20 best Android apps and games this week

Android App Screen

Welcome to this week’s roundup of the latest, greatest Android apps and games, covering smartphones and tablets.

All these apps have been released for the first time – ie not updates – since the last roundup. All prices are correct at the time of writing, with “IAP” indicating use of in-app purchases.

You can read the previous Best Android Apps roundups for more recommendations, but if iOS is your platform of choice, check the Best iPhone and iPad Apps roundups. On with this week’s selection!

Apps

Google Photos (Free)
Google had been rumoured to be breaking out photos from its Google+ service for a while, but last week it happened. Photos is a cloud-storage service with 15GB of free space, promising the ability to quickly find images with text searches; and clever editing and sharing features.

MixRadio (Free)
MixRadio started as Nokia’s streaming music app for Windows Phones, but now it’s available on Android too. It’s not full Spotify-style “on-demand” listening, but rather a collection of crafted playlists by theme and mood, as well as the ability to whip up stations on the fly based on the artists you type in.

Microsoft Word / Excel / PowerPoint (Free + IAP)
Three apps in one entry here, to ensure they don’t crowd out some of the good stuff lower down. These are all welcome releases if you’re a heavy Microsoft Office user though: new Android smartphone versions of each tool’s existing tablet app.

Periscope (Free)
Will people really care about live-streaming smartphone broadcasts beyond the tech bubble? Twitter hopes so: its Periscope app is now going head-to-head with rival Meerkat on Android as well as iOS. You can broadcast from your phone or watch other people’s streams, tapping hearts to show your approval.

Inbox by Gmail (Free)
This smart email app has been out for a while, in truth, but last week Google opened it up to everyone, not just people with an invite. It’s the latest attempt to tackle email mountains with clever filters, and the ability to see “highlights” without opening emails up. You’ll need a Gmail account to use it.

Layout from Instagram (Free)
Another welcome iOS-to-Android port: this standalone app from Instagram is a simple way to turn several photos into a single, square collage, then share it to Facebook, Instagram or to your device for use on other social networks *coughTwitter*. It’d be nice if this was built in to Instagram itself though.

Sago Mini Space Explorer (£1.99)
Sago Sago makes marvellously characterful apps for pre-school children, and this is one of its first four to be released for Android. It gets kids to take Harvey the dog on a space exploration mission, tracing their finger on the screen to guide him to yellow markers for fun animations. Playful and fun.

Make My Day (Free)
Make My Day is the latest app from travel brand Lonely Planet, focusing (for now) on six cities: London, Barcelona, New York, Paris, San Francisco and Tokyo. It promises to help you “plan your perfect day” with things to do in the morning, afternoon and evening – chosen by experts to go beyond the obvious tourist hotspots.

Wildlife Trusts’ Nature Finder (Free)
Now something for people travelling around the UK in search of the local fauna: an app from the Wildlife Trust with maps and lists of its nature reserves and events – more than 2,000 places and 10,000 events a year – to help you explore the countryside.

LumiKids Park (Free)
Another app for children, here, from brain-training startup Lumosity. It’s a collection of simple learning games for 2-5 year-olds helping them practise their sorting, attention and visual-motor coordination skills without stressful goals.

Games

Skiing Yeti Mountain (Free + IAP)
In the list of efficient ways to search for a Yeti, skiing down a mountain surely isn’t high. In this game, though, it’s your method of choice, as you swoop down pixelated slopes in search of a monster. The developer has got the feel of its touchscreen controls just right: this is fab.

Biz Builder Delux (£2.99)
This is the latest mobile game from Kairosoft, the Japanese developer that made its name in the west with Game Dev Story, and has since honed its addictive simulation-game formula into a fine art. Here, you’re building a business, developing products and attracting shoppers. You’ll happily run your battery down to nothing playing it.

Lara Croft: Relic Run (Free + IAP)
Mobile hit Temple Run was arguably influenced – at least a bit – by Tomb Raider. So now it’s fun to see Lara Croft returning the favour in a new endless-runner game that takes its cues from Temple Run. Vehicles, weapons and boss battles mean it has plenty of its own ideas to add though.

Desktop Dungeons (£7.91)
Available for Android tablets, this is one of the best roguelike games I’ve played on mobile: a well-balanced mix of hardcore dungeon-exploring and mobile-friendly session times as you explore its single-screen levels. There’s a lot to enjoy here: as good for newcomers to its genre as hardened looters.

FarmVille : Harvest Swap (Free + IAP)
A lot of people will turn their noses up at the sight of social games firm Zynga slapping its FarmVille brand onto a Candy Crush-style match-three puzzle game. I suspect plenty of other people will be keen to try it out: a familiar-but-polished take on the swapping genre – with the usual in-app purchases.

Chaos Rings III (£14.99)
Square Enix’s Chaos Rings games have plenty of fans on mobile, so while this may seem expensive (by app standards) it will find a decent audience. It’s a meaty RPG that looks to have the same quality of story and combat that made its predecessors hits.

Nihilumbra (Free + IAP)
Already critically acclaimed on PC and PlayStation Vita, this offers an absorbing take on the platform genre with a creative twist: the ability to paint’ colours onto the world as you travel through it, to help you get past obstacles.

Sproggiwood (£7.74)
It’s a good week for roguelike fans (if not for their wallets) with the mobile port of PC game Sproggiwood. Based on Finnish myths, it has the genre’s usual procedurally-generated dungeons, battling and looting, but does a good job of wrapping a story around the action.

Queen: Play the Game (£2.29 + IAP)
No, not the reigning British monarch – that licensing deal hasn’t yet been signed. This is an official mobile game for Queen the band, complete with music clips and photos from their official archive. The games are a mixture of trivia questions and other puzzles: fans will love it.

Breath of Light (£2.40)
Finally, something relaxing for Android gamers in need of a breather from all that rogueliking. This is a puzzle game involving moving rocks to guide a flow of energy round a mystic garden – complete with a suitably woozy soundtrack.

That’s my choice, but what Android apps and games have you been enjoying this week? The comments section is open for your recommendations.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Stuart Dredge, for theguardian.com on Monday 1st June 2015 10.19 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010