to scupper everything. You get loads of courses for free with Fairway Solitaire Blast and can use IAP to buy more.

The clue's in the title – there's a quest, and it involves quite a lot of punching. There's hidden depth, though – the game might look like a screen-masher, but Punch Quest is all about mastering combos, perfecting your timing, and making good use of special abilities. The in-game currency's also very generous, so if you like the game reward the dev by grabbing some IAP.

We’ve no idea what’s going on in ElectroMaster, beyond a bored girl trying to avoid responsibility by killing everything in sight with electro-blasts. The game’s sort of like a twin-stick shooter but you tap-hold to charge and then release to let rip, dragging your finger about to fry your foes.

Games are short, but this is one of the most thrilling blasters on the system, despite it costing nothing at all.

Social management games are big business, but are often stuffed full of cynical wallet-grabbing mechanics. While Tiny Tower does have the whiff of IAP to speed things along a bit, its tower-building and management remains enjoyable even if you pay nothing at all, and the pixel graphics are lovely.

The hero from the insane ElectroMaster returns, but this time she appears to be tasked with feeding sentient houses roaring “HUNGRY!” in a fairly rude manner.

Local monsters amble about, which can be snared by swiping over them with a surprisingly deadly pixie dust trail, whereupon they’re handily converted into food to be collected. Much like ElectroMaster, HungryMaster feels like someone found a lost classic arcade game and squirted it into your iPhone, but forgot to charge you for it.

Take dozens of classic goals and introduce them to path-drawing and you’ve got the oddly addictive game of Score! World Goals. As you recreate stunning moments of soccer greatness, the game pauses for you to get the ball to its next spot. Accuracy rewards you with stars; failure presumably means you’re compelled to take an early bath.

Tap! Tap! Swipe! Rub! Argh! That’s the way this intoxicating rhythm action game plays out. Groove Coaster Zero is all on rails, and chock full of dizzying roller-coaster-style paths and exciting tunes. All the while, you aim for prodding perfection, chaining hits and other movements as symbols appear on the screen. Simple, stylish and brilliant.

This latest rethink of one of gaming’s oldest and most-loved series asks what lies beyond the infamous level 256 glitch. As it turns out, it’s endless mazey hell for the yellow dot-muncher. Pac-Man’s therefore charged with eating as many dots as possible, avoiding a seemingly infinite number of ghosts, while simultaneously outrunning the all-devouring glitch. Power-ups potentially extend Pac-Man’s life, enabling you to gleefully take out lines of ghosts with a laser or obliterate them with a wandering tornado.

Although there’s an energy system in Pac-Man 256, it’s reasonably generous: one credit for a game with power-ups, and one for the single continue; one credit refreshes every ten minutes, to a maximum of six, and you can always play without power-ups for free. If you don’t like that, there’s an IAP-based £5.99/$7.99 permanent buy-out.

The endless rally game Cubed Rally Redline is devious. On the surface, it looks simple: move left or right in five clearly-defined lanes, and use the ’emergency time brake’ to navigate tricky bits. But the brake needs time to recharge and the road soon becomes chock full of trees, cows, cruise liners and dinosaurs. And you thought your local motorway had problems!

There’s something delightfully trippy and dreamy about Whale Trail, which features a giant mammal from the sea traversing the heavens, powered by rainbow bubbles, collecting stars with which to attack menacing angry clouds. The game’s sweet nature disguises a challenging edge, though – it takes plenty of practice before your whale stays aloft for any length of time.

Dots looks and feels like the sort of thing Jony Ive might play on his downtime (well, ignoring the festive theme, which is probably more Scott Forstall’s style). A stark regimented set of coloured dots awaits, and like-coloured ones can be joined, whereupon they disappear, enabling more to fall into the square well. The aim: clear as many as possible – with the largest combos you can muster – in 60 seconds.

In Smash Cops, you got to be the good guy, bringing down perps, mostly by ramming them into oblivion. Now in Smash Bandits it’s your chance to be a dangerous crim, hopping between vehicles and leaving a trail of destruction in your wake. The game also amusingly includes the A-Team van and a gadget known only as the Jibba Jabba. We love it when a plan comes together!

If you’re of a certain vintage, you probably spent many hours playing Solitaire on a PC, success being rewarded by cards bouncing around the screen. Sage Solitaire‘s developer wondered why iOS solitaire games hadn’t moved on in the intervening years, and decided to reinvent the genre. Here, then, you get a three-by-three grid and remove cards by using poker hands.

Additional strategy comes through limitations (hands must include cards from two rows; card piles are uneven) and potential aid (two ‘trashes’, one replenished after each successful hand; a starred multiplier suit). A few rounds in, you realise this game’s deeper than it first appears. Beyond that, you’ll be hooked. The single £2.29/$2.99 IAP adds extra modes and kills the ads.

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