Welcome to the 315th edition of Android Apps Weekly! Here are the big headlines from the last week:
- Zoom continues its tumultuous month in India. India didn’t ban the app like other governments and companies. Instead, the country’s government deemed the app unsafe and gave its citizens a number of recommendations for use. This may be the light at the end of the tunnel, though, as many of those recommendations are being forced in Zoom’s upcoming security update.
- A number of companies are giving away their apps and services for free for the duration of the pandemic. The list includes Headspace, Dicord, Webex, Final Cut Pro X, Fitbit, Microsoft Teams, Peloton, and several others. Of course, the publicity works as a sort of free advertising for each service, but it’s nice to know you can get some tools for free while you’re stuck at home. Hit the link to view all of the options.
- Aptoide found itself in hot water this week. The company announced a security breach with over 20 million compromised accounts. That number may be as high as 39 million. Apparently, people who registered between July 21, 2016 and January 28, 2018 are all affected. You may want to log in and change up your password if you registered in that time frame. The good news is that 97% of Aptoide’s users don’t have accounts anyway and you don’t need an account to download stuff. The company is investigating the breach now.
- Google announced an update this week for Google Assistant. The new feature is a wake-word sensitivity toggle that lets you tone down your phone a bit so it doesn’t respond whenever it hears something close to “Hey, Google”. Once you get it, you should be able to change the sensitivity for all of your Google Home devices through the Google Home app.
- The Google Play Store has a little bug predominately found in Africa. The bug removes icons and images from the Play Store, making it difficult to navigate. Most of the issues seem to be centered in Africa which suggests a regional problem rather than a global one. Google should fix it soon and you can hit the link to learn more details.
Mr Pumpkin 2: Walls of Kowloon
Mr Pumpkin: Walls of Kowloon is a neat puzzle game with a fun premise. It takes place in Kowloon Walled City, a real place where 50,000 people lived in a space the size of a city block. The game is full of interesting people doing various things and you explore a fictional version of this city in the game. Most of the mechanics are point-and-click so nothing too difficult or over the top. Players engage with the stories told by the game’s characters and try to figure everything out. The game runs for $1.99 with no in-app purchases or ads. This one is a bit dark so we don’t recommend it for kids.
Vivaldi Browser was in beta for months and it officially released this week. It provides a full browser experience with both privacy and functionality. It comes with the usual privacy stuff, including tracker and ad blocking. You also get an integrated note pad, a screenshot function, a dark mode, an above average UI, and some other neat features. Perhaps the biggest deal here is its ability to sync with the desktop version of the browser. The syncing feature lets it compete with the bigger dogs like Chrome and Firefox. The app spent a ton of time in beta so most of the issues are gone. This isn’t the newest release since we’ve discussed Vivaldi before, but it’s nice to see a stable version now.
Earth Wars: Remake Earth
Price: Free to play
Earth Wars: Remake Earth is a new mobile RPG with action elements. Players join the fight for Earth as it is about 24 hours away from being wiped out. You level up your character, learn new abilities, and then slay a bunch of bad guys. The game features a bunch of over-the-top animations with tons of bombastic explosions and various sound effects. However, the pacing is actually fairly normal for the genre. There is also an idle base defense mode for when you’re not playing the game. There are some issues reported by others, particularly those with lower end devices. Plus, the in-your-face graphics aren’t for everyone. It’s decent overall.
Price: Free with in-app purchases
Facebook Gaming is Facebook’s competitor to Twitch and YouTube live streams. Basically, it just takes the part of Facebook where gaming happens and puts it all into a single experience. You can find live streamers playing a bunch of different games. However, like most, the service promotes the most popular games and creators most often. There is also the option to stream your mobile games straight from the app and your device. Beware, this absolutely wrecks your battery, but it does work. The app has a few bugs here and there, but we expect Facebook to fix those in relatively short order. This may be a competent competitor to the big dogs if Facebook does this correctly.
Price: Free to play
Fortnite managed to make the news this week by officially launching to the Google Play Store. This felt like an inevitability and as an indictment of Google’s iron grip on the Android ecosystem with Google Play. Still, the game is now available without a third party download which will do doubt increase its player base on mobile. The game is Fortnite, but in mobile form and the coverage of this game is so constant that we’re sure you know how the game works by now. Most of the game’s complaints are mostly from people who didn’t expect the battery drain on such a heavy game and frame rate issues with low end and old devices.
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