Welcome to the 249th Android Apps Weekly! Here are the big headlines from the last week:
- Instagram is launching a new video service. IGTV will put a focus on portrait mode video and longer form content. Videos have a 60 minute limit and creators can do whatever they want to do. This is obviously to compete with other video services like YouTube and Facebook’s video platform. The portrait mode video is likely to keep things in tune with the rest of the app. We’ll see how it turns out.
- Pokemon Quest is available for pre-registration on Google Play right now. The launch date is June 28th. Thus, we don’t have a long time to wait. The game is by Game Freak, the same developers of the main Pokemon games on the Nintendo 3DS platform. This is their first foray into the mobile landscape. It’s not a normal Pokemon game. It has simple controls and mobile style game play. However, it should be relatively popular anyway.
- YouTube Music officially launched in the U.S. and 16 other countries this week. We also now have some final numbers in terms of prices. YouTube Music is $9.99 per month, although new subscribers get three months for free. This also marks the official re-branding of YouTube Red to YouTube Premium. It still has a long way to go before it competes with bigger services like Google Play Music, Spotify, Apple Music and others. This is a semi-decent start, though.
- Tinder’s owner, Match, swiped left on Hinge this week. Jokes are funny. Anyway, the dating service giant purchased a 51% stake in Hinge, making it the majority owner. With it, Match now owns over 45 dating services. That’s a bit of a monopoly. In any case, Hinge uses the old school profile system instead of the swipe system. Reports show that Bumble is the only major dating service left not owned by Match.
- Facebook is adding video ads to Facebook Messenger soon. The announcement stated that ads would roll out gradually and thoughtfully. However, considering that video ads are the least enjoyed ad platform next to pop-up ads, the idea that any of this is thoughtful is a little bit laughable. In any case, Facebook wants to monetize your private messages, something it has tried in the past with static advertising. We’re not all that comfortable with ads in our personal messaging space, but it is what it is.
Knights Chronicle is another new mobile RPG with an anime theme. It has a lot of parallels with other Japanese mobile RPGs. That includes a character collection system, a campaign mode, various weekly and monthly events, and more. Unlike most, this one has a portrait mode and a landscape mode. Those who like the genre will probably enjoy this game as well. Those who don't like freemium gacha games may want to skip this one.
DLive is a new video streaming service. It uses a decentralized, blockchain system for streaming. It caters mostly to gamers right now. They have a variety of live streamers and similar creative types. Those creators earn money via cryptocurrency and the service boasts no fees for those creators. It's a neat idea and they have over 500,000 active users at the moment. We're not sure about cryptocurrency as a form of payment, but everything else about it is pretty good. The app is entirely free with no in-app purchases.
The official Westworld game is available on Google Play now. It's a city-building sim where players build their own Westworld. It features a bunch of characters from the show, over 170 other characters, an upgrade mechanic, and more. The graphics fit the premise quite well. At its core, it's a freemium cash grab for fans of the show. However, the game is actually fun, at least until the freemium grind kicks in. Fans of the show and city-builder sims should enjoy this one. Those who dislike freemium games almost certainly won't.
Google Podcasts is the biggest app release this week. It uses its Google Play Music podcast backbone for a standalone app experience. You get the basic stuff like faster playback speeds, skipping, and it remembers where you left off on other devices. It also has Google Assistant integration. There are some organizational flaws and it's definitely not better than some big names out there like Pocket Casts or Doggcatcher. However, we expect Google to improve the app as it ages.
Evoland 2 is the next game in the popular franchise. It features a variety of game mechanics and play styles, including action-adventure, puzzle, classic arcade fighter, top-down shooter, side-scrolling platformer, and others. It's an ode to the old school gaming industry much like its predecessor. It also boasts decent graphics (although they do change frequently), 20 hours of game play, external controller support, Nvidia Shield optimizations, and more. You can get it for $9.99, but it's on sale for $5.99 right now. There are no additional in-app purchases or advertisements.
If we missed any big Android apps or games news, tell us about it in the comments!