This week's selection includes helpful email tools, ravenous zombies, cleaner bookings, fitness apps, Family Guy and digital books for kids, among others.
As ever, prices are correct at the time of writing, but may have changed by the time you read this. (Free + IAP) means in-app purchases are used within the app.
As someone who constantly regrets being a lazy little teenager in science lessons, apps like Solar Walk are brilliant: a 3D model of the solar system with plentiful information about the planets, their movements and history. It makes for engrossing browsing, with extra content available as in-app purchases.
This is Android’s default camera app – well, the one for smartphones and tablets running the latest Android 4.4 KitKat software anyway – released to the Google Play store as a standalone download, to ensure you get updates as soon as they’re available, rather than be at the mercy of your operator or handset maker.
More photography, albeit of the fun, social kind. Frontback has been a biggish hit on iPhone: an app for taking two photos – one with the front camera and one with the back camera – then sharing them together. Its developer has been building a social network around it, although it obviously supports Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr too.
Something more serious now, from security firm AVG. This is a remote management app – well, a wider service really, since it’s designed to cover all your PCs and Android devices. The idea: you install one of AVG’s existing apps to your Android device, sign up for or log in to an existing account, then use this app to remotely track them, and identify potential security worries.
Back to photos with this app, which in a sign of the times is billed as a “great app for selfies!” on the Google Play store. And yes, this has a very familiar feel, with vintage filters (80 of them, although some require a premium upgrade) and a simple, clean design.
There’s some good buzz building around Today, which provides an alternative to the default Calendar app on your Android device. It looks clearer, and is easy to navigate quickly around whether you’re entering new diary dates or checking your upcoming appointments.
This app comes from major label Universal Music Group and fitness-clubs chain David Lloyd. The theme is music for workouts – 10 playlists updated every week with music from Universal artists, downloadable to your device for offline listening. After a 28-day trial, you’ll have to pay £5.99 a month to continue (although David Lloyd members get a quid off).
This is an app for charitable purposes, designed to help people raise money for British lifeboat charity the RNLI. The theory: you promise to drink only water for two weeks, with friends donating to egg you on. The app aims to help you drum up support and share your progress on social networks.
Spooked by the recent reports about Heartbleed security vulnerability? Bluebox Heartbleed Scanner is one of the apps trying to set your mind at ease (or, at least, show you what to be spooked about specifically). It scans your Android device and apps to see which may be vulnerable: it’s quick and stripped-down, as you’d expect.
This children’s app comes from publisher TabTale: a safari-themed adventure for kids with monkeys, lions, zebras and various other animals to be found along the way. It’s a collection of colourful mini-games, with an in-app purchase used to unlock its full content.
One of the all-time best RPG games makes its way onto Android, and while the price may sound steep, it’s worth every penny. This is a faithful conversion of the 1998 game, with expansion kits thrown in as you explore a huge world of monsters, loot and storytelling. Still marvellous 16 years on.
Disco Zoo is silly, but in a way that will make you smile. The game sees you tapping on grids of squares Battleship-style to find animals, who then gather in your zoo, earning money. Every so often, you can spend virtual currency to start an actual disco, whereupon they dance and earn more money. It’s strangely addictive.
Mikey Hooks is one of the most playable action games released for Android this year: a platformer-cum-endless-runner with bags of character, as you “run, jump, slide and hook” your way through 36 levels. It looks retro, but the controls are well tuned for modern-day touchscreen gaming.
Social games firm Zynga has had a tough time over the past couple of years, but it’s putting a lot of oomph behind its mobile revival of the game that made its name on Facebook. FarmVille 2 takes the formula on considerably with its mix of harvesting, crafting and trading, although its farming simulation is never too complex for newcomers to get into.
Sony’s latest PlayStation Vita game is getting its own mobile spin-off to build anticipation. Here, that means a game where you run a dog-grooming parlour, with four mini-games and the chance to unlock costumes for the Vita version. A fun taster, and the latest sign that Sony sees Android as complementary to rather than purely competitive with its handheld.
Gameloft’s first Amazing Spider-Man game was very polished, and this sequel continues in the same vein. Expect lots of wall-clambering, web-slinging action based on the upcoming film, with famous villains and some impressive graphics meaning it’s well worth the download for fans.
“The logic of Rubik’s Cube, the sliding mechanism of Chuzzle, and the creativity of Lego,” according to the Google Play listing for this game, which is certainly a bold statement of intent. Impressively, Polymer isn’t a disappointment in the comparisons. It sees you sliding a grid of squares horizontally and vertically to make shapes, with four modes keeping you playing.
This was one of the best racing games on iOS in 2013, and it’s made the transition to Android well. It sees you roaring through towns and countryside gleefully smashing into whatever you like, while trying to outrun the police. It looks good, but it’s the scenery-trashing gameplay that will leave you with a big grin on your face.
There’s been a mini-trend of private detective-themed games on mobile in recent months – clearly a lot of developers grew up on crime novels and/or film noir. Here, you play a private dick named Charlie, solving a robbery with the help of puzzles, dreams and jazz. It’s an entertaining adventure.
Finally, the latest game destined to be filed alongside the ranks of clones of puzzler Threes, as you slide blocks back and forth to make matches. SideSwype is no mere clone though: its gameplay has its own charm, and is relaxed enough to be the perfect time-killer for Android gamers of all abilities.
Those are our picks, but what have you been enjoying on Android this week? Post your recommendations (or feedback on these) in the comments section.
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