Welcome to the 154th episode of Android Apps Weekly! Here are the headlines from the last week:
- Verizon’s urge to pester their customers seems to be reaching new heights this week because a new report talked about Verizon’s new brandware program. The idea is that app and game developers can pay Verizon an exorbitant amount of money and their apps will be downloaded by Android phones on Verizon’s network when that phone gets booted for the first time. It’s no small wonder that people are buying unlocked phones in greater numbers.
- It was announced this week that a hallmark feature of Google+ was leaving. Hangouts On Air is officially being moved to YouTube where it will become part of the YouTube Live experience. This is yet another big feature ripped out of the social network that people weren’t really using anymore. That’s probably because the lack of reverse-chronological order made it impossible to plan a Hangouts On Air. This also comes on the heels of Google removing the requirement to have a Google+ account to post user reviews on Google Play.
- Snapchat purchased a company called Vurb for $110 million this last week. The deal is for 75% in stocks and 25% in cash. Vurb is a search application that tries to show you local stuff based on your location, reviews, and whatever else they can pull from sites like Yelp. No one’s really sure why Snapchat purchased the company, but the popular rationale is that Snapchat’s search function sucks and that they intend to improve it. We’ll see how that works out. It’s worth noting that Vurb won Tech Crunch Disrupt in New York back in 2014.
- Google Play made a significant move this week by releasing truly separate top charts for apps and games. Previously, you could see top charts for apps and games, but the apps section was essentially an ad hoc game section with a smattering of apps. Now, both sides are completely separate so you can find apps or games instead of just games. This is great news and something that should have happened years ago. The update is rolling out now so everyone should have it eventually.
- With Duo released and Allo on the way, the big question has been what Google will do with Google Hangouts. A report this week indicated that Hangouts will continue to stick around after the release of the new chat apps, but will become more focused on business use over time. We imagine that means that the service will be stripped of the more consumer based features with business features added in later. At least it’ll still be around.
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It’s A Space Thing is a completely free game that was released this last week. It’s an arcade shooter where you play on the ground and match wits with an opponent in the air. The controls and mechanics are simple to understand but you’ll have to have some decent reflexes in order to win each round. It comes with a few boss battles, power ups, and even a local multiplayer mode where you and a friend can play on the same device. It’s all entirely free, so don’t expect the very best, but it’s still not bad.
Mars: Mars is a platform game where you must explore the planet of Mars. You do this by leaping from platform to platform and using your thrusters to make sure that you make a clean landing. If you don’t, you’ll end up having a rapid unscheduled disassembly. It takes a minute, but the controls are easy to grasp and it shouldn’t take long before you’re floating around. You’ll also have opportunities to take selfies and unlock other characters. It also comes with Google Play Games achievements.
Microsoft released a new app called Microsoft Flow this week. The idea of this application is to directly compete with IFTTT. For those that don’t know, IFTTT and Flow are apps that allow you to create actions that are performed automatically. For instance, you can have the service save an image to Dropbox after you post it on Instagram automatically. Yes, IFTTT is definitely superior in this space, but a little competition never hurt anyone. You can try out the app for free, but it is an alpha release and it’s going to be buggy.
Square Enix has released their latest puzzle game with Deus Ex GO. Much like Lara Croft GO, this game has you traversing puzzle maps in order to defeat the bad guys and clear the level. Unlike Lara Croft GO, this game features characters and environments from the Deus Ex games. The game features 50 story levels and you’ll have to use various tactics to make your way through. The developers have also promised a new puzzle every weekday as part of their Live Content feature. It’s $4.99 which is also exactly how much Lara Croft GO costs.
Google Duo was released this week to extremely polar reviews. On one hand, it’s a wicked simple video calling app that just works. On the other, most of us already have video apps that do this exact thing already. Unlike most video calling apps, Duo operates using your phone number so there is no account setup. If you have someone’s number and they have Duo, you can use the app to call them which is just fantastically easy. Of course, we’ll have to wait for Allo to come out before we can render a final judgment since the two apps are supposed to work together.
Related best app lists:
- Check out even more epic puzzle games for Android here!
- Or see more of the best video calling apps for Android!
If we missed any big Android apps or games news, tell us about them in the comments!To see our complete list of best app lists, click here.