Welcome to the 457th edition of Android Apps Weekly. Here are the big headlines from the last week:
- The EU’s Digital Markets Act is going into a six-month implementation phase. Basically, if a company is identified as a gatekeeper, it has to open up its services and platforms. Some apps and services might need to be changed, including Google Play, iMessage, and others. Keep an eye out, and let’s see what happens.
- Google is expanding its Play Games beta on PC. The expansion opens up the beta to the US, Canada, Mexico, and five other countries. It’s currently available for 85 games through the Windows app. It’s nice to see Google putting forth an effort to improve Android apps on PC.
- Matter went official this week at a launch event in Amsterdam. It’s a big deal because Matter is set to massively improve interoperability between smart home tech. There isn’t much to report at this time. However, we should start seeing Matter make its way into existing tech in the near future. As it stands, over 190 certifications are in the wild right now.
- Elon Musk is making changes at Twitter. On top of layoffs, he’s also giving away the famed blue checkmark for $8 per month to anyone who wants to pay for it. Since we only anticipate public figures wanting the checkmark anyway, we don’t know how much this will or won’t help Twitter’s bottom line. Hit the link to read more.
- Netflix’s cheaper plan already has some hiccups. The new ad-supported plan only works on some devices. For example, it doesn’t support regular Chromecast devices. It only works on Chromecast with Google TV. Similarly, it works fine on Amazon Fire devices, but not on any Apple TV devices. You may want to look into it if you plan on getting the new ad-supported plan.
- Google Hangouts is officially dead. The app shut down on November 1st, on schedule with what Google told us. All Google Hangouts stuff now redirects to Google Chat, and the web app was the last way to access the original Google Hangouts. We knew this was coming, and we already wrote a eulogy for it.
The Past Within
The Past Within is something unique. It’s a cooperative game where you and a friend solve puzzles to progress the story. One person plays in the past, and the other plays in the future. Together, the two of you figure out the solutions to the puzzles. The game plays cross-platform and you should be able to finish it in about two to four hours. The developers also do the Rusty Lake series, which we’ve been fond of for years. It’s not expensive, and there are no microtransactions to ruin things.
Neeva Browser boasts an ad-free and private browsing experience. It does so by filtering search results to remove ads, improving browsing speed by removing ads, and more. The app also lets you sync your email, calendar, and documents. Once done, you can use the search bar to comb through those as well. It reminds us a bit of Ghostery, where you can even keep count of the number of trackers keeping tabs on you. In terms of usability, it’s a decent mobile browser, but it is super basic, and doesn’t have the same number of features as the big dogs in this space.
Price: Free to play
Neko Golf is an anime-themed golf game. It features a variety of online PvP tournaments that can win you in-game prizes. In terms of mechanics, it’s pretty solid. You have to swipe and tap to get your shot just right. It’s one of those things where it’s easy to learn but takes some time to master. There are also things that can happen if your finger motions aren’t right, leading some to some interesting outcomes. It’s not the deepest game, and the online multiplayer isn’t a full 18-hole match. Thus, you never quite get the full golf experience. Otherwise, it’s pretty fun.
To Do Blocks is a to-do list app that uses blocks instead of lists to help you plan your day. You simply create blocks with your daily tasks, and then you see your schedule as a block sequence instead of a bland, boring list. We like how it looks different without actually being different. It does remove time constraints, so you kind of get to your tasks as you get to them instead of trying to get to each one on time. It’s not quite as effective as a full-featured to-do list app, but it definitely helps if your brain thinks this way.
Goddess of Victory: Nikke
Price: Free to play
Goddess of Victory: Nikke is a gacha RPG with some third-person shooter mechanics. Let’s start with the gacha elements. Characters you summon have various active and passive abilities that give them different advantages in combat. Combat puts your characters behind cover, where you shoot at enemies advancing on your position. It’s definitely different from what we normally see. There is a whole story to play through, along with some other in-game stuff to do. The game is certainly entertaining, and the gacha pull rates aren’t horrible.
If we missed any big Android apps or games releases, tell us about them in the comments.
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