Gmail gets better
The latest edition of Gmail works about as well as you think it should, at last. Also, apps for paying bills, reading documents, and fighting World War II better than ever.
Let’s be honest: Hitler is always in need of defeat. Battle Supremacy, a $2 offering for iOS, lets users fight World War II at the helm of a battle tank. It features both single player and online multiplayer modes; victories unlock better tanks and cooler missions, all without spending additional money on “freemium” upgrades.
This $2 app for iPhone and iPad helps users stay on top of their bills. Just enter the bill and the date it’s due—single-entry only needed for regular monthly payments—and Bills Forecast will send push notifications when it’s time to pay up. It syncs to iCloud so users can track bills across multiple devices, and it graphs out bills over time so users can discern trends.
Readdle is a wizard at helping users read and use documents on their iOS device, and Documents 5 for iOS is proof of the skill, with new features that include a redesign of the user interface, the ability to drag and drop files between folders—including shared folders on Windows computers—and the ability to designate “favorite” documents. Documents can also now be downloaded in the background.
The Gmail app for iOS has always seemed a bit slow and clumsy, which is why it’s never quite seemed in place either on iOS or in the Google universe. This week’s update may change that: The app now fetches mail even when it’s not open, so that messages are waiting in the inbox when the user opens it. Easier yet: The app also includes single sign-on—put in the password here to access all the Google apps on a device.
Speaking of Google, the Hangouts app for iPhone and iPad also got a refresher this week. It’s been fully optimized for iOS 7, now includes picture-in-picture video calling, offers animated emoticons, allows users to record and send video messages up to 10 seconds long, and even lets them send a map of their location.
Learnist is kind of a celebrity-driven Reader’s Digest version of Quora—or maybe Wikipedia—offering “bite-sized” bits of learning about current topics “curated” by experts in the field. (This video helps explain it all.) Learning isn’t free, though: Some special topics require an in-app purchase to access.
MLB At Bat
This has long been one of the best sports apps in existence, and now it’s ready for the 2014 baseball season. It’s been redesigned for iOS 7 and now delivers inline videos, as well as offering a leaguewide scoreboard with a single tap. Purchase subscriptions for access to each team’s radio broadcasts; MLB.tv broadcasts are also available through the app.
Version 3.0 of this weather map for iPhone and iPad includes a full-screen map view; redesigned displays for current conditions, forecast, and alerts; and a simpler interface for combining data layers on a map. Plus, weather information can now be shared from the app.