Welcome to the 274th edition of Android Apps Weekly! Here are the big headlines from the last week:
- Google Assistant had some troubling news this week. It turns out people listen to your Google Assistant recordings. We talked about Amazon never deleting recordings a few weeks ago so this summer has a theme already. Thankfully, it’s not all of the audio. However, transcribers do listen to snippets for the purposes of, well, transcription. Those snippets may contain sensitive information and personal data. It’s definitely a concerning situation. Hit the link for more details.
- Google Lens, Stranger Things Season 3, and The New York Times all have a fun Easter egg for you this week. There were three ads in the July 11th edition of the newspaper. You find the appropriate ads and scan them with Google Lens to see some Stranger Things lore. It’s a neat little Easter egg and a great use of Google Lens.
- Third party launchers won’t work at full steam on Android Q. Well, they will, but without gesture navigation. Basically, the new gesture navigation doesn’t function correctly on third party launchers. Thus, Android Q defaults back to the standard three-button soft key layout on those launchers. Chris Lacy, developer of Action Launcher, says the problem is only temporary, so it won’t be a big deal in the long haul.
- Swiftkey has a new AR Puppets feature. It’s an AR emoji platform similar to Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, and others. However, this one is available to any Android device with Swiftkey installed. Microsoft uses 3D face tracking technology to make it all work as well as neural networks. Touchpal had the feature about a year ago, but Swiftkey is a slightly bigger name in this space.
- Friends, this week we have some great news. Google and Amazon finally got over their differences. YouTube returned to Fire TV devices and Amazon Prime Video finally has Chromecast support. This ends a feud that lasted well over a year. There is still some work to do, but the big stuff is there and we couldn’t be happier.
Five new Android TV apps
Price: Free / Varies
There were five new Android TV apps this last week. They include SYFY, E!, Oxygen, Bravo, and USA Network. These apps work like the regular mobile counterparts. You log in and watch video content. You can use the apps for free if you have an existing satellite, or digital TV subscription. We believe that’s the only way to access these apps. Still, it’s a good selection of content for Android TV owners and the apps are all free to download.
Price: Free to play
TEPPEN is a new free-to-play card game. It’s similar in basic premise to games like Hearthstone. You collect cards, build decks, and duel it out with other players. It has ties into Capcom so you may notice some TEKKEN cameos in the game. The game itself has three game modes, including online PvP. There is a bit of a learning curve. However, it’s not half bad once you really get into it. We also appreciate the story mode so you don’t always have to play online opponents.
Price: Free / $0.99
Ruff is a very simple note taking app. It presents itself as a single sheet of text. You can write whatever you want there and continuously add to it as you go. You can clear the page and begin anew whenever you want. The free version gives you one page along with ads. You can buy the pro version for $0.99 and enable the Stash feature. That lets you kind of save things for later retrieval. It’s a bit of a niche product, but it looks nice and it works as described.
Dr. Mario World
Price: Free to play
Dr. Mario World is Nintendo’s latest mobile game. It’s a remake of the classic Dr. Mario game from 1990. Believe it or not, this game actually feels really good on mobile. The premise is very similar. You move capsules to match up with viruses. You clear the viruses once you match three or more colors. Players have a decent amount of control over how to move capsules around. Additionally, there is online PvP mode along with a friend list for daily gifts. It’s a free to play game with in-app purchases, but after 40 or so levels so far, we didn’t find them bothersome.
Shoelace by Area 120
Google buried Google+ mere months ago and the next Google social network is in the works already. Shoelace is a hyperlocal social network. It joins people in the same area together and recommends a bunch of activities for them to do. The app features hand-picked activities, mechanics to meet up with people easier, and mechanics to make plans such as a chat. Thus, it is nothing like Google+, Facebook, or Twitter. It’s in early access beta right now, so we’ll see how it turns out.