The Best Apps Of 2013

2013: The year of the apps. Those little add-on tools for your smartphone have been more popular than ever this year. It’s estimated that over 100 billion apps have been downloaded across the globe to the sum of £26 billion in sales.

Let’s face it: Not every app developed this year has been an uproarious success. There has been the embarrassing Cry Translator that allows you to hold your device towards your weeping toddler and ‘analyse’ what they want — time which could probably have been better spent looking after your child.

Then, there was the laughable Taxi Hold ‘Em app, literally just a black screen with the word ‘taxi’ in bright yellow which you can display to oncoming cabs and hail them down. That’s if they haven’t been so distracted trying to figure out what on Earth you’re doing that they’ve careered into a phone box of course.

However, the good significantly outweighed the bad this year. There has been excellent work done by developers from all corners of the globe — both independent and mainstream — creating apps to meet the wants and desires of almost every demographic.

There have been dating tools, travel planners, apps to help you lose weight. We’ve seen games like Candy Crush Saga and The Simpsons: Tapped Out spread like an epidemic. Most retailers and financial institutions now have apps to use their services on the go too.

But which are the cream of the crop, the apps that every smartphone or tablet owner must have in their collection? Here are our three best apps from 2013:

03. Citymapper

Price: Free

To call something an ‘essential’ app has become a cliché. However, if ever there was an essential app that every smartphone user should own it would probably be Citymapper.

Picture the scene: You’re in the wrong end of town in an unfamiliar city. You’re not sure if you can trust the people to ask for assistance and you have no way of finding your way back on track. With Citymapper — now available for New York and London with more cities coming soon — you no longer have to worry. It can provide users with maps, directions and information about public transport including times and prices.

‘But how is this different from Google Maps?’ you ask. Well, the most important improvement is that many of Citymapper’s features can be accessed offline via .pdf files so you can find your bearings no matter where you are or how much battery life you have remaining.

It’s an app that could quite literally save your life — or at least the price of a taxi ride.

02. Adobe Photoshop Touch

Price: £9.99

The quality of in-built cameras have been increasing with every generation of smartphone, to the point that most people prefer to use their handset to take photographs than a stand-alone digital camera. It was only a matter of time, therefore, until Adobe developed its picture editing software Photoshop as an app. What is surprising though is just how effective it is.

Photoshop has transferred many of its professional tools to the handheld app from filters and effects to the ability to manipulate light and colour. As a result, it stands head and shoulders above all of its competitors. What’s more, there are a few cool new touches especially for smartphone users. Most notable is the camera fill tool that allows you to layer a picture you have already taken over one you’re just about to shoot.

01. Vine

Price: Free

As we look back on 2013, it’s difficult to think of any app that has inspired as much creativity or joy as the short film creator Vine.

The app is staggeringly simple: Users can shoot video to share with their friends, family and social media followers. It has the ability to pause recording in order to change the angle and focus on something else, but the entire Vine can be no longer than six seconds long.

The time constraint is not a hindrance though. In fact, it’s part of the reason why Vine has become so popular. It throws down the gauntlet for its users to be imaginative. And they have risen to the challenge. Some have used it as a tool to make short comedy sketches while others have used it to compose stop-motion animation.

Vines have been so full of inspiration that even some of the leading film artists have started to take note. Oscar winning actor and director Robert De Niro asked users to make six second short films with Vine and submit them to his Tribeca Film Festival. The winners were screened alongside some of the most acclaimed independent filmmakers in the world.