Welcome to the 284th Android Apps Weekly! Here are the big headlines from this last week:
- The first Android Q developer preview came out this week. You can read about the full update here. However, there is one thing of interest to app lovers and that’s the native screen recording. It’s not easy to find or use. It’s also quite wonky and it doesn’t work that well. However, if this makes it into stock Android, it could cause problems for the screen capture app ecosystem. Android has already done the same with flashlight apps and some others as well. We’ll see if that works out in Android Q or if Google removes it.
- Google Earth is shaking things up with some new games in the app. They revolve around the Carmen Sandiego game franchise. You basically find clues and use them to find the elusive Carmen Sandiego. The first installment is live now. It’s playable in both the Google Earth app as well as the web browser. There are more games coming in future releases. Check the link for more!
- Google Allo shut down this week. Google’s attempt to clean up its messaging ecosystem is officially underway. Allo users can still save their chat history, but that’s about it. The service has otherwise ceased to function. We knew this was coming months ago so it’s not a surprise really. Goodbye, Allo. We always liked you.
- Microsoft is rolling out Windows 10 screen mirroring for Android devices. It’s a slow rollout so only a few users have it right now. The rollout should hit everybody eventually. You need a smartphone with Android 7.x Nougat or higher and the most recent build of Windows 10 Insider to use it right now. Your PC also needs Bluetooth support with Low Energy Peripheral mode. Hit the link to learn more!
- Facebook and Instagram had a massive outage this week. The apps and websites were down for several hours and intermittently after that for several more hours. Everybody thought it was a software problem at first. However Facebook eventually acknowledged that it was a problem with its servers. Overall, the problem lasted for more than half of a day, but service was eventually restored.
Hyperspeed is a newer social style game. You and another player link up with a video chat and play video games together. The game is a racing game with Tron style graphics. It's nothing super advanced or deep. However, it works well as a social arcade game. You can customize your gamer picture with a bunch of neat stuff and there are power-ups in the game as well. The experience also includes leaderboards, in-game chat, and real-time game play with other people. It's something a little bit different from most games and this social arcade genre is kind of neat overall.
AMOLED mnml is a new wallpaper app. It features a variety of wallpapers specifically for AMOLED and OLED devices. The wallpapers are mostly black with splash of color for simple, minimal backgrounds. We had this app's predecessor on our best wallpaper apps list and this will take its place on our next update. The wallpapers are 4,000x3,200 pixels, optional push notifications for new wallpapers, and plenty of colors. The app is completely open source and free with optional donations if you want to support development. It's a good one.
Brown Dust in another new strategy RPG in a month with a lot of SRPGs. This one has all of the usual SRPG elements. That includes slower, but more strategic combat along with a variety of mission and quest styles. It has a story line along with side activities and events like most freemium games. There is also a gacha element with 300 collectible characters. It's a massive game overall with a ton of content. However, it does fall into some of the mobile RPG tropes, like long grinds. In addition, the 1,200 mission campaign might be a little long for some folks. In any case, our experience with the game was positive despite its freemium elements.
Lookout is a new accessibility app from Google for the visually disabled. The app uses your front-facing camera to view things in front of you and tell you what they are. You can get spoken feedback along with other signals to inform you that something is, in fact, in front of you. It works best when wearing your device around your neck or having it in a shirt pocket so the camera can constantly point forward. It can even read text on signs and menus. This comes on the heels of two very good apps for the deaf. It seems 2019 is a year for accessibility for Google. We like that initiative a lot.
Stardew Valley is one of the more anticipated games of 2019 so far. It's a farming RPG with some simulation elements. You build a farm, meet your special someone, engage in town events, customize your surroundings, and you can do other stuff like fish, forage, or go crabbing. This is a pay-once game with no in-app purchases. It's also a faithful recreation of the very popular PC version of the game. Our review could find little wrong with it unless you don't like sims, farming, or RPGs. The retro style graphics work well with the subject matter and the game ran well on all of our test devices. This is going to end up on our best of the month list for March for sure.
If we missed any big Android apps or games news, updates, or releases, tell us about it in the comments!