Welcome to the 155th episode of Android Apps Weekly! Here are the headlines from the last week:
Google Duo has been out for a week and it has already surpassed five million installs. That’s pretty impressive for a video calling service looking to usurp all of the other options out there. The launch hasn’t been perfect and Duo is experience release bugs, but it should be a fairly strong competitor in this space as the platform matures. You can pick it up right now for free if you want to.
Reportedly, Pandora is close to launching a new music service to compete with the likes of Spotify and others. According to The Wall Street Journal, the company has been silently negotiating rights with record labels over the last few months. Pandora seems to be about finished with this process. This has been rumored for a while, so it’s not a huge surprise. However, it definitely will be interesting.
Lenovo and Microsoft announced a new partnership this week. The resulting partnership will have future Lenovo devices shipping with Microsoft apps, including Skype, OneDrive, and Microsoft’s Office suite. Also, this deal covers all smartphones under the Lenovo umbrella and that includes Motorola devices. We don’t know which phone will be the first to ship out with these apps installed, but we can’t imagine that it will be too far off.
Samsung announced this week that they have processed over 100 million transactions on Samsung Pay which has resulted in $1.78 trillion. This info came a short time before the app’s first year anniversary. Even if you don’t like Samsung Pay, you have to admit that the numbers are impressive. If nothing else, it serves as proof that mobile payments are taking off in a bit way. Here’s hoping ubiquity comes sooner than later. Samsung also announced that they were shutting down Milk Music next month.
It was announced late last week that Google is retiring Chrome apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Google’s reasoning for this is twofold. The first is that no one’s really using these apps outside of ChromeOS and Google Play is likely going to take over in the app department there anyway. The second is that the Chrome team wants to lighten up Chrome a little bit which is great news. The process will start later this year and end in early 2018.
[Price: Free with in-app purchases]
Thrones: Kingdom at War is a new kingdom builder game similar to the likes of Clash of Clans. It features above average graphics for that genre although many of the features mirror those of existing games. For instance, guilds are called Orders in this game and the bulk of your experience will be finding and attacking other players. You’ll also get to choose a hero and find gear for them to equip. There is also an included quest system to help keeps things a little interesting. You should check it out if you’re a fan of the genre.
[Price: Free / $1.99]
WallRey is a wallpaper app that boasts a variety of high quality images. Nature scenes and people photos round out its fairly large selection and the service boasts about 10,000 photos currently. The images are large enough to work on 1440p displays which is great because not many wallpaper apps focus on providing content at that high of a resolution. You won’t find any super unique or abstract images which is a little bit of a bummer. However, if you like nature and need a crispy wallpaper, this one is free with no ads and a cheap pro version.
[Price: $4.99 + $2.99]
Agricola is a well-known board game and now it’s been ported over to mobile. Players of this game will be facing off against one another to see who can build the largest, most productive farms within the given time limit. Each game lasts eight rounds and you’ll only have three workers to play with. Like most board games, the game play is mostly centered around strategy but it’s not every day you get to create farms on a competitive level. It’s $4.99 with the only in-app purchase being for DLC.
Opera released a free VPN service this last week and that’s kind of a big deal. It’s fairly difficult finding a VPN service, let alone one that works as well as this one. Creating a VPN is as easy as pressing a button and Opera includes a Guardian feature that blocks ad trackers from following you around the web. The whole thing is done through an Opera subsidiary called SurfEasy and it really doesn’t take long to learn. Users have expressed a concern about Opera’s logging practices but you can find their policies online if you’re worried.
Riptide GP: Renegade is the latest racer out of one of the best racing franchises out there. Like its predecessors, you’ll be racing wave runners against AI opponents in a variety of events in career mode. There is also a PvP mode where you can race other players if you’d like. If you have a device and multiple controllers, you can even play split screen multiplayer which is awesome. The graphics are great and this one has an actual story line which is appreciated. It’s also relatively inexpensive. It’s going to be one of the best racing games this year and it’s worth picking up!