5 Android apps you shouldn’t miss this week

Screenshot of AAW Descendants

Welcome to the 444th edition of Android Apps Weekly. Here are the big headlines from last week:

  • Pixel-only Game Dashboard feature may be coming to more phones soon. Google hinted at such a development in the Google System Update changelog. This will give owners of other phones the ability to change their performance mode manually. We don’t know which devices or when that will happen, but Google says select devices running Android T, so we’ll wait and see what happens.
  • Google has started merging Google Meet and Duo. The company plans to bring Meet features to Duo and eventually remove Meet. The transition started this week by changing the name of Google Duo to Google Meet, proving once and for all that Google intends to confuse people forever. Hit the link to learn more.
  • Logitech intends to launch a handheld cloud gaming device sometime in 2022. We don’t usually cover hardware in our weekly roundup of apps, but this device is designed specifically for Nvidia GeForce Now and Xbox Cloud Gaming. It might also support Stadia and Amazon’s Luna too. Not much about the product at this time other than its existence being confirmed. Keep an eye out for more details later.
  • It looks like Android 13 will be coming sometime in September. A new post from Google strongly suggests that such an event will take place. The security note for Android says that the next release should be coming September 1, 2022. The thing is, all the betas are out, so the only thing left is the final release until Google releases an unscheduled beta. In any case, hit the link to learn more.
  • The latest update for Windows 11 brings better Android compatibility. The update is rolling out to beta testers now. It seems to include better support for input devices. For example, joystick devices can be mapped to WASD for mobile gamers. This is a welcome addition since many emulators already support input devices like this. We look forward to much more from Microsoft.
  • Google Play is taking steps to clean itself up. Some of the new changes include banning copycat apps and games, and banning apps that use certain types of in-app advertising. We don’t know how strict the copycat thing is. We reckon that would be tight enough to prevent something like the 800 Flappy Bird clones we saw years ago, but still allow for many games in the same genre with similar mechanics. Click on the link to see the types of ads that Google Play wants to ban.

Descenders is a downhill freeriding game. You play a character on a bicycle as you ride down the hill as fast as you can. This feature of the game generates levels randomly, so it will take you a bit of a guesswork. There are various jumps, slopes and other obstacles for you to jump on and overcome. Even the controls are detailed enough to give you as much control over your bike and rider as possible. However, there are some caveats. Controller support is a bit unstable at the time of this writing. Also, the game could use some optimization and maybe some quality sliders as well to perform better on mid-range and low-end devices. It’s a bit pricey, but you get the whole game with one purchase without any ads or in-app purchases to break things.

Birthday Reminder & Calendar

Price: Free / $4.49

Screenshot of Birthday Reminder and Calendar

Birthday Reminder & Calendar is a pretty good app, but it works pretty well. This is a special reminder app for birthdays. This works well for people who easily forget birthdays or those who know a lot of people. There’s a nice list of features, including backup, contacts, and a calendar function to help you keep track of everyone’s birthdays. This app also works offline and can export to a CSV file if needed. As we said, this is a pretty niche app. You get all the features in the free version. The premium version, unlocked with an in-app purchase, basically removes the ads.

Kinja Run

Price: Free to play

Kinja Run 2022 screenshot

Kinja Run is a runner game. It plays like many other endless runners. You pass levels while collecting coins, defeating bad guys and avoiding obstacles. It also features RPG style progression and some roguelike elements. Players also gain abilities to help them deal with things. The level progresses in difficulty. It actually gets really hard the later you go, and the challenge is what the fun is. In terms of runners, this one seems to cover a lot of bases, and is a lot of fun to play.

Microsoft Outlook Lite

Price: Free

Microsoft Office Lite 2022 screenshot

Microsoft Office Lite is exactly what you think. This is a lighter version of Microsoft Office designed for low-end devices so you can continue using Outlook. You already know how Outlook works. This is an e-mail client. You receive, read, and respond to email. There is a built-in calendar function to organize your days. It even includes things like suggested replies, organizational features, and spam email detection. That’s not a bad list of features considering the app is only 5MB. To be fair, a lot of things happen in the cloud and not directly on your device. Unfortunately, this app isn’t available everywhere, so don’t be surprised if you find that you can’t download it from the Play Store.

Total War: Medieval II

Price: $14.99

Total War: Medieval II is the latest port of the classic Total War series. For the uninitiated, this is a strategy game. It takes place in medieval times with 17 playable factions. Players engage in real-time battles, build their empire, and try to defeat all their enemies. Or, you can resort to diplomatic routes, trade agreements and alliances to give yourself an edge. This is a real no joke strategy game with no in-app purchases or ads. This way, you can play however you want and as often as you want. The game also has a list of compatible phones. You can find it on the Play Store page linked below. It’s a bit pricey, but you get the full game here and not part of it.

If we missed any major Android app or game release, let us know in the comments.
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