Apps That Made My Week: Sudoku, Photo Editors, Utilitas and More

This past week has been an odd one for me: a mixed bag of family time, alone time and some traveling. And as happens every time I’m by myself, I ended up spending a good deal of the alone time checking out new apps from the Play Store. Here’s a quick roundup of the ones that stood out for me and will most probably stay on my phone for a while to come.

Andoku Sudoku 2 (Free)

This is not a new game by any stretch, but one that I’ve surprisingly not heard much about. I’m a stickler for my morning dose of puzzles and have tried at least half a dozen different versions of sudoku on Android over the last year or so.

Andoku Sudoku 2 seems like it is going to stick with me for a long time. It is not the fanciest of Sudoku apps on Android, with very simple, straightforward graphics in a small set of different themes. But what stands out about the app for me is how nicely it works. Plus, apart from the regular Sudoku, you also get a whole bunch of variations like the X Sudoku, Hyper Sudoku and even Squiggly Sudoku.

Andoku Sudoku 2 Free

Andoku Sudoku 2 Free

Now that I’m getting used to the highlighted cells when entering a number on the board, I can’t imagine going back to the old pen and paper version, or any other digital version I’ve seen.

ShoeBox (Free)

Just last month I spent the better part of a couple of weekends scanning old photos so I could get rid of the paper clutter and make sure the memories lasted a lifetime. As is the law of nature, out came an app this month that could have made that job so much easier. ShoeBox is a new Android app that helps you digitize old photos by letting you take photos from your phone and doing the necessary processing to get the images just right.

ShoeBox

ShoeBox

A big part of that involves fixing the perspective on the photos that you regularly get from shooting the images at an angle. ShoeBox lets you fix that with precise edge detection and perspective correction. You can then categorize the images, add metadata like tags, date and location, and share them with your friends and family over Facebook, Twitter or Google+ right from inside the app.

Pix (Free)

Photo editors are all the rage on smartphones these days. It seems like there’s a new one landing in the Play Store just about every week, and I was therefore not too excited about trying out Pix. Perhaps it was the lowered expectations that had me pleasantly surprised by what the app can do. Now that I had a bunch of old photos scanned and a few new ones from a wedding I attended, Pix proved to be just the right app to add some special effects to the images before I shared them.

Pix

Pix

The app gives you a boatload of effects, textures and frames to apply to your photos one by one. Once you have the look you want, you can add the set as a favorite and apply it to other images. My favorite feature though, is the “randomize” button than randomly takes an effect, a texture and a frame to give you a seemingly unlimited number of combinations to try out.

Magic Piano (Free)

For those tuned into the iOS ecosystem, Magic Piano is not new. When the developers Smule brought the critically acclaimed app to Android last week, I was one of the first people to pounce on it and give it a go.

Magic Piano is a music app that lets you play your favorite songs on a piano without the hassle of actually learning the instrument. Simply select a song and tap the green and yellow dots to play the right notes. You are still the one controlling the tempo of the song – something you might find frustrating if you have never played a musical instrument before or if you are not familiar with the song you are playing. But if neither of those are true in your case, it can be a fun way to impress your friends at a party.

Magic Piano

Magic Piano

If you have trouble playing the two, three or four finger chords, you can set the difficulty to easy where the app will play the chords for you with a single tap. For those more inclined towards making their own music, there’s also a free play mode which is pretty fantastic. I, unfortunately, found out the hard way that I wasn’t good enough for it yet.

Utilitas (Free)

If you’ve read some of my reviews here on Android.AppStorm before, you’ll know I’m a big fan of multi-utility tools. Fortunately there is no dearth of those on the Play Store, and a new contender recently popped up called Utilitas.

As the name suggests, the app is a collection of utilities that do a bunch of different things, all in a tiny, no-frills package. You get a compass, spirit level indicator, a unit converter, discount calculator, timer, stopwatch, ruler, protractor and more.

Utilitas

Utilitas

There are also some seemingly useless ones, like a watch that simply show the current time and nothing else. On the whole, though, it’s a nice set of apps that don’t take up too much space and are always there when you need them. Besides, although getting all that for free may not be unheard of, the developer promises the app will always be not just free but also ad-free.

First Aid – American Red Cross (Free)

Last but not least is the official First Aid app from American Red Cross. I just got this installed after it was released a couple days ago and am going to recommend it to everyone starting now. You never know when a medical emergency can happen, and being prepared with the info you need to handle the situation can mean the difference between life and death. The First Aid app comes with facts, tips and guidelines on pretty much everything you need to know about first aid.

First Aid - American Red Cross

First Aid - American Red Cross

There are three main tabs: “Learn”, for all the information you will ever need about handling medical situations; “Prepare”, which helps you equip for events and emergencies and “Emergency” that, well, deals with what to do when you find yourself in a situation where you or someone else requires medical attention. Most importantly, all this information is downloaded on your device so that you have access to it even when there is no data connection available.