Every month, our experts dig through the Play Store to bring you the latest and very best free apps and games for your Android phone. November's no exception – so take a look through our selections to find something you'll love.
This month, we've got a powerful photo-editing tool to knock Instagram into the shade, a better weather app than you're ever likely to need and a fun take on the venerable block-stacking game. Best of all, they're all entirely free!
Chances are, your phone already has a weather app. But it’s very unlikely to be as powerful as this one! AccuWeather, as its name suggests, prides itself on its accuracy – and in terms of the detail it provides, it’s head and shoulders above most of its competition.
A handy ‘Now’ view lets you see the current weather conditions in your (or any other) location, while digging into the ‘Hourly’ or ‘Daily’ forecast really brings the app to life, with detailed but highly readable graphs for both temperature and precipitation forecasts.
But it’s the ‘Radar’ screen that’s really impressive, and puts Accuweather beyond the reach of built-in weather apps. You’ll be able to watch the clouds and rain roll in over a lush, animated map – just like the TV weather.
If you just want to know whether you’ll need an umbrella today or not, Accuweather might be overkill. But if your interest in the weather goes any deeper than that, this is one app that belongs on your phone.
Snapseed is a well-established photo editing app in its own right – but recently, it was bought by Google, who’ve made it entirely free.
They’ve also overhauled the app’s features, making it easier to get great results quickly, without sacrificing power or flexibility.
Open a photo in the app, and you’ll see a series of Instagram-style filters, known as ‘Styles’, for immediate results. But tap ‘Tools’ and you’ll find literally dozens of powerful editing features – from frames, text and vignettes to subtle touch-up brushes and perspective-skewing effects.
As such, it goes way beyond apps that only offer filters and presets. In spite of this power, though, the interface is clear, logical and easy to use – so if you want to make sure your mobile snaps look their best, Snapseed deserves a place on your Android phone.
Your smartphone’s virtual keyboard works well enough, but it’s not the only way to type on your phone. SwiftKey is an innovative and unusual replacement keyboard – and it could change the way you use your phone forever.
In short, where traditional keyboards require you to press each letter in order, SwiftKey’s approach is radically different: you just put your finger on the first letter of the word, then swipe your finger across the rest of the letters in order.
It sounds imprecise – but the software is great at understanding what word you meant, and you’ll no doubt be impressed by its surprising accuracy. It can even learn from your emails and documents, making its predictions even more accurate.
The swipe-to-type method won’t be for everyone – but if it clicks for you, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it.
Roman Nurik and Ian Lake
Many people like to keep their phone looking fresh with a changing selection of custom wallpapers and backgrounds – but if you’re anything like us, you probably don’t get around to changing it as often as you could.
That’s where Muzei comes in. Described as “a living museum for your Android home screen”, this app will automatically change your background to a different painting masterpiece each day. Pop the app open, and you’ll be able to find out more about the artist and the work, and view the image in more detail.
It’s not a particularly fancy or flashy app – but for a daily dose of culture, Muzei is a fantastic choice.
Everybody loves a game of Jenga, the notorious block-stacking game, until it’s time to tidy up. tack offers a similarly fun take on the teetering-tower genre – with the advantage that there’s no mess at the end of it!
In this game, you start with just one block on the ground, with another of the exact same shape and size floating back and forth above it. All you need to do is tap the screen to drop the moving block on to the one below – hopefully landing exactly flush.
Of course, that’s easier said than done. Any overhanging pieces of your dropped block are shaved off – meaning you’ve got a smaller target to hit next time. The game carries on like this until, inevitably, you miss your target entirely – and your score is simply the number of blocks you managed to drop.
Like many other mobile games, this one-button test of timing is pretty simple – but it’s definitely one of the best examples of its kind. The cell-shaded graphics are distinctive and colourful, and there’s something indescribably satisfying about watching the sliced-off pieces of block fall away into the abyss.
In other words, Stack is more than the sum of its parts – and it’s most certainly our mobile game pick of the month for Android.