Apptaura – the app development agency

Apps we relied on in 2020

Twelve Apps we relied on last year: Part 1

As we kick off the New Year the Apptaura team has taken some time out to reflect on twelve apps we relied on last year. Not necessarily the obvious apps like Netflix. But the ones which have changed the way we worked and played. Or solved a complex problem with a simple solution. Here’s part 1.

We’ve finished the mince pies. And we’re back in the office. But even after a nice break we can’t help but think about apps. Just before we closed up the office (and whilst clad in terrible Christmas Jumpers) the Apptaura team were chatting about the apps which we relied on during the year. The apps that we wished we’d come up with.

Now we weren’t really thinking about the apps that would have made us a stinking great fortune (though that would have been nice), but instead the apps which changed the world we lived in by taking a concept and overhauling it or changing the way that we’d viewed the potentials of technology.

It was a pretty ferocious debate. And we managed to get the list whittled down to our very own selection of twelve brilliant apps that we relied on during 2020. Here are the first 6 apps in our list of apps we really wish we’d invented…

Gift List App

I use this every year – it has everything that I need to help me organise my Christmas shopping, and somewhat surprisingly the app is free. You can add names and a budget, then within that there is an option to add as many gifts as you like, with further options such as gift name, gift value, link to gift, upload a photo of the item (really helpful when you’ve just walked past something in John Lewis) and notes. You can also toggle on/off whether you have

bought it yet and whether you have wrapped it. And each person on your list can be assigned one of many fun icons – I like to set all the children as gingerbread men, which really helps from a visual perspective when scrolling down the list. The other thing I really like is that is isn’t an overly fussy interface – it’s straightforward to use – you just put in the information that you need. Each person on your list has a progress bar too, so you can quickly see at a glance who you still have outstanding present-related tasks for. It has a stats section so you can see your total budget (and how much you’ve actually spent so far). It also backs up and saves the lists you made from previous years, handy if you want to check whether you already bought someone a scarf three years ago! I’ve been using it since 2017, it’s what I would’ve written for myself if I could code, and it’s easily the app I recommend the most.
Chosen by Jenn
 

What3Words

A completely innovative way to make “finding yourself” more user friendly. We’ve all been there. Trying to find a location on Google maps, searching for a street address or a remote landmark. SatNavs relying on postcodes that don’t quite match the rural location. What3words looked at this and decided there had to be a better, easier to use solution. So they divided the entire world into 3 metre squares and gave each one a unique three word code. Much easier to remember (and enter) than a whole string of gps lat/long codes. Obviously it’s proved brilliant for when delivery drivers repeatedly seem unable to find your house.

I’ve used it to track down my other half in a crowded European city centre square (sigh… crowds… holidays…I miss that). But it’s also won widespread praise for improving navigation in countries with poorly defined infrastructure and for it’s use in emergency situations. In fact we’ve seen local police forces and ambulance services suggesting users have it always downloaded on their phone to help first responders find people in need. With the oncoming drone delivery services, automated cars and increasingly connected world we’re surely going to see more and more of What3Words technology in our everyday life.
Chosen by Michael

BattleScribe

Described as a way to build your army list FAST, BattleScribe is one for the gamers out there. Not those namby-pamby controller-wielding, mouse smashing, Wii Sport playing gamers. Oh no. We’re talking the OGs. The originals. The rulers of the tabletop. The dice dervishes. The miniature masters. From epic Napoleonic battles to Fantastical Orcish skirmishes and from Little Wars to Cyberpunk cityscapes (sans bugs and previous gen console issues) you can use BattleScribe to build your army. You can create, view and share army lists for a wide range of game systems using data files created and maintained by an active community of BattleScribe users. You can create rosters and experiment with new army list ideas whilst the app calculates points totals and flags up any problems with your list. It lets you share and customise your roster printouts and integrates smoothly into the BattleScribe desktop application. So if you fancy a smattering of Blood Bowl, or Firestorm or Warhammer… get it downloaded!
Chosen by Liam

Strava

Throughout my life I’ve always been a keen runner. So Strava has become an integral part of my training regime. Stava tracks the speed and distance of all your running (and cycling) which then provides you with data to show your weekly, monthly, yearly and lifetime running mileage. This information is key to track your progress and identify areas of improvement. Strava also doubles up as a social app, backed with a community of like-minded people who can help each other by recommending running routes and tips.

Chosen by Gareth

Stellarium

I’d wager that one of the first apps you’ll have seen in the early days of the iPhone was a night sky app. Or possibly that one app that turned your phone into a pint which you could then ‘glug’ down. Apps have come on in leaps and bounds since then and the days of the gimmick app have largely vanished. But that night sky app has persisted. And although there are a bunch out there, for my money Stellarium is the best of the bunch. For any amateur astronomer out there Stellarium has the works.

A realistic night sky, tracking of star and planet positions, the ability to ‘zoom’ in on areas of the sky to see realistic representations of them. And perhaps the feature that gets used most widely, the ability to track and spot man-made objects in the night sky, the ISS in particular. It’s not an app you’re going to boot up every day. Or even every month. However it’s one that is assured of its place in my app tray. It got a whirl last year as Jupiter and Saturn overlap to create the first ‘Christmas Star’ in 800 years.

Chosen by Tom

 

Whatsapp

When everything went sideways last year my team brilliantly adapted to working remotely. Yes, of course we’re lucky that doing what we do means that we can work anywhere. And because we’re tech geeks we already had decent home set ups prepped and ready to go. A good internet connection. Monitors, keyboards and desk chairs. The kind of stuff that you start to miss when you embark on week 15 of sitting at the kitchen table hunched over a laptop.

But one thing that we simply couldn’t replace was the water cooler. Or more precisely the water cooler moments we shared as a team. Sure we had loads of ways to stay in sync for the work stuff. We spent a lot of time on Google Meet. But we missed the camaraderie within the team. So we banned all work chat from the team Whatsapp group and used it to share what we had been up to, what we were binge watching and the various jokes and memes that usually flew round the office when we were in work mode.

It kept us rocking as a team.

Chosen by Thom