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5 Android apps you shouldn’t miss this week! – Android Apps Weekly

Posted by wicked April - 18 - 2015 - Saturday Comments Off

ticktick Android Apps WeeklySponsor: TickTick – Todo and Task List

[Price: Free with in app purchases]
TickTick is a task list application that allows you to organize your day. It features cross platform support on Android, iOS, and the web via extensions so you can check your tasks anywhere. It features real-time syncing across devices, the ability to do things like create checklists for more immersive task creation, support for sub tasks, and the ability to group tasks together in a folder. You can also upload attachments and share task lists for collaborative purposes. It’s a solid application that’s very easy to use and you should check it out.
Get it on Google Play

Hello and welcome back to the Android Apps Weekly show! Here are your headlines for this week:

For more Android apps and games headlines, releases, and updates, don’t forget to check out this week’s newsletter where we’ll have the complete list of everything app related that happened this week. If you’re so inclined, you can sign up for it with your email address to get the newsletter sent straight to your inbox every Friday.

Subscribe to our Android Apps Weekly newsletter!

hearthstone Android appsHearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

[Price: Free with in-app purchases]
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft got a huge update this last week. Among other things, the app is now available for all smartphones and not just screens that are 6-inches or larger. People have been getting around that issue on their own but it does feel nice to have actual support for smaller screens. Also with the update came some bug fixes, performance improvements, and an indicator to let you know when you’re about to lose connection.
Get it on Google Play

google handwriting input Android apps weeklyGoogle Handwriting Input

[Price: Free]
Google Handwriting Input is a new keyboard app that lets you write down your messages instead of just typing them out. It works on tablets and phones and you can choose whether or not to use a stylus. It also comes in 82 languages, supports emojis, and it’s available for all Android devices running Android 4.0.3 and up. It’s a nice augment to a keyboard and voice input and it recognizes your writing even if it’s pretty bad.
Get it on Google Play
google handwriting input android apps

galaxy s6 experience Android apps weeklySamsung Galaxy S6 Experience

[Price: Free]
If you’ve been wondering about getting a Galaxy S6, you now have the opportunity to try out the software features to see if you like them. The Samsung Galaxy S6 Experience app lets you test out various Touchwiz features and look at the design and even the accessories of the Galaxy S6. This is a fun to try if you’re considering picking up the S6 or S6 Edge and it is free to use. It should also be compatible with most Android devices.
Get it on Google Play
galaxy s6 Android apps weekly

magica x magica Android apps weeklyMagica X Magica

[Price: $0.99 with in-app purchases]
Magica X Magica is a 2D infinite runner and shooter game and it’s one of the precious few with an actual story line. You play as a girl who is trying to save her kidnapped friend by shooting a bunch of bad guys. It features some decent artwork and graphics, simple mechanics, various weapons, many missions, and boss fights. It calls itself the saddest game in this genre ever made and should be an interesting pick up for runner and shooter fans.
Get it on Google Play

joe danger Android apps weeklyJoe Danger

[Price: $3.38 with in-app purchases]
Joe Danger is a side-scrolling daredevil game that was a huge hit on iOS and iPad and it’s finally made it’s way to Android. The game will feature 80 levels across 10 tours to challenge your skills, online scoreboards and achievements, 29 different characters, and daily challenges. You can also replay levels to get a perfect run to earn the Pro Medals for each level. It’s a fun little game and shouldn’t be too expensive for most people.
Get it on Google Play

Wrap up

If we missed any great Android apps and games news, let us know in the comments!

Google launches Designed for Families program for kid-friendly apps

Posted by wicked April - 15 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off

One of the best things that have come up with the rise of the apps is that digital education, and education in general, has become more fun for a whole new generation of digital natives. Google recognizes that there are developers out there that are focused on creating apps that will cater to children and families and they want to give them tools to inspire them more and to help market them as well.

Designed for Families is a program that will designate certain apps as family-friendly, if they meet the prescribed criteria. They will be able to participate in future “family-focused experiences” that Google Play is coming up with. This will also allow parents to easily search for apps that are age-appropriate for their children and also make more informed choices when looking at which should be installed in their kids’ Android devices. Developers will have to submit their app for review and see if they meet the Designed for Families program requirements.

There is a whole page that lists in details what are these criteria/requirement. It includes the fact that the app has to be rated ESRB Everyone or Everyone 10+ or any equivalent rating. It also involves details as to the display ads in the apps, that the ad’s content itself should meet the Designed for Families ad standards and that it should be consistent with the app’s rating. It is also indicated that the apps for children should not require them to sign in using Google+ or Google Play game services.

The policy guidelines and practices for Android developers in general have to be reviewed carefully as well, especially since targeting children and families involve certain legalities as well. Google also emphasized that they have the right to reject and even remove any app that will be deemed inappropriate under the Designed for Families program.

SOURCE: Android Developers

Master the links this year with these 9 golf apps for Android and more!

Posted by wicked April - 14 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

golf apps
Spring time is here, the birds are chirping, the plants are getting green again, and that means it’s almost time to get back out there and play some golf. Every golfer is always trying to improve their golf game and have some fun in the process so here are some golf apps and other stuff to help you enjoy the game better this year.

flick golf extreme golf appsFlick Golf Extreme

[Price: $1.49]
Flick Golf Extreme is a fun little time waster where you use your finger as a golf club and flick the ball to the hole. It features decent graphics, some interesting mechanics, and you can turn the game music off so you can listen to your own music instead. It’s a simple game and good for when you’re waiting for that slow group in front of you to finish a hole on the golf course.
Get it on Google Play
flick golf extreme golf apps

fun putt mini golf golf appsFun Putt Mini Golf

[Price: Free / $1.99]
Fun Putt Mini Golf is another fun little golf-themed time waster and if you’ve ever been to a mini golf course then you know what you’re in for. There are over 100 holes, simple mechanics, and a surprising amount of content. Again, it’s not going to improve your game, but it’s a good way to pass time while you wait for other people to improve theirs.
Get it on Google Play
fun putt mini golf golf apps

golf channel academy golf appsGolf Channel Academy

[Price: $1.99 per episode / $4.99 full season]
Okay, so Golf Channel Academy isn’t an app. It’s a TV show that’s aimed to help people improve their golf game. Episodes include pro advice on things like grip, swing, sand play, posture, putting, and other golf tips. It’s $1.99 per episode or you can get the whole season for $4.99. Sometimes the best way to learn is to watch the pros do it and it could help you figure things out!
Get it on Google Play
golf channel academy golf apps

golf channel mobile golf appsGolf Channel Mobile

[Price: Free]
Golf Channel Mobile is the official application of the Golf Channel. It features blog posts, news, and analysis about golf from people who work around the game. You can also follow players with tournament info, leaderboards, and even video content. Every golf enthusiast should have a decent source of news to keep up on the latest stuff and this is a pretty good option.
Get it on Google Play
golf channel mobile golf apps

golf gps and scorecard golf appsGolf GPS & Scorecard

[Price: Free with in app purchases]
Golf GPS & Scorecard a GPS rangefinder app mixed with a digital scorecard. You can use the rangefinder so you can plan your shots and see how far you are from various parts of the course. You can then use the scorecard functionality to keep score and see graphs that show all of your games. There is a premium version that has more features. If you’re playing a course the app doesn’t have, you can pay to have them add it or you can add it yourself if you want to go through the trouble.
Get it on Google Play

golf gps rangefinder golf appsGolf GPS Rangefinder: Golf Pad

[Price: Free with in app purchases]
Golf GPS Rangefinder: Golf Pad is essentially a competitor to the prior app. It has many of the same features including a rangefinder that has over 30,000 golf courses around the world. On top of the extensive list of features, you’ll also get support for Android Wear, Magellan Echo Series, and Pebble smartwatches. Much like the other app, if your golf course isn’t present, you can create it yourself on your computer.
Get it on Google Play

golf star golf appsGolf Star

[Price: Free with in app purchases]
Golf Star is a golf game with a bit more substance. It boasts pretty decent graphics, somewhat realistic physics, and even realistic golfing techniques. Golf Star also features three different game modes, tournaments, and even game changers like humidity and wind speed. It’s likely among the best golf games available on mobile and that makes it worth checking out.
Get it on Google Play

nike golf 360 golf appsNike Golf 360

[Price: Free]
Nike Golf 360 is a tracker application that lets you keep score, track your stats, see your progress, and help analyze things like driving accuracy and putting. It has data for 26,000 golf courses and built in scorecard functionality. You can also find tips, tricks, and tools to help you improve your game. There are some bugs here and there that other users have reported, but it is totally free to use which is a big plus.
Get it on Google Play
nike golf 360 golf apps

super stickman golf golf appsSuper Stickman Golf

[Price: Free with in app purchases]
Super Stickman Golf is another time waster golf-themed game where you play as a stick man and you must predictably shoot the ball in the hole. It features 280 levels, simple game play, unlockable content, and some fun obstacles to overcome. It’s also reasonably sized and there are online leaderboards.
Get it on Google Play

zen golf golf appsZen Golf: Mastering the Mental Game

[Price: $9.99]
Everyone who plays sports knows that the mental aspects are just as important as the physical ones and even something as simple as having confidence can change the way you play. Zen Golf is a book available on Google Play Books that helps teach you how to handle the game from a mental aspect to help yourself improve. It has stellar reviews and looks at the game from something other than a physical perspective.
Get it on Google Play
golf apps

zepp golf golf appsZepp Golf

[Price: Free]
Zepp Golf is a free app that helps you analyze your game to see how you can improve. There is a video analysis tool built in along with the ability to replay swings from multiple angles and the ability to play your swing next to pro swings to see how they do it differently than you. It’s totally free with no in-app purchases which is great for golf players on a budget.
Get it on Google Play
zepp golf golf apps

Wrap up

If we missed any great shows, movies, books, or golf apps, please let us know in the comments!

To see our complete list of Android apps and games lists, click here!

Should we be worried about Android app permissions?

Posted by wicked April - 10 - 2015 - Friday Comments Off

facebook permissions

If you’re really honest, do you actually read the permissions that Android apps are asking for before you install them? If you do, then there’s little doubt that you’re in the minority. Most of us treat them like terms and conditions, blindly clicking, or tapping, our way through. Is this something we should be taking more seriously? What are we actually giving away here?

Developers are well aware that most people don’t pay much attention to permissions and a lot of them have been surreptitiously adding more and more permissions to the list. Take a look at this chart of permissions for some of the most popular apps and games around.

Do these apps really need all these permissions? If you dig into the list, which you can find via the View details link under Permissions on the Play Store page for each app, then you’ll find some pretty puzzling requests.

The popular game Cut the Rope, for example, requests permission for your Location and yet the Privacy Policy from developer, ZeptoLab, specifically states “Geo-Location Data. ZeptoLab does not ask you for, access, or track any location based information at any time while downloading or using ZeptoLab’s mobile applications or services.”

I emailed and asked about it and here’s what Community Manager, Olga Antsiferova told me,

“Location data is needed for advertising SDKs to show people the ads which are relevant to their country. It is also used in both free and paid version of our games to identify countries with COPPA law. Finally, it is used in analytics, but it is important to understand that we gather only general, not personified info (i.e. “today we received 10k downloads from UK”) and we do not track individual devices.”

I’m not singling Cut the Rope out for any particular reason, by the way. You could pick an app at random and probably find a permission that’s puzzling at first glance.

What’s the problem?

A spotlight, or flashlight, was thrown on the issue a while back when popular free app Brightest Flashlight turned out to be selling location data and device ID information to third party advertisers. It transpired that it was far from the only app engaging in a fire sale of our personal data. A lot of flashlight apps are asking for permissions they absolutely do not need to function. It’s not a phenomenon that’s restricted to flashlight apps.

flashlight apps permissions chart

In all likelihood what we’re talking about here is the sale of anonymized data to advertisers, so that developers can generate a little extra cash. Some of you might be okay with that. But you’re actually putting a lot of trust in these developers. It’s one thing to trust that Google isn’t going to do anything untoward with your personal data (and some people struggle with that idea), but how much do you know about the publishers and developers behind the apps you’re using, or the third-party advertising networks that they work with?

Is there a worse scenario? Are you giving them the permission to do things like upload all your personal photos to a web server or sell your contacts list? While it may be technically possible in some instances, it’s extremely unlikely that they’re actually doing that, it’s illegal and they wouldn’t get away with it for long. The most likely explanation is generally innocuous — an app might want access to your photos to allow you to upload an image directly in the app without having to jump through hoops or quit the app and start up the gallery app.

The problem is that most people don’t really know what the permissions mean, they aren’t willing to research it, and they don’t want to have to. What they really want is to be able to trust that someone else is looking out for them.

Google does have your back, up to a point

The Play Store is pretty secure. Google does a lot of work behind the scenes to make sure that the apps on offer are safe. Most of the scaremongering about malware on Android is designed to sell security apps. If you only ever download apps from the Play Store with high numbers of downloads and a good review score, and you don’t tick the Unknown sources box in Settings > Security then you realistically have nothing serious to worry about.

google verify apps defense (2) Quartz

The trouble kicks in if you’re concerned about privacy. If you don’t like the idea of giving strangers potential access to a lot of personal data. If you don’t like the idea of them collecting information about your habits. There’s a gray area of acceptability there that Google isn’t policing.

Your only real option if you don’t like the permissions that an app is requesting is to not install it. But, why is that the case?

Puzzling changes

Google simplified app permissions last summer (some people will say dumbed down) and things are grouped into sections now. This was supposed to make it easier for people, but it actually makes it tougher to see what specific permissions you are granting. It also means that an app can request a new permission in an update and if you’ve already granted a permission in that section it’s automatically granted without your say-so.

We need better control over permissions

There are a lot of other ways this could work. You could be asked for a permission when an app actually needs to use it, but this could arguably impair the user experience. You could also have a clear menu where you can go in and deny specific permissions, or tell the app to ask when it needs that permission. Something like App Ops which Google rolled out and then retracted.

Google brought App Ops out in Android 4.3, though it was never advertised. It was quietly removed in Android 4.4.2. It allowed you to revoke specific permissions for apps. Officially Google claimed it was only ever intended for developers. It’s possible part of the reason it was removed was to prevent stability issues for apps if users started revoking permissions all over the place, but realistically it probably had a lot more to do with advertising revenue. If you could use free apps and easily block permissions that generate ads (and revenue for the developers) then you probably would, right? That could make Android app development unprofitable for many.

What can you do?

The bottom line is that most developers are asking for permissions because of some function or feature in the app and the request is legitimate. There’s another tier of apps that are trying to turn a profit by selling anonymized data. Unfortunately it’s not always easy for the average person to tell the difference. If you’re concerned, then make sure you read the permissions and the privacy policy. There’s no substitute for doing a little digging to see what you can uncover. If you routinely download apps from outside the Play Store then you really can’t afford to ignore permissions.

You can find a bunch of permission managers in the Play Store, many confusingly called App Ops or some variant. If you’re rooted then check out X Privacy Installer for smart protection that won’t make the apps fail.

Tell us what you think. Do you read app permissions before every install? Are you worried about leaking personal info? Do you care about anonymized data for advertisers? Is Google doing enough to protect our privacy?

10 best Android budget apps for money management

Posted by wicked April - 6 - 2015 - Monday Comments Off

best Android budget apps for money management
Nobody likes talking about budgeting. It’s a pain in the rear end and generally prevents you from buying lots of things that make you happy. Nevertheless, it’s something we all must do so why not make it easy? Here are the best Android budget apps for money management.

andromoney best Android budget apps for money managementAndroMoney

[Price: Free]
First up is the highly rated AndroMoney. The app works as an expense tracker and money management app that comes with an integrated calculator, multiple accounts, cloud storage support, syncing with other devices, and password protection. It’s a simple, solid entry for those who don’t need anything serious.
Get it on Google Play

bitcoin wallet best Android budget apps for money managementBitcoin Wallet

[Price: Free]
Bitcoin users shouldn’t be left in the dark when it comes to money management on Android. Bitcoin Wallet offers a bunch of Bitcoin-inspired features including the ability to pay for things with Bitcoin, buy more Bitcoin, and other management features such as transaction history, balance, transaction details, and password protection. You can even remotely disable phone access if it gets stolen.
Get it on Google Play
bitcoin wallet best Android budget apps for money management

cash best Android budget apps for money managementCash

[Price: Free]
Cash is another simple expense tracker app that helps you manage all of your money. It’s ad-free and I know a lot of people will appreciate that. You can also backup to Dropbox, obtain summary reports, export in CSV, and it’s available in four languages. It also features various charts to help you better understand how you’re spending your money. It’s simple, but powerful even if the design is a little old.
Get it on Google Play
cash best Android budget apps for money management

cash droid best Android budget apps for money managementCash Droid

[Price: Free]
Cash Droid is about as old school of an app as you can get but surprisingly it was updated not that long ago. It features some more advanced features like category management, payees, currency, etc and it can be broken down further if you need it to be. You can also backup information via Dropbox (or local storage) and you can have everything password protected. It gets the job done and then some but that interface, though.
Get it on Google Play
cash droid best Android budget apps for money management

CWMoney expense track best Android budget apps for money managementCWMoney Expense Track

[Price: Free / $4.99]
CWMoney Expense Track does pretty much what the title says it does, track your expenses. It comes with multiple themes so you can personalize your experience which is unique. It also comes with a widget, multiple currency support, multiple account support, extensive organization support, and backup to Dropbox, Gmail, FTP, and others. It’s a bit more powerful than the ones we’ve talked about so far but it does also have more features. There is also a paid version.
Get it on Google Play

financial calculators best Android budget apps for money managementFinancial Calculators

[Price: Free]
Financial Calculators is an app that provides you with a variety of calculators for your personal finance needs. Some of the options include mortgage, tip, auto loan, APR, and cred card payoff calculators along with additional tools like a currency converter. It’s simple, free, and a must have for those nights when you’re tediously pouring over your finances.
Get it on Google Play
financial calculators best Android budget apps for money management

financisto best Android budget apps for money managementFinancisto – Expense Manager

[Price: Free / $4.00]
We’ll never fully understand why the best money management apps hate design so much, but Financisto is still a great option. It comes with multiple account and currency support along with the ability to add your own currency, the ability to add scheduled and recurring transactions, cloud backup to Google Drive and Dropbox, automatic backups, CSV and QIF export and import, and plenty more. We also have it on good authority that the app is undergoing a Holo-inspired redesign which will be awesome.
Get it on Google Play
financisto best Android budget apps for money management

mint personal finance best Android budget apps for money managementMint Bills and Mint Personal Finance

[Price: Free]
The Mint series of apps are among the best finance apps available anywhere, period. Mint Bills actually lets you set up bill pay so you can pay your bills directly from the app instead of slogging through the process of logging into all those websites and making all those phone calls. Mint Personal Finance shows recent transactions, allows you to create and track budgets, and even lets you check your credit score. These are two very powerful finance apps with decent designs and strong features. Click the button below to get Mint Personal Finance and click here to get Mint Bills.
Get it on Google Play

monefy best Android budget apps for money managementMonefy Money Manager

[Price: Free / $2.50]
Monefy is a money management app with a slightly better design than many of these other ones. It allows you to create budgets, manage budgets, transactions, and categories, and backup and export data quickly. It’s a simple app that includes some extra stuff like passwords and a widget, but for those who don’t need a lot, this is a solid option.
Get it on Google Play

moneywise best Android budget apps for money managementMoneywise

[Price: Free / $6.99]
Last on our list for now is MoneyWise. It’s a fairly powerful budgeting and money management tool that supports multiple accounts, many currencies, and it’s even available in over half a dozen languages. One of its best features is that it’s usable totally offline with no account creation required so it’s great for those who don’t want to be tied down to a service. It also has graphics, charts, monitor account balances, and there’s a built in calculator.
Get it on Google Play
moneywise best Android budget apps for money management

Wrap up

If we missed your favorite Android budget apps for money management, let us know in the comments!

To see our complete list of Android apps and games lists, click here!

5 Android apps you shouldn’t miss this week! – Android Apps Weekly

Posted by wicked April - 3 - 2015 - Friday Comments Off

When autoplay is enabled videos will start playing automatically, you can turn off autoplay by clicking checkbox.

magnetic ball android appsSponsored by: Magnetic Balls Puzzle Game

[Price: Free with in app purchases]
Magnetic Balls Puzzle Game is a game that has you shooting balls at other balls. The balls are magnetized which can have either untoward or unexpected benefits to each and every shot. It’s a colorful, fun game with power ups, many levels, and plenty of content to enjoy. There is even a color blind mode for you folks who have trouble seeing colors. It’s available in the Play Store right now for free and we’d like to thank them for sponsoring the Android Apps Weekly show.
Get it on Google Play
Magnetic Balls Puzzle Game

Welcome back to the Android Apps Weekly show! Let’s take a look at the top headlines.

  • Google released Arc Welder for Chrome browser and ChromeOS this last week. The extension allows you to run a limited number of Android apps straight from the browser which can be fun or even useful for some people. It’s not perfect but it’s getting there.
  • As part of the April Fool’s Day festivities, Google turned Google Maps into a Pac-Man game. It was a goofy and fun little thing to experience. You just have to make sure you look at a place with enough roads or it won’t let you play.
  • Developer HandyGames is celebrating their 15 year anniversary today by putting all of their titles on sale for $0.15. Follow the link to see the list in its entirety. Most of them are fairly well regarded and $0.15 is a steal for pretty much any paid game.
  • WhatsApp announced a calling feature a while back but it was invite only. Now, there are reports that WhatsApp calling is rolling out to all users even without an invite. If you don’t have it yet, patience because it’s coming soon.
  • A new Gmail update has included support for a unified inbox even for Yahoo and Outlook accounts. Other improvements include better auto-complete for keyword searching, larger attachment previews, and bug fixes along with performance improvements.

If you want to see all of the new releases, updates, and headlines, don’t forget to check out this week’s newsletter and while you’re there, bookmark it for later or use your email and sign up. We send one out every Friday and it’s a great way to stay up to date on the latest in Android apps news!

Subscribe to our Android Apps Weekly newsletter!

goodreads android appsGoodreads

[Price: Free]
Goodreads is a sort of social network for readers that helps you find new books and novels to read based on the reviews left by friends. The app received a huge update this last week that includes a significant redesign. Most of the rest of the improvements are based around the redesign including easier to find features and a new Want To Read button to help you save stuff faster. If you like to read books, you should try this out.
Get it on Google Play
Goodreads Android Apps Weekly

Izanagi Online android appsIzanagi Online

[Price: Free with in app purchases]
Izanagi Online is a new MMORPG designed by the same guy who did Afro Samurai. The game features over 100 quests, four classes, and even a story line that you can play through. The graphics aren’t half bad but there are some early release day bugs and issues so you may want to wait a couple of weeks for those to get worked out.
Get it on Google Play
Izanagi Online android apps

mighty marvel heroes android appsMarvel Mighty Heroes

[Price: Free with in app purchases]
Marvel Mighty Heroes is a new online hack and slash game where you can play as your favorite Marvel characters online with up to four other real people. It’s a fun little time waster but like any new release, there are some issues here and there so proceed with caution.
Get it on Google Play
marvel mighty heroes android apps

riff android appsRiff

[Price: Free]
Riff is a new video sharing app by Facebook that allows you to make video with friends. Here’s how it works. You post a video to the service, then friends can add to it. From there, the friends of your friends can add to it. It’s definitely something unique and worth trying out if you’re into this kind of thing.
Get it on Google Play
riff android apps

tomb raider android appsTomb Raider 1

[Price: $0.99]
The original Tomb Raider has been re-released to Android by Square Enix. The game has been lightly retouched for HD screens but otherwise contains pretty much all of the puzzles and fun of the original. Some have lamented the controls and there are some bugs here and there but it’s only $0.99 which is cheap for a Square Enix game.
Get it on Google Play
tomb raider android apps

Wrap up

Thanks for reading and watching the Android Apps Weekly show! If we missed any news, headlines, or releases, let us know in the comments!

Opera Browser Beta

When it comes to Android, you have a ton of options to choose from when deciding which browser to use on your smartphone or tablet. Opera is a name that been around for quite a while, and it has pushed an update for its Opera Browser Beta app with some must-have features that will help it keep pace with the competition.

We have the change log below as well as the download link and QR code. While there are no major improvements, the small changes and fixes as a whole should be noticeable if you are a long-time Opera user.

Change log:

  • Tab synchronization: new view for synced tabs, new layout in Tab manager
  • Improved Text wrap
  • 64-bit support
  • New progress bar
  • Opera Turbo replaces Off-road mode
  • Upgrade to Chromium 42
  • Various stability and usability improvements.

qr code

Google Play Store Get it Here

Come comment on this article: Opera Browser Beta update brings 64-bit support, Chromium 42 codebase and other improvements

14 best new Android apps and games from March 2015

Posted by wicked March - 31 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

The buzz of CES and Mobile World Congress 2015 has finally started to calm down but the app world is as busy as ever. We saw some great Android apps and games releases from March 2015 and we’re going to talk about the best ones here.

almightree new android apps weeklyAlmightree; The Last Dreamer

[Price: $1.99]
Almightree: The Last Dreamer is a 3D platformer game with impressive, colorful visuals, a fun story line, and challenging game play. You play as a hero who is trying to save a world that is crumbling by the minute. It’s a lot of fun but doesn’t work on devices that use ART although we imagine that issue is temporary.
Get it on Google Play

alphadia genesis 2 new android apps weeklyAlphadia Genesis 2

[Price: $4.99 with in app purchases on sale ($9.99 usually)]
Alphadia Genesis 2 is the latest in the Alphadia series from Kemco Games. It is an RPG title that features a long and decent story, job classes, decent graphics, and a unique UI experience for a game. There are a few bugs here and there so be sure to test it inside of the refund time!
Get it on Google Play

autowear new android apps weeklyAutoWear

[Price: Free with in app purchases]
AutoWear is an Android Wear application that gives you the ability to add some unique stuff to your smartwatch experience. Some features include floating icons, interactive screen creation, Okay Google integration, and a lot more. If you like to tinker and don’t mind a learning curve, you can get a 7-day free trial of the app right now.
Get it on Google Play

android new apps weeklyCorgi for Feedly

[Price: Free]
Corgi for Feedly is a lock screen replacement app that puts your Feedly news feed on your lock screen. It adheres to material design, uses your customizable Feedly feed, and also lets you share with friends. It’s a simple replacement but it doesn’t have good lock screen security and there are a few bugs here and there.
Get it on Google Play

Drupe new Android appsDrupe

[Price: Free]
Drupe is a kind of messaging app where you can browse your contacts and message any one of them you want using your preferred messaging service. That means you can get a hold of one person on Facebook Messenger and another on Hangouts, all from one app. It’s definitely interesting if you use multiple messaging platforms and free to use.
Get it on Google Play

dungeon hunter 5 new android apps weeklyDungeon Hunter 5

[Price: Free with in app purchases]
Dungeon Hunter 5 is the latest iteration of the Dungeon Hunger series from Gameloft. It continues where Dungeon Hunter 4 left off and includes improved graphics, a new story line to play through, and some online player mechanics. It’s an action RPG that uses a freemium model but it’s still worth a shot if you like action RPGs.
Get it on Google Play

final fantasy record keeper new android appsFinal Fantasy Record Keeper

[Price: Free with in app purchases]
Final Fantasy Record Keeper is a dual effort between DeNA and Square Enix. The game has enough nostalgia to where any Final Fantasy fan can feel welcome. The game play is simple and easy to understand. There are some optimization issues and the game starts slowly but pretty much any Final Fantasy fan could enjoy this one.
Get it on Google Play

new android apps weeklyFive Nights at Freddy’s 3

[Price: $2.99]
Five Nights at Freddy’s is a horror game series that took Android by storm in 2014. The third in the series was released in March to positive reviews from both reviewers and users. It’s inexpensive with no in-app purchases and it’s truly a creepy experience. It can’t hurt to pick up this one.
Get it on Google Play

fotonica new android appsFotonica

[Price: $0.99]
Fotonica is an infinite runner game that uses some unique minimal graphics and fast speeds. There are eight levels, three endless levels, local multiplayer, two difficulty settings, and it comes with a cheap, affordable price tag with no in-app purchases. It’s a fun little time waster.
Get it on Google Play

htc fun fit new android apps weeklyFun Fit

[Price: Free]
Fun Fit is a workout application that was released by HTC in an effort to help people get in shape. It isn’t as featured filled as something like Runtastic but if you need something basic and simple with a good design then you should be okay with this one. It also includes goals, Facebook integration, and more.
Get it on Google Play
htc fun fit new android apps weekly

king of thieves new android apps weeklyKing of Thieves

[Price: Free with in-app purcahses]
King of Thieves is a time-waster out of ZeptoLab, makers of the famous Cut the Rope series. In this game, you build a base to protect your gold, then you go and raid other people for theirs. Unlike most games with this dynamic, you’ll be attacking people using platformer game mechanics. It’s free to play and good for adults and kids.
Get it on Google Play

motion tennis cast new android apps weeklyMotion Tennis Cast

[Price: Free with in app purchases]
Motion Tennis Cast is a unique game that uses a Google Chromecast to let you play tennis on your TV screen similar to a Nintendo Wii game. This is definitely one of the most interesting mobile games we’ve seen in a long time. If you have a Chromecast, you should definitely try it out.
Get it on Google Play

Nuzzel new android appsNuzzel: News From Your Friends

[Price: Free]
Nuzzel is an application that helps you keep track of what news your friends read. It sounds creepy but they mean well. It’s a way to find news and topics based on the stuff your friends are reading. It’s totally free to use so it can’t hurt to try. That is, unless you don’t have a Twitter or Facebook account. Then you can’t use it.
Get it on Google Play
nuzzel new android apps

zombie highway 2 new android apps weeklyZombie Highway 2

[Price: Free with in app purchases]
The original Zombie Highway was one of the best time wasters on Android in its day and Zombie Highway 2 hopes to continue that tradition. It includes more cars, more guns, improved graphics, more levels, and plenty of objectives to complete. It is a freemium game that you can do fairly well in without purchasing anything.
Get it on Google Play

Wrap up

If we missed any great new Android apps or games from March 2015, let us know in the comments!

5 Android apps you shouldn’t miss this week! – Android Apps Weekly

Posted by wicked March - 27 - 2015 - Friday Comments Off

speed heat Android apps weeklySponsored by: Speed Heat

[Price: Free]
Speed Heat is an infinite runner game where you collect cars, unlock tracks, and keep racing until you’re ready ready to stop. It includes Facebook leaderboards, plenty of awesome cars to unlock, and simple controls that anyone can learn quickly. It’s inoffensive nature makes it great for kids or adults and its simple premise and quick game play make it a great time waster when you need to kill a few minutes. We’d like to thank Speed Heat for supporting the Android Apps Weekly show.
Get it on Google Play
android apps weekly

Welcome back to Android Apps Weekly! Here are your top headlines this week:

  • Rumor around the water cooler is that Gmail and Inbox will soon let you pay bills directly from your email. Reports are that the service will start around Q4 of 2015 and will let you share bills with other people.
  • Amazon is tinkering with an idea of starting a service called Amazon Unlocked which will give users paid apps, including in-app purchases, for free. Tech Crunch described it as the Amazon Prime but for apps and it may just help give Amazon that bump its app store sorely needs.
  • This week Google announced the Safe Browsing API which will give developers access to the same malware blocking technology that Google uses in Google Chrome. You can likely expect apps with built-in web browsers to incorporate this technology eventually.
  • Facebook has debuted its new Messenger Platform that allows third party applications to be integrated directly with Facebook Messenger. This will open up the chat platform to third party apps and allow for more functionality such as built-in support for Imgur or Giphy.
  • Google is working on a platform called YouTube Live which will be a live streaming service for games and e-sports. The idea is to give Twitch some competition. Reportedly, Google has hired 50 engineers to help make this happen and they’ll have to do some awesome stuff to compete with Twitch.

For more Android apps news, updates, and releases, don’t forget to check out this week’s Android Apps Weekly newsletter. We’ll have a full list of the news, updates, and releases that took Android by storm over the course of the previous week. If you want, you can even subscribe using your email address and we’ll shoot it directly to your inbox every Friday.

Subscribe to our Android Apps Weekly newsletter!

game of thrones android apps weeklyGame of Thrones and Tales from the Borderlands

[Price: $4.99 each with in app purchases]
Telltale Games has been busy this last week as they have released new episodes for purchase for both Tales from the Borderlands and Game of Thrones. Tales from the Borderlands is getting the long awaited episode 2 entitled Atlas Mugged as an in-app purchase that’ll set you back $4.99. Game of Thrones is getting episode 3 of its game, also for $4.99. Both games are great action-adventure games that bring new depth to their respective properties and Telltale Games fans have likely already purchased the new content.
Get it on Google Play

Google Keep - best Android apps 2013Google Keep

[Price: Free]
Google Keep received a substantial update this last week that includes recurring reminders and label support. This means you can set up a note that will appear on a recurring schedule to include daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly and there are custom reminders available. At this point, Google might as well make this a task management app because it’s halfway there already. Label support helps users to organize their notes more efficiently. The update is rolling out right now so if you don’t have it yet, patience because it’s coming.
Get it on Google Play

fotonica android appsFotonica

[Price: $0.99]
Fotonica is a unique endless runner game where you run through abstract levels at wicked high speeds. It’s definitely a different kind of take on the infinite runner genre and includes eight levels, three endless levels, local multiplayer, online rankings, and best of all, no in-app purchases or advertising. It’s on sale for $0.99 so you can pick it up for cheap right now. It’s an excellent time waster with a fun design and it’s definitely worth checking out.
Get it on Google Play

tomtom gps navigation android appsTomTom GPS Navigation

[Price: Free with in app purchases]
TomTom GPS Navigation is a new navigation and maps app from TomTom, the well known mapping and navigation company. It features offline map storage, 3D views, speed camera warnings, real-time traffic updates, and more. You can use it for free for 50 miles each month or upgrade to a premium subscription which runs for about $20 per year. It has some release day bugs but nothing overly serious yet.
Get it on Google Play
tomtom gps navigation android apps

final fantasy record keeper iconFinal Fantasy Record Keeper

[Price: Free with in app purchases]
The long awaited Final Fantasy mashup game between Square Enix and DeNA launched this week. It features characters from a number of Final Fantasy games as they duke it out in epic moments from prior titles in the series. Think of it like a greatest hits compilation. The game uses 8-bit recreations of all the characters and according to user reviews, the in-app purchase strategy isn’t all that bad but that is, of course, up to individual interpretation. It’s currently free and Final Fantasy fans have already left to go download it.
Get it on Google Play

Wrap up

If we missed any great Android apps or games news this week, tell us about it in the comments!

Things the Google Play Store could improve: Part 2 – In-App Purchases

Posted by wicked March - 25 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off

in-app purchases google play store
Editor’s note: this is the second article in this series discussing some potential Google Play Store flaws and what Google could do to improve user experience. Feel free to join the discussion and suggest new topics. You can find a link to part one at the bottom of the page.

In-app purchases have been a sore spot for both Google and consumers for a long time. Despite the overwhelming success of in-app purchases, many consumers are unhappy about the unscrupulous methods that some app and game developers use to procure money from their users. Of course, Google has had minor nightmares of their own, culminating in the FTC decision to make Google pay $19 million to parents when their kids made in-app purchases. In-app purchases are a big deal for developers, but more could be done to make it a more pleasant experience for consumers.

Please note, this is commentary on how the Google Play Store handles in-app purchases and not how app developers actually use them. That’s a wholly different conversation that we’ll all have together eventually.

in-app purchases google play store

What is the problem?

In-app purchases have made a negative name for themselves in some circles. The “cash cow” philosophy has been a subject of intense ire from many consumers and it’s even been parodied on shows like South Park. Of course, the stats don’t agree with the criticisms, as in-app purchases account for over 95% of sales in the Google Play Store and has allowed developers to make more money than ever before. So what’s the problem?

In-app purchases account for over 95% of the revenue generated in the Google Play Store

The problem can be summed up in one word: transparency. Let’s do a little thought exercise. Go to any app or game (with in-app purchases) in the Google Play Store that you have never downloaded, used, or even heard of before. Now, using the information only available on the app description page, try to discern the following:

  • How many in-app purchases are there in total?
  • What kind of in-app purchases are there? Are they consumables (gems), expansions, the pro unlocker, or a subscription?
  • How much money is the developer going to ask you to spend?
  • What exactly are you getting yourself into?

The fact is that you cannot answer these questions with the information available on the app description right now unless the developers go through the trouble of explaining it themselves. When you combine that closed-doors approach with a few bad experiences with “cash cow” apps and games, you end up with a consumer base that not only distrusts the whole system, but actively dislikes it. Let’s discuss these issues a little more in depth, shall we?

in-app purchases google play store

Problem #1: What are we actually paying for?

The core problem is that we simply can’t educate ourselves about an app or a game without downloading it. This wouldn’t be too much of a problem if there were only a few apps and games. However, there are currently well over one million apps and games in the Google Play Store. That means the process of finding and downloading each app and game that might look interesting just to see how much it will cost us is counterproductive and even a bit tedious. Without proper information, it severely bottlenecks the experience consumers could (and dare we say: should) be having.

Downloading each app and game just to see how much it’ll cost is counterproductive.

The questions begin to arise. Why doesn’t Google just give us a labeled list of all of the in-app purchases? It’s a good question and even I don’t understand why Google hasn’t done something like this yet. iTunes actually does this very well. If you look at the Clash of Clans iTunes page, you’ll see a list of the popular in-app purchases. You can clearly see that each in-app purchase revolves around buying a certain denomination of gems and, using a bit of logic, you can deduce that Clash of Clans operates using consumable in-app purchases before you ever download it.

It would almost be better if the price range didn’t exist at all.

Currently, there is a less-than-useful “price range” feature that labels all in-app purchases as “items”. The price range shows the cheapest and most expensive in-app purchase an application has or, if the app only has one, it will show a single price. It would almost be better if the price range didn’t exist at all because it doesn’t provide any useful information. Yes, apps with in-app purchases do, in fact, contain items. Yes, those items cost anywhere from $0.99 to $99.99. These are all things we knew the moment we saw the “offers in-app purchases” label.

The long and short of it is simply this: Google does a bad job at showing what these applications have to offer and what few attempts they’ve made to help feel halfhearted and rushed.

google play music subscription

Problem #2: Subscriptions

Subscriptions are a huge problem in the Google Play Store for three reason:

  1. Subscription prices don’t appear in the “price range” portion of the Google Play Store. Don’t believe me? Look at Spotify’s app. It shows that there are in-app purchases, but no price is given. In fact, there’s isn’t so much as a dollar symbol anywhere on the page. There is something wrong with that.
  2. Apps and games that require a subscription do not have to use Google’s in-house system to process payments. Spotify, most VPN apps, and most antivirus apps have accounts that you can create and manage independently from Google. That makes them almost impossible to police on Google Play.

    Subscriptions live in a reality all on their own.

  3. A few apps, such as Google Play Music, have a subscription service but there’s no mention of it anywhere. Again, if you don’t believe me, look for yourself. There is no price, no dollar sign, no in-app purchase label, or anything to indicate a cost. Spotify does a little better because it at least gets labeled for having in-app purchases. Humorously enough, Norton Security has the label and the subscription price listed in the price range section of their Google Play page.

It appears as though subscriptions live in a reality all on their own. On top of being wildly inconsistent, they appear to be able to skirt the rules other apps have to play by.

in-app purchases google play store

How does it get fixed?

Thankfully, most of the problems could be easily fixed with a bit of effort. Here are a few ideas we had:

  • Show us all of the in-app purchases – It’s really as simple as that. Put all of them there and show us what they are. Google Play uses a modular UI and I don’t think anyone would be bummed out if they added a module that showed us the in-app purchases in their entirety, including cost and name. Bonus points if they tell us what kind of in-app purchase it is (consumables, pro versions, expansions, subscriptions, etc). If Google cannot grab this information using their APIs, give developers a box in the publisher dashboard where they can input the prices themselves.
  • Create a standard for subscription services to follow – There currently is no standard for subscription services. Some show prices, others do not. Some are labeled as offering in-app purchases, others are not. Google needs to figure out a standard and begin to hold everyone (including itself) to it. The box in the publisher dashboard idea would work well here as well, especially for developers who don’t use Google services to charge for subscriptions.
  • Create a bottom line requirement for labeling apps – There seems to be no real standard for what counts as “having in-app purchases” and there really needs to be. Amazon Shopping and Google Play Music both allow you to spend money in the app, but don’t carry the IAP label. Spotify does have the label but doesn’t show a price. Grand Theft Auto titles are labeled as having in-app purchases but they actually don’t have any at all. It’s maddeningly inconsistent.

    In-app purchase labels are maddeningly inconsistent.

  • Allow us to refine our searches for certain types of in-app purchases – This one is a bit complicated. A majority of people who feel disdain for IAPs really only dislike certain types of IAPs such as consumables. If consumers can search for apps and games without those specific kinds of in-app purchases (or no in-app purchases at all), they will be able to find more apps that are suited to their liking and that will ultimately improve their experience.
  • Give apps with in-app purchases their own top charts – This is the totally crazy, shot in the dark suggestion with a lot of potentially positive repercussions. With the apps and games with IAPs in their own category, it helps level the playing field for the standard free and free-paid paradigms without excluding IAPs entirely. This cleaner, more organized layout would result in people finding popular free apps and games and popular paid apps and games with no in-app purchases far more easily.

Google Play Store

Wrap up

Listen folks, in-app purchases are a good thing. Revenue to developers has increased by leaps and bounds since its inception and they really are making more money now than ever before. That has translated to more content and higher quality content. There is no arguing that fact. Back in 2010, we had 700,000 apps and the best of the best were Flickster, Angry Birds, and Skype didn’t even allow for video calls on mobile yet.

Today we have more than double what we had in 2010 and they include massive, gorgeous games and innovative, beautifully designed apps. In 2010, Google Play (formerly the Android Market) made just over $100 million in total revenue. In 2013, after the first full year of in-app purchases, Google Play made an estimated $1.3 billion. It has only gone up since then. Even if you’re against the practice ethically, no one can argue with the results. IAPs are why most developers make money on Android.

IAPs are why most developers make money on Android.

However, I’m not so stuck in my ways that I can’t admit that there are a few bad apples (proportionately speaking) that make the whole bunch look bad. With the suggested improvements, the transparency will allow consumers to make better, more informed decisions about what apps they want to download. There is even a small, outside chance that “cash grab” developers may use the pressure of full transparency to tone down their aggressive strategies and try to compete by simplifying their pay structure and building better games. Nothing gets the ball rolling like transparency.

By giving consumers more control and information with the transparency, improved charts, and refined searches, a lot of the negativity could potentially subside as frustrated users will enjoy a new-found proliferation of apps and games that they actually want instead of being forced to browse through stuff they do not.

Who knows, one day maybe being labeled as having in-app purchases won’t be such a bad thing but it’s definitely not something that is just going to happen organically. As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter in the comments!

Check out the other parts of the series:

Part 1 – The Top Charts