Time just flies, and 2014 is nearing a close, but just before we draw the final line, it's time to take a look back at this year and the best apps that it brought to our iPhones and Androids. That's what our Awards section is all about - picking the finest works of the year, and filtering out all the mediocre ones.
With no further ado, here is our selection of the best Android and iPhone apps of 2014.
Category: Photo editing
Litely is a camera app that adds subtle, film-inspired tones to your photos quickly.
#25: ProCamera 8
ProCamera 8 is a surprisingly simple camera app at the surface, that also hides many advanced features in a way that is unobtrusive yet easy to access. You can set ISO, shutter speed, white balance, exposure compensation, and you also have independent focus and exposure controls as an alternative control and that gives you a much deeper hold over the looks of your photograph.
#24: Photo Sphere
With Photo Sphere for iOS, you can finally create 360-degree images on the iPhone and iPad, like you can on Android, and publish them on Google Maps. With a detailed, up to 50-megapixel resolution, these photo spheres allow you to explain places to the tiniest of detail.
Category: Time management
Timeful meetings, events, to-dos, and more, allowing you to manage everything in one place. It uses sophisticated algorithms to suggest the best times to schedule to-dos and habits throughout the day - based on your available time, location and most productive hours of the day.
#22: Minuum Keyboard
Minuum is a two-headed beast. You can have it either as a conventional Android keyboard, or let it show its true colors and minimize it to a single row of buttons. You can switch between the two on the fly by holding two fingers on the keys. We felt like the standard layout is better for more elaborate typing, as there is less chance the auto-correct will monkey up more unusual words
Category: Travel photography
Consumed by wanderlust? Minube is a great app to help you find the ideal destination for your travels with phone galleries made by real people with their comments and tips and tricks on places.
Horizon lets you record horizontal videos and photos no matter how you hold your device. Hold it upright, sideways or even keep rotating it while capturing, your captured moment will always stay horizontal.
#19: Duolingo Test Center
Category: Language testing
Millions of people have to prove their control of the English language, but testing often requires long travels, huge expenses, and stressful conditions. The Duolingo Test Center does language testing without all those annoyances. It’s also scientifically proven to have scores corresponding to scores on other English proficiency exams such as the TOEFL and the IELTS.
#18: Polaris Office
Price: Free / Premium
POLARIS Office has recently completely overhauled its popular PC-level Office suite for Android and iOS, introducing a clean and modern looking new interface and slashing its price to zero. Unlike Microsoft’s official Office, POLARIS Office offers both viewing and editing documents for free. You are also not limited in any way when it comes to editing - all 500 editing features and over 170 shapes are available in the mobile version of POLARIS Office, so you have freedom of editing that was usually preserved only for desktop users.
#17: Hangouts Dialer
Google has been offering a very good VoIP calling service, but surprisingly, it was only available on traditional Windows as well iOS via the Hangouts app, but not on Android. This finally changed with the arrival of the Hangouts Dialer application on Android - it allows you to make free calls to the United States and Canada, and it also offers competitive rates for calls to other destinations.
#16: Yummly Recipes and Grocery Shopping List
Yummly is one of the best cooking apps available for both iPhone and Android, but what makes it even more appealing is the filtering capability, allowing you to choose between recipes for each occasion, by cuisine (Asian, Mexican, Italian, etc), taste (sweet, sour, salty), diet (Pescetarian, Vegan, Gluten Free), nutrition (low carb, low fat, low cal, etc.), and so on.
#15: 7-Minute Workout Challenge
Researchers have selected 12 exercises that are performed for 30 seconds with 10 second rest intervals. This high-intensity training with little rest results in higher daily metabolism and is the equivalent of working out for over an hour - for only slightly longer than 7 minutes.
#14: Carousel by Dropbox
Carousel offers unlimited storage of your photos in the cloud, so you don’t have to worry about going over limits. It also organizes your images in a pretty and straightforward way.
Uber has started a little revolution in taxi services with its private driver service that is more affordable and often more enjoyable than a usual taxi ride.
Category: News and entertainment
BuzzFeed, the source for all things vain where you can lose yourself for hours watching GIFs on all sorts of topics, brings its own app to iOS and Android that allows you to now get lost for hours browsing the articles on your mobile device.
#11: Google Camera
The Google Camera app allows you to have the stock camera experience on every phone, and it brings all the nice options that some phone manufacturers sometimes choose not to include - 360-degree photospheres, the nice lens blur effect, and more.
With a simple idea to let you learn more about the way you use your smartphone, OFFTIME tracks the time you spend in various apps and summarizes it in nice reports. Wonder what’s making you less productive and consuming all your time? This app will have you pin-point it exactly.
Category: Memory training
Lumosity is a set of different and entertaining memory tests that you can pass on a daily basis to improve your concentration.
2014 was the year of shocking revelations for the surveillance that we, the citizens, are being subjected to on a daily basis. Telegram Messenger comes with the simple promise of encrypting communication, keeping your texts private.
#7: Star Walk 2
Star Walk 2 is a stunning visual work directed at the stars above us. It allows you to learn more about the stellar bodies around us, the constellations, and more.
Hyperlapse by Instagram brings a little revolution to stable videos. With state-of-the-art algorithms, it stabilizes the video you have recorded in a way similar to what is usually achieved with expensive stabilization rigs.
#5: Mailbox by Dropbox
Mailbox is a completely redesigned inbox that makes email light, fast, and mobile-friendly. Quickly swipe messages to your archive or trash. Scan an entire conversation at once with chat-like organization. Snooze emails until later with the tap of a button — they’ll return to your inbox automatically so you can focus on what's important now.
Muzei Live Wallpaper was released just a few days ago, but it has quickly become one of our favorite Android live wallpaper apps. Developed by Google’s Roman Nurik, the same person who created the popular DashClock widget, Muzei is different from all other wallpaper apps in that it does not ship with a preset of images or animations, but instead brings a public API allowing developers to use its modern, blur-styled interface with all sorts of third-party services like Flickr, 500px and Tumblr.
#3: Beats Music
Beats Music stands out with its model where the 20-million song collection is not automatically categorized, but instead it is hand-picked by music experts and arranged in playlists and catalogs to help you explore it in a meaningful way.
#2: Nokia HERE
Category: Mapping / Navigation
Nokia HERE might be a step behind Google Maps in terms of interface, speed, and presentation, but it offers one key feature - full offline maps. This invaluable asset for travelers abroad and in rural places where signal is non-existant makes Nokia HERE a life-saver in many situations. You can just download a map of the country where you want to go, and enjoy your drive / cycling without worrying about getting lost.
#1: Yahoo News Digest
The daily Yahoo News Digest is another well-though app by the new team over at Yahoo, and with some great minds behind news curation and app development, it all comes together nicely in this app. It is informative, fast, and well-designed - one of the best places to get your place on a mobile device.