Hot Lists Thursday, September 14th Words by: Adam Knight

The Best Smartphone Apps If You Don't Live In A Big City

Hot Lists Thursday, September 14th

The Best Smartphone Apps If You Don't Live In A Big City

This week we got our first look at the iPhone X (pronounced 'ten'). It's unlocks using facial recognition, charges without wires and has retired the Home Button. 

Technically it's the ninth generation, but it takes its name from the fact that this year the iPhone turned ten. This in itself is not that impressive. Around the country there are ten-year-olds routinely having to be woken up by their schoolteachers. 

But for a society that instinctively uses Google Maps to find everything – except love, for which we use Tinder – it is hard to imagine the impact of that first smartphone. Try explaining to a 20-year-old that phones used to simply text and call, and it’s impossible not to sound like your grandad talking about how St Pepper’s forever changed the world.

That same grandad will likely roll his eyes at any mention of Candy Crush or Angry Birds or 'young people and their Youtubes' but along with the trivial, the last ten years of app development have brought with them a Batman Utility Belt of apps that allows us to navigate our daily lives.

We book holidays on Skyscanner and trust mobile banking apps to get our Euros. We monitor sales for our indie businesses from our back pocket, and create social media campaigns that take our name to thousands of people across the world. We can Shazam an unknown song a playing in the pub, and download it in the time it takes your pint to settle.

That said, many of the apps dominating the download charts are decidedly urban-centric. Try finding an Uber in Bromyard, or swiping for the love of your life on Bumble for more than fifteen minutes without seeing half of your exes, and maybe the odd cousin.

These apps however are great even, and especially, if you live in a rural area like Herefordshire. Here are our favourite rural-living apps in 2017.

AroundMe

1. Around Me

Does what it says on the tin. Need anything from ATM to a petrol station or a coffee shop? Around Me uses your location to show you the closest ones. Good if you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere with your petrol gauge deep in the red.

WifiFinder

2. Wifi Finder

4G’s patchy at best around Herefordshire. Out West they’ve barely got 1G. Download either WiFi Finder or WiFi Mapper and they’ll point you in the direction of the nearest public connection if you’re caught short and really need to send a work email (or post on Insta).

SkyView

3. Sky View

Go five minutes out of Hereford and you’ve got some of the best dark skies in the country. Just across the border and the Brecon Beacons is, officially, an International Dark Sky Reserve. The Sky View app uses your camera to identify what stars and planets you’re looking at, and joins them up in to constellations before your eyes.

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4. Deliveroo

Launched in Hereford in 2016, Deliveroo is basically a one-stop food delivery app for some of the best bars and restaurants in town signed up to it (Burger Shop, Beefy Boys, Noble and Wild etc). They will send out your food or booze with a rider to wherever your phone’s location is, from parks to offices.

 

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5. Waze

Hereford traffic is notorious. The A49 can be brought to a grinding halt by a single tractor. Whereas Google Maps is a great GPS app, it can’t touch Waze for real-time adjustments to traffic. Download this and ease your road rage.

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6. Panorama 360

You’ve just climbed to the top of Pen y Fan and want to take the perfect shot – because if it’s not on Instagram, it didn’t happen. Up your panoramic game with Panorama 360 which stitches together images as you turn your camera for one amazing 360-degree pic that can be viewed in 3D by anyone on FB simply by twisting their own phone screens. If you just want to give you pics a more pro look – Snapseed is an editing app which both easy-to-use and creates great-looking, shareable images, while if you’ve got an iPhone Microsoft Pix is an alternative camera app that is super-responsive when it comes to adjusting to the light/movement/surroundings of your pic.

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7. The Good Pub Guide

This one will cost you £5, but save you a lifetime of bad beer. We’ve got a load of great country pubs around the county, make this your bible and tick as many off as your liver will handle.

 

STRAVA LOGO

8. Strava

In the cycling community Strava is God. It’s an all-seeing tracker that uses your phone’s GPS to record your (best) rides, and compare them against every other rider who’s tackled that stretch of road. The app gives out awards for top-ranked riders for particular climbs – with Dorstone Hill just outside of Hereford the Holy Grail. Also works for runners.

 

MotionX

9. Motion X GPS

Another route tracking app, but one built for going off road. If you have a hike planned or a trail run coming up, Motion X GPS is among the best out there if – like on most hikes – the 3G is not great It allows you to save your planned route on offline maps, and has a whole host of tools (compasses and altitude maps) to make sure you stick to it.

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10. IFTTT

If This Then That sort of feels like the future. At its essence it’s a programme that’s built to make your life easier by automatically doing things for you, depending on something else you’ve done. For example, if your phone’s GPS detects you’re in the local supermarket after work, it can automatically send a message to your partner/housemate asking if they need anything for dinner. Which is handy if that supermarket is a 20 minute drive from home.

 

Empower

11. Empower

Internet banking was a game-changer in rural areas, and mobile banking has just moved that on a stage further. New tech start-up app Empower is the best app on the market at bringing together all your cards, accounts and finances in to one place and lets you manage them simply and quickly from your pocket. At the moment it's only available in the US but will likely appear in UK app stores soon.

Houseparty

12. House party

One of the best apps for group video chats, letting up to eight mates jump on for a natter at the same time. If you live in the sticks and you’re too young for the pub it’s a great way of staying in touch with your mates in the evening.

Circlepay

13. Circle Pay/Squarecash/Paypal

Not specific to rural living for any other reason than there tends to be fewer cash machines, and restaurants tend to be a little slower switching to contactless payments – but this new breed of payment apps are great for eliminating that painfully awkward, boring 15 minutes at the end of a big meal with friends when you divvy up the bill and each pay for your share individually. Both make the transfer of cash to one of your mates as quick as handing over a crumpled tenner without the need for one person to be lumped with a pocket full of 20ps. Venmo, the industry big dog in the States has yet to come to the UK, Squarecash is expected to launch imminently while Paypal (who own Venmo) have a great app that does much the same thing (but doesn't look quite as good). 

HorseRider

14. Horse Rider SOS

One of those incredibly useful uses of tech. This app knows senses the speed and motion of a moving horse and rider, and then will automatically raise the alarm if the rider becomes unseated. Also works for quad bikes.

Slack

15. Slack

A great app if you run a business or work in a company where all the people you deal with aren’t under one roof. It sounds simple but this communication tool which lets you create chat channels for all your separate businesses projects has taken off in the States, and with more and more people splitting their week working between home and big cities could easily do the same for people running business in rural areas.

GoSkimming

16. GoSkimming

Virtual stone skimming. Yes, I can feel the eye roll. But if you’ve never been able to master the technique and you’re heading down the river for the afternoon, why not have a practice and wow your mates.

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18. AirBnB

In the same way as Uber and Lyft were gamechangers in the taxi world, Uber has become so synonymous with cheap holiday accomodation to the point where people now use it as a verb. While it's on the list more for people visiting Herefordshire than those living here, the number of awesome, quirky AirBnB spots in the county has gone through the roof over the last 12 months with many farmers and country estates getting in on the act.

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17. National Trust

The NT’s app is gorgeous and uses a selection a great pics from its stunning locations alongside info about them, from opening times to a bit of history. If you’ve got an afternoon and you want to go somewhere in Herefordshire with a little class, having a browse on the app’s a great way to choose.

Leafsnap

19. Leafsnap UK

Developed by the National History Museum, the idea’s simple – if you find a leaf when you’re out on a walk and you want to ID what the tree is, take a photo with Leafsnap UK and it will give you all the information you need. 

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