The best apps of 2012: iOS, Android or Windows - our top ten this year

 

Apps: where do you start? Mobile apps for the Android, Apple and Windows Phone platforms have multiplied massively during 2012.

The latest total for iOS, Apple’s software for its iPhone, iPod and iPad hardware is over 700,000. But Android has caught up, matching that number last month. Windows Phone is way behind, as is BlackBerry. But the point is every phone and tablet platform has more apps than you can possibly use, even if the very one you have set your heart on isn’t always there.

Apple may no longer have a big lead in total numbers, but the company is keen to stress that it has 275,000 apps optimised for iPad, while Android has mostly phone apps which are scaled up for larger screens.

And it’s still the case that Android’s store, called Google Play, can’t match Apple’s for consistency of quality – though it’s certainly no longer the Wild West it was a few years ago, with untested apps that would work well on one handset and quit on another.

As for Windows, there’s a quick way to spot a really good app: anything beginning with Nokia. The Finnish company’s adoption of Microsoft’s OS brought with it great benefits in terms of mapping, music and other apps designed immaculately by Nokia’s engineers.

Read on for our guide to ten of the best apps of the year.

Google Maps

iOS, Android. Free

Apple rarely puts a foot wrong, but it went down a cul-de-sac when it replaced Google’s mapping program with its own. Unforgivably, the new app had erroneous information in it. It’s not that there was that much, necessarily, but the perception was that you just couldn’t trust it. The app is improving on a near daily basis, but if you want maps that are reliably accurate, the free download of Google Maps is the way to go.

Google had held back certain features from its iPhone app – one of the reasons Apple wanted rid. In its Android app it had turn-by-turn navigation, StreetView and more. Now, Google has put them into the iOS version, so iPhone users have them after all. Funny how things work out.

Nokia Maps

Windows Phone, Symbian. Free

Only available in full form on Nokia handsets, this is a compelling app in one way Google cannot match: overseas use. With Nokia you can download the maps easily in advance, and they’re free. One of the bugbears of overseas phone use is the exorbitant level of roaming charges, but Nokia’s phones allow you to turn off roaming and still find your way around. Genius.

Clear

iOS, £1.49

This is a to-do app that looks gorgeous and works brilliantly. Swipe, pinch and pull to complete, add and delete items easily, complete with cool sound effects. It’s easy to navigate, customise and more. You can even save to-do lists remotely so they’re updated on multiple iDevices. It’s deeply satisfying to use. Note that Android users can turn to Koalcat’s Clear which is surprisingly similar.

Where’s My Perry?

iOS, 69p, Android 64p.

This is one of the most addictive time wasters to arrive recently. You must help Perry (a platypus secret agent, naturally) to move through a series of underground dungeons. Spray water through channels in the earth to progress. But you need to avoid poisons, freeze or steam the water and direct it with great precision. Oh, and there are three gnomes to be dissolved in each chamber, too. More than 80 puzzles, with more arriving regularly, will keep you hooked.

Netflix

iOS, Android, Windows Phone. £5.99 a month

Once you’ve paid Netflix’s monthly subscription, you get to watch it on a range of devices, from TVs to games consoles to computers. And most phones and tablets. There is a huge catalogue of movies and TV series – Breaking Bad is a very popular Netflix choice – that’s growing all the time. True, it doesn’t have the latest Hollywood blockbusters, but the selection is vast, and growing.

Angry Birds Star Wars

iOS, Android, Windows Phone. From free

If this sounds like a crass attempt at moneymaking by shoving two big names together, you’re wrong. It has the same mechanics as earlier Angry Birds games (catapult different birds at naughty green piggies) but now there are piggies dressed as Darth, familiar vehicles decked out ingeniously and so on. Tremendous fun.

The Sonnets

iPad, £9.99

One of the most rewarding apps yet. Scores of big-name actors perform Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets. Beautifully. There are notes, facsimile editions and scholarly introductions. But you don’t need any of those as you listen to David Tennant, Dominic West, Harriet Walter and Sian Phillips effortlessly make these poems accessible. Check out the lesser known performers, too: Ben Crystal speaks a sonnet in Elizabethan pronunciation. And Cicely Berry, the RSC’s doyenne of voice coaches, who is wonderful. Berry has set actors’ voices free for decades and her reading of sonnet 129 is glorious, even down to her self-deprecating shrug at the end.

Via

iOS, £1.99

This is a great running app which gives audio directions so you don’t need to interrupt your exercise to check your way at the next intersection. Get to the end of your run and you’re presented with plenty of statistics, including the distance you’ve run, the calories you’ve burned and how long it took you. You can listen to the music on your phone as you’re going, of course, and it’s easy to personalise routes.

Fantastical

iOS, £1.49

Just as Clear improves on the built-in to-do list on the iPhone, so this upgrades the calendar. It’s fast and elegant, making data input simple – you use regular phrases, it turns them into appointments. The interface is exceptionally user-friendly (and that’s saying something when we’re talking about an Apple device) and it’s very quick to get to grips with. You may never use Apple’s calendar again.

British Airways

iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry. Free

This is one of the most elegant and simple apps on any platform, and has just been revamped for iOS. You can book flights, check in, display your boarding pass and even check the wi-fi password in the lounge. Passbook integration on an iPhone – where your boarding pass is stored in a different app so it will pop up onscreen automatically when you’re approaching the gate – isn’t here yet. Virgin Atlantic has this, so surely it’s only a matter of time before it arrives.

News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsSchool leaver's YouTube video features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

    £35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

    Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

    Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

    £50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

    PHP Developer

    £45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: PHP Develope...

    Day In a Page

    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
    Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

    Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

    Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
    Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

    Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

    Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
    Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

    Spanx launches range of jeans

    The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
    10 best over-ear headphones

    Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

    Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
    Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

    Commonwealth Games

    David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

    Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain