Top 5 Android and iOS apps of the week

This week’s collection of top apps hurled me back to my younger days, where those were filled with plenty of hours spent playing video games. Aah, that nostalgia. But fret not, it is not all just about games, but this week’s list will also include a slew of pretty cool productivity apps, where most of them are available for free and do not come with pesky in-app purchases or constant reminders for you to “upgrade”.

From mobile games to productivity and interface customisation applications, here is a list of five iOS and Android applications that have impressed me. And big shoutout to you, dear AndroidPIT community for helping me discover those gems.

Aurel, a diary and emotional balance sheet app

Aurel is an emotional tracking application with a rather standard feature set, except for one particular fact: it happens to be completely free and does not come with any kind of irritating pop-up ads or prompts for you to make in-app purchases. It’s the AndroidPIT community that made me discover it via our forum.

You can create diary entries by associating an emotion that is designated by a collection of 5 emojis, from the saddest to the happiest as well as “Meh!”, or a feeling of indifference.

Well, with just 5 emojis to choose from to describe your particular mood, it is rather safe to say that this is not a very wide emotional spectrum to work with. The application will also take stock of all the emojis that you have assigned to each individual diary entry in the form of a computer-generated chart: which is pretty cool in my books.

The only downside to this app: All of the data is stored on a server. This data will be routed through the Google Cloud platform of course, but that means no iCloud storage for Apple users and most importantly, no local storage. This is not very reassuring just in case Murphy’s Law strikes.

In a Reddit post published earlier this week, the creator of Aurel, who calls himself a student and self-taught developer, explains that your data is secure as all of it will be sent to the server that relies on AES-256 encryption for added peace of mind. This particular encryption protocol happens to be well-known as a relatively secure one (the very same protocol that Zoom is relying on to restore its battered image).

5 apps android ios aurel
Aurel is totally free and ad-free, but does not offer local storage for your data. / © AndroidPIT

The app in brief:

  • Last updated: July 12, 2020
  • Actual size: 25 MB
  • OS versions: Android 5.0 and iOS 8.0 or later
  • Price: free without advertising or in-app purchases

You can download the Aurel application for free from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.

Hellfire, an ode to Quake

Hellfire is a gem that was released at the end of June 2020 that has gone totally unnoticed by me. How? It’s a multiplayer FPS whose style is inspired by old fashioned games such as Quake or Unreal Tournament. We used to spend entire weekends playing FPS games with our friends back in our younger days. In this day and age, is it worth revisiting an FPS title while trying to grapple with our slowed-down reflexes due to age? Definitely!

In Hellfire, you are pitted in an arena with 2, 4, or 6 players. Deathmatch is the preferred mode of play here, where the most skilled player wins (luck does play a role, but over the course of time, you do realise that skill is the differentiating factor). It is every man for himself, where you respawn each time you are killed. Whoever racks up the most frags at the end of the game will be declared as the winner.

The gameplay is extremely smooth and exciting, with the game running at up to 90 fps. The ability to activate auto-shooting upon correct aim allows you to manage the movements and aiming in a far easier manner. While old school FPS gamers like me think that this does away with the skill component, I do understand that there are severe limitations in FPS titles when it comes to mobile gaming. Like any self-respecting Quake fan would expect, everything runs extremely smoothly. For enhancing your chances of victory you’ll find better weapons and bonus items spawning randomly all over the map.

5 apps android ios hellfire
The gameplay of Hellfire at 90 FPS is smooth and impressive. / © AndroidPIT

We even find the mechanics of the “bunny hop” incorporated here, well known to former FPS players, which consists of jumping in a diagonal loop to go faster, instead of walking normally. The game is totally free and devoid of ads and in-app purchases.

It’s really a game that can be played quickly, without any headache, no matter where you are: in the subway between two stations, on the loo, while proofreading an AndroidPIT article – oops. The game is silly and nasty, and also violent, but for fans of the genre it’s really a great find.

The app in a nutshell:

  • Last updated: June 30, 2020
  • Actual size: 100 MB
  • OS versions: Android 7.0 and iOS 13.0 or higher
  • Price: Free without advertising or in-app purchases

You can download the Hellfire game for free from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.

Twobird, to make your emails more collaborative

Twobird is a productivity application based on your Gmail account and offers collaboration features with your contacts.

You can manage your emails but also create notes, send them to your contacts and then edit them as a group, assign tasks, create reminders attached to a note, etc. We can imagine scenarios such as a brainstorming session concerning a particular project or the preparation of an event that involves several people.

The interface is a bit cluttered but the application is smooth and if you are used to using GSuite tools for the job, then it shouldn’t be too disorienting and easy to jump in.

5 apps android ios twobird
Twobird’s interface is a bit loaded but the application remains smooth. / © AndroidPIT

The app in a nutshell:

  • Last updated: 1 July 2020
  • Actual size: 50 MB
  • OS versions: Android 5.0 and iOS 12.0 or higher
  • Price: Free without advertising or in-app purchases

You can download the Twobird application for free from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.

Mi Control Center, a smidgen of MIUI (ads included)

Mi Control Center is an application that allows you to customise your smartphone’s user interface. It enables you to bring a touch of MIUI to your Android overlay, which is Xiaomi’s Android interface. The app works without having to own a smartphone from the mentioned brand.

You can have the MIUI Notification Drawer or Control Center and customise it with widgets according to your preferences. Like all apps of a similar nature, it is full of a few untimely ads as well as in-app purchases, which you must make in order to permanently remove these pesky ads. 

Hence, do not be surprised if you end up feeling as though you had just purchased a Xiaomi smartphone that was imported from China via Gearbest. Jokes aside, the Mi Control Center does have the merit of being clean and offers a myriad of options in the settings.

And as long as you give it the necessary system permissions, it’s a good substitute for the native notification pane of your smartphone and I must admit that this MIUI control center is visually pleasing.

5 apps android ios mi control center
Mi Control Center brings you a touch of MIUI on your Android smartphone / © AndroidPIT

The app in brief:

  • Last updated: July 13, 2020
  • Actual size: 5 MB
  • OS versions: Android 5.0 or later
  • Price: Free with advertising and in-app purchases

You can download the Mi Control Center application for free from the Google Play Store.

Professor Layton: Lost Future, for some Nintendo DS nostalgia

After bringing the first two instalments of this cult Nintendo DS game series to mobile phones, Level-5 is back with Professor Layton: Lost Future, released on the Nintendo DS way back in 2010.

As with other titles in the series, you’ll find professor-investigator Hershel Layton solving puzzles and helping local citizens, while cinematics help move the story forward.

It’s a puzzle game and an adventure game all rolled into one experience that I think all players are familiar with – so I won’t elaborate further. The bad news: You will have to pay the rather princely sum of €15 ($17.20) to play it, which I did not do for this article.

But if my old memories as a high school dropout in 2011 on my Nintendo 3DS Zelda 25th Anniversary edition serve me correctly, you won’t regret your purchase.

The app at a glance:

  • Last Updated: July 13, 2020
  • Real size: 70 MB
  • OS versions: Android 4.4 and iOS 8.0 or higher
  • Price: $14.99

You can download Professor Layton: Lost Future from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.

What do you think of this selection? Have you already tested some of the apps on this list? What would be your apps of the week? Share your opinions in the comments!

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