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Top 5 Free Movie Apps for Android Devices

android apps

Now more than ever, people are looking to watch movies and shows via android and iOS apps. But which ones are rated the best? If your budget is tight then you’ll be looking to cut your outgoings and expensive Sky and cable packages will possibly be the first to go. But there’s only so much time you can spend gardening, exercising and catching up on those DIY projects, so a little downtime where you can lose yourself in a blockbuster is just what people need. So with all this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the best movie apps for android devices, all of which are completely free.

1. ShowBox

There’s a reason this app rates number one on so many review sites. ShowBox is a third party digital streaming app that’s available for both android and iOS devices. You can choose to download or stream from a huge range of movies and TV shows, allowing you to catch up on your favourite programmes even when you’re offline. What’s more, it’s a free service and you don’t need to set up an account, so it’s incredibly simple to set up and easy to use. It’s also ad-free, so there won’t be any annoying interruptions to your viewing. One point to note is that the app isn’t available on the Google Play store, but the APK file can easily be downloaded on to your Android smartphone from the ShowBox website.

2. UKMovNow

If you’re looking for a fantastic range of movies, including Hollywood and Bollywood movies, then look no further than UKMovNow. Not only is the app regularly updated, meaning you’ll always see new movies appearing, but it’s also completely free to use. It’s very easy to navigate and the multiple filters allow you to easily to find just what you’re looking for. Download the ad-free UKMovNow APK file and start your movie watching today!

3. Snagfilms

The Snagfilms app gives you access to over 20 million titles, including movies and TV shows, and according to their own website, you’ll never be bored again! This free streaming service is again completely devoid of advertising, so you can enjoy your movie watching completely undisturbed. It’s easy to find what you’re looking for, with 19 categories covering everything from westerns to horrors and romance to documentaries. Another great feature of this app is its social media feed, which allows you to connect with other movie aficionados via both Facebook and Twitter feeds. Go to the Google Play store to download the Snagfilms app.

4. Kodi

The download and set up of this app is a little more complex, but once you’ve successfully installed Kodi on your android device you can enjoy everything this entertainment powerhouse has to offer. Movies? Check. TV shows? Check. Live TV? Check. Music? Check. Viral videos? Check! Once again, this app is completely free, so won’t cost you a penny. To install Kodi on your phone, go to the Google Play store.

5. VideoMix

This free app gives you access to a plethora of movies and TV shows, all of which are clearly categorised by genre, year and country of production. It’s also regularly updated with new content, so you’ll always find something new for your viewing pleasure – an essential factor right now, with us all spending more time than usual streaming content. Again, it’s a third party streaming service, so all of the content is hosted on third party servers, but it’s easy to use and your favourite content is still only a couple of clicks away. A nice feature is the access to related information, including imdb reviews and suggestions for similar movies you may enjoy, so this is definitely one for movie aficionados. While not available on the Google Play store, VideoMix can easily be installed on to your android smartphone, just download and install the VideoMix APK file.

We hope these boredom-busting apps will help you cope with self-isolation and this time of social distancing. While we’d normally advocate a life in balance, we think now’s the time to lose yourself in an alternate reality, and expand your virtual horizons via a good video streaming app.

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Best Gaming Apps to Keep You Busy During Quarantine

iphone gaming app

We know this is a stressful, worrying time for us all. Many are now working from home, others furloughed and unsure when things will return to normal. It’s not easy to start DIY projects, with all but essential shopping prohibited, and if you’re home schooling the kids then you’ll need to find a way to destress that doesn’t entail leaving the house. At times like these, curtailing screen time is impossible; this is about resilience and mental strength. So if you need to spend some time losing yourself in a gaming app – be that a puzzle or an epic alternative reality – then now’s not the time to hold back. However, an online search throws up a huge variety of apps for you to choose from, and it can be difficult and time consuming trawling through the user reviews and deciding which ones to try. So we’ve done the hard work for you and have selected our top smartphone apps available today, focussing on iOS devices. So if you’re looking for the best gaming apps for your iPhone, read on for our definitive list!
Best for….

Strategy

Civilization VI

Based on real historical leaders, this engrossing game is all about empire building. Grow your civilization from a small tribe to a world dominating force, creating cities and expanding your borders through military conquests, cultural choices and technological advances. The game can be played single player or multi player, pitting you against real life and AI opponents for the ultimate test of strategizing and guile!
This app is free to purchase, but in-app purchases are available to enhance your enjoyment. Want to explore a golden age or risk falling a dark age? Or battle with natural disasters? Then in-app purchases might just interest you…

Racing

Asphalt 9: Legends

Immerse yourself in this most epic of car racing games. With over 60 cars to choose from and 80 gravity-defying real world tracks, this game will take you back to the arcades of old, but with stunning and hyper-realistic race moves. Play solo or face up to seven players in real time, multiplayer mode and unleash your inner Lewis Hamilton!
This award-winning app is free to purchase, and you can expand your play options by winning races or making in-app purchases.

Puzzle

Red’s Kingdom

This heart-warming, perfectly crafted game is a puzzle game with depth. Combining puzzle solving with action and adventure, you’ll battle the dastardly Mad King Mac, journeying through a land packed with puzzles to solve, secrets to be found and a cognitive kingdom to explore. This awesome game is a firm favourite among gamers and has won a slew of awards, including ‘Best iPad Game’ by iMore.
You will have to pay to download this app, but it’s packed with content so is well worth it for the charming adventure you’ll go on.

Word Game

Wordscapes

This brain challenging word game combines crosswords with word search puzzles. Hunt down the answers and escape your four walls by travelling around the beautiful destinations of Wordscapes. But be warned, it’s addictive!
Wordscapes is free to download, with in-app purchases available. You can also pay a one-time fee to be ad free, allowing you to focus on solving the 6,000+ puzzles available on this brain-boosting app. With over 10 million players, this brain challenging game just gets more popular by the day!

Endless Runner

Temple Run 2

This is, quite simply, the most popular endless runner game you can download today. Featuring stunning graphics and outstanding gameplay, you’ll join Professor Jones, escaping the evil clutches of the Temple Guardian with your plundered treasure – the ‘cursed idol’. Run, jump and slide to your heart’s content, traversing perilous zip wires, cliffs and mines along the way. Featuring a number of characters – including a few favourites from the original incarnation – you’ll navigate stunning organic environments, as you evade the evil monkey!

This fantastic app is free to download, but you can unlock additional features such as coin packs, and the character Usain Bolt, via in-app purchases.

We hope this list will help you while away the time while we all wait for life to return to normal. Whatever your fixation, there’s something on this list for everyone!

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How to Design a Mobile App with User Experience in Mind

mobile app user experience design

A great app design blends appealing aesthetics with great functionality; however, when designing an app don’t think you’re creating the final product. A really good app is constantly evolving, incorporating feedback to ensure user experience is optimized; after all, we live in a dynamic, ever changing world, so needs and expectations can change over time.

Given that mobile apps now dominate the market – with 204 billion downloaded in 2019 – we’ll focus this article on mobile app design, looking at the key design principles to incorporate for a superior user experience.

Once you’ve decided what you want to build – and why – here are our top tips to consider when building your app:

1. Focus on first time experience

First impressions definitely count. It’s not easy to get people to try your app, but it’s even more difficult to entice them back if they’re put off by a poorly designed app that’s cumbersome to use and slow to load. To help avoid these issues, consider the following:

  • Avoid sign-in walls and asking for permissions up front. Likewise, make the onboarding experience as simple and straightforward as possible.
  • Ensure the app appears fast and responsive. According to Google, pages should load within 2 seconds, so make sure your site loads pages within this timeframe.
  • Ensure key content loads in the visible portion of the screen; users typically won’t notice or mind if additional information is loading in the background.
  • Ensure a consistent design throughout the app. It’s important that the same fonts, buttons and design theme are used not only throughout the app, but also that these design themes are consistent with a website, should you offer a web service.
  • Avoid jargon and use familiar terms – this is important to ensure users feel comfortable and ties in with predictability. The way copy is written and the way an app performs should all feel familiar and predictable, that way the user feels more in control.

2. Think mobile screens

When it comes to web design, think carefully about the typography you use. Mobile screens are more restricted than desktops and laptops. You should consider the following:

  • Font and size. The success of an app isn’t just in the form and function, but also in the look and feel of the site. There’s no point in beautifully crafted content if it can’t be read, so make sure the font is large enough for the naked eye – as a general rule of thumb, it should be a minimum point size of 11. Also, make sure the font is easy to read and is a good contrast to the background colour, to ensure it stands out.
  • Length of text lines. For a smartphone, try to use 30-40 characters per line, so the text is comfortable to read.
  • Use HD quality images and make sure they’re the right aspect ratio so they don’t look distorted.
  • Ensure video is optimized for portrait mode, as the majority of users will view using this orientation on a smartphone.
  • Design the app for touch, ensuring the target buttons are large enough (10mm x 10mm is optimal) and ensure feedback on the interaction is clear. Likewise, avoid including elements that look like buttons but that aren’t clickable.

3. Avoid overloading users

Your app may be amazing and you may have a lot of information to disseminate, but avoid bombarding users with too much information at once. Breaking down information and tasks into bite-sized pieces will help to prevent users being overwhelmed. Other ways to ensure a neat, clean design include:

  • Declutter your pages and use a simple, clean design throughout the app. Try to keep images and buttons to a minimum.
  • Keep user input to a minimum. This is particularly important when asking users to fill in a form; these can be fiddly and prone to errors, especially on a smartphone. So, keep forms short and sweet, and use autocomplete where possible.
  • Ensure error messages are clear. After all, to err is human, to forgive divine. Things will go wrong even with the most popular apps, so rather than strand users on a blank error page, make it clear what’s gone wrong, how it can be reported, and make sure there’s a ‘back’ key to take them to the previous page.

4. Consider accessibility and connection speed

Not everyone has the latest smartphone, and not everyone has the same capabilities, so by building in these user interface design principles, you can cater for the broadest demographic:

  • Make animations optional. This is important if users experience motion sickness. Also, there’s nothing worse than waiting for an animation to load – or having it slow down pages for those with slower connections. So, make viewing animations optional.
  • Think colours – yes, this may seem obvious but not everyone has perfect vision. With up to 8% of the world’s population suffering from a form of colour blindness, it’s really important to think about the colour themes you use in your design, and in your calls to action.
  • Users in certain areas will struggle to maintain connectivity, so try and ensure the app is at least partly usable even when the device is offline.

5. Use the device’s capabilities

The beauty of designing an app specifically for mobiles devices is that you can make the most of their unique capabilities. These include:

  • Biometric authentication. Use facial identification or fingertip touch to login to the app, this reduces the number of steps that need to be taken to log in.
    Location data. This is incredibly powerful, especially when it comes to delivery apps and location of stores.
  • One final consideration is how your mobile app will hold up in emerging markets. This ties in with point 4, as users in these nations will face issues such as poor connectivity, limited data and lower device capabilities. By adapting your app to cope with such restrictions, you’ll ensure a far smoother global rollout of your mobile app.

If you need help creating your app, then get in touch with us today. Here at Apps in the Sky, we have a team of expert developers on hand to help make your dream a reality, meeting your commercial and creative objects. Contact us at hello@appsinthesky.com or call us on 01256 274108 and see how we can help you today.

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Best Apps for Dealing with Isolation during the Coronavirus Outbreak

phone app for elderly couple

Once the preserve of long-distance relationships and those working away from home, messaging apps are now a lifeline for those self-isolating due to the coronavirus outbreak. Many families and the elderly are now using these messaging services to keep in touch. In fact, being able to communicate with each other is vitally important now more than ever, as human touch is forbidden and human interactions pared down to speaking through a pane of glass at best with those most vulnerable to the viral outbreak. Many families and elderly are not only searching for the best messaging apps but also the best game apps to keep them occupied at this time. In this post, we’ll focus on messaging apps, and look at the best ones available today to help you stay in touch with loved ones.

1. Link-Ages

When it comes to selecting the best messaging app for keeping in touch with loved ones, especially elderly relatives who may not be as tech savvy as younger family members, safety, security and ease of use are all of vital importance. Link-Ages is a messaging app that delivers on all three fronts. It allows family and friends to stay in touch by voice calls, texting and by video and is available on the most popular devices – smartphones and tablets. It’s simple and is ad free, so no more pesky pop ups during your calls, which can be distracting and confusing for those not so confident with new technology. In fact, Link-Ages was created specifically for care organisations, allowing them to share updates with family members in a secure, closed network, so you can be sure it’s been created with those most vulnerable in mind.

This messaging app also features built-in photo sharing, so you can create digital storybooks that can be looked back on when you’re apart. As quarantines lift, you can be sure that the children will be out and about before shielded individuals can easily be visited, so you can share an important calendar event to keep family and friends up to date and then easily share captured moments with them, keeping them in touch with the outside world. When it comes to ease of use, Link-Ages not only features large easy to read buttons and an uncluttered interface, but the app allows a nominated family member to assist a Hub user remotely; at a time when frustrations are building, knowing you can easily help everyone stay in touch makes all the difference. Finally, as this is a subscription service, unlike other social media platforms you can be sure that you’re talking on a safe and secure platform.

2. WhatsApp

Another incredibly popular messaging service, WhatsApp allows users to connect and communicate via instant messaging, audio and video calls. It’s a free service and uses your phone’s cellular or WiFi service to connect with others, so it’s a great option if you’re scattered all over the world. In terms of security, it offers end to end encryption, and works across a number of platforms, including Android smartphones and iPhones. What’s more, unlike Facebook Messenger, you don’t need a social media account to set up this service. You can communicate one-to-one or create groups, so it’s good for families, although there are no special features to assist elderly family members to understand the technology.

In terms of staying in touch with elderly relatives, one of the biggest drawbacks is accessibility. It’s only available as an app on smartphones; in order to access WhatsApp via an iPad or desktop/laptop computer, you have to log in via the WhatsApp website. As many elderly people will prefer to use these larger screens, this can make the user experience more problematic. Also, your profile picture is visible to everyone who has your contact number and anyone can get hold of your profile picture and status if they have your phone number; so while the messages themselves are encrypted, it’s not as secure as it seems.

3. Skype

We know that there are a plethora of newer messaging apps out there, but when it comes to staying in touch with elderly relatives, Skype is still a firm favourite. Available on smartphones, iPads and computers, this free service specializes in video chat and voice calls.

Skype has long been popular for international calls, and like WhatsApp uses cellular or WiFi data to make connections, so it won’t eat into your call plan. This is a great option for calls, but messaging is more complex, so its ability to fulfil communication needs at times like these is limited. It’s also a voice over internet provider (VoIP) so relies on a good internet connection and if your connection is slow, you’ll struggle to maintain a good connection. Another drawback is the security aspect; Skype users are more vulnerable to hackers, personal data breaches and downloading viruses and malware. If your family members are all computer literate then this is a great option, but when it comes to elderly relatives who are isolated at home or in a care setting, this probably isn’t the best option.
We hope that in these trying times, this article helps you decide how best to stay in touch with your elderly relatives. We will come through this, we will again be able to give them a hug, but in the meantime the most we can do for those who are isolated is to see them every day via the virtual world. The best way to do that will always be the least stressful way, and by using a service that’s easy for them to understand and brings the whole family together in a fun and enjoyable way.