Welcome to the 497th edition of Android Apps Weekly. Here are the big headlines this week:
- Google had a couple of AI announcements this week. The first is a new feature where AI will summarize longer articles into a summary that is quicker for the reader to understand directly in Search. The other is from an anonymous source that says Google is working on a new AI, dubbed Gemini. Rumor is that it’ll be available for developers and potentially consumers later this year. Hit the links to learn more.
- Google may kill off Assistant on older Wear OS smartwatches. The rumor says that Assistant would be turned off on devices running Wear OS 2 and older. It’s a curious move considering that Wear OS 2 devices launched just a few short years ago, and even more curious since watches that old wouldn’t expect to get many more updates anyway.
- WhatsApp announced a couple of new features this week. The first is AI-generated stickers, where users can create a sticker by describing one. That’s right in line with the swatch of AI-generated art that’s come out this year. The second new feature is the ability to schedule group calls. It’s an extension of an already existing feature, but it’s nice to have options.
- X CEO Lina Yaccarino opened up to CNBC this week about the name change from Twitter to X. According to her, it’s because the platform intends to add things like video calls, peer-to-peer payments, and other new features that would be very un-Twitter-like, hence the name change. You can click the link to learn more.
- YouTube is testing yet another anti-adblocker. This one has a countdown timer. YouTube has spent a good percentage of 2023 getting users to watch ads on YouTube. This new countdown timer would give the user 30-60 seconds of warning before stopping the video until the adblocker is turned off or until the user signs up for YouTube Premium. It’s an understandable maneuver, but not a desirable one.
Price: Free to play
Makeover Master is a home design game mixed with a match-three game. The core premise is to solve puzzles to unlock various decorations. You then use the decorations to build up your house. Players can design their own houses in other ways as well. There’s a story attached to the game as well, but it’s not terribly deep. It serves mostly to carry the player through the game rather than tell a wonderful story. There are boosts and some other things that you can purchase with real money. However, if you’re patient and grind it out, you can play this game for free.
Reflectr AI Journal & Notebook
Price: Free / $0.99 per month / $9.99 per year
Reflectr is a journaling app and a note-taking app. It works mostly as you would expect. You open the app, input your thoughts, and store them for later. The app comes with AI features that help rewrite and reorganize your thoughts in a different way. Whether or not that’s helpful is highly dependent on preference. You also get modern journal app niceties like a mood calendar, recaps, and a tag system to organize your thoughts better. The developers added AI to everything, but it’s really not all that much smarter than a standard journaling app. It’s not bad, but it’s not incredible either.
God of Idle: Merge Master
Price: Free to play
God of Idle: Merge Master bills itself as a fast and fun idle merge game. It’s a 2D game where your hero runs forward and defeats enemies. You unlock upgrades as that happens, and your hero continues ad infinitum. The merge mechanics come in while upgrading weapons. You’ll earn basic equipment as you play. From there, you merge similar items together to create new, more powerful items. It’s a simple game with the action only taking place on the top third of your phone screen. The rest is dedicated to upgrades and merging weapons. It’s not bad as far as idle games go, and it’s a nice way to spend few minutes at a time.
Sync for Lemmy
Price: Free / $1.49
Sync for Lemmy is the latest app from the developers of Sync for Reddit. Lemmy, for the uninitiated, is essentially Mastodon meets Reddit. It operates similarly to Reddit, but has servers like you’d find on Mastodon. This app lets you use Lemmy. How good Lemmy is would warrant a completely separate discussion, but the app functions quite well. That’s to be expected since Sync for Reddit also worked quite well. It employes a Material You design and includes multi-account support, an AMOLED dark theme, and an image viewer that supports most types of images on Lemmy. Whether or not Lemmy is good is up to you, but if the app is quite good.
Arena Breakout is a survival looter shooter. It’s developed by Tencent and you may know them as the mobile developers for Tower of Fantasy and PUBG Mobile. This game is honestly pretty good. You drop into an open world where you collect gear and do battle with various opponents. Combat is similar to PUBG Mobile, Call of Duty: Mobile, and similar games. Damage that is dealt to you is body-part dependent and can affect your gameplay if you get too injured in a specific region of the body. There are two game modes, each with its quirks. The game incentivizes team play, so you’ll want to try it out with friends. This is one of those mobile games where the developers thought about the little details, and it makes for a pretty good experience overall.
If we missed any big Android apps or games news or releases, tell us about it in the comments.