Welcome to the 444th edition of Android Apps Weekly. Here are the big headlines from the last week:
- The Pixel-Only Game Dashboard feature may be coming to more phones soon. Google refers to such a development in the Google Systems Update changelog. This would allow other phone owners to manually change their performance mode. We don’t know which devices or when it will happen, but Google says select devices are running Android T, so we’ll wait and see what happens.
- Google has started combining Google Meet and Duo. The company plans to bring Meet’s features into Duo and eventually phase out Meet. The transition began this week with a rebrand from Google Duo to Google Meet, proving once and for all that Google intends to confuse people forever. Click the link to learn more.
- Logitech intends to launch a portable cloud gaming device sometime in 2022. We don’t usually cover hardware in our weekly app roundup, but this device is built specifically for Nvidia GeForce Now and Xbox Cloud Gaming. It can also support Amazon’s Stadia and Luna. At the moment there is not much information about the product other than its existence has been confirmed. Watch for more details later.
- It looks like Android 13 is coming sometime in September. A recent post from Google strongly suggested that such an event would take place. The Android security advisories mention that the next version is scheduled to come out on September 1, 2022. Thing is, all the betas are out, so only the final version remains until Google releases an unscheduled beta. Either way, click the link to learn more.
- The latest updates to Windows 11 bring better Android compatibility. The update is currently being rolled out for beta testers. It apparently includes better support for input devices. For example, joystick devices can be mapped to WASD for mobile gamers. It’s a welcome addition as many emulators already support such input devices. We look forward to more from Microsoft.
- Google Play is taking steps to clean itself up. Some new changes include banning copycat apps and games, and banning apps that use certain types of in-app advertising. We don’t know how strict the copycat thing will be. We expect it will be strict enough to prevent something like the 800 Flappy Bird clones we saw years ago, while still allowing multiple games in the same genre with similar mechanics. Click the link to see the types of ads Google Play wants to block.
Descenders is a downhill freeride game. You play a character on a bike while going downhill as fast as possible. The game features generate levels randomly, so there’s quite a bit of guesswork involved. There are various jumps, slopes and other obstacles that you can jump off and overcome. Even the controls are pretty granular to give you as much control over your bike and rider as possible. However, there are some caveats. Controller support is a bit patchy at the time of writing this article. On top of that, the game could use some optimizations and probably some quality controls as well to work better on mid-range and low-end devices. The price is a bit steep, but you get the whole game in one purchase with no ads or in-app purchases to ruin things.
Birthday Reminder & Calendar
Price: Free / $4.49
Birthday Reminder & Calendar is a pretty niche app, but it works pretty well. It is a reminder app specially for birthdays. It works well for people who forget birthdays easily or who know a lot of people. There’s a good list of features, including backups, contacts, and a calendar feature to keep track of everyone’s birthdays. The app also works offline and can export to CSV files if needed. As I said, it’s a pretty niche app. You get all the features in the free version. The premium version, which is activated with an in-app purchase, basically only does without advertising.
Price: Play for free
Kinja Run is a running game. It plays like many other endless runners. You run through levels while collecting coins, taking out baddies and avoiding obstacles. It also features RPG-style progression and some roguelike elements. Players also get skills that help them deal with things. The levels increase in difficulty. It actually gets quite difficult the later you go, and the challenge is what makes the fun. In terms of runners, this one seems to cover a lot of bases and is really fun to play.
Microsoft Outlook Lite
Microsoft Office Lite is exactly what you think it is. It’s a lighter version of Microsoft Office designed for lower-end devices so you can keep using Outlook. You already know how Outlook works. It’s an email client. You receive, read and reply to emails. There is a built-in calendar function to keep your days in order. It even includes things like suggested replies, organization features, and spam email detection. That’s not a bad feature list considering the app is only 5MB. To be fair, a lot of this takes place in the cloud and not directly on your device. Unfortunately, this app isn’t available everywhere, so don’t be surprised if you find that you can’t download it from the Play Store.
Total War: Medieval II
Total War: Medieval II is the latest port of the classic Total War series. For the uninitiated, it’s a strategy game. It is set in the Middle Ages with 17 playable factions. Players engage in real-time battles, build their empire and try to eliminate all their enemies. Or you may take the diplomatic route, trade deals and alliances to gain an advantage. This is a real strategy game with no jokes, no in-app purchases or ads. So you can play how you want and as often as you want. The game also has a list of compatible phones. You can find them on the Play Store page linked below. It’s a bit pricey, but you’re getting a full game here, not a part of it.
If we’ve missed any major Android apps or game releases, let us know in the comments.
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