Where would we be without apps - those downloadable bundles of joy that make our mobile lives better? As it’s almost the end of the year, we thought we’d award some well-deserved recognition to a few of our favourites.
Best photo app - Prisma
Prisma (free on iOS and Android) really is something special. It doesn’t just make your photos look better – it turns them into works of art. Simply choose a photo from your camera roll, and let one of Prisma’s filters go to work on it. The results can be spectacular.
New filters have been added regularly since day one, and there’s now a great selection. Some are based on well-known artists and works of art, and others can make your photos look like mosaics or cartoon drawings. It’s well worth playing around with the filters and exploring each one.
Best app update - Snapchat
SnapChat (free on iOS and Android) really upped its game this year, with the launch of its ‘Chat 2.0’ update back in March. This added a whole stack of great new features to the app, including video and audio calling, video notes (reaction GIFs that you can send within a chat) and over 200 stickers. Add face-swapping and its famous lenses into the mix, and you’ve got a messaging app you can have some real fun with.
Best travel app – Google Trips
There’s no other travel app quite like Google Trips (free on Android and iOS). It’s a trip planner and travel guide all in one, and it springs into action the moment you book your holiday, automatically organising your travel ticket and hotel reservations into a trip folder.
You can view in-depth guides to more than 200 cities around the world, and you’ll also be given suggestions based on your personal Google history. Best of all, Google Trips has been designed for offline use, so you can download your maps, directions and other important information before you head off on your travels.
Best face-swapping app - MSQRD
If you’ve used Snapchat’s lenses, you’ll feel right at home with the Facebook-owned MSQRD (free to download on iOS and Android). Fire it up, choose from its unique filters and transform your selfies and videos into something out of this world. There’s a range of different human, animal and zombie faces to try on, or what about the cool night-vision mode where you shake your head to put your goggles on? And if face-swapping is your thing, there’s a filter for it here too. Enjoy!
Best free VR app – The Bohemian Rhapsody Experience
2016 has been a landmark year for VR. If you’re looking for a free app that showcases its capabilities, then treat yourself to The Bohemian Rhapsody Experience (free on iOS and Android). It takes you on a journey through Queen’s classic rock anthem, and it’s a thing of beauty.
There’s a jaw-dropping mix of imagery to enjoy, from a cartoon-style Queen concert to a neon-lit trip into outer space. Some elements in the app respond to where you look and how you move around, so it’s well worth repeated viewings.
The Bohemian Rhapsody Experience has been created by Queen themselves (with help from Google Play and Enosis VR), and it’s a fantastic tribute to the creativity and imagination of Freddy Mercury and his bandmates.
Game of the year – Super Mario Run
Yes, we’ve made Super Mario Run (free on iOS) our game of the year, even though it’s just been launched on iPhone and iPad. It’s Mario. When has he ever let us down?
Super Mario Run is his first mobile outing, and we love it already. This is no mere left-to-right endless running game – it’s got much more in common with the Super Mario Bros. games we all know and love. It looks amazing, has real depth to it, and we’re hooked already. It’s our game of the year.
Hype of the year – Pokémon GO
The world went crazy for Pokémon GO (free on iOS and Android) when it launched. Suddenly, everyone’s priority in life was trying to catch ‘em all. People even gave up their jobs to go Pokémon hunting full time, according to some news reports.
And it really was big news for a while. Debate raged over whether Pokémon GO was a good thing (as people were walking more and getting fit), or whether it was a bad thing (as people were walking more and getting lost).
But then the hype died down. There were complaints about repetitive gameplay, bugs and glitches, and the fact that popular features like the tracker simply just disappeared. If The Lowdown office is representative of the UK population, literally nobody plays it anymore. But boy, was it fun for a few weeks.
What were your favourite apps of 2016? When did you stop playing Pokémon GO? Drop us a line and share your comments below.