Welcome to the 290th edition of Android Apps Weekly! Here are the big headlines from the last week:
- Google is apparently playing it close to the vest in terms of software development. The company isn’t opening the Motion Sense API to developers so no apps can use it right now. Motion Sense works with third party music apps, but that’s natively through the OS and not because music apps get access to the API. Additionally, The Pixel 4 blacklists five apps (Google Maps, Waze, Pokemon Go, WeChat, and the default file explorer) from ever using its 90hz display. Hit the links to learn more.
- The big four US carries are uniting for the sake of RCS. Unfortunately, the approach may be the wrong one. The plan is to launch apps that work on each carrier. However, we’re unsure if the apps will work together and if this is even a good idea at all. You can hit the link to learn more details.
- Samsung launched a new device optimization suite this week. The suite comes with four applets, including Battery Guardian, Battery Tracker, File Guardian, and App Booster. A lot of this stuff is the usual snake oil hogwash you see from apps like Clean Master. However, Battery Tracker and File Guardian seem to have actually good functionality while the other two are forgettable. Samsung owners can try downloading the suite from the Galaxy Store. It’s available sporadically, but it is available.
- Facebook’s app is testing a news tab. The news tab is a curated list of a bunch of news articles from a bunch of outlets. Unfortunately, social media is one of the least trustworthy places to gather news from these days so we’re unsure if Facebook’s solution is any better. However, we’ll give it a test to see what we find when we get access.
- Google Play Music likely hit its last download milestone this week. The music streaming app hit the five billion downloads mark and it’s the sixth app to ever cross that mark. Google announced a change to YouTube Music for the stock music app. Since pre-installed apps count toward download numbers, Google Play Music isn’t likely to see a sixth billion download. It’s a great moment for one of the most versatile music apps of all time, but it’s also a reminder that its days are numbered.
Six Digital Wellbeing apps from Google
Google launched six apps that work with Digital Wellbeing. They include Unlock Clock, We Flip, Post Box, Morph, Desert Island, and Paper Phone (linked at the button below). These apps are little games and activities to help you practice digital wellbeing. For instance, Unlock Clock keeps a more visible count of how often you unlock your device. We Flip is a game you play with friends to see who can go the longest without using their device. You get the idea. We particularly like Post Box because it’s an app version of Do Not Disturb Mode that also lets you schedule your own notifications. All of the apps have the occasional bug, but nothing too serious if you want to try them out.
The King of Fighters ALLSTAR
Price: Free to play
The King of Fighters ALLSTAR is a free to play fighter. It takes place in the KOF universe and has a lot of cameos from popular characters. It features simple touch controls, plenty of action, and online PvP matches along with cooperative play. Like most, it features gacha elements. Players collect various fighters and level them up like many mobile free to play games. The game has a few bugs and the free to play nature keeps it from feeling like a true fighting game. Otherwise, it’s okay.
BlizzConn wraps up today and it had a lot of announcements and other activities. The BlizzCon Mobile app helps you make sense of everything. The app was mostly for event attendees. There are schedules, news, and stuff like that for people who actually show up. However, the app also features news, videos, and other content for those who stayed home as well. The app should still be useful even after BlizzCon is over in case you want to see what happened. The app is entirely free to download and use.
Price: Free / $29.99 per 3 months / $99.99 per year
RuneScape Mobile is out on early access beta right now. The ancient, but super popular and excellent MMORPG is a mobile version of the PC game. In fact, they are so close to being identical that you can cross play on the same account. For those who don’t know, RuneScape is an MMORPG with an absolute ton of quests, stuff to do, and loot to collect. You can even engage with the in-game economy and buy and sell various gear. There is a subscription instead of the usual microtransactions making this a rarity in the MMORPG space. It’s in early access beta so there are bugs, but it’s actually quite playable on most devices.
Xbox Game Streaming (Preview)
Microsoft launched Xbox Game Streaming in beta this week as well. The app lets you connect your phone to your Xbox and play any of your Xbox games on your phone. This service, also known as Project xCloud, uses your local Internet connection to stream the game and your Xbox One hardware to play it. This makes it a lot faster and more stable than an online streaming service in theory. In practice, well, we’ll see. This is still an early beta after all. This one does boast support for mobile networks as well, unlike Google Stadia.