Welcome to the 306th edition of Android Apps Weekly. Here are the headlines from the last week:
- WhatsApp had a security issue this week and it’s fairly major. You can apparently Google Search in a specific way to view indexed versions of your WhatsApp chats. Basically, you search for your chat in a specific way on Google and find it. It doesn’t work for every chat, but there are copious examples of it actually working.
- Google banned 600 apps from the Play Store for disruptive advertising. Among them was literally every Cheetah Mobile app. Cheetah Mobile, a consistent troublemaker, has no apps in the Play Store at the time of this writing. There are many others and Google knows it. However, the company says developers get fairly clever about hiding them so it’s tough for bans like this to happen.
- Android 11’s first developer preview dropped this week and it had a bunch of goodies. Most of the changes were under the hood and for app developers. Some notable things include new camera APIs for camer apps, the long awaited Bubbles feature for messaging apps, and some notification changes. Hit the link to learn more.
- Stadia finally expanded to non-Pixel phones. It was one of the platform’s biggest weaknesses and an update this week fixed it. The new list of devices is about two dozen phones long and includes every Samsung flagship from the Galaxy S8 on forward, both Razer phones, and both ASUS ROG phones.
- Huawei showed off its Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) at an event at Barcelona. The services, a replacement for Google’s Mobile Services, would allow devices to have the same kind of software infrastructure without being married to Google. This is, of course, in response to the US trade ban but it might be nice to have some competition in that space.
Price: Free with in-app purchases
Overdrive City is actually a city-building simulator with a focus on cars. You create a town, manufacture a bunch of vehicles, and compete in a career mode to create a massive motorsport franchise. The game includes cars from actual manufacturers, various customizations and performance tweaks, and there is a race mechanic. It’s a bit reminiscent of Kairosoft’s Grand Prix Story but with better graphics and real cars. The game has some bugs, but nothing that shouldn’t get fixed in a few updates.
QuakeAlertUSA actually launched a few weeks ago. However, we wanted to give the app time to get a few updates in before we wrote about it. The app is simple in practice. It alerts you when earthquakes happen at your location. It can also warn people up to a minute before any actual vibration is felt depending on the location and depth of the quake. The data comes from the USGS and ShakeAlert so it’s fairly reliable. The app is free and had some bugs when it first launched. However, it seems recent updates took care of most of them.
Price: Free to play
Kick-Flight is a different kind of arcade style game. Players fly round maps and beat up on opponents. Games are all online and against real players. You face up in four versus four matches that take about three minutes a piece. The game is region locked so matchmaking times can be a bit long. Additionally, there is no way to communicate with teammates so it adds a bit of frustration there as well. It is otherwise one of the more unique and fun games we’ve seen this year.
Price: Free / $2.99 per month / $15.99 per year
Nintendo finally launched its Pokemon Home platform last week. The app is basically a cloud storage service for your Pokemon. You can upload Pokemon from core series Pokemon games to Home and then download them again in other Pokemon games, including Sword and Shield. Additionally, there is a trading mechanic in case you need to fill some gaps in your collection as well as a Mystery Gifts system. The app goes for $15.99 per year or $2.99 per month.
Summer Catchers is a new game from Noodlecake Studios. It’s a retro style side scrolling platformer. The graphics are surprisingly nice and colorful for how old school it looks and the game play is devilishly smooth. There are a variety of levels to play through and the mechanics also include rhythm and puzzle elements along with its side scrolling and platformer elements.
If we missed any big Android apps or games updates, news, or releases, tell us about it in the comments or hit me up on Twitter!