Welcome to the 256th Android Apps Weekly! Here are the big headlines from the last week:
- Google continues to integrate their various services this week. They announced better integration between Google News and Google Assistant. Assistant now takes news from Google News for various news briefings upon request. The new feature only works in the U.S. for now. However, we expect it to roll out to a wider audience over time. Google News itself uses learning techniques for your news. Thus, it’s actually a fairly customizable solution. Hit the link for more details!
- Nova Launcher is an update to version 6.0. A point release means it’s a rather large release. The new features leaked this week. They include a revamped settings menu (finally), more adaptive icon options, and plenty of other features. The app drawer in particular gets some revamped theming options. Regular Nova Launcher gets icon re-sizing, a feature that used to be in Nova Launcher Prime only. You can check out the full list of new stuff at the link.
- The emulated retro gaming industry took a big hit this week. EmuParadise is shutting down. Nintendo threatened the popular ROM website earlier this week. The lawsuit was seeking damages for trademark infringement and for each copyrighted game. In response, the site simply shut down. It sparked conversations about out-of-print games, gaming history, and how game developers don’t preserve their work well. Those are all valid points. However, it didn’t stop EmuParadise from shutting its doors.
- Newton Mail also announced their demise this week. The premium email service was among the best of its kind. However, high prices, low subscriber numbers, and lack of growth forced the developers’ hand. It started out as CloudMagic and was almost viral in its success. However, the re-brand brought a subscription fee along with a host of new features. Most didn’t consider the new features worth the price and left. The super premium email service just wasn’t as successful as the developers thought it would be. Goodbye Newton.
- Fortnite officially launched this week (for Samsung devices only). It’s compatible with most recent Samsung devices, including the S7 Edge, S8 series, S9 series, a few of their tablets, and, of course, the Note 8 and Note 9. It’s available now in Samsung’s app store. The exclusivity should only last a few days, though. Fortnite is launching on its own website. Users download an installer app and the installer app actually installs the game. Initial opinions were mixed. The game ran fine for some and not so fine for others. However, that should improve with time. There are guides all over the place on how to install it. Additionally, Google added an extra warning to Google Play that it isn’t there. We also conducted an interview with Epic Games CEO Tom Sweeney. You can read that by clicking here!
Screens Up is a new app from Nickelodeon. It uses AR tech for most of it stuff. You can experience big moments from many shows, play some mini-games, check out stickers, and more. This is obviously an app for kids. It even syncs with upcoming episodes of current shows and has new stickers every week. The AR needs work and it doesn't work on lower end devices. It definitely needs some bug fixes and optimizations. However, it costs nothing so it's difficult to complain too much. This is a fun kids app if Nickelodeon fixes the issues.
Dr. Splorchy Presents Space Heroes is an action game with FPS, puzzle, and adventure mechanics. You board an alien ship. Your goal is to disarm weapons of mass destruction, solve puzzles, save the alien mayor, and more. The game also offers tongue-in-cheek humor, colorful graphics, and decent mechanics. It gets harder as you progress, of course. This is a Google Daydream game and one of the better ones we've seen. It's also by Squanch Games, It's run by the same people as Rick and Morty. Anyway, this is a good VR game.
Khan Academy Kids is a new educational kids app. The regular Khan Academy is an outstanding adult educational app. Thus, we expect a lot out of the kids variant. It features fun cartoon characters and simple lessons. The curriculum includes reading, spelling, math, problem solving skills, and motor development. This is mostly for younger kids. Teens and even preteens are too old for this one. It's entirely free just like normal Khan Academy. We highly recommend this one.
PUBG Mobile Lite is, well, a lighter version of PUBG Mobile. It's mostly for lower end devices. It features less intense graphics and less intense game play than the normal one. The game features 40-player matches instead of the usual 100-player matches. Otherwise, the game is basically the same. You run around, kill other players, find weapons, and all kinds of other stuff. It has bugs, of course. However, Tencent did well optimizing PUBG Mobile. We assume this one will get better as well.
Dolphin Emulator is a rare new emulator for retro games. This one is for Nintendo Wii and GameCube. There aren't a ton of other emulators for those systems and that makes Dolphin even more unique. It works like most emulators. You provide your own games and the app runs them for you. It doesn't come with any games itself. This one is rather buggy, as most emulators are when they're new. However, the developers promise weekly updates for a while at least. This should shape up and get better in short order. It was in the Play Store before and it's back again.
If we missed any big Android apps or games news, updates, or releases, tell us about them in the comments! Check back next week for more!