How can you manage your kids' screen time? Plus other new Apps out this month

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Monitor your kids' web usage, read thrillers via SMS – and a Spotify for stand-up comedy: this month's top new Apps


1. Google Family Link

This allows parents to monitor their kids’ internet usage and receive weekly and monthly activity reports about what they’ve been up to.

It also lets them impose limits on screen-time, block and approve apps, and remotely lock devices and check their location. The kicker is it works only with latest Android devices, running the Nougat (7.0) operating system.

Parents will also need to set their kids up with Google accounts, which are linked to parents’ own. But it is a great way to set digital ground rules, and keep tabs on young kids, particularly.


2. Hooked

(free on Android and iOS)

Not brand new, but it is up for a 2017 Google Play award for standout start-up, and is strangely compelling.

Hooked brings you gripping, edge-of-your-seat literary thrillers in chat form. In other words, you the story unfolds in bite-sized text messages. And, you know what? It sort of works.

In an era where our shortening attention spans are at increasing odds with most traditional art forms, this makes reading newly accessible and addictive – by drawing on an age-old tradition of epistolary literature.

Plus, you can contribute your own stuff, and gain followers, if you’re looking for a new creative outlet. Worth checking out. 


3. Laugh.ly

(free on Android and iOS)

Laugh.ly wants to be the Spotify of stand-up comedy.

While Spotify offers a decent collection of comedy streams, this seeks to be a dedicated hub for it, with a much greater selection and focus on the artists.

Like Spotify, you can make playlists with your favourite comedy acts and share them with your friends. As yet, there is a lack of UK content. Most of the featured comics are from the US – a fine source of political humour at present.


4. Runtasty

(free on Android and iOS)

From the makers of running app Runtastic, this offers over 40 recipes and 'kitchen hacks' to help you cook healthier food and maintain a healthier lifestyle.

Low calories and sweet teeth are not mutually exclusive, it seems. There are meal planners for everyone and every diet – gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, low-carb and so on. There are also filters also for meal category, including handy options like sub 15-minute fast-foods, sub 200 calories feats, or post-workout meals.

Each recipe details the calories, proteins, carbohydrates and fats, and also features a quick step-by-step video. Given its maker’s pedigree and know-how, this will likely develop into a feature-packed, community-spirited, Michellin-starred affair.


5. Sketch-Ar

(free on iOS)

This clever app uses augmented reality to allow you to create expert sketches.

Choose a picture to sketch, hold your phone above a sheet of paper, press the start button, and the master image appears on the paper in your viewfinder, along with the pencil in your hand. This way, you can trace outlines, which appear on the page virtually, and shade in the detail.

It takes some getting used to, but it is surprisingly flexible, and the results are impressive.

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