Welcome to the 260th edition of Android Apps Weekly! Here are the big headlines from the last week:
- Google may be working on a Google Play loyalty program. A teardown by 9to5Google showed us some of the details. There is code that suggests that people earn points for buying stuff on Google Play or spending money in general. Those points are reportedly usable for even more apps, games, TV, books, and other stuff on Google Play. It’s definitely a neat idea. It would also get people back into the Play Store to download more stuff. However, this is just code in the Play Store. There is no official announcement or anything like that.
- How about some good news about Fortnite for once? Epic Games achieved 15 million player installs in the first 21 days since its launch. That’s fairly impressive for a game that requires such an extensive install process. They also posted a blog about the various troubles for developing the game. The biggest is Android fragmentation and hardware differences. Various phones are on various versions of Android. Plus, many phones have different hardware. Optimizing for all of these things is apparently very tough. Check out the link to learn more!
- Google’s new podcast platform, Shortwave, saw some leaks this week. It’s mostly early concept materials. However, they do shine a little light on the platform’s purpose early on. Initially, Shortwave trimmed down long podcasts for easier digestions. Some podcasts go for hours, after all. However, Google issued a statement declaring those materials outdated. Thus, we can be reasonably sure that Google isn’t going in that direction anymore with this app. By the by, check out the Android Authority podcast! We promise, it’s still good!
- Huawei got into some trouble with 3DMark this week. Huawei was apparently cheating the benchmark tests. Apps like 3DMark was getting more system resources and less thermal throttling than a normal app would. That’s a big no-no because it doesn’t accurately demonstrate the phone’s real capabilities. Huawei said that its artificial intelligence system notices benchmark apps and lets the phone run free so it can demonstrate its prowess. For now, 3DMark unlisted affected Huawei phones from the leaderboards barring further conversation.
- Google Chrome celebrated its ten year anniversary this last week. They marked the occasion with two things. The first is a big update to Google Chrome. Version 69 includes a more unified UI with other platforms along with a more powerful omnibox and a few other features. You can hit the above link for the full details. Additionally, the team is looking for new things to fix. Chrome’s director of engineering (Parisa Tabriz) suggested that the team tackle how nasty URLs can be. There are literally no details on this aside from a short talk about it on Wired. However, that could be a very interesting endeavor.
Blog Compass is something a little different. It’s a blogger assistant app of sorts by Google. It shows you various topics to write about, lets you view stats on your website, and even some management stuff like comment approvals. It also gives you tips on making your blog better. Something like this might be helpful to an aspiring blogger. However, a lot of its topic choices have great searches but extremely high competition. It takes more than a few good ideas but at least the app delivers some of those good ideas. It’s completely free, but it’s also only available in India right now.
Mowy Lawn is a cute little game about mowing lawns. The game has a simple premise. You mow a lawn in an environment. You must mow all of the grass without running into obstacles or falling off of the map. The levels obviously get harder as you go. The game features dozens of levels, various mowers to unlock, upgrades, and more. It’s a twitch game so there isn’t a ton of strategy involved. Still, it’s a decent little time waster that is also kid friendly. It’s free to download and check out if this seems like it’s up your alley.
Tor Browser for Android is an official Tor Browser launch. It’s also in alpha and that’s before beta. Thus, you can expect all kinds of bugs with this one for right now. The app integrates with Orbot. That’s how the browser connects to the Tor network. Some of the features of Tor Browser include tracker blocking, multi-layer encryption, and, of course, all of the goodies that come with being connected to the Tor network. Again, this is a very early build. Thus, we expect updates and improvements over time. For now, and probably permanently, the app is entirely free with no in-app purchases.
New Star Manager is a new soccer simulation game. Players control New Star FC, a fictional soccer club. They must manage it back to success. That includes playing games, improving the facilities, managing player training, and even player emotion. The graphics are fairly decent and the controls are simple enough. This is also one of the few soccer games that actually lets you play soccer. There is a freemium element to the game. It bottlenecks your players’ growth a little bit unless you spend real money. However, like all freemium games, grinding and patience can help you get around that stuff.
Firefox Rocket is Mozilla’s latest browser. This one boasts a very light (3MB) footprint. Additionally, the app boasts a native ad blocker, privacy browsing, tracker protection, and some neat little goodies like grabbing screenshots of an entire website page. It also saves phone space with quick cache clearing features and you can store your cache on your external SD card if you want to. This is only available in Indonesia according to Mozilla. Thus, we couldn’t test it ourselves. However, we can’t imagine Mozilla messing up a browser bad enough for us not to talk about it. Those of you in Indonesia can try it out at the link above.
If we missed any great new Android apps or games news, launches, or updates, tell us about them in the comments!