A smartphone is only as great as its apps, and developers were hard at work again this week to make your pocket computer just a little bit better. This week iOS saw a swell of platform-only apps whereas Android was a little light. I also came across an amazing language-learning app for Windows Phone that's giving me only mild OS jealousy. Take a look at this week's new smartphone superpowers.
QK Labs brings a lot of neat little innovations to the your normal text messaging app. Perhaps one of my favourites is a night time mode that makes staring at your overly illuminated smartphone screen less painful when you need to send that short message before bed. Also, quick messaging from home screen makes QKSMS one of the smarter SMS/MMS options when Google's growing number of messaging apps just don't cut it. [Free]
Numerous weather apps litter every app store imaginable. However, few are as nicely designed and useful as Weather or Not. Like many weather apps, you can create several location profiles and the app opens up into a sliding timeline that delivers weather information up to the very minute of your day. You can also easily switch between any other day that week in its seven-day forecast along the bottom, and the app integrates wonderfully with iOS 8's new third-party widget capabilities. [$US3]
Writing the weekly "Apps of the Week" section makes me understandably interested in what people are actually downloading onto their smartphones. Instead of being incredibly nosy, and inevitably surveying my friends' apps when I borrow their phone, Homescreen makes my smartphone snooping much more easier (and even encouraged!). Currently only for iOS, Homescreen is a simple app that lets you peruse what other peoples' homescreens look like and uses image recognition tech to deliver more info when you hover over an icon. If you're constantly on the hunt to test new apps (which if you're reading this, there's a good chance), Homescreen is must-have addition to your app collection. [Free]
Canopy is a well-designed and curated Amazon shopping experience for iPhone. It takes out some of the chaotic nature out of Amazon's own mobile experience, has a great discovery/search function, and also allows you to create collections and share finds with other users. It's simple design makes mobile shopping a much more calming adventure. [Free]
Last week, we mentioned Windows Phone new official Duolingo app, letting you learn all kinds of new languages. But one of Duolingo's many lingual blindspots are Asian languages, specifically the most widely spoken tongue on the planet -- Mandarin. Hanyu.co plugs that unfortunate gap with its well-designed and intuitive app for learning Mandarin. Much like Duolingo, the app guides you through courses and vocabulary while tracking your progress. This isn't a brand new app as its resided in the Windows Phone app store for a couple months, but its mention via Windows Central along with my own dabbling makes it clear that it deserves a mention (despite my tardiness). [Free]