Welcome to the 161st edition of Android Apps Weekly! Here are the biggest headlines from the last week:
The Google Play Store is apparently rolling out a new feature that lets you stream games before you buy them. It should be rolling out over the next couple of weeks. For now, it’s only available on a few devices and for a few games. The premise is that you get a 10 minute window to play the game before you buy it so you can see what it’s like first. It’s a bit buggy according to reports. It’s a neat little feature that may help people buy more games.
The once-popular driver game Carmageddon released an update this week that made it completely free. The caveat there is that every version of the game has advertising, even if players previously bought the game to avoid ads. The ads that show now are for Carmageddon: Max Damage which is their latest Xbox One and PS4 title. The advertising could be a lot worse, but we understand why it could make some people mad.
Word on the digital street is that the Google Cast app is about to undergo yet another evolution. Starting soon, the app will go by the name of Google Home and it’ll be an app that helps you connect with your Chromecasts and with your Google Home device. At least, that’s what we’re assuming since it kind of brings all of their streaming devices under one umbrella. Keep an eye out for the update which should be rolling out sooner or later.
Samsung is looking to re-enter the digital assistant space with their acquisition of Viv Labs. For those who don’t know, Viv Labs is a startup that specializes in digital assistants. It’s also worth noting that the creators helped build Siri. We’re not certain exactly how Samsung is going to use their new acquisition. The popular opinion is that they’ll compete with Siri and Google Assistant in the years to come. Here’s hoping it does better than S Voice did.
Along with all the new hardware, Google also announced Actions on Google this week, which will give third party developers the chance to integrate their apps with Google Assistant. There are two types of actions. One is called Direct while the other is called Conversational. Direct actions are simple, one-phrase commands. Conversational actions are interactions that require more than one command or additional input from the user. There are some big names like Netflix and IFTTT on board already and we can’t wait to see how that will work.
[Price: Free with in-app purchases]
Dan the Man is the latest game out of Halfbrick Studios, makers of the popular Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride. It’s an action platformer that will have you jumping around, killing bad guys, avoiding obstacles, and taking on tough bosses. You’ll also have weapons and upgradeable attacks, daily events to earn rewards, and plenty of secret areas with extra treasure. It’s a freemium game so there are some pitfalls. However, with the extra game modes and plenty of content, it’s a title that’s worth checking out.
Ivy is a sidebar app that allows you to pop open a sidebar to access your favorite apps. It’s kind of like the Edge feature on the Galaxy S7 Edge where you swipe in from the side and it’ll open the bar. You can configure which apps go in that space and you can even have an RSS feed that pops up from the bottom. There are other configurations that you can make as well. It’s a bit buggy which is normal for early releases, but it’s worth keeping on your radar.
Burly Men at Sea is a beautifully done storybook-style game that takes place in 20th century Scandinavia. You’ll play as three ungainly heroes who have set off on a journey for adventure. The game is fairly short, but it’s actually supposed to be. According to the developers, you’re supposed to play through the game once and then play through multiple times to find all of the various parts of the story. It features simple graphics, an engaging story, and best of all, no in-app purchases.
Giphy Cam is a GIF camera that allows you to make your own GIFs. The app will take several photographs in burst form and string them together to form your GIF. From there, you’ll be able to decorate it with buttons, stickers, filters, and other special effects. As a GIF camera, it’s actually pretty good compared to its competition even if its special effects aren’t that great. It’s a free app with no in-app purchases if you want to give it a shot for yourself.
Legend of the Skyfish is an adventure puzzle game that is similar in mechanics to games like Legend of Zelda. You’ll play as Little Red Hook and, along with your fishing pole, you’ll conquer puzzles, defeat bad guys, and ostensibly, catch some fish. It features 45 levels, grappling hook mechanics with your fishing pole, and quaint, hand-drawn style graphics. There is also gamepad support if you need that. It’s a pay-once game with no in-app purchases.