Welcome to the 290th edition of Android Apps Weekly! Here are the big headlines from the last week:
- Coolpad of all companies is launching a new app platform. FamilyLabs hopes to bring new Android apps for families and kids. The app itself lets kids talk to other family members, locate them if needed, and even allow for things like remote support. The app is available on Indiegogo for an absurd $99 starting out. We’re not sure it’s worth that much for a family management app, but we’ll see.
- Google Home and Amazon Alexa speakers received some goodies this week. Amazon Alexa devices can now stream a free, ad-supported version of Amazon Music just by asking. The free version only supports playlists. Google also did this for Google Home speakers, but with YouTube Music.
- Facebook had a security blunder a few weeks ago. It was worse than we thought, though. Facebook released a blog post with more information. Some Instagram passwords were stored as plain text for anyone to read. Hit up the link to learn more and you should change your Instagram password.
- BlackBerry Messenger is ending its run on May 31st of this year. The service shrunk a lot due to competing services like WhatsApp, iMessage, and others. It seems BlackBerry has finally had enough. However, the enterprise version of BlackBerry Messenger lives on as a premium service. Hit the link to learn more.
- Nintendo is opening up a beta for Mario Kart Tour soon. The sign-up page went live earlier this week and it’s available now. You can sign up as long as your Nintendo and Google Play accounts use the same password. The game should launch sometime over this summer so there isn’t much longer to wait even if you don’t get into the beta.
Swoot is a new podcast app with some social elements. You can download and play podcasts as you normally do. However, you can also add friends and see what they're listening to as well. The UI is a bit heavy since it does merge social network stuff with podcast stuff. However, aside from giving up some power user features, the experience was definitely serviceable. It needs polish and you may have to drag your friends to it to get the full experience, but the app is otherwise decent.
Despotism 3k is a simulation-strategy game. You play as our eventual AI overlords and you use humans to run your various contraptions. Humans need rest and food to continue making your machines run. The game has a bit of a learning curve and it can be quite difficult at times. However, the retro graphics and occasional dry humor make the game make up for the frustration. It runs for $7.99 and we think that's a bit pricey. However, it doesn't have in-app purchases so there's a plus side as well.
LiveXLive bought Slacker Radio for $50 million and now the Slack Radio app is LiveXLive. It still does a lot of the music streaming of Slacker, including an on-demand service for $9.99 per month. However, the app focuses heavily on live event streaming. The transition to this new focus has mixed reviews on Google Play and other places. However, we think the dust will settle over time. It worked just fine in our testing sans some questionable UI decisions.
Pharos AR is a neat little AR experience. Users are encouraged to enter into a portal through their camera viewfinder. Inside is a bunch of lights, music, and fun times. We had some freezing issues, but the experience is definitely something different. There aren't any real game mechanics or anything like that. It's mostly just a fun little thing to do and experience. Plus, it makes good use of Google's ARCore technology. It's entirely free if you want to try it.
Google has its Google I/O 2019 app ready to go. It has the same stuff as it does every year. That includes a full schedule of Google I/O activities, speeches, pow-wows, keynotes, and other talks. It also comes with reminders, a map of the conference, and a schedule personalization tool. It's most useful for attendees of the event. However, those not going can still get info on when events happen. Google I/O is happening soon, so get yourself ready!
If we missed any big Android apps or Android games news, tell us about it in the comments!