Welcome to the 273rd edition of Android Apps Weekly! Here are the big headlines from the last week:
- Essential surprised all of us this week when they purchased CloudMagic. CloudMagic closed its app, Newton Mail, down earlier this year citing financial problems. Now, a phone OEM with financial problems owns the email developer with financial problems. We enjoyed that particular bit of irony. We have no idea why Essential purchased CloudMagic. The company says it is always on the lookout for great technology, but nothing further. Take that for what it’s worth.
- Google+ is shutting down sooner than originally expected. Google announced a second data leak with an estimated impact of 52.5 million users. It’s very similar to the first data leak. It exposed a lot of user information to developers on the Google+ API. In response, the shut down is now April 2019 instead of August 2019. Of course, it had plenty of problems before that as well. On a positive note, you can make donations through Google Play now!
- Pandora is now in the podcast game. The service launched its podcasts earlier this week. It boasts hundreds of podcasts with over 100,000 individual episodes ready for consumption right now. This follows in the footsteps of iTunes, Google Play Music, and Spotify. Pandora also uses machine learning for its podcast discovery and recommendation platform. They call it the Podcast Genome Project. That could help Pandora with its music recommendations someday as well.
- One of Pokémon Go’s most requested features is now available. Trainers can finally battle one another. Trainers use the Trainer Battle League categories to limit Pokémon CP levels for fairer fights. Additionally, players can also block damage a few times per battle. They can also only battle Ultra Friends or Best Friends for right now. We imagine that Niantic will expand that in future updates. In any case, player versus player battles are live and Pokémon Go continues to evolve.
- Google investigated the Cheetah Mobile ad fraud issue from a few weeks ago. The results were not good. Google removed two apps from the Play Store for ad fraud. They include CM File Manager and Kika Keyboard. Those apps used outright fraud to earn money from advertisers. Google also uncovered abuse of three ad network APIs, although none of them were Google’s own ad API. Google is continuing their investigation for the time being. We’ll let you know if anything else happens.
Throw.io is an MMO action game with plenty of arcade fun. You and a bunch of random players drop into a battlefield and start throwing stuff at one another. You can throw axes, knives, daggers, and about three dozen other implements of destruction. The controls are uninspiring, but competent. You shouldn’t have much trouble throwing stuff at other players. Some other game features include multiple playable characters, weapon buffs, a ranking system, and colorful graphics. It won’t blow your mind, but it’s definitely fun to play.
Microsoft launched Xbox Game Pass on Google Play a couple of months ago. This is the beta version of the app. It has most of the same features as the stable version. However, users can test out new features before the regular folks do. At the moment, there isn’t really much to experience in the beta version over the stable version. This is the platform that new features get tested on, though. Huge fans of the service may find some good stuff here over time. Of course, those who don’t use Game Pass should probably just skip this one. It’s only really useful for subscribers or people who might subscribe eventually.
This Is The Police is a strategy-adventure game about a corrupt cop. Jack Boyd is six months away from retirement and wants a nice nest egg to retire with. Players help him reach his lofty $500,000 goal by doing a bunch of random stuff. You manage emergency responses, individual cops, and other aspects of the job. You can do some not so great things as well if you want to. The game leans heavily on its strategy and simulation elements and that’s how players engage the most with the game. It’s surprisingly good, though. The game goes for $7.99 with no in-app purchases or advertisements. That’s cheaper than its PC or console versions.
Fluid Navigation Gestures actually came out a couple of months ago. We missed it and that’s our bad so let’s cover it this week. This is a gesture control app and it adds gesture controls to almost any smartphone. You can set almost any type of snap, tap, or hold to one of over a dozen different actions. Some examples include the standard back, home, and recent apps options along with opening the notifications or power menu and several others. It competes very favorably with XDA’s Navigation Gestures app. You can even hide the navigation bar on the bottom if you don’t mind using a PC with ADB. It’s an excellent customization app on Android.
Brawl Stars is the latest game from Supercell, developers of Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, and Boom Beach. It was out in beta in several countries before this week. However, this week marked its official release. It’s a PvP brawler with a variety of game types. That includes several three vs three game types along with a one vs one and two vs two game type. Players can collect gems, play a ball game, steal the other team’s loot, and more. The one vs one and two vs two mode is a classic battle royale style where players go at each other until only one player is left standing. It’s new and it still needs some optimization. However, Supercell did an excellent job with this one. It fits in with a lot of game types.
If we missed any big Android apps or games news, tell us about it in the comments! Also, check out our weekly podcast here!