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5 Android apps you shouldn't miss this week and all the latest app news - Android Apps Weekly

Google is in the news thanks to Android 14's latest beta, we also take a closer look at the Beeper drama, and more.
By
December 16, 2023
hello neighbor title featured

Welcome to the 514th edition of Android Apps Weekly, where we discuss the latest in mobile news and take a closer look at some of the most interesting new apps and games. Let’s jump right in and take a look at some of the biggest highlights from the last week: 

  • Android 14 QPR beta 2 arrived this week for Pixel phones. The new update squashes plenty of bugs but there were a few cool new features, too. This includes a new Private Space feature. This will work similarly to Samsung’s Secure Folder where you can put certain apps and docs for private use that will require a password to unlock.
  • Last week Beeper brought iMessage functionality to Android through its new Beeper Mini app, offering an experience that was just as seamless as the real app. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for the app to run into server errors, with Apple confirming they blocked the exploit used by the app in a move they claim is about “protecting its users”.  Beeper fought back against the notion its app was a security risk, going as far as to say they would give the whole codebase to an independent 3rd party researcher to confirm its safety. The company also managed to get the app working again through a workaround, though it didn’t take long for Apple to block things again. While Beeper remains committed to fighting Apple’s blocking attempts, it seems clear that Apple is equally devoted to stopping the company. Too bad as this was the best way to use iMessage on Android to date. 
  • A new report claims Google is working on a new AI assistant specifically for Pixel users, dubbed Pixie. Reportedly this would have all the functionality of Google Assistant but with enhanced features that aren’t possible with the standard Assistant such as using Gemini Nano for on-device AI functions. If the report is accurate we could see Pixie debut alongside the Pixel 9 next year. 
  • Has your Google Home stopped working? You’re not alone, as a fairly substantial number of users are reporting their devices suddenly stopped working this month. Google has now confirmed it is investigating the problem.
  • Epic has won its lawsuit! Google and Epic have been entangled in a legal battle for years, with Epic claiming Google has an illegal monopoly over app stores and that its Google Play store has a lot of illegal practices that hold back competition. Now a US jury has officially agreed, though the judge has yet to make an official ruling on what remedies Google will have to take.
  • A new report claims Google is working on an AI experience called “Project Ellmann”, which will use the power of Gemini to answer questions about your life using phone data like photos and searches. Basically, it would be a life storyteller device. It’s certainly possible this kind of technology could eventually make its way over to products like Google Photos as well.

Android Apps Weekly: New apps and games of the week

Looking for some new Android apps and Android games to keep you occupied? Below, we take a look at some of our favorite suggestions for the week. For the longest while the vast majority of new apps coming out were free with ads and/or in-app purchases, but recently we’ve seen more and more freemium titles. It’s a trend I am happy to see, as I want more console-level games on mobile!

Little Nightmares

  • Price: $5.99

Little Nightmares is a well-known and highly-rated horror adventure and now it’s making the leap to mobile. The new port is still a premium title, so no ads or in-app purchases to worry about. I picked this one up for myself and found it was a pretty faithful port, though the motion controllers can be a little finicky. The graphics are basically the same as the PC and console versions, as is the general storyline. 

Hello Neighbor: Nicky’s Diaries

  • Price: $12.99

The latest chapter in the Hello Neighbor series has arrived as a mobile spin-off, Nicky’s Diaries. What’s great about this game is that it feels just like the console version, with nearly as impressive graphics.

What really stands out is the touch controls, which are some of the best I’ve used in a while. Do be aware that while you can try the game for free, it only allows access to a small portion of the game unless you are willing to unlock the full experience for $7. I’d say it’s worth it if you’re a fan of the Hello Neighbor series.

Metal Slug 2 ACA NEOGEO

  • Price: $3.99

While I have yet to pick up this port, I actually had the original on the NEOGEO back in the day. The new version looks to be a faithful port of the experience. Considering how hard NEOGEO games were and how important precise controls are to the experience, I personally am leery about how well the controls will translate to mobile. Yet if you don’t mind paying a few bucks to find out, this was a great game on original hardware and should be a fun, nostalgic experience even if it isn’t perfect. 

Blood Strike

  • Price: Free with in-app purchases
blookstrike

This new FPS immerses you in a world filled with mysterious rifts and the monsters emerging from them. Your objective is to venture onto the scene, earn Blood Crystals, and collect loot, all while tackling the growing threat. The game shares a similar graphical and gameplay style with Call of Duty Mobile in some aspects, although the story and setting are noticeably distinct. There’s also up to 100-player battle royale. 

What’s most impressive about this shooter is the level of graphics customization available, allowing it to run smoothly on even some of the most modest phones. While the graphics and frames may not reach the same quality, it’s still remarkable to see that the developers didn’t exclude those with older or budget devices from the fun.

Healthify

  • Price: Free with subscription 
Healthify Logo
Andrew Grush / Android Authority

This one is a bit cheating as it hasn’t actually hit yet, but it’s expected to arrive this weekend and into the coming weeks in select regions. Healthify is a rebranded version of the HealthifyMe app including a brand new UI and a host of impressive new features.

The new app can now take a photo of your food and get a calorie estimate and other nutrition details that is reportedly 90% accurate. There’s also a new AI coach to help you with improving what you eat and even integration with the Swiggy for getting groceries and ordering healthy food to your home. The service will initially be offered for free, though a paid subscription will be required after a trial for the more advanced features.