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50 best apps of 2015

Posted by
David Cornish
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From productivity enhancing apps to productivity ruining games, 2015 has been a strong year for pocket-dwelling programs.

Having navigated our way through platformers, password managers and playlist compilers, we've picked the 50 best apps of the year for you to fill your phone with.

Get downloading. 

  • 50 best apps of 2015 17

    Enlight

    Yet to be enlightened? 

    Apple's "app of the year" is set to be your new iPhone photography tool, providing a bewildering number of image enhancements, adjustments and tweakerie we'd never encountered. 

    Easy to use, with fantastic results, it's worth every penny of its £2.99 price tag.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 18

    Downwell

    The picture doesn't do this bonkers creation justice.

    You play a young guy armed with rocket boots. You're falling down a well, unable to propel yourself up, but able to smite all the nasty things lurking below. Amidst the evils are heaps of treasure, handy for buying new gear at the shops you also encounter.

    Does it make sense? No. Will you care? Not one jot.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 19

    Gett

    Gett has been a big player in the taxi app ranks for a while now - but 2015 saw the Uber-alternative step up its game with a host of new delivery features.

    Want wine delivered to your door in ten minutes? Or a bottle of Clicquot champagne? How about a salad? All available via the app's new delivery service.

    Oh, and it's a life-saver at 3am on a cold Saturday morning.

    Gett it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 20

    Lara Croft GO

    A puzzle game that manages to successfully condense the exploration and adventure of Croft's original outings into a handheld format.

    Anyone who's played Square Enix' superb Hitman GO will be immediately familiar with the layout: Croft has a set of paths she can take, with traps and foe moving around in a turn-based sequence. Avoid the bad guys, capture the loot and get out alive.

    You're in serious danger of missing your bus stops with this one.

    Get it here: iOS, Android

  • 50 best apps of 2015 21

    Beaker

    The best part of secondary school science lessons were those few minutes the teacher left the room, allowing you to stick a load of unstable elements into one jar and stick a Bunsen burner under it.

    Beaker maintains that same (dangerous) scientific curiosity, but replicates the science from the safety of your phone. 

    Genuinely interesting stuff.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 22

    Dark Echo

    A properly brilliant bit of what gamer journalists like to call "ingenuitive design" this.

    The minimal setting sees you staring at a set of footprints. Tap around your dark surroundings and a series of "echo" lines emanate from your path, highlighting obstacles and potential foes ahead. 

    Beautiful, addictive and surprisingly terrifying, you need this app in your phone.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 23

    Battlestation: Harbinger

    The space-based battler now has an entry on Android smartphones.

    A fast-paced real time strategy title, Harbinger sees you command a fleet of starships in an effort to fend off three races looking to overwhelm humanity. Capture new technologies, upgrade your weapons and find yourself longing for a life beyond orbit.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 24

    Soma

    A messaging service not unlike Whatsapp, SOMA's main sell is its "high level" of encryption. 

    Messages are encrypted the moment they leave your phone, meaning only the intended recipient can read it. Other features include permanent deletion of messages and the undelivered messages expiring after a week - rather than waiting to get picked up by snooping eyes. Even the app's makers can't access your data.

    Secure group chats can also include 500 participants, while conference calls can host up to four video participants at a time.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 25

    Fallout Shelter

    The teasing prequel to Bethesda's all-conquering Fallout 4 is more than just a hype-builder.

    A resource management strategy game, you're in charge of your very own vault: look after your growing population, build new power stations, water works, diners and attempt to keep everyone's mind off the nuclear apocalypse outside. 

    Surprisingly addictive, despite not having much of an end game. We guarantee you'll be staying up late to see what your explorers have brought back from the wastelands.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 26

    Pause

    Based on the principles of Tai Chi, it uses a focusing method to help you relax and reach hitherto unknown levels of 'chill'. "By slowly and continuously moving your fingertip across the screen, Pause triggers the body’s ‘rest and digest’ response, quickly helping you regain focus and release stress within minutes."

    So basically you move your finger about and feel really good. Which isn't a euphemism.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 27

    Final Fantasy VII

    Final Fantasy VII in your pocket. 

    If that sentence doesn't have your heart doing backflips,  you're reading the wrong list. 

    Best keep this one to the iPad - smaller phones won't be able to do it justice.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 28

    Hitman: Sniper

    You're right, it would be impossible to replicate the range of skills Agent 47 possess in a game that's playable on a 5-inch screen. Hitman Sniper succeeds by focusing in on one of his deadly talents for an immensely enjoyable pocket experience. 

    You're stationed opposite a luxury complex housing a gaggle of high profile targets, armed with a high powered, upgradable rifle. First level - take out the target. Second - take out two targets. Third? Take out a target and dispose of the body in one shot. Impressive shots gain higher rewards - there's a neat trick you can do with a glass barrier we don't want to spoil for you.

    With over 20 levels, this is the best £3.99 you've ever spent on a mobile game.

    Get it here: iOSAndroid 

  • 50 best apps of 2015 29

    Mazecraft

    Build a maze. Share your maze. Die trying to escape your mate's maze. 

    The scope of this cutesy puzzle title threatens to swallow most of your year, let alone a boring bus ride. A host of traps makes maze design even more sinister, as you attempt to build the ever-elusive maze that you alone can solve.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 30

    Yousician

    A few years ago, you bought a guitar/keyboard under the impression that you were going to follow through on your New Year's resolution to learn an instrument. Ever since, it's been collecting an impressive coat of dust. 

    Yousician is the app that would have seen you maintain your enthusiasm. Walking you through the most basic of guitar/piano skills via its smart microphone setup, you follow on-screen diagrams and receive "grades" based on your performance. 

    No, it won't get you up to concert level, but it'll crack the early frustrations that put many off learning.

    Get it here 

  • 50 best apps of 2015 31

    Rollercoaster Tycoon 3

    The polished classic of 2004 now has a home on your iPad (or iPhone, if you're happy squinting). 

    The task remains the same: build and manage an entertaining theme park, with rollercoasters, spinners and all manner of vomit-inducing rides. Or you can let the power go to your head and build a twisted death park. You sicko.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 32

    Google Maps

    Yes, we're aware the Google Maps app was in existence before 2015. 

    The update that makes it worthy of inclusion is its new offline mode. 

    Type the name of the city, town or region you want to access offline into the search bar - like "London". Once the map centres on London, drag up from the bottom of the screen. The option of 'Download' should appear.

    When downloaded, you'll then have access to that region without need for any data connection - making this the go-to navigation app for your next holiday.

    Get it here: iOS, Android

  • 50 best apps of 2015 33

    Rockstars of Ooo - Adventure Time Rhythm Game

    "Isn't Adventure Time a kid's show?" Only if you think The Simpsons is aimed at children.

    The madcap Cartoon Network series now has a surprisingly polished rhythm game, seeing you tap along with the musical set pieces from the show. 

    If you've got no idea who Marceline the Vampire Queen is, this one isn't for you.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 34

    March of Empires

    March of Empires will feel very familiar to anyone who spent their youth conquering half the world on Civilization or Age of Empires as a kid - and that's a good thing. 

    Gameloft has managed to condense the best aspect of strategy games - from asset management to all-out war - into a tidy mobile format. Pick a nation, set about taking over the world with an expanding empire. You can dip in for a quick five minute battle, or explore the game's deeper corners, forging alliances with online players and building your own hero. 

    Your commute is about to get a lot more strategic.

    Get it here (AndroidiOS)

  • 50 best apps of 2015 35

    Lipp

    App advice from Danny Dyer? We didn't think it would happen either, but his expletive-filled voice-overs - created using the Lipp app - are worthy of imitation.

    Load up a video clip, add your own dialogue, watch the internet laugh. 

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 36

    I Am Bread

    Stunning graphics. A gripping narrative. Vast combat experiences. You'll find none of them here - it's a bread simulator.

    Surprisingly challenging and deeply enjoyable, you must 'walk' bread towards its final target, a toaster, while avoiding substances that'll your slice less edible (dirt, glass, muck).

    There's more to this than you'd think - unless you're thinking of giggling like a child at a screen containing a mucky loaf, in which case you're pretty much there.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 37

    Pushbullet

    Sat in the office wishing you could reply to that text message in a more subtle fashion than hiding it under the desk? 

    Pushbullet allows you to "connect" your smartphone to your computer, sending SMS texts, files and notifications to your desktop, from where you can then reply. 

    Productivity is about to take a hit.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 38

    Dojo

    There are a lot of "find something to do this weekend" apps out there - but few of them match the design, consistency and ease of Dojo.

    Only available in London (sorry, wider UK), it helps you sift through the avalanche of activities in the capital find cool stuff to do immediately within the near vicinity. Bars, pop-ups, festivals, exhibits - everything your hipster heart could wish for. 

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 39

    Star Wars: Uprising

    Not that you needed to, but you can amplify your Star Wars buzz with this mobile title.

    A bridge between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, this RPG allows you to create your own character to take on the crumbling forces of the Empire. Once you've put together your crew, you can take on 'Runs' that see you battle foe to build up XP. 

    There's surprising depth to this little RPG - with different classes, races and factions to acquaint yourself with. The in-game purchases can be irksome, but don't let them put you off an otherwise great experience.

    Get it here: iOSAndroid

  • 50 best apps of 2015 40

    Avast

    Want to keep your Android phone free from viruses, malware, adware and spyware? Of course you do - you're not a pillock.

    With its virus scanner and backup system, Avast is amongst the best free security apps on the Google Play store. There are a bunch of handy anti-theft tools to sweeten the deal, allowing you to shut down or wipe your phone in case it gets pinched or lost. 

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 41

    Order & Chaos II: Redemption

    If you love levelling up your Elvish mage or getting new gear for your Orc Warrior, Order & Chaos II is a fantasy world you'll want to dip a toe in.

    A sequel to the hugely popular Order & Chaos mobile game (12 million downloads and counting), Redemption brings a massive new world of fallen heroes and quests to your thumbs.

    Immediately familiar to anyone who's lost time in World of Warcraft, you can embark on quick dungeon raids, open-world player v player battles, head out on main story missions or just run about interacting with real players and NPCs. A staggering achievement for a mobile game. 

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 42

    Sky

    No, not the TV network - a new, minimalist puzzle adventure.

    Your character (a transforming cube) glides along a rail, with various paths open to its progress. You just tap to jump - which sounds simple enough, but you'll be amazed at how addictive Sky makes this interaction. 

    Hundreds of levels to hop through, a gorgeous, calming soundtrack, it's your new "one level before bed" obsession.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 43

    Feedly

    Web readers can be ugly brutes, filled with complicated RSS jargon and lengthy setups.

    Feedly feels like it was designed by someone who understands this: it's clean, can be set up in minutes and connects across your mobile, tablet and desktop. 

    Add feeds from your favourite websites, discover new suggestions, and find yourself a host of interesting articles to browse from the comfort of Feedly's neat layout. Save longer reads, share interesting articles, all from one app. And be sure to add ShortList.com, yeah?

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 44

    Sword of Xolan

    "Xolan is a young and brave man who fights for justice no matter what the cost", reads the sell of Sword of Xolan. What it fails to mention is that your plucky hero thirsts for justice via the sharp end of a sword. And fireballs. Whilst wearing a cape. 

    A brilliant action platformer that actually works for the small screen world of mobile gaming.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 45

    Memrise

    The best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in it - at least, with think that's how our GCSE Spanish teacher blagged a school trip Barcelona). 

    Memrise uses a video library of thousands of native speakers to help newcomers learn a new tongue. An "adaptive" engine monitors your progress through tests, giving you the right nudges toward total fluency.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 46

    LEGO Batman: Beyond Gotham

    Wipe that smirk off your face this minute - LEGO games are not for kids.

    Well, they are. But they're also for adults - LEGO Batman brings that familiar mix of brick-building tasks and charming humour to the DC universe. Scores of characters to unlock, surprisingly challenging puzzles to solve: it's a must for fans of the Dark Knight.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 47

    Angry Birds 2

    Yes, it's the successor to a game you've played to death - but Angry Birds 2 brought a wealth of new challenges to your thumbs that many were quick to ignore.

    You're still slinging birds at stacks of sticks and pigs - and it's still as fun as it used to be.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 48

    DICE

    Stumped as to how your mates are continuing to land gig tickets before you were even aware there was a tour on?

    They might be using DICE -  an app that allows fans to buy face value tickets to the gigs, club nights and festivals with no additional booking fees. 

    Acts are picked by the DICE team, who appear to have a keen ear for decent acts and new sounds. Add in the matter of an easy re-sale process and it's your new favourite event app.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 49

    Nova Launcher

    One for the Android kids.

    Ever wanted to totally customise your phone layout? Moved from Samsung to HTC, but miss the old design aesthetic? Nova Launcher allows you to tweak the appearance of your Android setup - giving you limitless power to control your mobile experience. 

    Neat.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 50

    The Room 3

    Yet more carefully crafted point-and-click puzzles are here to haunt your smartphone.

    The third instalment of the hugely successful series, The Room presents you with a series of apparently lifeless puzzle boxes, switches and scenarios: as soon as you start tapping about, you'll find all isn't as it seems. 

    Superbly atmospheric, this could be the best puzzle app you download in 2015.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 51

    Hopper

    Finally, a better way to nabbing a holiday bargain than Googling "Cheap flights, London to New York".

    Hopper scans flight prices so you don't have to, using clever algorithms based on airline data to "predict" the best time to buy flights in fluctuating markets - and sending you updates when prices start falling.

    Yes, it's currently very US-centric with its dollar currency displays, but it's definitely worth downloading before your next holiday search begins.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 52

    Clash

    Mobile role playing games are getting really, really good.

    Case in point, Clash for Dawn.

    Anyone who's ever raided a dungeon will know the landscape: pick a character, grab a weapon, choose a faction and stop the Dark Lord from taking down the City of Light with his undead army. You can either go it alone in single player or team up with mates to carry out quests.

    So-long, battery life.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 53

    Google Photo

    Google Photo is smart. Really smart. 

    Littered with useful photo functions (create joint albums by sharing links with your family and friends, search through images without tags, save images to the cloud without the hassle of backing them up), a neat layout and the ability to access your collection from pretty much any device, you'll wonder how you managed before you downloaded this gem. 

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 54

    Please, Don't Touch Anything

    Finally, a moment when you're actively encouraged to press big red buttons you're not supposed to touch.

    A neat twist on the point-and-click puzzle genre, you're covering for a colleague taking a bathroom break, faced with a mysterious panel comprising of a large red button.

    As curiosity gets the better of you, more buttons, panels and sliders are revealed. A wonderful excuse to break the rules.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 55

    LastPass

    There are too many passwords in the world. You have to create a non-repeating 12 digit code just to order an online takeaway these days (we genuinely had to last week). Which is where LastPass comes in.

    A supreme password autofiller, LastPass is entirely 'safe', locking all your details and passwords away from the web in its encrypted vaults. There's also a handy share feature for sending certain details to contacts, and the ability to generate "unhackable" passwords from the app.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 56

    Skiing: Yeti Mountain

    Remember SkiFree? You will if you're over the age of 25 and your first computer had a floppy drive.

    Skiing: Yeti Mountain is the spiritual successor of the legendary mountain escape. Slide down increasingly difficult hills of ice, all the while in search of the illusive Yeti.

    Manages that tricky skill of being both relaxing and ruthlessly challenging.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 57

    Tinder

    Now, stick with us on this.

    Tinder had a significant update this year, adding the new feature 'Superlike' and putting a cap on the number of 'Likes' you can dish out a day - asking for cash in return for more.

    What this has resulted in is users actually bothering to use their 'Likes', rather than swiping with careless abandon. Which means you might actually find a date for New Year's Eve at this rate.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 58

    Tiny Rogue

    Your new favourite toilet game.

    A miniature, unashamedly 'cute' dungeon crawler, you guide your tiny knight around pixelated prisons in search of bad guys to smite, tools to wield and points to level up with.

    As you climb levels and kill foes, your high score will tick up - a process that you'll quickly become addicted to.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 59

    Beneath The Lighthouse

    There are a lot of puzzle apps kicking about on mobile stores - and few of them are as inventive as this rotational gem.

    Enter a world of twists and turns beneath the foundations of the lighthouse, in a search for your lost grandfather. 

    Each puzzle section will require a careful sequence of rotations to guide your character over your standard array of platforming obstacles: spikes, giant swords, bottomless pits. Why you'd build a lighthouse on top of this stuff is beyond us.

    Get it here: iOSAndroid

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  • 50 best apps of 2015 61

    Microsoft Word

    Back in "the day", Microsoft Word cost the better part of £100 in a PC-restricted Office setup.

    Mercifully, Microsoft is keeping up with the times - case in point, the free Word app is an absolute steal, allowing you to review, tweak and share documents from your phone. No, you won't write an entire report with your thumbs, but it's a life-saver for making quick adjustments at 3:20am on a Thursday night when you're miles from the office.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 62

    Gang Nations

    Managed to exhaust Clash of Clans? Say hello to its urban successor. 

    A fresh take on the laid-back tower defence/combat game genre, Gang Nation takes a light hearted (trivialising?) look at mob violence: recruit a crew (from up to 10 types of troops), fight for territory and look to expand your empire a few more blocks. Hours of addiction.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 63

    Tandem

    That new language you've been telling yourself you'd learn after you watched that French art house film that was ruined by subtitles? This is the app that's going to teach you.

    Or rather, it's the people within Tandem that'll teach you - an international community of linguists keen to share the language they speak with those looking to learn. 

    Easy to navigate, and a great deal cheaper than night school.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 64

    Hopiko

    After the rise of Temple Run, app stores were straining under the weight of endless runner apps - hardly any of them worthy of your taps. 

    HoPiKo is a welcome departure from the speed-running platformer norm: yes, you're still jumping from platform to platform, but with a great deal more skill and rhythm than you knew you possessed.

    Challenging with just the right amount of frustration (you don't throw your phone against the wall in frustration, but you're tempted to).

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 65

    Chrome Beta

    "But I'm already using Chrome? It's been around for ages."

    True - but Chrome Beta hasn't. 

    This is the testing ground of the future Chrome experience - a place that allows you to witness new design tweaks and features that will arrive on the normal Chrome browser in the future. Yes, this means it'll sometimes crash - but you'll also be a month ahead of the curve.

    Get it here

  • 50 best apps of 2015 66

    Zedge

    In the early 2000s, daytime television was dominated by adverts for ringtone subscription services - a curse that would bleed your bank balance (probably your parents') dry in months. 

    Zedge is the modern saviour of the ringtone, packing in an obscene amount of free content into its many chambers of phone customisations. In addition to perfect tunes, there are free wallpapers and icons, allowing you to create a truly 'custom' phone appearance. 

    Get it here

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Author

David Cornish

Shortlist.com’s esteemed Tech Editor. David has a keen interest in video games, Star Wars and stuff that runs on batteries.

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