/ Shopping, Technology

Which apps make you ‘appy?

A wall of different smartphone app icons

When you buy your first smartphone or tablet computer, it can be hard to choose the best apps from the hundreds of thousands that are on offer. With the options growing every day, what are your ‘must have’ apps?

When making a shortlist of apps for this post, I emailed my team to see what makes it on to their list of favourites.

Within seconds my inbox was flooded with recommendations, before everyone turned round from their desks to swap their most fun/unusual/addictive app. Admittedly I was asking the Which? Tech team, who are bound to be keen on apps, but the level of enthusiasm proves apps really do make us ‘appy.

There are hundreds of thousands of apps out there, no matter what platform you’re using. Apps can help you buy a home, lose weight and even paint or draw. But with a wealth of apps to choose from, it can be hard to know where to get started.

My favourite mobile and tablet apps

Imagine a friend has just bought a shiny new tablet or smartphone – what would be the top ‘must-have’ apps that you recommend they download? Here’s my top three:

Skype – free video call app

For the past six months my boyfriend has been living in Germany. During that time Skype was absolutely essential for keeping in touch. It makes a real difference being able to see the person as well as hear their voice. It’s easy to use and, best of all, it’s free, meaning no more expensive calls abroad.

BBC iPlayer – free catch-up service from the BBC

I use this and other catch-up services such as the 4OD and ITV Player app. All of them are really good for catching up on my favourite TV shows. iPlayer is especially great, because you can download programs to your device. That means you can store programs ready to watch later, when you don’t have access to internet.

The Times Crossword app

OK, so this one costs and I know it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. But it’s very easy to use, keeps me entertained and I like to think it’s educational.

So, those are my favourite apps – what are the apps you can’t live without?


It will be fascinating to see what additional facilities people are requiring from their smart phones and how much use they make of them. Apps seem to have a therapeutic value in enabling people to fill idle moments in the theatre and on the train thus avoiding the appearance of mental vacancy. Knowing you can catch up on missed television programmes does liberate people and allow them to participate in other things without worrying about missing an episode, so that is potentially life enhancing. And Skype is shrinking the globe, but I am not yet certain that is beneficial. I can’t contribute much to the fund of knowledge on this topic as I don’t yet have a smart phone but I might be tempted to get one if there were some really useful applications recommended by other users.

Tim L says:
8 March 2013

iPlayer and Skype are very useful for more recent phones, especially when a family member is living abroad for a spell, but apps from both UK and Parisian art galleries are a delight, and the permanent ones are free. Apps from special exhibitions, not unreasonably, do charge for them but give you the audio-guide together with images for keeps and usually for less than the cost of the hour’s hire of the audio equipment on site.
The modestly priced natural world reference apps for trees and birds of Britain and the (originally French) wild flower app makes an iPhone really useful on a walk, even if you don’t use it for navigation with rather more expensive but still comparatively cheap downloaded Ordnance Survey maps of your walking area available from another favourite walking app.

I have many favourites. Just a few of mine are:

The London Travel app, particularly as it tells me when buses are due. National Rail also good for checking train times, and deciding if it’s quicker to get the train or the bus (yes really!)

I have 2 banking apps, but one is far superior to the other. Good for checking my balance quickly when not near a cashmachine or I’m too lazy to turn my PC on.

Sky+ to set TV programmes to record when I’m not at home.

IMDB, as I’m always watching TV and wondering what I’ve seen someone in before!

The eBay app is great, especially for selling items. It’s a little dangerous as a buyer – far too easy to use! 😉

There are a lot of Android Apps that we just take for granted but which are extremely useful, e.g. Weather forcasts (I use AccuWeather), Facebook, Calender (I use Google’s calender which also synchronises with the Outlook Calender on my computer), Google Maps and Navigation (can be used in car provided a proper holder is used). I also like the internet radio app. ‘Tunein Radio’ and the music search app ‘Soundhound’

My best app is the metro ,one thing missing is a crossword. I don’t need to buy a newspaper so am able to avoid the boring 10pages of cruise and holiday ads.

I use a range of great apps: some of my favourites not already mentioned are:
Recce London, a fabulous interactive map of London, so impressive. Tube Map Pro, a comprehensive up to the minute guide with timetables, delays, planned shutdowns etc., a must when travelling around London. Plane Finder, keep track of every plane in the sky, including the one above your house right now, all in real time. Skyview Free, see every planet, star or satellite in the sky all named. Weather for golf, every golf course in the country listed with hour by hour forecasts which are very accurate. Of course there are also the Which? Apps too. One thing that does frustrate me with a lot of apps is that they are dominated with Americanisms, particularly children’s apps, Gee Whizz to our future vocabulary.

Using many websites and email with passwords I often forget which one I use as I try to keep them all different. I currently use a Mac, iPad, Windows Phone and Windows PC so would prefer to find one compatible with both IOS and Windows. Looking its a minefield. does anyone have any suggestions?

Using many websites and email with passwords I often forget which one I use as I try to keep them all different. I currently use a Mac, iPad, Windows Phone and Windows PC so would prefer to find one compatible with both IOS and Windows. Looking its a minefield. Does anyone have any sugestions?