The Ablo social network enables users to make friends around the...

The Ablo social network enables users to make friends around the world and have video calls and chat with them. Credit: Newsday/MassiveMedia

As 2019 heads to the finish line, here’s a look at the best nongame apps of the year as selected by editors at Google Play’s Android app store. Next week: A look at the best 2019 nongame apps according to the editors at the Apple App Store.


(iOS, Android; free)

Named Google Play’s App of the Year, Ablo was praised for its “ingenuity and polish” and because it was “beautifully designed and thoughtfully executed.” Ablo is a social network with wonderful technology where you can make friends around the world and then have video calls and chat with them. What makes it different? If you and your friends speak different languages, Ablo will translate the chats and calls as you are talking.


(iOS, Android; free)

For the rest of its best 2019 apps, Google awarded several of them within categories. One of the apps honored as Best Everyday Essentials was Post-it from 3M, the conglomerate that 40 years ago created the sticky paper notes used in offices everywhere. The app lets you create electronic Post-its you can “affix” to PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets or PDFs you share with others. Other Best Essentials: Appy Weather (Android only); audio journalism app Curio; productivity tracker Boosted (Android only); and relaxation app Endel.


(iOS, Android; free)

Google’s Best Personal Growth Apps of 2019 were all about self-improvement. The Peloton app, a companion to the line of popular exercise equipment, was recommended “for anyone looking for a guided, convenient workout.” Other Best Personal Growth Apps: language-learning app Scripts by Drops; brain trainer Smarter (Android only); social network Wisdo; and Downdog Yoga for Beginners.

Big Bang AR

(iOS, Android; free)

For its Best Hidden Gems of 2019, Google praised the science app Big Bang AR with its “soothing narration” by actress Tilda Swinton because it “lets you witness the formation of our solar system right in front of you.” The app was developed by scientists at European research laboratory CERN. Other Best Hidden Gems: Hipcamp Camping; video-sharing app MashApp; shopping app Masse; and live music aggregator MelodyVR.

Overtime screen time

Toddlers are spending more time than recommended on mobile devices. A National Institutes of Health study found that 1-year-olds were logging an average 53 minutes of screen time daily. The American Academy of Pediatrics says parents should avoid digital media for toddlers younger than 18 to 24 months and limit screen time for kids ages 2 to 5 to one hour a day of “high-quality programming.”


Hot games

Keeping the Earth safe from aliens may endanger the planet. A study sponsored by the California Energy Commission says carbon-dioxide emissions associated with the energy needed to run all U.S. video games is equivalent to emissions associated with powering 85 million refrigerators or 5 million cars. The study says more powerful computers, higher-resolution displays and streaming “have rendered computer gaming an increasingly energy-intensive activity.”


Christmas quarrel

Amazon banned its third-party merchants from using FedEx’s ground service to deliver to Prime members, suggesting the service can’t get packages to their destinations by Christmas. Amazon and FedEx already have a testy relationship. FedEx severed ties with Amazon in August, saying it wouldn’t make ground or air deliveries for the online shopping giant. Third-party sellers, however, were still able to use FedEx.

— AP

Latest Videos