Know More About 10 Essential Smartphone Apps

Every year, I download hundreds of apps. I’m constantly seeking more productive, ergonomic, and social experiences on my smartphone.

Plus, I enjoy hurtling angry cartoon birds over trees.

Yet, in truth, most apps are novelties, fads, or pretenders to the throne. There are surprisingly few I find invaluable.

In fact, there are ten. These ten are the ones I turn to whilst standing in line at the Post Office, whittling away my commute, or indeed any time I find myself sitting around waiting for something to happen.


Lists are everywhere online: the 10 movies you should see before you die, the 10 best burgers in London, the, erm, 10 essential smartphone apps.

Wunderlist makes it simple to create lists of the To-Do variety.

You may think, ‘I can do that already – with paper and pen’.

But this app lets you share lists with any nominated user. So, for instance, you can collaborate with your partner on a grocery list, ticking off items as you buy them, so you don’t unwittingly both go out and get milk.

You can add photos, too, so when you spot a recipe you fancy trying in a magazine, just snap a shot of the page, and attach it to your ‘recipes’ list. Tasty.

OS Maps

I’m dyspraxic, with virtually no sense of direction, so if sat-nav hadn’t been invented, I’d probably never leave the house.

I use the TomTom app in the car, and Google Maps for finding places on foot; both are excellent.

But a lesser-known GPS that’s a personal favourite is this official service from the Ordinance Survey.

Admittedly, it ain’t much use if you’re a town mouse, but if like me you enjoy a country ramble, this app will give you confidence to explore.

It quickly pinpoints you on a digitised version of the OS’ legendary maps, so you can find your way back via road, byway or footpath.

Though, I confess, when rain starts lashing down on your touchscreen, digital maps can lose their appeal.

Just Eat

It’s sometimes a little sad when new tech kills off the old ways of doing things. I mean, Gmail and Spotify are brilliant, but I still miss the delight of a handwritten letter, or the romance of making mixtapes.

But I have no precious memories whatever of using a landline to order takeaway. None. Remember waiting for ages to be answered by someone who didn’t speak good English, and in any case couldn’t hear you over the sound of the stir-fry sizzling?

Just Eat has put an end to all that, sorting local takeaways by cuisine, distance or user rating, and listing menus digitally, so you simply select an order and pay via credit card – or, if you prefer, opt to give the driver cash on arrival.


Okay, so this is an obvious choice, but that’s kind of the point: a billion of us use Facebook’s app every day. So, if you’re not here, you’re missing out: most likely your pals, family and neighbours are all using it to share photos, exchange ideas and organise events.

To sign up all you need is an email address, and then you’re ready to find your friends. Yes, Facebook distracts us from work and turns us into selfie-generating narcissists. But, honestly, I’ve never felt anything other than pleasure using it.

It’s peerless at keeping people in touch with loved ones around the world, and those ‘second-tier’ friends – the chap you used to work with, the nice couple you met on holiday – in a much more meaningful way than a Christmas round-robin.

I think of it as my personalised newspaper, featuring news about people I know. In fact, with the new video features being added, it’s almost becoming a personalised TV channel.


I’d used Uber a little in London, but it was on holiday in New York that I became an evangelist. It was midnight, and I was drunk, on a roof terrace, somewhere in Brooklyn.

I’d strolled there from the apartment I was staying in, around three miles away, and had no intention of rambling back in the dark. But I’d run out of money. How to get home? I fired up Uber, tapped in the postcode of my destination, and hit Request.

Moments later, I received a photo of Shakil, the driver dispatched to me, and the registration of his Toyota Camry (had I been feeling flush, I could have booked a Lexus).

Four minutes later, I was en route home, without having to touch my wallet; the whole journey paid for, on a metered basis, using my registered credit card, which at the time was in my desk drawer in Hertfordshire. Magic!

iPlayer Radio

For the past decade, I’ve created podcasts – downloadable radio shows. So I feel rather obliged to recommend a podcasting app in this list.

But, honestly, Apple’s Podcasts app is still kind of clunky, and all the Android solutions I’ve tried are quite nerdy. I’m afraid it’s over to good old Auntie Beeb to offer up a friction-free listening experience.

You won’t discover independent podcasts like mine here, but all the BBC’s are easily searchable, playable and downloadable, as well as their recently broadcast radio programmes. The design is impressively simple – open the app, and you’re met with a tactile spinny disc showing all their radio brands and what is currently playing on each network.

Each just a tap away – even easier than switching on the wireless.


I live twenty minutes away from a railway station, and there are only three trains per hour into town. So you can imagine how frustrating it is if I arrive for a train that then turns out to have been cancelled, with no information forthcoming.

Nowadays, I use thetrainline to check the live progress of departures before I even leave the house, to discover exactly which station my train is currently at, if there are any delays, and precisely which platform it will depart from.

You can also use it to book train tickets, and (if you give it permission to store your card details), this can be done in a convenient couple of taps; perfect for when travel plans change on the hoof.


SwiftKey is a customisable keyboard that works across most apps on your device, rather than an individual app you’ll open up regularly, but you do have to download it in app form, so I’m including it here.

It’s a very clever (and British, hurrah!) bit of predictive text software that easily trumps the touchscreen keyboard bundled in with your smartphone.

By learning your most frequently used vocabulary, it prompts your writing at lightning speed, saving valuable seconds with each word you tap out, and can even guess what you’re trying to write when you glide your fingers through the letters – so you can literally communicate without lifting a finger.


It’s still good advice to back up your most vital documents to a hard-drive. But the cloud storage revolution means that for little outlay you can store every bit of content you crank out – photos, text messages, contacts, whatever – for future reference.

This may seem an unnecessary indulgence, until you lose your phone, and hundreds of precious memories along with it. Dropbox is superbly user-friendly: ask it once to back up your camera roll, for instance, and every time you plug your phone into charge, it’ll automatically upload all your photos over Wi-Fi to a secure server that’s accessible via password from almost any web-connected device you’re ever likely to use.


Despite what the glossy in-flight magazines tell us, there are still places – planes and trains in particular – where getting online is damn near impossible.

Protect yourself from the ensuing boredom by downloading Pocket, in which you can store online articles for later offline reading.

It’s a little fiddly to install the accompanying Pocket ‘bookmarklet’ button on apps such as Chrome, Firefox and Twitter, but well worth the effort: once you’ve done that, all you need do is click ‘Save To Pocket’ whenever you stumble across an article you’d like to read one day, and presto, next time you’re rattling through the air in a 500 tonne metal tube, five miles above ground, you’ll have something interesting to read.

Steps to Download And Listen to Audiobooks On An iPad

Audiobooks take much of the hard work out of reading, and they can also help to bring novels and autobiographies alive – especially when they are read by their author, as is particularly common in the latter category.

Your iPad has a built-in program called iBooks that lets you buy, download and listen to audiobooks all through the same app.

You can also buy audiobooks through other companies, such as the subscription service Audible, which has its own iPad app.

Audible currently costs £7.99 a month, with the first month free: this includes one free audiobook a month, which can potentially save you money as many titles cost much more than this.

Using iBooks for audiobooks

The iBooks app is designed both for audiobooks and normal e-books that you read on your iPad’s screen.

Tap on ‘iBooks’ to open the app and you’ll be taken to the iBooks store: at the top, tap on ‘Audiobooks’ to start browsing.

Use the ‘Categories’ option in the top left or the search box in the top right to find an audiobook you want.

Buying and downloading audiobooks

Tap on the book and you’ll see more information, such as the price and other listeners’ reviews.

You should also see a ‘Preview’ option: this will play a short sample of the audiobook so you can get an idea whether you like the narrator’s voice, for example.

Tap on the price and then on ‘Buy Audiobook’ to start your download. You should be asked for your Apple ID details or at least your password.

Listening to your audiobook

If you bought it on iBooks, your audiobook will be stored with any e-books you have downloaded under the ‘My Books’ tab in the iBooks app (it’s in the bottom left-hand corner).

If ‘Books’ is showing at the top of the screen in the middle, tap on it and then select ‘Audiobooks’.

Tap on the audiobook’s title to play it. As with any audiobook player, it starts where you left off the last time you listened to the book – but you can skip forward or backward if you like.

You can also change the reading speed to suit or use the Sleep Timer to turn the audiobook off after a specified period of time.

Some Signs Your Email Account Has Been Hacked

Finding out that your email account has been hacked is often harder than you might think. Fraudsters are very careful to leave little trace of their actions, sometimes, its nearly impossible to tell.

But here are five sure signs of suspicious activity.

1. Your password has been changed

One of the most obvious signs of your email being hacked is discovering you cannot sign in to your account.

If your email password is rejected as incorrect and you did not change it, it could indicate that it was changed by someone else. If a hacker accesses your account, he is able to change your password to prevent you from logging in and retaking control.

“A fraudster is usually trying to obtain money or something they can convert into money easily,” said John Cannon, fraud and ID director at Noddle.

“Ultimately, having control over an email account enables the fraudster to read any emails you haven’t deleted and cleared from your email bin. That’s why it’s important you don’t share or store sensitive or personal information on your email server.”

Having a secondary email address or extra verification measures in place helps prevent a hacker from locking you out of your own account.

Check with your email provider to make sure the email service is running before assuming that you have been hacked.

2. Unusual inbox activity

Some hackers won’t change your password so you won’t notice that anything’s wrong.

One way to determine if this is the case is to look at your sent mail folder and see if there are messages there that you are confident that you didn’t send. If you find some, then you know a spammer probably has access to your account.

Also watch for password reset emails that you have not instigated. The hacker may have tried to change your password on other sites, using access to your email to perform password resets.

“You should keep track of all the user accounts you maintain on the Internet,” said Paul Fletcher, cyber security evangelist at Alert Logic.

“It’s also a recommended best practice to minimise the amount of personal identifiable information that you add to the profile of each of your accounts. Users should know what information is saved on these profiles, for example credit cards, address, date of birth. Only save the required data and track credit cards, which are saved to online accounts.”

The problem is that hackers will often take the extra step of going into the sent mail folder and remove what they sent from there so that they leave no trace.

3. You are receiving unexpected emails

“A fraudster could also use the details they gather from your email account to try and trick you into handing over further sensitive information,” said John Cannon, fraud and ID director at Noddle.

“Having access to your email account could reveal who you bank with, who your credit card is with and what your user name or account number is.”

If you get an email or phone call claiming to be from your bank which quotes the correct user name/account, it makes it a lot harder to tell if it is genuine or fraud.

4. IP addresses not matching up

Some email services have a tool that shows you the last time (or several times) that you accessed the account and the IP address you used.

That is, Gmail records your IP address every time you log in to your account. So, if a third party gets access to your account then their IP address is also recorded. To see a list of recorded IP addresses, scroll down to the bottom of your Gmail account.

You can click on ‘Details’ to see the IP address of your last five activities. If you find that the IP listed in the logs doesn’t belong to you, then there are chances of unauthorised activity.
5. No signs at all

Or then again, maybe you haven’t noticed anything.

Depending upon the attacker’s motivations, you may never see any warning signs and that’s why it is always a good idea to keep abreast of the news.

Lee Munson, security researcher for, explains: “If you’ve heard that a website you use has been hacked, at least consider the worst and run your email address through a website such as Such a service keeps records of millions of compromised email accounts and, if yours is on the list, you’ll be quickly alerted to that fact.”

Some Things That Can You When Your Apple ID is Hacked

Your Apple ID is your passport to the world of Apple, unlocking a number of brilliantly convenient apps and services with just the one password. However, if your account is hacked, it then gives the hacker free rein over exactly the same information.

What is an Apple ID?

If you choose a strong password then the chance of being hacked is unlikely in the extreme; but if both the US and UK governments can be hacked then it can happen to anyone.

Here’s what to do if you are unlucky enough to have your Apple ID hacked.

How can I tell if my Apple ID has been hacked?

Hackers will crack your Apple ID in order to steal stuff, either in the form of money from your stored credit card details, or information.

The first you may know of it will be when you notice one of the following things:

Apple sends you an email telling you that you’ve accessed your account from a new device, have changed some personal details, or have recently changed your password. If you haven’t done any of these things then your Apple ID may well have been hacked.
You notice some unusual purchases through your Apple account that you haven’t made or authorised.
Messages start to appear that you haven’t sent.
Your usual password doesn’t work, or
Some of your account details have been changed.
The key here is not to panic; the situation might be serious but panicking has never made a bad situation better. However, you do need to act quickly as the hacker can steal money and information, or even delete all of your photos and documents just for fun.

Step One: Reset your Apple ID password

If you think that you might have been hacked then the first step to recovery is to reset your password. Simply click here: Apple ID and then work your way through the process.

DO NOT use the same password for multiple accounts on different websites as this is the most common method hackers use to crack your password; by hacking one relatively insecure website, they can steal your password and then use it to gain access to other more secure websites like Apple’s.

If you can’t reset your password then you will need to contact Apple Support immediately by clicking here: Apple Support.

Once you’ve reset your password and secured your account again you can move on to checking your personal information and then reporting the matter to Apple.

Step Two: Check your account

Check all of your personal information to make sure that none of it has been changed, updating any that has been. You should also check your Apple ID security questions and change them if you think they might be easy to guess or compromised.

It is also worth checking your email accounts to make sure that they haven’t been hacked and that you still have control of them. If they have been then you should read this article:

Step Three: Report it

After you have done this, you need to report the matter via Apple Support.

If you think that there have been any suspicious financial transactions and/or purchases then you must inform your bank or credit card company immediately too and follow their instructions.

You can check for purchases in iTunes on your desktop or laptop computer by clicking iTunes > iTunes Store > Purchased.

On a mobile device you simply click the iTunes Store icon > ŸŸŸ More >Purchased.

Step Four: Secure your account

You should also consider setting up Two-Step Verification and Two-Factor Authentication on your Apple account. You can find out how to do this here: What Is an Apple ID?.

Have you been hacked? If so, we’d love to hear about your experience over on our Facebook page to help warn other readers.

Easy Ways an iPhone Could Save Your Life

From making calls to checking emails, Apple’s iPhone is the digital equivalent of a swiss army knife. And much like that multi-function tool, the iPhone can even help in an emergency.

1. Ask Siri to call for help

If you can’t reach your phone and have an iPhone 6S, Siri can call for help for you. Just say ‘Hey Siri’ and tell it the number to dial.

Earlier this year, a US teenager who was trapped under his truck with his iPhone in his back pocket, used Siri to dial the emergency services. To use Siri this way, enable voice activation by tapping Settings > General > Siri and turn on Allow ‘Hey Siri’.

2. ICE your iPhone contacts

It’s always a good idea to have an ICE (in case of emergency) contact on your iPhone. Medical staff will use this to contact the person for your medical history.

Tap Contacts and then the plus sign + to add a new contact. In the name field, type ICE (or ICE 1 if you’ve more than one ICE contact), then add their number.

3. Add a Medical ID

New iPhones (and iPhones running on the iOS 8 operating system update or later) include Medical ID, which lets emergency staff view medical information, such as conditions and allergies, along with emergency contacts. This is handy if your iPhone has a screenlock that prevents others from accessing your ICE contacts.

The Medical ID page can be found on the Emergency Call screen, which is accessed by tapping Emergency at the bottom of the Lock screen.

To create a Medical ID, tap the Health app on your iPhone and then Medical ID at the bottom of the screen. Tap Create Medical ID, add the relevant information and turn on Show When Locked to make your Medical ID available from the Lock screen.

4. Use the Health app

The iPhone’s Health app keeps all your health information in one place – useful for monitoring your health and allowing medical staff to view medical conditions.

Data from fitness, nutrition and health-tracking apps such as heart rate monitors is automatically added, as are details of your physical activity compiled by the iPhone’s own step-tracking sensors.

You can add data manually, by going to Health > Health Data > Vitals > Add Data Point.

5. Turn on location services

Location services use your iPhone’s built-in GPS to track your location – useful in an emergency should you need to know where someone is.

Free personal safety apps, such as bSafe, use location services to monitor your movements when out, alerting nominated friends should you need help.

Alternatively, if you go missing, Apple’s Find My iPhone feature allows others to pinpoint the location of your iPhone and start looking for you.

6. Send an emergency text

If faced with an emergency in a remote area with poor mobile reception, send a text message instead of dialing 999.

Texting requires less signal strength and your iPhone will keep trying to send your message so there’s more chance of it getting through.

Sign up to the free EmergencySMS ( service, which relays your text message straight to 999 operators.

7. Use health advice apps

There are tons of emergency advice apps available for your iPhone.

The British Red Cross app offers essential first aid tips and the British Heart Foundation PocketCPR app guides you through life-saving CPR.

Diabetes Buddy can help you manage your diabetes, while the NHS’s symptom checker app helps you decide if it’s time to see a doctor.

Tips to Download And Read eBooks On An iPad

Your iPad can be used to download and read many thousands of books, from the latest bestsellers to all-time classics.

Using your device as an e-reader, as they are known, means you can access more or less any book instantly – once you have paid for and downloaded it – and you won’t have paperbacks or hardbacks taking up space in your home.

With your iPad, it’s also easy to take notes or mark important passages. And you can often download the first couple of chapters of a book at no cost to see if you like it before committing to buy.

Using your iPad’s iBooks app

The simplest way to read a book on your iPad is by using iBooks: this program should be pre-installed on your device so you don’t need to download it.

Tap on the ‘iBooks’ icon and you’ll be taken to the iBooks store – you use the same app to buy books as to read them.

Here you can browse through categories – tap on this option at the top left of your screen – from cookbooks to thrillers, search for your favourite author or look solely for free books. Make sure you have selected the ‘Books’ tab at the top rather than ‘Audiobooks’.

Downloading and buying eBooks

Once you’ve found a book, tap on it to see the price. Here you should be able to look at a few sample pages: tap on ‘Sample’ and once it has downloaded tap ‘Read’.

You will now be taken to your iBooks library: tap on the book’s title to open it.

When you want to buy, choose your book in the store, tap on the price and then tap ‘Buy Book’. At this stage you will be asked for your Apple ID password.

(As an alternative to iBooks you can use Amazon’s Kindle app: this might be a better option if you already own books on Kindle and want to read them on your iPad.)

Reading and customising

Your books are stored under the ‘My Books’ tab, found at the bottom left of the screen in iBooks.

To read a book, just tap on its title: the first page appears on the screen, and you swipe left to move on to the next.

In the top right-hand corner there are three icons. The first, showing a small and a large capital A, let you change the brightness, font and font size, and background colour. You can also turn on ‘Scrolling View’, which means you scroll the text upwards to read rather than “turning” pages.

Next to the ‘A’s is a search icon which lets you look for words or phrases in the text. The final icon is a bookmark, which creates a reminder of a specific page or point in the book.

At the top left of the page next to ‘Library’ are three horizontal lines. Tap here to look at the book’s contents, as well as any bookmarks or notes you’ve created. Tap ‘Resume’ to return to the book.

To create a note or highlight a passage, hold your finger on a word and then choose the option you want.