Welcome to the 265th edition of Android Apps Weekly! Here are the top headlines from the last week:
- Google+ is officially shutting down. Google released a blog post this week detailing the closure. There was an API bug that had the potential to leak user data to any developer that asked for it. No developers took advantage of it, thank goodness. However, it appeared to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Google+ was on thin ice for years before this anyway. The weird part is that Google did fix the bug, so we’re not sure why the announcement of the bug is also the closing down point. In any case, Google+ is on its way out. We’ll miss you, Google+. Well, some of us will, anyway.
- Vine version 2.0 is apparently still coming soon. Dom Hoffman, Vine’s former founder, tweeted that the new version was coming earlier this week. There are still a ton of questions around a re-launch, though. For instance, YouTube is bigger now than it was back then and Vine never had a good monetization strategy. That’s what led to its downfall the first time. That’s something we’ll have to see before we believe that the new Vine will be any better than the last one. We are still waiting for more concrete details, but Vine was fun while it lasted. We hope the new one is as well.
- Both Google and Microsoft announced new game streaming services this week. Microsoft is going with xCloud, a console game streaming service. Google is working with Project Stream that does basically the same thing. Both services let you stream games from their servers to your computer. This isn’t a new idea. Nvidia has a similar service as does Sony and there were many other attempts. We don’t know a whole bunch about these services yet other than they work, but not well quite yet. Both services are in beta right now and require invites to access. Hit the links to learn more about each one!
- Stardew Valley is coming to mobile. It’s already fairly popular on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch. We expect similar success on iOS and Android. The iOS version should be out on October 24th. The Android version doesn’t have a release date just yet, but we assume it’s not too far into the future. This puts Stardew Valley on basically every modern gaming platform on the planet. The mobile version doesn’t include the multiplayer mode of the other platforms. However, it should otherwise play the same way. The iOS version should be $7.99 with no in-app purchases. We don’t know about the price tag on Android yet.
- Google announced the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3XL this week. Everybody knows the Pixel is all about the software. Within a couple of days, the Google Camera and Google Launcher apps from the Pixel 3 became available as APK downloads. Google Camera works on most devices provided that they run Android 9.0 Pie. Unfortunately, the Pixel 3 launcher only seems to function on other Pixel devices. To be fair, Pixels are among the few phones that run Android Pie anyway. In any case, those of you with Pixels or Android Pie devices can hit the links and try out the apps for yourself if you want to.
Pac-Man: Ralph Breaks the Walls is basically Pac-Man with some special guests. It features items and characters from the Ralph Breaks the Internet movie. You play as the titular character as you eat pellets, chase ghosts, and collect power-ups for a better score. The free version includes a few of the mazes. However, additional levels cost $6.99 each and that makes it really hard to recommend to all but the biggest Pac-Man and Ralph fans. It's simply too expensive for casual gamers. It is really fun, though.
Firefox Reality Browser is yet another Mozilla browser on mobile this year. This one is a virtual reality browser. It features both a 2D and 3D mode for virtual reality headsets like Google Daydream. The app otherwise works like a browser does. It shows websites and you can scroll through and do browser stuff. Those sites with VR content gets shown in the VR space, but it's otherwise just a good browser. Some people had issues with it. However, it's an early product and issues are basically expected, especially for a virtual reality web browser. It's going to get better with time, probably.
AntVentor is a puzzle style game similar in premise to games like Machinarium. You help an ant achieve its dreams after you inadvertently destroy them. You seek out items, combine them to make new items, and use those items accordingly. The game also has simple mechanics, above average graphics, and a fun little soundtrack. This is the first chapter in the series. Honestly, we're looking forward to the chapter two after playing this game. This one is $1.99 with no additional in-app purchases or advertising.
Hire is a new app from Google for job recruiters. It leverages the power of G Suite to help recruiters properly organize applicants and hire the right people. It also uses Google's AI to complete many tasks. It's an effective solution as far as we can tell. Some other features include logging of all activities and callbacks, scheduling features, and more. You can basically view the entire hiring process of multiple applicants from one spot. You may need to go to Hire's official website if you want to learn more about how this works.
Badland Brawl is a dueling game similar in premise to games like Hearthstone and Clash Royale. Its by the same developer as Badland, the popular platformer game. It also incorporates some physics based game play as well. Most of it is rather standard, though. You collect characters, put together teams, play online against real people, and duel until someone wins. It's a freemium game like most of the games in this genre. Its colorful graphics and goofy demeanor give it a really fun and chaotic feel when playing it. It's not half bad.
If we missed any great Android apps or games news or launches, tell us about them in the comments! You can also check out our weekly podcast here!