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5 Android apps you shouldn't miss this week and all the latest app news - Android Apps Weekly
Welcome to the 521st 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:
- Easily the biggest news of the last week is the announcement of Google Bard’s death. Google has announced that Gemini will now act as the name of its Gemini LLM variants as well as the name of its front-facing chatbot and app. The new Gemini for Android is available now for compatible phones but be aware it completely replaces the Google Assistant experience with no way to go back.
- On a related note, the Gemini App is currently not available outside of the US, likely due to regulatory hurdles it hasn’t finished jumping through. Google says it will bring the new Gemini app to Asia-Pacific, LATAM, Africa, and the rest of North America this week. There isn’t an exact time frame for the launch of Gemini in Europe with some speculating that Google may be waiting for Europe’s AI act to become fully law before it launches.
- Whatsapp has revealed more info on its plans to work with other encrypted messaging services in light of changing laws in Europe that will position WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger as gatekeeper services that must play nice with other messaging apps. The company says it will offer a dedicated inbox for messages from third-party apps and cross-compatibility will be completely opt-in.
- Google Maps is making a change to its Android app, one that was ironically already available on iOS for a while. The new change brings an overlay with weather and air quality for the part of the map you are looking at. You can also tap on the weather widget to bring up a card that shows the forecast for the day and more.
- Circle to Search is a new feature that’s temporarily exclusive to the Pixel 8 series and the Galaxy S24 but what about the Pixel 7? Interestingly a Pixel 7 owner claimed Circle to Search was showing up in the Pixel Tips app. While the Pixel 7 thinks the feature is available, Google has clarified that it isn’t supported and shouldn’t have even appeared in the Tips app, as that was just an error.
Android Apps Weekly: New apps and games
- Price: $6.99, on sale for $4.70
It is increasingly common to see new Android titles that are simply ports of indie console and PC games from a few years earlier. These ports are often a bit cheaper than the original releases and have specialized modifications to make the game work better on a phone. Potion Permit continues that familiar trend, bringing the open-ended sim RPG to Android for about half the price of the Steam version. The goal of the game is to become the best chemist around, brewing potions, curing ailments, and more.
If you are looking for mobile games with a bit more depth than a lot of the casual free-to-play fare that tends to get most of the attention, Potion Permit is worth a look. It’s also a faithful port with no major bugs and decent mobile controls as well.
- Price: $4.99
Yet another premium port, Wytchwood is a crafting adventure game with a gothic, fairytale backdrop. The game has you play as a mysterious witch of the woods and will have you explore the strange landscape, collect magical ingredients, and brew enchantments. Best of all, you can also pass twisted judgment on the various fairytale characters that cross your path. With a great storyline and plenty of challenges, this is a port that seems just as stable and enjoyable as what you’d find on Steam.
I love the trend of high-quality Android games that started in 2023 and hope things only get better in 2024. That said, I did have the game crash on me twice but it seemed to play nicely after a reset.
- Price: Free with in-app purchases
From the name of the game to the design of the female character on the front, this one looked a lot like a cheap Demon Slayer knock-off but I decided to try it anyhow. What I found was a typical idle RPG with a demon/devil theme that evokes one of my favorite animes but has very little else to offer. On the bright side the game has good graphics and could be a decent time waster, just be aware it’s just another flash IDLE game but at least it seems to be pretty bug free and have a fun aesthetic that stands out from many of the other IDLE RPGs I’ve played, even if not by much.
- Price: Free for T-Mobile subscribers
T-Mobile introduced a few new perks as part of its brand-new Magenta Status program which offers discounts at hotels, on tickets, and much more. To help manage this new program T-Mobile has completely overhauled its T-Mobile Tuesdays app. The newly rebranded experience still contains T-Mobile Tuesday deals and everything else you’d expect but with a revamped interface and the new Magenta Status perks built in. As you’d expect, the new app does require a T-Mobile subscription and customers will be able to opt in or out for the new program.
- Price: Free with in-app purchases
Google Gemini is a brand new app experience as we mentioned above. We spent some hands-on time with the Assistant replacement and have to admit it works so much better in some ways. Not only is it smarter, but it’s more responsive too. That said, it’s still an early experience and likely won’t be quite as stable as the original Google Assistant. Considering you have to replace Assistant to install this one, we’d recommend doing so with some caution at least until the app has been around a bit longer. Still, if you have a backup device or simply don’t use Asisstant enough to care about its absence, it’s a unique experience worth trying and it has a lot of potential.