Here are five quality apps you probably haven’t heard of, available for free on both Android and iOS. I highly suggest you try them out!
Does anyone check out books from the library anymore? I don’t either, but I still have a library card from when I used to be able to read. If you’ve ever wanted to start reading books again, OverDrive is a good way to make use of many libraries’ ebook collection. After adding your library by search or by postal code, all you have to do is sign in using your library card and you can browse for ebooks that you can read right from your device. The app will quickly download and save your ebook inside the app, and will even show you how many days you have before the return deadline. OverDrive is a quick, free way to start reading again by taking advantage of your local library’s ebook service, right on your phone.
2. Google Opinion Rewards
Questions about Google tracking your information aside, Google Opinion Rewards is a great way to make a little money to spend. Every few days or so, the app will send you new survey. These surveys mostly ask you one or two questions about a place you’ve visited recently, like a hotel or restaurant. After taking just a couple seconds to fill out the survey, the app will give you anywhere from a dime to a dollar in Google Play credit for Android users or PayPal credit for Apple users. You can even hide the app in a folder because you’ll never need to open it manually; the app notifies you whenever a new survey is available. In just under a year, I’ve accumulated $30 in total credit, which is great for buying paid apps that I wouldn’t otherwise purchase.
3. Grammarly Keyboard
My Odyssey editor will enjoy this one. The Grammarly keyboard automatically checks your spelling and grammar while you type and can make your writing more accurate. It's not perfect; the keyboard isn't very customizable or comfortable to type on, and some of the grammar corrections are incorrect. However it's a huge help when writing formal emails to important people, or, say, writing an article on your phone for Odyssey. I would use it only for formal situations and stick to other, more streamlined keyboards for daily usage.
Don’t get fooled by the simplistic, colorful graphics; Polytopia is an interesting, engaging game. Much like the Civilization series, you control a single tribe that expands, builds units, and tries to conquer the entire map. While it’s simpler and has shorter gameplay than Civilization games, it still takes plenty of time and effort to play, especially as tribes expand and start to have many units.
There’s even an online multiplayer that’s in beta, new tribes available as expansion packs, and difficulty and size customization so that you can play different styles of games. The gameplay itself progresses nicely, and while some mechanics take some getting used to, it’s much easier to pick up and play than Civilization or other complex games. Give it a try!
This app might be more well known than others on this list, but it’s still a valuable download for anybody looking at buying airplane tickets. Hopper uses price histories of flights to determine when prices will be lowest (hint: it’s not always great to buy as quickly as possible). When picking which dates your flight needs to be on, Hopper will show you whether the day you’re flying on is usually cheap or expensive, which can help you save money by moving your flight to a cheaper date.
The app will then give you guidelines on when to buy tickets for your flight; for example, it could say that prices can drop to as low as $80 until April 13, when they will begin rising again; Hopper will suggest waiting until this date for a lower price, and will notify you to buy tickets when the price has fully dropped. Finally, you can buy your tickets right from the app quickly! It’s a great way to track plane ticket prices and save money on those expensive flights.
Bonus for Android users: Wallpapers by Google
If you’re like me and get tired of your wallpaper every few days, but are too lazy to manually change your wallpaper every time, Wallpapers by Google might be the perfect app for you. Just enter a preset category of wallpaper inside the app (such as Nature or Cityscape) and then select “Daily wallpaper.” Every day, the app will automatically choose a different wallpaper for your phone. The only thing I wish is that the app would allow shuffling through multiple categories, but I rarely see an old wallpaper regardless.
Bonus for Android users: MightyText
Okay, I’m biased, but iOS users already have iMessage. The Android alternative to reading texts on your computer is MightyText. Install the app on your phone, follow a couple instructions, and you can get text notifications from your phone onto your computer. You answer texts through a website on your computer that you can access by clicking on a new text. MightyText also includes low battery notifications, file sharing, and many other features to link your phone and computer. It’s easy to set up and has lots of tools to explore.