App Focus: Best Apps Aug '17 Edition

Over the last few years, we have had fewer reasons to hit Google search. Instead it's apps like Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, Netflix etc., and voice assistants like Alexa, Siri and Cortana, each with their own built-in search that wholly bypass Google, which take up most of our attention, making it redundant to query Google unless the information we seek isn't readily available or our daily driver is an Android smartphone. This, coupled with the ever increasing use of apps, leaves Google in a weird position.

Which is why it makes complete sense that it's integrating more and more predictive features into mobile search, including a news feed of sorts in its native apps for Android and iOS (a friendless feed, as TechCrunch rightly puts) in place of Google Now, alongside capabilities to even stream portions of apps right from search results (a feature called instant apps that it opened to all Android app developers back in May).

Also a noticeable trend among third-party app developers is an uptick in adoption of a subscription model. Ulysses and DayOne are some of the recent examples, and this is not including apps in other popular categories like password managers (LastPass, 1Password), music streaming (YouTube Red/Google Play Music, Apple Music, Tidal, Spotify, SoundCloud), video streaming (Netflix, Hulu and HBO, and the many more splinters to come), online dating (Tinder), productivity (Evernote, Office, Adobe apps), messaging (Line) and most importantly Amazon Prime, a subscription service to end all subscriptions, granting blanket access to the retail giant's varied offerings.

There was a time when most indie software developers relied on upfront one-time app purchases and paid upgrades, but as a business practice, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that this is never sustainable in the longer run. But the bigger question is whether users are ready to subscribe to them in the same vein as they subscribe to Netflix or Spotify. And the answer is yes, provided the app's core function is indispensable enough to act as their daily drivers.

Gratus (Android only) - Popular iOS journalling app DayOne is yet to land on Android, but here is one beautifully designed app that allows you to capture things that you are grateful for.

Hurry (Android only) - A neat countdown timer for events.

SpotyTube (Android only) - Music discovery made simple by integrating Spotify and YouTube in one single place to serve curated playlists catering to your taste.

Read (Android only) - With the demise of Google Reader, Feedly and Unread (only on iOS) have all but become the popular replacements for anyone still seeking the traditional RSS route to catch up on news. Read now joins that list.

Flowx, OnePlus Weather, Today Weather (Android only) - Weather apps are kinda irrelevant today on Android given how the information, especially if all you care about are essentials like temperature, rain and snow, is readily accessible via Google Assistant. Even then, it's good to have some alternatives.

Triangle (Android only) - A Google-made app (currently only available in Philippines, but who says you can't sideload the APK?) to control cellular data usage, letting users block individual apps from consuming data. (On a side-note, this is a built-in feature in iOS)

Tasty (iOS only) - Buzzfeed's food section Tasty is quite a gastronomic hit with tons of recipes and step-by-step guides. The app does it too, only better.

Funnel (iOS only) - Many a audio news summary app has come and gone (remember Umano? Wibbitz?), but can Funnel buck that trend? We will have to wait it out.

Sarahah (Android/iOS) - Want to get honest feedback about yourself online? Then Sarahah, created in Saudi Arabia by Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq, is the app for you. (Be warned that it can also be a breeding ground for hate!) A passing fad no doubt, but so popular that it has raced to the top of App Store downloads.

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