Our Favorite Apps of 2016 (So Far!)

By Phill Powell

We’re six months into 2016 and one thing’s abundantly clear: This is the Age of the App. We quickly grow to love quality apps that prove their usefulness.

Even though we’re only halfway through this year, we thought we’d report on the apps that are now innovating our lives and enriching our experiences.

So here are ten fantastic apps – many of them new or recent, and most of them free – that we’ve been enjoying lately. Each one of them is an example of the intense creativity that now drives app development:

RELAXATION
Pause app
How could an app so simple be so rewarding? Try Pause and find out!
App: Pause
Maker: ustwo Fampany Limited & PauseAble
Price: $1.99 in the App Store
What It Does: Explaining Pause can be a little tricky. What’s the best way to describe a tactile, meditative, ambient app in which the main activity involves pushing a small, dark blob around a screen? We have to admit that using Pause is oddly soothing and can produce a restorative effect – like you’ve just had a good nap.

TRAVEL MEMORIES
Bonjournal example
Bonjournal showcases timeless adventures, like user Narlap’s 2015 excursion to Mt. Everest.
App: Bonjournal
Maker: Bonjournal LLC
Price: Free in the App Store
What It Does: People have gotten a lot more elaborate in recent years when it comes to preserving their vacation memories. And here comes Bonjournal, taking that concept even further. With Bonjournal, you can take your photos and self-written text and turn your travel memories into what resembles layouts from a classy travel magazine.

GAME
Rollercoaster Tycoon 3
You design ’em, you build ’em and you ride ’em! Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 is pure summer sim pleasure.
App: RollerCoaster Tycoon® 3
Maker: Frontier Developments Limited
Price: $4.99 in the App Store
What It Does: A classic game series on the PC, now ported over brilliantly for play on iPhone and iPad, RollerCoaster Tycoon® 3 puts you in charge of designing and operating killer-diller roller coasters. And once you build them, you can ride them all you want – with no long summer waiting lines! Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 is one sim that earns its stripes as a really fun game.

MOVIE INFO
IMDB Movies app
What was Robert DeNiro’s first movie? The IMDB Movies app reveals it was 1965’s The Nephew.
App: IMDb Movies
Maker: IMDb Mobile, LLC
Price: Free in the App Store, at Google Play and at the Appstore for Android
What It Does: Settle (most) entertainment trivia disputes forever with the IMDb Movies app, which ports over the Internet Movie Database – the most complete depository of facts and figures yet collected about film production and video production. Smoothly designed and endlessly addictive (Try limiting yourself to just one query…and good luck with that.)

WEATHER ALERTS
Dark Sky app
A weather warning for right where you’re standing. The Dark Sky app redefines “local forecast.”
App: Dark Sky
Maker: Jackadam/The Dark Sky Company, LLC
Price: $3.99 in the App Store
What It Does: While it’s true that there’s nothing particularly new about weather apps, Dark Sky (despite its ominous name) is about the coolest weather app we’ve seen. Let’s face it – in this modern age, it’s not enough to just get a local forecast of thunderstorms. That’s why Dark Sky actually notifies you if you’re about to receive precipitation. Now that’s service.

TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS
Kayak app
Kayak sifts through tons of data so you can book your summer vacation plans with little hassle.
App: Kayak
Maker: Kayak Software Corp.
Price: Free in the App Store and Google Play
What It Does: Like a super shopper for travel deals, the Kayak app scans data from hundreds of travel sites, then delivers and ranks the prime offers to you for consideration. While we admire the Kayak app’s search capabilities, we also recognize the value offered by its Hacker Fares, which combine deals into offers that are very hard to refuse.

DINING INFORMATION
Foursquare app
Hungry in Paris? Let the Foursquare app help you find the best bistro.
App: Foursquare
Maker: Foursquare Labs, Inc.
Price: Free in the App Store and Google Play
What It Does: While it isn’t the newest app out there, sometimes that’s a good thing. By being around since 2009, Foursquare has been able to constantly deepen the level of its knowledge about all things related to food and drink. Foursquare users should keep in mind that the app is also loaded with info about cool local things to see and do when you’re not busy dining.

GAME
8 Ball Pool app
Rack ’em! If you’re looking for the best in billiards, 8 Ball Pool knows all the right angles.
App: 8 Ball Pool™
Maker: Miniclip.com
Price: Free in the App Store
What It Does: We trust you’re already familiar with the game, and we’re happy to report that this app does it justice. What makes 8 Ball Pool so great are its rock-solid physics. Pool is all about the angles, and this one gets them all correct. And should you climb all the way to the game’s top table, you’ll find a wild surprise: a “cushion shot on 8 ball” rule.

EMAIL MANAGER
Spark app
Organize and streamline your email across all platforms. The Spark app can handle the job.
App: Spark
Maker: Readdle
Price: Free in the App Store
What It Does: Seeking to remedy the “overwhelmed inbox,” Spark brings simplicity and order to the chaos that is your email. Honored by Apple as one of the “App Store Best of 2015” award-winners, the Spark app frees you up from endless sorting and the visual confusion that can come from email overload. Recognized as having one of the smoothest interfaces of any app going.

GAME
Flick Kick Football app
“You aim…you shoot…you SCORE!” Flick Kick Football boils soccer down to a classic shootout.
App: Flick Kick® Football
Maker: Prodigy Design Limited T/A Sidhe Interactive
Price: $1.99 at the App Store
What It Does: There are plenty of soccer games out there, but this one concentrates on making shots on goal. It’s just one shooter facing off against a goalie but it takes that simple premise and makes it glorious. From where on the pitch will you take aim? And what extra “swiping” English will you use to muscle your shot in to victory? Flick Kick Football gives you tons of options to help you achieve pure soccer nirvana.

Have an App-Tastic Summer!

Come learn how to make compelling apps this summer at Digital Media Academy app development tech camps. You’ll be amazed at what you can create!