The Essential Download: Android N, iOS 7.3.5, Opera VPN

The essential apps and updates for your iOS and Android device. This week sees operating system upgrades, free VPNs and Deus Ex Go

Welcome to the Essential Download, a selection of new, updated and essential applications that will make working on a mobile device simpler, more productive and secure activity. There’s even room for a bit of fun as well.

Android 7.0 Nougat

Android N 3

The latest version of Android has started rolling out to Nexus devices and participants in the Android beta program. Google has added new security, productivity and personalisation features, including a quick settings menu and the ability to run two applications side by side.

On the security side, file-based encryption has been added, as has ‘direct boot’ – which helps the device start up faster and lets apps run securely even before it’s unlocked after a reboot. There’s also support for virtual reality (VR) through the Google Daydream platform.

And, for many people, the most important addition is 72 new emojis, bringing the total number to more than 1,500.

iOS 9.3.5

iOS 9 multi-tasking

Another OS update but this one arrives with a little less fanfare. iOS 9.3.5 fixed vulnerabilities that could have allowed spyware to be installed on an iPhone by exploiting multiple zero day flaws.

The exploit chain has been called ‘Trident’, and could have accessed a device’s camera, microphone and WhatsApp communications. It could even track a victim’s movements. Trident is alleged to have originated from a Middle Eastern government.

Apple, whose approach to security has been criticised in the past, reacted quickly by issuing this update so it’s best to download it to your device now.

Google Duo (iOS/Android)

Google Duo

Google’s answer to Facetime was detailed at I/O earlier this year and is now available to download on Android. It’s key differentiating feature?

Something called ‘knock knock’ which gives users a live video of the caller before you answer, so call recipients can get a sense of what the caller is up to and why they want to chat, according to Google. The app has proved popular, according to Google’s Sundar Pichai, who claims it has been downloaded more than five million times.

Opera VPN (Android)

Opera VPN Android 2

The Opera VPN has been available on iOS for a few months now, but now Android users can boost their security and privacy too. The VPN can choose from five server locations – USA, Canada, Germany, Singapore and The Netherlands.

The app can test to see if a Wi-Fi network is public and private, whether it is encrypted, how many other devices are on the connection and if the IP address or location are exposes, potentially exposing details and information.

Microsoft Word Flow (iOS)

Microsoft Word Flow


Microsoft’s keyboard application for iOS has been given an update with GIF, image and Bing search features, along with themes. The app has been well-received, promising to make typing quicker and more accurate, and offering predictions to save time.

Deus Ex Go (iOS/Android)

Deus Ex Go

Deus Ex is the latest game in the Square Enix stable to get the ‘Go’ treatment, following on from the success of Hitman Go and Lara Croft Go. Rather than a fully-fledged entry to the series, Deus Ex Go is a companion to the most recent console release, and is effectively a touch screen board game-styled puzzler with an isometric camera.

Quiz: What do you know about mobile apps?