App Focus: Best Apps May '17 Edition

Do you still install new apps? I personally think we have reached peak apps, a phenomenon also called as app fatigue. With stores from Apple and Google riddled with millions of apps, developers often face the challenge of making something that offers genuine value to its users. Otherwise, why bother? But this is also becoming a harder problem to surmount with too many similar apps vying for attention. That perhaps explains why next-gen apps are no apps at all. Instead they are add-ons to existing apps like Facebook Messenger and WeChat where they reside as bots and extensions, and as integrations to smart voice-assisted gizmos like Amazon Echo or Google Home.

I also detest any service when it restricts itself to one platform. While I have no problems with a mobile-first approach, the lack of a web app leaves you hamstrung by not being able to access the information you seek when you are using a laptop. What's even more surprising (and frustrating) is Google has jumped aboard this bandwagon with YouTube Music, Allo/Duo and Trips.

Readfeed (Android/iOS) - A good alternative to Goodreads that's yet to have a web presence.

Wallpapers (Android only) - Wallpaper apps are one too many on Android, but Google's own take brings together beautiful images from Google Earth, Google+, 500px and a whole bunch of other partners.

Microsoft Flow (Android/iOS/Web) - Microsoft's own version of IFTTT and task automation unsurprisingly integrates well with a number of services, including from Google and Facebook.

Microsoft Pix (iOS only) - A smart camera app that works by constantly tweaking different camera settings to take the best shot for you.

Microsoft To-Do (Android/iOS/Windows/Web) - The newest to-do list app on the block and Wunderlist successor.

Microsoft Translator (Android/iOS/Web) - The fourth Microsoft app on this list only because I was utterly gobsmacked by how accurate the translation turned out to be when compared to Google Translate. What's more, you can even have group conversations by speaking or typing in your language, while "other participants will see your messages in their own language."

Stitcher (Android/iOS/Web) - Remember Umano, a startup that offered voiceovers for news articles? It was shut down shortly after Dropbox acquired it in 2015. And like me, if you are looking for an alternative, Stitcher fits the bill. Alternative: Funnel (iOS only)

Nuzzel (Android/iOS/Web) - A news aggregator that curates news based on what your friends are reading and sharing. Sure it requires you to sign in with your Facebook or Twitter account for a more personalised experience, but even if you don't, it lets you access hundreds of feeds spanning different categories.

Bear (iOS only) - For anyone seeking a simple, clean writing experience on iOS and macOS. Although the core version is free, advanced features like cross-device sync and themes cost US$ 1.49 a month.

Tradewise (iOS only) - If you have an avid interest in share markets, Tradewise is a handy app that delivers financial news and alerts for the portfolios you own. Also comes with Robinhood integration.

Podcast Go (Android only) - An elegant (ad-supported) podcast player for Android that allows you to find, download and listen to podcasts offline.

Peek Launcher (Android only) - While no launcher can match the customisability offered by Nova Launcher, Peek is worth giving a try if you are in the mood for an extremely lightweight home screen launcher replacement. Alternative: Microsoft's Arrow Launcher

Today Weather (Android only) - A beautifully designed weather app for Android.

Samsung Internet Beta (Android only) - Google Chrome has a lot of interesting features (including background playback, offline reading etc.), but so does Samsung's beta version of its browser which has built-in support for ad-blocking (something Google is planning to implement on its own) among others.

Blackbox (iOS only) - Both clever and frustrating, this is one game that will have you hooked.

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