Photo: Rodrigo Galindez
App stores have become a hits-driven business. The top apps on the App Store and Google Play get far more downloads than ones down the list, which means popular apps backed by big companies have an unfair advantage.But just like there’s something special about indie films, artisan bakeries, and local boutiques, there’s something special about apps made by small groups of passionate people.
Boxfish is a great way to find what's on TV with live feeds. Its 'live windows' help you keep track of what's happening with your favourite shows. Best of all, it's in real time.
Boxfish builds its massive TV index from closed-captioning data. The company captures almost every word spoken on TV--currently 1,200 channels--and makes it searchable. That means you can actually see what people are talking about on a news or sports show, rather than relying on generic TV-guide program descriptions.
Available for: iPhone, iPad
Fog of World encourages you to explore the world around you.
The quirky new app places a layer of 'fog'--a reference to the military term 'fog of war'--over a map. The virtual fog lifts as you walk or drive around.
Fog of World turns an everyday task like walking into a fun game with achievements.
Available for: iPhone
Tweetbot is one of our favourite mobile Twitter clients available for iPhone and iPad. (There's also a desktop version for the Mac.)
The app has a neat interface, featuring creative sound alerts, animations, multiple timelines, and smart gestures.
Available for: iOS
If you take a lot of pictures then you know how easy it is to lose them in your camera roll.
Flayvr instantly fixes that problem.
The app quickly organizes your photos by date and seamlessly patches video and photos into the same collection. Best of all, Flayvr is fast and simple.
Available for: iPhone
MoviePass is like Netflix for going to actual theatres. The invitation-only service allows you to see one movie per day.
The service costs about $30 per month, depending on your location, and lets you reserve tickets from your smartphone and load them on a pre-paid card. You then swipe your card at the theatre's kiosk to receive your ticket.
Available for: iPhone (Android expected soon)
Any.do is a to-do manager that keeps you on top of all your tasks. It's simple to use and full of features to help you remember everything you need to do. Cofounder Omer Perchik started building the app because he was frustrated with his own tendency to put off tasks. Don't procrastinate on downloading it!
LetterPress is the best new word game around.
Letterpress challenges users to find words, steal tiles from your opponent and fill up the 5x5 grid with your colour, either red or blue.
The experience is fresh and fun. One complaint some people have: The app uses Apple's sometimes buggy Game centre to match you up with friends.
Clear is a very simple yet elegant to-do list app that will help you stay productive and on task. The app is beautifully designed and it feels satisfying to remove completed tasks with a simple swipe.
Notably missing is a feature that lets you back up tasks online so you can access them on your computer or other mobile device. But that's not necessarily the point with Clear. The app aims to keep things as simple as possible.
Available on: iOS
Songza creates playlists based on your mood. It is perfect for times when you don't know what to listen to.
Just select an artist or playlist and listen away.
Available for: iPhone, Android
Swift Key will change how you type on your Android.
The app automatically detects how you've typed in the past--from text messaging, mail, chat, Twitter and a few other services--and serves up suggestions on what you're going to say.
Available for: Android
Circa has an interesting take on how it presents the news to its users. Unlike most news sites and readers, which take articles written for the Web (or worse, print) and reformats them for mobile devices, its content is made up of short snippets with just the latest facts and updates--what the Circa team calls 'born on mobile' news. That way, you don't have to reread long articles summarizing everything that's happened to date with tidbits of information buried in the text.
Check the Weather is a beautifully detailed weather app. It's so easy to use and it looks great.
One of the app's best features is that it integrates one of our other favourite weather apps, Dark Sky. This means that Check the Weather can tell you down to the minute when it will rain.
Available for: iOS
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