Welcome to the 277th edition of Android Apps Weekly! Here are your big headlines from the last week:
- Google Assistant is rolling right along. In fact, Google expects it to reach the one billion install mark by the end of the month. That is up by about 500 million downloads from May 2018. This comes on a heels of a huge rollout process that saw Assistant expand to 80 countries in 30 different languages in 2018. Some other fun stats include compatibility with over 10,000 devices and the number of users is more than four time what it was at this point last year. Good for you, Google Assistant.
- TCL’s weather app is causing all sorts of problems right now. Originally, security researches claimed the app sent data to a Chinese server, including users’ location, IMEI numbers, and more. TCL responded by hiring a third party security firm to investigate the matter. Additionally, TCL updated the app to remove all third party SDKs just in case. The company also claims that the IMEI collection was to identify users in case they wanted all of their data deleted. They have since moved to Android ID instead of IMEI. It’s a bit of a mess. Hit the link to learn more.
- Google is expanding Chrome’s ad-blocking capabilities to more countries this year. Originally, the ad-blocking launched in the Chrome 71 release back in December 2018. However, it only worked in a few countries, including the U.S., Canada, and Europe. This should change by July 2019. From that point, the app will natively block all ads that don’t comply with the CBA, or Coalition for Better Ads, standards across the globe. Google says the initiative has helped encourage websites to follow better practices.
- Square Enix may launch a new Final Fantasy mobile game sometime in 2019. It’s a digital card game that features a bunch of characters and summons from the various Final Fantasy games. It sounds like a gacha-dueling game similar to something like Hearthstone, Clash Royale, Badland Brawl, etc. You collect characters, make decks, and then duel with other players. It should launch on Yahoo Japan Game Plus sometime this year We’re unsure if it’ll expand out from there.
- Google’s changes to the SMS permissions continues to befuddle and cripple apps in the Play Store. The most recent victim is Cerberus, one of the most popular (and powerful) find-my-phone apps. The new permissions basically wreck the app’s ability to send SMS messages to and from a lost device. It was one of Cerberus’ best features and one that helped set it apart from simpler apps like Google’s Find My Device app. This isn’t the first time this has happened to Cerberus either. It used to have a call recording ability that Google destroyed as well. Hit the link to learn more.
If we missed any big Android app or game releases this week, tell us about them in the comments! You can also click here to check out our CES 2019 coverage!