Welcome to the 285th edition of Android Apps Weekly! Let’s jump into the big headlines from the last week:
- Some app developers are exploiting a loophole in Google Play. Basically, they create super basic apps like a calculator or a QR code scanner. They use trial periods to charge users an exorbitant amount of money, sometimes over $200 USD. It works because uninstalling apps doesn’t cancel the trial. Hit the link to learn more details about this phenomenon. They’re calling it fleeceware.
- Amazon is trying to get voice assistants into everything and wants everybody to work together. This new coalition already includes companies like Intel, Qualcomm, MediaTek, Spotify, Verizon, Amazon, and even Microsoft. The idea is to create hardware with support for all of the big personal assistants. For instance, in this new coalition, a Google Home Mini could run Cortana if the user wanted or an Echo Dot could run Google Assistant. Google and Samsung along with a few others aren’t on board just yet, though.
- Google Assistant had quite the exciting week this week. A new Pixel 4XL hands-on leak showed us a new look for Google Assistant. In addition, the personal assistant gained the ability to help people apply for jobs at McDonald’s using only their voices. Finally, Google Assistant started rolling out to non-Google Chromebooks this last week as well. Hit any of the links to learn more!
- Amazon is also pumping out exclusives for PUBG Mobile users. The Twitch Prime program already exists for PC and console games. However, it’s never worked with a mobile game before PUBG Mobile. Players can log into their Amazon Prime accounts to receive the exclusive rewards, including a permanent set of Infiltrator gear. Hit the link for the full instructions.
- Google Play Pass officially launched this last week. It’s kind of a big deal and competes directly with Apple Arcade. We have a direct comparison between the two here. The service boasts over 350 apps and games at its launch, including Stardew Valley, Game Dev Tycoon, Reigns: Game of Thrones, Monument Valley, and many others. You can view the full list here if you’re interested.
Would you like some more mobile gaming news? Check out our latest Android Games Weekly for more!
Devil Stone is a new RPG for mobile. It has jRPG style mechanics with a large emphasis on the story line. You recruit a party of characters, level up, and defeat the big bad. While it is an old premise, it’s nice to see a classic setup every now and then. The game uses PlayStation era graphics and there is a healthy selection of side quests to complete. The story is a bit short so don’t expect a 20-30 hour experience with this one. Otherwise, it’s not bad.
Automatic Dark Theme for Android 10
This app does what its name suggests. It lets you automatically switch between light and dark themes based on things like time of day or sunset and sunrise. You can obviously toggle the mode whenever you want, but this app lets you automate the experience. It worked in our testing without any problems. However, it does require ADB and a computer to enter the appropriate commands. Those squeamish about such things may want to skip this one.
Lock’s Quest is a mix between tower defense and RPG. Players go through the process of creating a whole town’s worth of defenses and then defending that town from bad guys. The graphics won’t win any awards and the controls are a bit clunky and buggy for many. However, the idea feels unique and different in a mobile gaming era where everything tries too hard to feel unique and different. We’d like to see some fixes to the controls, but otherwise it’s an easy recommendation for fans of the genre.
TIME Immersive is an interesting augmented reality app from TIME Magazine. It lets you view news stories in both AR and VR for a more immersive view of things. You can view old stories as well as newer ones and there are a bunch of places you can explore and look at such rain forests and the moon. It works okay as of this writing. There seems to be a bug with it communicating with ARCore and some other release day bugs. However, with a few stability updates, this one could be really special. Keep an eye on it.
Mario Kart Tour
Price: Free to play
Mario Kart Tour is obviously the largest new Android game this week. It went into beta a few months ago so some people could try out the beta version. This version is much cleaner and better than the beta was. Players collect various racers from the Mario Kart universe and race them against one another. The game includes two types of controls, temporary events, some special abilities, and more. It’s a solid game, but purists don’t like that it doesn’t feel exactly like your standard Mario Kart game. Their criticisms are warranted, but it’s still a good racer when viewed in a vacuum.
If we missed any big Android apps or games news, tell us about it in the comments.