Welcome to the 393rd edition of Android Apps Weekly. Here are the big headlines from the last week:
- The battle between Epic Games (Fortnite) and Google raged on this week. New court documents revealed that Google told Epic Games not to do the whole sideloading thing. Google went on to say that sideloading was a bad experiencing, literally using the words “awful” and “abysmal”. Google also floated the idea of buying part of Epic Games. This, of course, doesn’t make Google look great in the courtroom. Hit the link to view more details.
- Google also wants you to leave Hangouts. Hangouts now encourages people to leave Hangouts and migrate over to Google’s new Chat app. Additionally, Hangouts is losing some functionality starting on August 16th and will shut down in late 2021. The new app is okay, but it needs improvements to hit that sweet spot that Hangouts hit with so many people for so many years.
- The Google Play Store saw a surge of app removals in May of 2021. There’s a good chance that new policy changes helped with that. Between January and April, over 58,000 apps were removed from the Play Store. However, May alone saw a decrease of 65,000. On the plus side, Google Play had higher revenue and download numbers from this time last year. Hit the link to learn more.
- The Senate is stepping into the Google Play Store and Apple App Store controversy that has dominated 2021 so far. The Open App Markets Act would allow developers to use their own payment functions, force mobile devices to allow sideloading, and prevent Google and Apple from abusing their positions in favor of their own apps. The act hasn’t passed yet and was only introduced this week.
- Bluestacks is finally updating itself to allow for newer apps and games to be used. Previously, it had support for up through Android 7.0 Nougat. Now it works with apps and games up through Android 9.0. It opens Bluestacks to a host of new games, including some pretty popular ones like Genshin Impact. Hit the link for more details.
Old Friends Dog Game
Price: Free to play
Old Friends Dog Game is a nice overall game. It’s a simulator where you create a dog sanctuary. From there, you nurture and care for senior dogs who otherwise can’t find homes. Players bake treats, play with the dogs, and more. There are even story episodes that tug at the heartstrings a bit and even the name derives from a famous old dog sanctuary. The game has bugs, but it’s so cute and lovey dovey that nobody cares. It’s also a great game for kids.
Price: Free / $2.49
Joe Hindy / Android Authority
Uncomplicated Launcher is a simple, minimized launcher. It aims at senior citizens with features like pill reminders and an SOS button. The functionality is actually pretty decent. You can do basic phone stuff like alarms, reminders, messages, phone calls, etc very easily and quickly with the push of a few buttons. However, the UI on this app is, frankly, pretty bad. The function part is fine, but the big, gray, 3D buttons look like something ripped right out of Windows 98. Just because people get old doesn’t mean they don’t like looking at pretty UIs. Otherwise, this is a neat launcher with some good ideas.
Mech Arena: Robot Showdown
Price: Free to play
Mech Arena: Robot Showdown is a PvP oriented mech shooter that launched worldwide this week. The game boasts levels aimed at quick and decisive PvP combat, various mechs that support various types of game play, and reasonably simple controls. Mech Arena revolves around its 5v5 PvP slayer style game mode. Players unlock skins to customize their mechs as well. There is also controller support although it’s not perfect and we hope they give you the ability to remap controls sooner rather than later. The only other gripe is the ability to buy top level mechs with real money so there is an element of pay to win with this one.
Price: Free / $4.99-$6.99 per month
Joe Hindy / Android Authority
Magnolia is a new TV app from Discovery. It features and houses all of the content you can find on the Magnolia Channel. The app includes shows, workshops, and you can even buy physical products from the app. It’s definitely something a little different from your typical TV streaming service. That said, the app is not without its issues. There isn’t Chromecast support at launch, a bit no-no these days. Additionally, the UI could use some optimization. Some things just take more clicks to get to than you would expect, like the search function. However, the developers are probably busy fixing those bugs now so it’s a temporary issue.
Tales of the Mirror
Tales of the Mirror is a visual novel. As such, the point is to experience the story more than it so actually do game mechanics. Players solve mysteries to progress the game. It takes place in the mid to late Ming Dynasty. You also get some stuff like a mirror that shows you when people lie to you. Each mystery has a specified number of days to finish and so that’s the mechanic that adds tension to the game. There are in-app purchases in this game, but they were temporarily disabled. As far as we know, the in-app purchases are cosmetic things only.
If we missed any big Android apps or games updates, news, or releases, tell us about them in the comments!
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