From Doctor Who to Italian chefs, and South Korean survival-horror to lost socks – the App Store is certainly a broad church in 2016.
Our pick of the best new apps and games this month includes all of the above, plus music-making tools, retro dungeon adventures, and an app where children are rated on their ability to copy cartoon characters’ gurning.
All prices are correct at the time of writing, and if you see “IAP” it means the app or game uses in-app purchases. Looking for Android apps? There’s a separate monthly roundup for those.
Doctor Who: Comic Creator (Free + IAP)
Aimed at children, although Whovian parents will have a lot of fun with it too. This BBC app gets you creating digital comics starring various Doctors, companions and aliens, with a simple interface and a mix’n’match monster creation tool. Fun creative play for kids (of all ages).
Miitomo (Free + IAP)
Nintendo’s first official mobile app is here, although it’s less of a game and more of an avatar-based social app – focusing on the familiar Mii characters. Create a Mii, and send them off as a “social go-between” to friends with quizzes, mini-games and photo-editing built in. Quirky but intriguing.
Dragon Anywhere (Free)
Newly available in the UK, this is Nuance’s dictation app which turns your speech into documents stored on the company’s servers, so you can access them from various devices. The app works well – although you’ll need a £14.99-a-month “Dragon Anywhere” subscription to use it after your first week.
Sky Kids (Free + Subscription)
This is Sky’s new app for children in the UK, bringing together shows from kids’ channels from Cartoon Network to CBeebies, with the promise of exclusive shows (new Morph episodes included) later in the year. A future update will also enable parents to set viewing-time limits.
If you have a family member with Alzheimer’s, this app is well worth checking out. It’s partly a logging app, to keep a record of their memories and daily activities. You can also use it to get the latest Alzheimer’s-related news, or to chat with Javoo’s team of carers when you need a knowledgable pair of ears.
Great Italian Chefs – Recipes (Free)
Startup Great British Chefs has released apps featuring recipes by, yes, great British chefs. Now it’s turning its attention to Italians. This offers 118 recipes from 26 chefs, from starters to desserts. The instructions are clear and easy to follow, and there’s a handy shopping-list feature for getting ingredients.
Developer Liine has made musical tools used by Daft Punk and Björk among other artists, but its new iPad app is for anyone. It’s an accessible, fun app for creating electronic music, which makes it easy to lash together beats and melodies when you have a spare moment, then record and share them with others.
Nexar – AI Dashcam (Free)
Dashcams have been getting popular in recent years, recording video of the road ahead while driving, as evidence of accidents (or falling meteors). Nexar is a clever idea for turning your iPhone into a dashcam, although be aware that everything it records is uploaded to the company’s servers.
Here’s an interesting idea: a chatbot-based app that wants to help you with your customer-service complaints. The idea being that you tell it what went wrong when you were dealing with a specific company – from travel hassles and late deliveries to dodgy products – and it handles the complaints process for you. Its focus is on the UK, US and Canada, although it’s available worldwide.
MuvaMoji by Amber Rose (£1.49)
Model Amber Rose recently made the headlines for her revelations about former partner Kanye West. Now she’s going head-to-head with his wife Kim Kardashian on the app stores with an emoji app. MuvaMoji includes hundreds to use in your messaging, including – a welcome step – a full section of LGBT-themed emoji.
Super Arc Light (£0.79)
Billed as “Super Hexagon meets Geometry Wars”, that should give anyone who knows their mobile games a clue that this can be quite hard. That makes it a rewarding challenge for fans of minimalist shoot ‘em ups though: this is twitch gaming at its finest on a mobile device.
Lost Socks: Naughty Brothers (£3.99)
Lost socks might not sound like the most inspiring subject for a game, but Lost Socks is an absolute treat. It has spectacular cartoon-style visuals and animation, and 30 inventive levels to run, jump and puzzle your way through. It can be difficult, but never becomes too frustrating.
White Day (£4.99 + IAP)
What a time to be alive if you’re a fan of mobile remakes of South Korean survival-horror PC games from 2001! But hold that snark, because White Day was well worth reviving. It’s a genuinely-creepy adventure set in a locked-up high school, with the emphasis on frights rather than gory killings.
Total War Battles: Kingdom (Free + IAP)
Key uses for smartphones in 2016: social networking, streaming music, raising armies to conquer the world while building a sprawling kingdom back home… Total War Battles: Kingdom looks a good addition to the military-strategy genre, with absorbing gameplay and the ability to play on your PC as well as mobile devices.
Legacy Quest (Free + IAP)
“Collect cubelets and craft epic, monster-slaying weapons and gear,” explains the app store listing for Nexon’s RPG, which has just gone global. If that sounds like Minecraft… Well, there are some similarities, but this is more of a traditional action-RPG game at heart, with crafting adding a neat extra touch.
King Rabbit (£0.79 + IAP)
We’re hunting wabbits, here! But only to rescue them. This is a well-crafted action-puzzler with a nasty side – the unfortunate deaths your long-eared hero can fall victim to. The controls are simple swipes, but the excellent level design will really test your wits. An indie classic.
Faily Brakes (Free + IAP)
Faily Brakes might sound like a four-wheeled Crossy Road rip-off, but thankfully it’s more interesting – and fun – than that. Viewed from behind your vehicle, the game sees you careering down a mountain dodging scenery, collecting coins, and marvelling at the slow-motion replays when you crash.
Gigglebug’s Face Race (Free)
Finally, something fun: Gigglebug’s Face Race is a brilliant app for children where they’re presented with a cartoon character pulling funny faces, and have to match them – captured by the device’s front-facing camera, and given star ratings. Kids will love it, and they’ll also insist parents play along.
Dungeon Monsters RPG (Free + IAP)
A blast from the gaming past. Dungeon Monsters is a first-person dungeon crawler, which will give gamers of a certain age flashbacks to Dungeon Master, The Bard’s Tale and other genre classics. Not that this is entirely old-fashioned: its colourful graphics and fast-paced gameplay feel modern.
Bonbon Cakery (Free + IAP)
If you’ve ever played a game by developer Kairosoft, you’ll know what to expect from Bonbon Cakery. It’s a strategy game where you run a cake shop, developing your own recipes to satisfy customers, while building up your business and entering contests. A familiar formula, but as addictive as the company’s previous games.
That’s our pick of the new apps that the App Store had to offer this month, but what have you been enjoying? The comments section is open for your thoughts on the apps above, or your recommendations for new apps that we’ve missed.