Welcome to the 461st edition of Android Apps Weekly. Here are the main news from last week:
- Google Messages received an update this week. It brings end-to-end encryption for group chats. This is a pretty big deal because end-to-end encryption is a big feature right now. The feature is currently in app beta, so we hope the full rollout will happen sooner rather than later.
- South Dakota bans the use of TikTok to all state employees. In addition, the state is urging other states to follow suit. TikTok has almost always been embroiled in data sharing controversies. The governor of South Dakota has decided that it does not collect data on its employees. Hit the link to learn more.
- Google took another shot at Apple for iMessage this week. Google is once again touting the good things about RCS and is pressuring Apple to adopt the technology once again. We hope Apple is listening, but maybe not. Google compares Apple’s messaging approach to that of the 1990s, which is pretty good. Since we’re on the topic, a new app tries to let Android users actually use iMessage without an iPhone. We’ve tested it, but it still needs a lot of work.
- Spotify and YouTube Music released their year-end hits this week. Spotify’s Wrapped launches on November 30, and you can access it now if you own Spotify. Spotify has also included music personalities on top of its usual stats and insights. YouTube Music Recap launched on November 29th and, aside from some launch drama, includes things like Google Photos integration. Anyone with any of the music services can check it out now. For anyone interested, here are the most popular YouTube videos from 2022 as well.
- Google announced the 2022 Google Play award winners this week. The winners include Dream by Wombo, Apex Legends Mobile, and BeReal. George RR Martin’s book Fire & Blood is a bestseller and “I’m Glad My Mom Died” by Jennette McCurdy is the most popular audiobook. Hit the link to see all the winners and runners-up.
His Majesty in the Shadows
Price: Free to play
The Eminence in Shadow is a new RPG from Crunchyroll. It is based on the anime and light novel of the same name. It’s somewhat related to the anime and light novels, so it’s definitely something anime fans will want to play around with. However, it is presented in such a way that people who have never seen anything can still enjoy it. In terms of mechanics, this is an RPG through and through. You summon characters to level up, and then use them to progress through the game. Combat is simple, with very few buttons. Players are mostly just trying to hit combos to do massive amounts of damage. We wish we could say more, but the game had a few crashes on launch that the developers are still sorting out. Wait about a week and it will be much more stable.
Lalitham Notification Widget
Lalitham Notification Widget is a widget that shows you notifications. This helps, so you don’t miss any notifications, and it also filters notifications. So you only see what you want. You basically create a widget, select the apps you want to see notifications for, and the widget displays those notifications. There are various ways to customize. The developer provides several examples, such as using an entire widget only for YouTube or podcast notifications, so you don’t miss uploads from your favorite creators. Anyway, the app performed well in our tests, and there are several Reddit threads with developer feedback and interaction. It’s niche, but still good.
Talking Tom Time Rush
Price: Free to play
Talking Tom Time Rush is the newest game in the venerable Talking Tom franchise. This one is a runner style game, like Talking Tom Gold Rush. From a mechanical point of view, this one is pretty standard. You run along the road while avoiding obstacles and collecting items. You use items to unlock things to help you progress further. There are also upgrades, vehicles, and clothing for players to discover and unlock. It’s simple, family friendly, and cute. Overall, not a bad choice for casual mobile gamers or their kids.
Pivot: Time Tracker
Pivot: Time Tracker is a habit tracker app. You enter what you spend your time on and then look at the chart to see how you spend your time. From there, you can tweak things to spend more time doing what you want and less time doing what you don’t want. It works by letting you create libraries of the things you do. Then, when you do, you open the app, select an activity, and say how long you did it. The application then generates a report based on your input. You can use it for small things or your whole life, the choice is yours. It’s also free at the time of writing. This app hasn’t been released for long, but it sure holds promise.
King of Fighters Arena
Price: Free to play
The King of Fighters Arena is a fighting game. It’s also one that seems to struggle to define what it wants. It has fight controls except that many fighters are free to play. However, those aren’t the traditional controls that fighting game fans know and love. There are gacha elements with RPG style leveling, so you can’t really be skilled to win all the time. So things like online PvP can feel a little out of hand if you end up in a bad fight. The game isn’t bad. The controls are great, the graphics are attractive, and there’s lots to do. However, we’re not sure if this is a gacha RPG or a fighting game, and the developer is still working on some early game bugs. It has potential, but we don’t know how it will go yet.
If we missed any news or a major Android app or game release, let us know in the comments.
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