Ever-changing soundscapes from Brian Eno, retro gaming, the Netflix of Apps and more in out round-up of this month's smartphone-based goodies
Brian Eno: Reflection
(£29.99 on iOS)
Extremely pricey, but, then, this is Brian Eno, father of ambient noise and man at the controls of long players from the likes of Bowie, Byrne and U2.
There is a 54-minute album available for about a third of the price, which has received decent reviews, but then that is restrained by the medium. The idea, here, is you have a unique ambient listening experience each time; that the music ebbs and flows like a river – always familiar, always different. That’s the proposition. Musically, this thrums and oscillates in the spirit of past Eno works, like Music for Airports and Thursday Afternoon, except it takes different turns on each listen.
Clearly, it’s a niche proposition, but its soothing, mutating tones will appeal as background noise for dinner parties and home working, as well as Eno enthusiasts.
(£1.69 on Android and iOS)
Like an arcade shooter game straight out of 1982, this is all retro aesthetics and wonderful for it.
You are a spaceship, navigating the inside of what looks like a blocky computer system and shooting everything in your path.
While the vertically-scrolling graphics might be retro, the gameplay is responsive, and the soundtrack – somewhere between an Michael Mann-directed LA-shoot-up movie and an Orbital-scored after-party – is heady, and awesome. Huge fun.
($10 per month on Mac)
Like a Netflix of apps, this lets you access a wide range of apps for Apple Mac devices for a monthly subscription.
It means you don’t have to buy any apps or in-app purchases, or be assaulted by adverts for no-premium versions, from the Mac App Store itself; this gives access to the full functionality of a variety of apps for writing, imaging, videos, coding, and other popular tasks.
The other thing this claims to help with is effectively de-cluttering the App Store itself, by stripping out the sub-par titles and promoting only the most useful and best-made applications within the subscription.
Ultimate Cat Simulator
(£0.89 on Android and iOS)
This falls into a weird sub-genre of gaming apps; there are simulator games for all kinds of animals – dinosaurs, foxes, sharks. In this one, you are an alley cat on the mean streets of the big city, required to make your way in the world – hunt food, fend off enemies, raise kittens with your cat-spouse. You have to maintain your health, hunger, thirst, and energy, whilst choosing to stay wild, or get adopted as a house cat.
You can earn points, and upgrade your kitty, and even turn on 18-rated mode for extra graphic bloody effects when you come up against a gnarly-faced pooch or a vicious rat or raccoon. Sound weird? Well, the 3D graphics are a little clunky, and the gameplay is a little slow, but you get used to it, and it sure makes a change from Candy Crush Saga.
(free on Android)
This is a journal app, which seeks to make the process of smartphone-based diary keeping or note taking more accessible and attractive. It’s fairly minimalist, with each day represented by a subtle rainbow pantone. Which is the point – this offers a clean space to unload your head, and order your thoughts.
There’s but a single additional function – a “side drawer”, in which to place your “daily focus”. It’s an idea taken from yoga, apparently, that it can be helpful to give your day a single focus. All in, this is a neat resource for anyone jotting down notes and ideas on the hoof.