The best Android apps and games: October 2017

Every month, we bring together a selection of the latest and greatest new apps and games for your Android phone or tablet – read on to find our picks for October.

This month’s round-up brings you everything from first-aid essentials to contactless payments, all designed to help you get more from your Android phone. Better yet, they won’t cost you a penny!

 

Android Pay

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We’re kicking things off this month with a really useful app that belongs on every single Android phone – at least, every Android phone that supports it!

Android Pay is essentially a virtual wallet that turns your phone into an extension of your contactless bank card. In fact, you can use Android Pay to make payments even if your bank card isn't contactless.

Just use the app to snap a photo of your bank card, verify your identity with your bank through text or email and you’re ready to go: just wave your phone near a contactless payment point and it’ll work just like the card.

The app doesn’t even need a fingerprint scanner to check it's you: your standard PIN, password or unlock pattern will work. That said, for the best combination of speed and security, we’d always recommend using the fingerprint option if you can.

If your phone supports 'near field communication', or NFC, you’ve got all you need to use Android Pay – and we wouldn’t leave home without it.

 

Find My Device

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Find My Device

We’ve all been there: you’re looking for your phone but you can’t find it. 

But helpfully, Android has a feature called 'Find My Device': just log into Google's website to find your phone’s last reported location. You can also use it to command your phone to make a loud ‘ping’ sound, whether or not it’s on silent mode – very useful if you know it’s in a certain room, but not exactly where! 

So, what does this app bring to the table that the website doesn't? Obviously, it won’t help you find the phone it's installed on. But if someone else – a friend or family member, say – has lost their phone, logging into their account on the app gives you a quick and easy way to help. It’s particularly useful in situations where you can’t get to a computer to use the Find My Device website – if you’re on holiday, for example, or otherwise out and about. 

Hopefully you won’t need to use Find My Device too often – but it’s reassuring to know it’s on your phone or tablet just in case. 

 

Tree ID: British Trees

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Woodland Trust

Get it from Google Play

At this time of year, it’s a pleasure to watch the changing autumn colours in the trees – but have you ever looked at a tree and wondered what species it is? Well, with this app from the Woodland Trust, it’s easier than ever to find out!

It asks you a series of questions about the tree in question – the shape of its leaves and seed pods, the colour of the bark and more – and narrows down the possibilities based on your answers.

Before you know it, that mysterious wooden object before you is revealed as a chestnut tree, or an oak, or whatever it might actually be. You’ll then be able to browse through some info on the species and a selection of beautiful, high-resolution pictures – a treat in itself for any nature-lover.

You can also leaf through the tree directory at your leisure, enjoying the pictures and learning more about nature as you go. From Alder to Yew, it’s a fantastic resource to have on your phone when you’re in the great outdoors.

 

First Aid by British Red Cross

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British Red Cross

Get it from Google Play

Some apps merely entertain you – but this one could actually save a life! It comes from the British Red Cross, and we reckon no phone should be without it.

Very simply, and as the name suggests, this one’s all about first aid: it provides step-by-step instructions on how to deal with all kinds of medical emergencies, from asthma attacks to strokes.

Just tap the ‘Emergency’ tab to find a comprehensive list of conditions. Tap one of these, and you’ll find clear, well written and easy-to-follow steps, showing exactly how you can help – and if you need to call 999, there’s even a shortcut button to do just that.

The app has other features too, like information on preparing for emergencies and tests of your first aid knowledge – but it’s the emergency guidance that makes this a must-have for parents, sportspeople or just about anybody else.

 

aa

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General Adaptive Apps

Get it from Google Play

Finally this month, a simple but captivating one-button game.

In aa, you’ll find with a rotating wheel with black pins sticking out of it. Your task is to choose exactly the right moment to throw another pin up into the wheel, without hitting the ones already spinning.

In a way, it’s like a classic game of pick-up sticks in reverse: instead of trying to extract a stick from a tangled pile, you’re trying to insert one without disturbing the others.

The game starts out easily enough, but by level seven we were hopelesssly stuck. But with a bit of effort, your timing and judgment improve without you even realising – and when you do successfully land a pin into a vanishingly narrow gap, you’ll feel like Robin Hood!

The presentation is bare-bones, but the simple graphics mean it’ll work on just about any phone – and the compelling skill-based gameplay will keep you coming back in your quiet moments.

 

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