Top new Android apps of April 2016 include iPlayer Kids, Giphy and Airtime, while the best games include Disney Crossy Road and Exploding Kittens April was an excellent month for new Android apps and games: the Google Play store may be stuffed with apps already, but many of the latest releases are genuinely worth a slot on your device. As ever, prices are correct at the time of writing, and if you see “IAP” that means the app uses in-app purchases. Looking for iPhone and iPad apps instead? There’s a separate monthly roundup for them which will follow shortly.
BBC iPlayer Kids (Free)
Children’s shows are one of the most popular categories on the BBC’s iPlayer catch-up TV service. Now they’ve got their own app, offering shows from its CBeebies and CBBC channels, filtered by age. It’s only available in the UK.
Giphy (Free) Animated GIFs are more popular than they’ve ever been, and Giphy has become the biggest resource to mine – whether it’s comical cats or a baseball-bat-wielding Beyoncé. Its Android app makes it easy to search and share.
BBC Bitesize (Free) Another BBC app, but this time aimed at older children: those studying for GCSE and higher exams at school. It serves up flashcards, videos, quizzes and other accessible information for subjects, tuning its content depending what exam board the student is under.
Airtime (Free) Airtime is the latest thing from Napster / Facebook veteran Justin Timberlake Sean Parker. In fact, it’s a relaunch of an earlier web-based video-chat service. Now it’s a mobile group-video-chat app, where up to six friends can talk, watch videos and listen to streaming music.
Monospace – Writing and Notes (Free + IAP) I love a good minimalist word-processor app – see iA Writer for example. Monospace looks like it could give it a run for its money. It’s a stripped-down writing app that supports markdown exporting (which is handy) and uses hashtags to organise your documents.
Slidebox (Free) If you’ve been using your smartphone for a while, finding photos in your overcrowded gallery can be a pain. Slidebox wants to help, with a Tinder-ish interface for easily browsing photos – and just as importantly, deleting unwanted ones.
Samsung Safety Screen (Free) Children are spending more time using smartphones and tablets, but is it boggling their eyes? Samsung’s new app is a clever idea: it warns kids if they’re holding a device too close to their face, encouraging them to move it away again.
Dictionary Linguee (Free) Smartphone owners are spoiled for choice when it comes to dictionary apps, but Linguee looks like it could dislodge your current favourite from your homescreen. It translates between a number of languages, with quick tools for searching. And it works offline too.
FreshTeam (Free + IAP) A growing number of businesses and work teams are using tools like Slack to keep in touch. Now FreshTeam is throwing its hat into the ring with a messaging app designed for colleagues: including a map to see who’s where, and group voice-calls.
Recolor (Free + IAP) If you get cross about the existence of adult colouring books, you’ll probably be even more cross that there are now apps for that. Still, if digital colouring sounds like it may suit you more than Candy Crush as a time-killer, Recolor is the best option so far.
Disney Crossy Road (Free + IAP) 120m downloads later, popular game Crossy Road gets an official Disney spin-off, with characters and levels from films including Toy Story, The Lion King and Wreck-It Ralph. The gameplay is still Frogger-style road-hopping, with bags of charm and lots of characters to unlock.
Exploding Kittens (£1.69 + IAP) Originally a Kickstarter-funded card game, Exploding Kittens is a pretty fab mobile game too. Played with nearby friends or online players, it sees you drawing cards, trying to avoid explosive kittens, while foisting them on to rivals.
Angry Birds Action! (Free + IAP) Released to pave the way for the upcoming Angry Birds film, this is another departure from the original side-on bird-flinging gameplay. The action here is more like pinball crossed with mini-golf, as you ping birds around levels collecting eggs. One question mark: are in-app purchases that go up past £50 really a good thing in a game based on a children’s film?
Marvel: Avengers Alliance 2 (Free + IAP) The original Avengers Alliance game was a beefy beat-‘em-up for superheroes, and its sequel is even beefier. Drawing in all manner of Marvel characters, it sees you assembling a three-person team to take on all-comers – with social features and online battles part of the fun.
Egz – The Origin of the Universe (£2.80) Successful paid games are increasingly rare on mobile, but Egz deserves to be a big hit. It’s an inventive, original puzzly platform game where you bounce and roll your round “Egz” through 80 levels. It looks great – and sounds it too: the soundtrack is excellent – but plays beautifully too.
Harvest Moon: Seeds of Memories (£8.42) Who said farmers’ prices were being driven down? This is quite expensive by mobile standards, but it’s a proper Harvest Moon game – and if you’re a fan of Natsume’s rural-RPG franchise, you’ll be as pleased at the prospect as I am. Growing crops, exploring the world and getting hitched is as fun as ever.
Chameleon Run (£1.67) The app stores are festooned with endless-runner games, but developer Noodlecake Studios has found an original spin on the genre with Chameleon Run. It involves switching colour to match the scenery as your character runs, with characterful, colourful graphics.
Pathfinder Adventures (Free + IAP) Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of roleplaying game Pathfinder or the card game it spawned – you can start from scratch with this mobile version and have a great time. It’s a cross between an RPG and a card-battler, with a large world to explore as you fight monsters and upgrade your hero.
War Dragons (Free + IAP) Real-time strategy games are becoming big business on mobile, with War Dragons the latest attempt to fuse fantasy battles with multiplayer competition. And dragons, of course: indulge your inner Daenerys by training up your beasts and even breeding new ones.
Tales of Link (Free + IAP) Finally, another classic console franchise goes mobile with Bandai Namco’s Tales of Link. This is a new story set in its RPG world, with tactical battles and careful team-building the key to its gameplay, with a colour-matching twist drawn from modern mobile gaming. Those are our choices, now tell us yours. What Android apps and games have you been enjoying in the last month, and what do you think of the ones we’ve recommended above? The comments section is open for your thoughts.