Welcome to the 241st edition of Android Apps Weekly! Here are the big headlines from the last week:
- Russia continued its war against Telegram this week. The government there blocked Google Services in an attempt to further block Telegram. This puts an interesting wedge between Google and Telegram. Either Google sides with Russia and enforces removal of Telegram’s app or Google sides with Telegram and rails against Russia. Of course, this wouldn’t need to happen if Russia wasn’t embarrassingly bad at blocking Telegram on its own. We’ll keep you updated as more details come in.
- Everybody knows that YouTube Music/Remix is coming. However, there are now rumblings that Google Play Music won’t survive the transition. Reports indicate that Google Play Music ends up rolled into YouTube Music in a mass migration. YouTube Music/Remix would integrate the features needed to bridge the gap and that will be that. Google hasn’t confirmed any of this, yet. It does make sense, though. We can’t see Google maintaining two separate music services.
- The big Gmail update began rolling out this week. The website received quite the overhaul. Some of the new features include a Snooze Mode, some new hover menus, a new add-ons section, and more. Upcoming features include a Confidential Mode (self-destructing emails), a Nudge feature, and more. The visuals got an update as well. We took a good look at all the new stuff. Click the link to learn more and check out our video on the topic!
- Google I/O is nearly here and with that, the 2018 Google Play Awards. The list of nominees is officially out this week. There are quite a few categories, including Best Breakthrough Hit, Standout Startup, Best Community Building game, Best AR or VR Experience, Best Accessibility Experience, Best Social Impact, and more. There are some rather big names on this year’s list as well, including Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition, PUBG Mobile, Be My Eyes, Khan Academy, Lifesum, Clash Royale, Pokemon Go, and others. Hit the link to see the full list of nominees!
- Nintendo launched a new RPG this week, but only in Japan. Dragalia Lost features chibi-style graphics and what appears to be action RPG mechanics. It also includes the fun, colorful characters that Nintendo does best. You can see the Google Play listing here for more details about the game. Nintendo estimates a Western release sometime in the summer of 2018. We can’t wait because this one looks pretty good.
Rundogo is an exercise app for people and dogs. It lets you track your exercise, track your dog's exercise, and it has activities you can do with your pets. The app works with only humans, but there are better options for human-only tracking. There are also tools for tracking things like sled dog training. It also connects directly to Garmin smartwatches for easier stat tracking. The app goes for $9.99 per year. We thought that was a fairly reasonable price.
Paladins Strike is a new MOBA with third-person shooter elements. The game features 15 playable characters, multiple game modes, and colorful graphics. Games last between six and ten minutes each and include five versus five combat. Otherwise, it plays like most MOBAs. You just move around and take the enemy points until you either win or lose the game. This one is a freemium game like most mobile MOBAs. Thankfully, the in-app purchases aren't too bad. It probably won't top the other big names in this game, but it's also not terrible.
Opera Touch is Opera's new web browser. It features most of the stuff that most web browsers do, including bookmarks, incognito mode (privacy browsing), and other such things. However, this one also syncs with Opera's desktop browser. It uses a QR code instead of a login. That means there is no account creation necessary. Of course, that means there are some drawbacks. However, this is a good option for those who don't want yet another account. The app is completely free and also includes native ad blocking.
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is one of the biggest releases this year. The game could be better. It bills itself as an adventure game in the world of Harry Potter. You attend classes, make potions, go on adventures, customize your character, and there are some social elements as well. Unfortunately, like most big name properties, this one is bogged down with freemium content and an energy system. Many casual players don't seem bothered by it and, honestly, it's not a deal breaker anymore in 2018. However, we wish they had been a little less aggressive with the freemium stuff.
Google updated its Google I/O app for the 2018 event. It includes its usual array of stuff, including a map of the event area, schedules, and gorgeous Material Design. The app also includes reminders, notifications, and custom scheduling. As usual, we recommend checking this out if you are interested in Google I/O or are actually going. There are features there for both types of people. In any case, the app is entirely free and the update this year looks fantastic.
If we missed any big Android apps or games news, releases, or updates, tell us about them in the comments below!