There are some big, big names in the app world, with quirky, innovative start-ups now regularly changing hands for the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Software developers, internet giants and mobile manufacturers alike long ago realised that a well-designed app is a brilliant way of earning revenue, mining data or simply making their devices look good.
While the likes of Instagram, Flipboard, and Snapchat make headlines, there is a hidden tier in the app stores of the smartphone world which is populated by some brilliantly made, well-though out apps that never quite get the attention that others achieve. Here we take a look at five of the best that may have slipped under your radar.
While Google may have trounced all comers with its new Maps app for iOS, there are some features which the search giant hasn’t yet included. Maps+ is a handy addition to you phone which uses Google’s navigational software and embellishes it with a few extra functions.
Rather brilliantly, users can add location-based alerts and plan routes with multiple destinations, two simple features which greatly enhance your smartphone’s mapping capabilities.
While there’s little doubt that Google itself will eventually expand the functionality of its iOS app, Maps+ offers an interesting alternative for the time being. Available for iOS.
Another location-based offering, Glympse is simply a convenient way of showing someone exactly where you are. The app allows you to share details of your location via text, email, Facebook or Twitter which will then be presented as a map view to the recipient.
As a thoughtful privacy measure, a time limit can be set on any ‘glympse’ so that your location is only shared for a particular period. Another feature of this well thought-out service is that anyone who receives a ‘glympse’ doesn’t have to have the app installed and can view your location through their mobile browser. Available for iOS and Android.
3. Naked Browser
While Naked Browser can’t possibly compete with the likes of Google’s Chrome, it does something that is quite unique. Offering an incredibly simple interface, the app strips away many of the features seen in mobile browsers in an attempt to save on memory and load pages faster.
Useful for mid-range and budget handsets with slower processors, Naked Browser‘s interface also slides away during use giving full access to the page being displayed.
While many apps are designed to make the most of high-end smartphone performance, Naked Browser is a well-designed piece of software which spares a thought for those with older or less costly handsets. Available for Android.
2. Squarespace Note
Whilst there must be thousands of note-taking apps available in the various app stores, Squarespace’s Note works differently to most and is better for it. Rather than working as a standalone which saves and organises its own notes, the app works as a front-end for a range of other services.
Opening the app brings up a great-looking, minimalist interface into which notes can be typed. After notes have been scribed, the clever part comes into play – Note links to services such as Evernote and Dropbox and automatically saves those notes to them rather than storing them within the app itself. Notes can also be sent to Twitter or your own email account.
Note really offers a well-designed, one-stop method of quickly inputting information to a variety of other services. Available for iOS.
When we’ve reviewed Windows Phone handsets one of the most consistently impressive features is the People Hub, which brings all your contacts together and keeps you up to date with messages, status updates and so on.
Brewster brings much of this functionality to iOS, offering an attractive and intuitive interface which pulls all your friends and acquaintances details and interactions together. Linking to your phone’s contacts and the major social networks, Brewster pulls through a profile picture for each person and lists all their contact details in one profile page.
The app has an intuitive feature that allows it to match contact’s names and automatically pull their information together, as well as allowing the user to do this manually.
For instance, a friend may have their full name listed on their Facebook page but their number might be stored under a nickname in your phone book; Brewster allows you to merge these contacts so the details are all in one location.
A little known app that is well worth having a look at, Brewster looks great, works efficiently, and brings some of the WP People Hub functionality to iOS. Available for iOS.