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Tech review: The best nongame apps for Android devices for 2018 

Mimo: Learn to Code offers easy-to-follow lessons that

Mimo: Learn to Code offers easy-to-follow lessons that can help you create the next hot app or build a better website. Credit: Mimohello

While games account for most of the downloads from the app stores, it’s the nongame apps that make everyday life easier and more productive. These four apps were chosen by editors at Google Play’s app store as best Android apps of the year in various nongame categories. (They are also available for iOS devices.) Next week: Best 2018 iOS apps.


(iOS, Android; free)

Chosen by the editors at Google Play’s app store as “Best App of 2018,” Drops is a fun and interactive way to learn a new language. Unlike the boring (and mostly ineffective) foreign-language courses you remember from high school, Drops uses games and illustrations to promote learning. Google said Drops  is “beautifully designed and universally useful.”


(iOS, Android; free)

This creative app lets you create “cinemagraphs” that turn your photos into what the developer calls “live pieces of art.” (To see examples of Vimage users’ cinemagraphs, go to Instagram using the hashtag #vimage.) In naming Vimage “Most Entertaining App of 2018,” Google Play’s editors said Vimage can “make the world your stage when you’re at home or on the go.”

Mimo: Learn to Code

(iOS, Android; free)

Careers in software programming are hot. Whether you’re a student looking to improve your grades or a member of the workforce looking for a hot new career, learning to code can get you there. Mimo, named “Best Self-Improvement App of 2018,” offers easy-to-follow lessons that can help you create the next hot app or build a better website.


(iOS, Android; free)

With email, texting and always-on mobile devices, the world is sometimes going too fast. But Slowly can help you savor a leisurely and much-loved relic of the past: Finding a pen pal. The developers say that Slowly is for anyone “who yearns for meaningful conversations” in this era of instant messaging. Google Play agrees and named Slowly a “Best Hidden Gem of 2018.”

Tracking Santa

It seems that Google always knows where you are, so it’s only fitting it knows where Santa is too. Google’s Santa Tracker, a holiday tradition for 15 years, has returned. New this year is an interactive feature about how people around the world celebrate the holiday. And beginning Sunday, you can track Santa’s progress live. Santa Tracker is available as a free Android app or at


Cybersecurity spending to rise

Banks and other financial firms are ramping up spending for cybersecurity as they face bigger threats and more attacks. In a survey of senior security officers, 84 percent said their firms are planning to spend more on cybersecurity, up from 78 percent a year ago. About 36 percent of companies said they experienced a “network intrusion” in 2018, up from 24 percent last year.


God of War named best game

Video games will gross about $40 billion in 2018, nearly four times as much as the total U.S. box office revenue for movies. And like movies, games now have their annual awards show. The Game Awards 2018 featured movie-like categories such as best direction, best score and best performance. The most coveted prize — Game of the Year — went to God of War, available exclusively for PlayStation 4.


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