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Here are the best apps to celebrate Hanukkah

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Happy Hannukah!
Happy Hannukah!

Image: Lily Kartiganer/mashable

The Festival of Lights is upon us.

Revelers are frying latkes and lighting candles at sundown for eight nights to celebrate Hanukkah through Monday evening. 

They’re also playing dreidel — a four-sided top spun as a holiday game — in AR and texting Hanukkah-themed stickers thanks to a boatload of apps themed for the Jewish holiday.

Here are a few of our favorite Hanukkah apps to download this week:

Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel I spun you with AR

Image: igelvat

iGevalt is a free App for iOS and gives you the bare bones dreidel experience. You can’t keep score or have multiple players since there’s no built-in profile settings. Even so, it’s still a fun and entertaining experience. While some AR apps are limited as to where they work, in my testing, iGevalt worked on both a physical table and my closed laptop lid on the train.

Those looking for a full dreidel game experience need not worry. In the aptly named, Dreidel ARena, a circle of silver coins becomes your virtual playspace as you spin the dreidel. You can challenge a computer AI or additional friends by passing the phone around. Plus, there are some other game experiences like trying to keep as many dreidels spinning as possible. Those looking for fancier dreidels can buy them in-app.

Gelt and dreidels as seen in Dreidel Arena.

Gelt and dreidels as seen in Dreidel Arena.

Image: Dreidel ARena

On Android, the AR Dreidel market is bleaker. Digital Dreidel is a simple 3D playing experience that will work, but there are no frills. You just digitally spin a dreidel for a one-player experience. Dreidelit doesn’t have a fancy user interface and is pretty barebones On the plus side, you can customize the dreidel color and swipe to spin it.

Light the menorah digitally

Just one of the many digital menorah lighting experiences.

Just one of the many digital menorah lighting experiences.

Image: smart menorah/app store

While the candelabra with nine candle holders is technically called a Hanukiah — a menorah is a popular, but general term for candelabras used any other time of year — app developers have stuck with the more well-known term. Jews light candles on each night of Hanukkah, adding one more to the candelabra as the eight-night holiday progresses. But if you happen to be traveling or stuck on a subway train or in an Uber during sundown, there are apps that can simulate the candle lighting experience.

If you’re willing to shell out 99 cents, Smart Menorah for iOS includes stellar graphics, a countdown timer, and the blessings one chants while lighting. Menorah – Chanukah (also iOS) is more of a how-to guide for lighting the candles, including a visualization of where to start. Plus, it is free and offers multiple language support.

The Android Play Store has many more options, but not all perform that well. Menorah Deluxe costs $1.99 and lets you customize the candle color in addition to a burn duration. My Menorah 4 Chanukah also allows you to light a digital one for free. Available for iOS and Android, My Menorah 4 Chanukah, is a fully interactive experience to celebrate the holiday. It features a talking menorah and colorful candles. You can also spin a dreidel in the same app. It claims to teach some Hebrew skills and the history of the holiday, too.                           

Image: My Menorah 4 Chanukah

Hanukkah Stickers

The Hanukkah Stickers app for iOS gives you some fun iMessage graphics for free, although unlocking them all costs money. Still, it’s an excellent way to add some flair to your group texts. Remember, if you don’t want to download stickers, Android, and iOS have a built-in menorah emoji: 🕎. 

Whichever app you prefer and no matter how you spell it, have a happy happy Hanukkah.

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Apple reveals the most popular iPhone apps of 2018

Apple's top iPhone apps of 2018 are out.
Apple’s top iPhone apps of 2018 are out.

Image: lili sams / mashable

YouTube can now add “most popular iPhone app of the year” to its list of accomplishments.

Apple just released its lists for the most downloaded apps of 2018 and YouTube took the number one spot, beating out Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat for the honor. 

YouTube held the #3 spot last year, when Bitmoji and Snapchat came in at #1 and #2 respectively. This year, Snapchat dropped to third place and Bitmoji down to sixth, with Instagram climbing to the #2 slot.

These are the top 20 free apps of the year, according to Apple

  1. YouTube

  2. Instagram

  3. Snapchat

  4. Messenger

  5. Facebook

  6. Bitmoji

  7. Netflix

  8. Google Maps

  9. Gmail

  10. Spotify Music

  11. Amazon

  12. Uber

  13. WhatsApp Messenger

  14. Pandora 

  15. Wish 

  16. TikTok 

  17. Cash App

  18. Google Photos

  19. Google Chrome

  20. Twitter

While there aren’t many surprises on that list, it’s notable that YouTube has now edged out Instagram and Snapchat. Though not a new app by any means, YouTube is increasingly becoming the app social media companies need to compete with. Earlier this year, a Pew poll found that YouTube is the most-used app among teens. 

Two other notable additions this year include TikTok, the music video app formerly known as Musicall.y, and Cash App, Square’s P2P payments app.

Over on the paid app charts, photography apps once again came out on top. The most popular paid app was (for the second year in a row) Facetune, followed by special effects app kirakira+.

Like last year, Apple also released separate rankings for games where — surprise, surprise — Fortnite took the top spot for free apps. Also making the list was PUBG and HQ Trivia.

The full list of the top 20 most downloaded free games is below:

  1. Fortnite

  2. Helix Jump

  3. Rise Up

  4. PUBG MOBILE

  5. Hole.io

  6. Love Balls

  7. Snake VS Block

  8. Rules of Survival

  9. ROBLOX

  10. Dune!

  11. Subway Surfers

  12. Episode 

  13. Word Link 

  14. Toon Blast

  15. Color Road!

  16. HQ Trivia

  17. Twisty Road!

  18. 8 Ball Pool™

  19. Kick the Buddy

  20. Sniper 3D Assassin: Gun Games

In addition, Apple’s App Store editors also announced their own picks for the best apps of the year. They named sketching app Procreate Pocket as the overall best iPhone app of the year and Donut Country the top game. 

You can check out the full rankings over on iTunes, where you can also view the most popular podcasts, books, movies and television shows.

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Save on cybersecurity apps: Get 4 for less than $10 per month

Just to let you know, if you buy something featured here, Mashable might earn an affiliate commission.

Image: Pexels

Between your streaming service charges, monthly payments to the cloud, regular curated box deliveries, and that gym membership you rarely use, you and your wallet are probably tormented with way too many subscription services. According to a recent survey, one in ten millennials shells out over $200 or more on monthly subscriptions alone. That’s way too much money spent on Netflix and Prime, don’t you think?

But there are services like VPN, password management tools, and antivirus programs that you can’t simply hit unsubscribe to. These are vital subscriptions, and your digital life will be much safer with them in tow. 

In an effort to help you cut costs though, we’re highlighting a sale on Vault, a streamlined way of enjoying the same services for a much cheaper cost. It features four top security apps, and you only have to pay one monthly fee of $9.99 to gain access to all of them. That’s cheaper than two cups of coffee!

They say good things come in small and cheap digital packages, and we concur. If you subscribe to Vault, you’ll get to enjoy these top-rated tools:

An award-winning VPN service

If you wouldn’t let your best-est friend in the world — the one that knows your deepest, darkest secrets — take even as much as a glimpse of your Google search history. So why would you give sleazy strangers on the internet that satisfaction? Without a Virtual Private Network (VPN), you’re essentially exposing your sensitive data to the world and inadvertently allowing hackers to take advantage of it.

NordVPN is a top-rated VPN service that serves as your digital shield online. Bagging the coveted Outstanding rating from PCMag, it offers unparalleled security, fast browsing speeds, and private, unrestricted access to any site. Every morsel of data that goes through NordVPN’s private tunnels is double encrypted to ensure you remain anonymous and your information is safely hidden. It also employs a zero logs policy, so you can rest assured that your data can’t be touched by anyone.

An intuitive password manager

If you’re like any average citizen of the internet, you most likely maintain at least 90 online accounts, which means you also have 90 different passwords to memorize and change every few months. Dashlane eliminates all that hassle — and saves you from contracting memorization-induced insanity — by being your one-stop-shop for all your password-related needs.

It’s equal parts an instant password generator and changer and password manager, supercharged by secure and accurate autofill technology. It allows you to instantly log into any website, make digital payments, securely store vital personal data, and more, without lifting a finger. Best of all, your passwords are stored inside a military-grade encrypted vault, so no else can gain access.

An AI-based cloud drive

Your devices are home to thousands upon thousands of photos, videos, and files, but c’mon, do you actually use them on a regular basis? Probably not. Which is why it’s best to tuck them away safely in the cloud. Deego provides two terabytes (equivalent to around 1,000 hours of movies, 620,000 photos, 2,000 hours of video, 34,000 hours of songs) of storage under ultra-secure 256-bit AES encryption. It automatically backs up all your files and makes sure they’re up to date with automatic file change detection. It even features a top secret feature with zero knowledge encryption which you can use for your most sensitive data.

A powerful antivirus software

You don’t really expect your standard issue antivirus software to bring you all-around protection, do you? Viruses, malware, ransomware, and all other scary-sounding wares are no match to Panda Dome, an all-in-one security solution to protect your identity and your devices. On top of acting as a powerful barrier against threats, it also safeguards access to all your data. Plus, it’s compatible with PC, Mac, and Android, allowing you to enjoy utmost protection across all your devices.

Sign up for Vault and get the full-metal armor of online protection for just $9.99 a month. As a special offer to Mashable readers you can get the first month free with code FreeMonth.

Snag these rarely-discounted Mac apps and software at Black Friday prices

We don’t just offer discounts on gadgets, gizmos, and training courses in the Mashable Shop. Ahead of Black Friday, we’re conducting a massive sale on rarely-discounted Mac apps, cloud backup, games, password managers, and a whole lot more.  

SEE ALSO: All the best Black Friday 2018 sales, right in one place

Read on to check out the best digital Black Friday deals, and make sure to use the code BFSAVE40 at checkout to enjoy an additional 40% off.

Unleash your inner Walt Disney

Image: Pixabay

If you’ve ever wanted to produce stunning animations but unfortunately can’t draw to save your life, Animatron can help you unleash your inner Walt Disney. Even without the design and technical know-how, it helps you produce animated content through its huge collection of pre-animated characters, backgrounds, and props. Just choose the elements you want and piece them together using the WYSIWYG editor. You can then export your finished masterpiece to a variety of formats, including HTML5, SVG, and GIF.

Get your work done.

Image: Pexels

Your to-do list has nothing on this award-winning productivity tool. 2Do helps you stay on top of your tasks with color-coded lists which you can filter by way of priority, tags, location, and date range. The drag and drop feature lets you batch schedule tasks with ease, and there’s a built-in alert option that notifies you automatically whenever there’s something to do nearby.

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Hear that? That’s the sound of the world’s leading train simulator game asking you to get on board. Trainz will let you traverse across historical and modern routes and famous locomotives through its incredible graphics engine. In the game, you can build your own railway masterpieces, or collaborate with other players in developing and operating a working rail line.

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What if one day you woke up to discover that all your important files have been wiped out from your computer? Scary, right? Which is why you need to invest in Disk Drill, a data recovery system that makes it easy to recover photos, videos, music, and other documents that disappeared from your hard disk. With just a single click, this powerful app can retrieve over 200 types of files on your computer or even those stored on external drives or smartphones. It also offers other useful features like file cleanup, duplicate finding, disk health monitoring, and data protection.

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The critically-acclaimed shooter game is now available for half the retail price. Immerse yourself in a gameplay experience that’s infused with visceral tactical action, upgraded graphics, and top sound design. Whether you choose to play a single-player campaign or participate in a deep multiplayer experience, you’ll never be able to put this game down.

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Few things in life are more cumbersome than having to reset your passwords because you forgot them for the nth time. Sticky Password is an app that handles creating strong encrypted passwords for all your accounts and auto-filling them for you when you need to log in. Your only task? Remembering ONE master password to access it all.

Go video!

Image: Videobolt

In case you haven’t noticed, video content is what gets the most attention on social media. If you want to create videos that are highly engaging to boost your brand, you can rely on Videobolt Pro to help you produce high-quality animations, promotional slideshows, and music visualizers, even without prior video editing experience. The app offers beginner-friendly customization tools to adjust templates for colors and effects, and it has a one-click undo functionality to easily rectify mistakes. With a Pro subscription, you’re afforded 96 videos per year, delivered as eight videos a month.

Go pro with your 'grams.

Image: Appz

Take the pain out of community building with Appz. Instead of having to manually follow, like, and comment on other users’ posts, this Google Chrome extension does the heavy lifting for you. It auto-likes, auto-comments, auto-follows (and unfollows) posts and users with the same interests as you, and connects you with relevant users and content via your desired hashtags.

Do you have a business plan?

Image: pexels

Everyone tells you that the key to success is building your own empire, but no one actually teaches you how to start it. Bizplan is a step-by-step business builder that helps you put together a coherent business plan through drag and drop templates and self-paced progress tracking. It breaks down major projects into digestible pieces so as not to overwhelm you, and it features a host of collaboration and sharing tools to make working with a team hassle-free.

Write something.

Image: pexels

If you often find yourself spacing out or misinterpreting whatever you’re reading, the BeeLine Reader offers an ingenious solution to help you peruse everything 20% faster. It adds a color gradient to your text, with the color at the end of one line matching the beginning of the next. That way, you’ll be able to follow each line of your reading material easier and quicker, resulting in you being able to plow through emails, news stories, e-books, and more in blazing speeds without sacrificing comprehension.

Store it all here.

Image: pexels

Paying full price for keeping your files on the cloud? In this economy? No way. Zoolz offers 2TB of LIFETIME cloud storage for the same price you would drop for the likes of iCloud and Dropbox annually. The 1TB is for holding files you need to access regularly, while the other 1TB is reserved for data that rarely gets visited.

Transfer data between devices with ease.

Image: DigiDNA

No one in history has wanted to deal with data migration using iTunes. It’s slow, overwhelming, and just downright confusing. iMazing 2 is an all-purpose tool that makes the process much more manageable. All you have to do is drag and drop everything you want to transfer from one device to another, and the app will handle everything else.

Relaxation starts here.

Image: Welzen

Take a break from your daily stressors with this meditation app. It offers simple and subject-specific mindfulness meditations you can practice to re-center yourself during the middle of a stressful workday, before heading to bed, or anytime you’re feeling extra anxious. Every day, you’ll get a new meditation infused with a life lesson, which could help in boosting your mood and staying on top of your game.

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Impulsive holiday spending can abruptly put you in the red without you even knowing. Make sure to avoid accruing exorbitant overdraft fees by managing your money with Kualto. It’s a web-based tool that helps you plan expenses, stash more cash in your savings, and predict how much you’ll have for up to three weeks in advance. With precise forecasting, it learns what’s due and reminds you of upcoming bills so you can make payments on time. It also makes sure you don’t go below your minimum by calculating how your current spending affects your balance even months from now. Best part of all, it does all this without needing to connect to your bank account.

Learn a foreign language with Mondly.

Image: Mondly

Remember when you said you were finally going to learn Korean to sing along to the K-Pop hits? Whatever happened to that? You’re out of excuses this time, especially when you find out about this hard to pass up deal on a Mondly subscription. The AI-powered app makes learning easy by employing state-of-the-art speech recognition that provides positive feedback if you speak your preferred language clearly and correctly. You can even listen in on the conversations between native speakers so you can further immerse yourself in the language, and you can supplement your learning with the built-in dictionary, verb conjugator, and interactive games.

Driving apps pulled from Google Play for reportedly installing Android malware over 560,000 times

Some of the apps secretly infecting users with malware.
Some of the apps secretly infecting users with malware.

Image: softonic / screengrab

As many as 13 games available to download in the Google Play Store were actually Android malware and downloaded more than 560,000 times, a security researcher said this week.

The apps, listed as car and truck simulators and racing games, are no longer on the store. TechCrunch reports that an Android security researcher found that the games were just a cover to download malware in the background.

A Google spokesperson confirmed the apps were removed from the store, “Providing a safe and secure experience for our users is our top priority. We appreciate the researcher’s report and their efforts to help make Google Play more secure. The apps violated our policies and have been removed from the Play Store.”

The apps all came from a developer named Luiz O Pinto. A page on app discovery portal Softonic lists all the apps the researcher says were infecting users and that Google has since removed. On that site, every app lists zero downloads.

If the 560,000 installs is an accurate number, this is one of the biggest breaches the Google Play Store has experienced. 

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