Apps of the week – reviewed for you

One of these might destroy your phone. (Hint: It’s the one with fire as its icon.)

One of these might destroy your phone. (Hint: It’s the one with fire as its icon.)

On-the-fly fitness, photography, and gaming (plus one of the worst apps I’ve ever seen)

Android and iOS

When it seems like you’re already juggling too many things at once, finding the time to stay fit can seem impossible. When I heard that a physiotherapist here in Kamloops developed an app for seven-minute workout plans, I had to check it out.

FitSpark surveys your age, gender and skill level on a scale of beginner to expert, then generates workout routines for you that can last from seven to 20 minutes, depending on how much time you have. The exercises can all be done in the comfort of your own home, typically without any equipment, and you’re given a sidebar with animated tutorials on each one.

Once you start a workout, the app essentially just becomes a timer that rings at the start and finish of each exercise. The app also lets you schedule workouts for later, and over time it will show you the progress you’re making on each muscle group.

Is it worth the three dollars I paid? I don’t regret buying it – the app is still cheaper than a gym membership and it gives you on-the-fly workout routines planned out by a professional physiotherapist.

Android and iOS

The selling point of Camu is that you can view its Instagram-style photo filters in real-time, before you take the photo. You can adjust the contrast of photos by swiping up or down before you shoot and you get a basic array of other photo effects like a collage-making mode, a tilt-shift blur effect, and the ability to crop your photo to the 1:1 aspect ratio used to share photos on Instagram. The filters and effects all work in its video mode, too.

It’s an app geared towards the social sharer, and not the genuine photography enthusiast. If you find you’re always fiddling with different Instagram filters after you shoot your photos, Camu could be a time saver.

Dumb Ways to Die 2
Android and iOS

For those who didn’t play the original Dumb Ways to Die, I’ll bring you up to speed: the franchise is based around some cheerful characters that die doing dumb things. It is technically a gamified train safety PSA, but also a pretty entertaining game. It consists of minigames that take about ten seconds each to complete and get harder as you go along – great for when you have five minutes to kill.

Dumb Ways to Die 2 is pretty much the same app but with more games, more characters, and the introduction of different worlds. Freezerville, Drown Town and the Dumb Dome each have their own set of games, including a curling game where you rub your screen so an explosive curling stone doesn’t blow you up and a running game where you tap your screen to clear electrified hurdles. Just like with the original, these are all stupid simple games that help that ten minute break in between classes.

Hand Warmer Free
Android and iOS

Free (but possibly a few hundred bucks to replace your phone)

There are various apps in both the Android and Apple app stores that stress your phone’s CPU to turn it into a makeshift hand warmer. I downloaded one called “Hand Warmer Free” and, upon opening it, I got the following disclaimer: “Use at own risk. In the extremely unlikely chance that your device is damaged due to the use of this application, we will not be held responsible.”

In the name of science, I disregarded this warning and tried out the app anyways. All it consists of is an on/off button and a thermometer. While I was worried it would melt my phone or something, I instead found out that the phone simply didn’t get warm enough to warm my hands. It took a full minute just to get my phone from 24 degrees Celsius to 26 degrees, and I was indoors.

Who thought this was a good idea anyways? You can buy 10-packs of hand warmers for $10 at Canadian Tire, and they last seven hours a piece. Good luck getting seven hours out of an app literally designed to drain your phone’s battery for heat!