Welcome to the 235th edition of Android Apps Weekly! Here are the headlines from this week:
- Google Play Protect did a lot of good things in 2017. Google released a blog post with all of the details this week. Google’s machine learning algorithms took down tens of millions of potentially harmful apps. Google Play Protect also gained an offline mode that scrapped about ten million more installs of harmful apps. They expect 2018 to be a much better year for Google Play Protect.
- PUBG is getting closer to a worldwide launch. It soft launched in Canada this week. That’s the first non-Asian country with a release. That means a proper worldwide release may not be far off. Fortnite is hot on their heels with an iOS closed beta up and running now. They both may hit the market at around the same time. We’ll see which of these two shooters wins.
- It turns out that people spend tons of money on mobile games. In fact, they spend more on mobile games than they do on PC games. This is solely a measurement of game software, not hardware, though. It’s easy to get into a mobile game because everyone has a mobile phone. It’s a little harder to get into a console or PC when the barrier to entry costs a lot more. In any case, mobile games have outsold PC/Mac titles for a few years now. This year just sees that gap widen even more.
- Get ready for a lot more AR games. Google integrated the Unity game engine into Google Maps. That gives developers a good head start with new AR games. Additionally, Google Maps API is available to game developers specifically for AR games. This gives everyone the advantage that Niantic Labs had with Pokemon Go. 2018 will probably see a ton of AR games and releases. Stay tuned!
- Facebook Lite officially launched in the US and other developed markets this week. The app was originally for developing countries with poor Internet. However, after the perceived success of Messenger Lite, Facebook went all the way with Facebook Lite as well. It lets you do the basics on Facebook without all of the extra bloat. We love this release because it’s a good alternative to the bloated, battery draining main app.
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.projekt is a new, minimal puzzle game. It features three total playing surfaces. The center surface is where you build a 3D shape. The two side surfaces reflect the object you build in the center. The goal is to build a shape that shades in both side surfaces in the way the game wants. It features 60 levels, cloud saving, and achievements. The game runs for $1.99 with no in-app purchases or advertisements. It’s actually a pretty decent deal if you’re into minimal puzzle games.
Lean Launcher is an open source and lightweight launcher app. It gives your home screen a very stock Android look and feel. However, the devil is in the details. This launcher actually has quite a few good features, including notification dots support, app shortcuts (including static shortcuts), dynamic icons (on supported devices), Google Now, a dark theme, and more. You can even lock the home screen to prevent changes. The features aren’t super ridiculous like you see in others. However, this one seems to hit a lot of the right notes. It’s also free with no in-app purchases or advertisements.
My Tamagotchi Forever is one of the bigger freemium launches for 2018. It brings back the quaint experience of raising a Tamagotchi character. The experience is modernized, though. It includes an augmented reality hide-and-seek game. We thought that was actually pretty cool. Some other game features include unlockable customizations, evolving Tamagotchis, collectible items, and more. It’s a freemium game. Thus, expect the usual freemium antics. The game also has a few bugs, but that’s expected because it’s brand new.
RememBear is a new password manager app. It’s from the same developers of TunnelBear VPN. The app comes with a decent set of features. They include your usual array of password and credit card management features along with fingerprint unlock support, auto-locking, and decently strong encryption. However, it still falls behind competitors for now. For instance, it doesn’t have great auto-fill support off the bat. This one could end up really good. For now, it’s best to keep your eye on it. It’s still better than no password manager by a long shot, though.
Florence is a slice of life game from the lead designer of Monument Valley. It doesn’t have any difficult mechanics or anything like that. It is technically a puzzle game. You basically just experience things as a visual novel. The story revolves around a girl named Florance and her boyfriend, Krish. They do a bunch of stuff together including fight, flirt, and other such things. It works mostly to invoke the feels. The sound has a small issue, but it’s a relatively minor bug. Otherwise, people seem to like this one a lot.
If we missed any big Android apps or games news, releases, or updates, tell us about them in the comments! Check back next week for more!