Welcome to the 395th edition of Android Apps Weekly. Here are the big headlines from the last week.
- Netflix is testing its gaming function in Poland. Apparently, Netflix acts as more of a launcher for your games after you download them from Google Play. The company admits that this is all very early days stuff so it’ll almost certainly change over the course of time. Hit the link to learn more.
- The contract tracing APIs from Google and Apple had very little impact on COVID-19. Only 26 states created apps with the API and most people in those states never used the app. The API did work when it was used. Unfortunately, the issue was getting people to use it. There are probably a lot of factors that contributed to low usage numbers. Half the country never got the option, people don’t trust Google or Apple with security, many of the apps had rampant bugs or poor design, and a lot of people simply never took COVID-19 seriously. Those plus many other reasons are the most likely culprits for low usage and therefore, low impact.
- Instagram is removing the popular swipe-up links in favor of link stickers. The change takes place on August 30th for most folks. After that, you won’t be able to swipe up on Instagram Stories to follow links anymore. There will be a sticker option available that people can click. Clicking the link sticker takes you to the website. The advantage is the ability to react and interact with Stories even with link stickers, something they could not do with swipe links.
- Now that Wear OS is getting real attention, developers are finally getting updates pushed through. For instance, Spotify now finally allows offline playback from the Wear OS version of the app. It’s nothing too amazing. You simply need a smartwatch with Wear OS 2.0 or newer to get the update. After that, pick some music, get it ready for offline use, and then use it that way.
- Google Play is overhauling reviews on the Google Play Store. The new overhaul limits what reviews you see to the region where you live. For instance, people in the US will only see reviews from other people in the US. There are a ton of advantages to this. For instance, there are a lot of apps that are very popular in India, but don’t work well in the US. However, they are still available in the US for some reason. Those apps will have lower ratings for US users since they don’t work as well in the US. It’ll also show reviews based on device type (tablets versus phones), and other factors as well. Hit the link to learn more.
Northgard is a mobile port for the critically acclaimed strategy game on PC. It retains all of the functionality but with a mobile UI. Players start the game by establishing a colony on Northgard. From there, they defend it from various bad guys, make friends with other groups, and try to survive things like super harsh winters. There is definitely a survival element to this as well as a strategy element. The game also includes 11 campaign chapters, cloud saving, and achievements. It runs for $8.99, but it’s on sale for $5.99 as of the time of this writing. It has no microtransactions at all.
Galaxy Watch4 Plugin
Galaxy Watch4 Plugin is a new app from Samsung. It allows users to manage the Galaxy Watch 4 series of devices through the Galaxy Wearables app. The plugin seems to work pretty well, although I personally don’t own a Galaxy Watch 4 so I couldn’t test out any features. The main complaint from users is that some features are only available on Samsung phones. It’s an understandable complaint that we hope Samsung figures out sooner rather than later.
Mega Man X Dive
Price: Free to play
Mega Man X Dive is a new gacha that centers around the Mega Man universe. Players collect weapons along with characters and upgrade as they progress. There are a bunch of weapons to unlock with more on the way. The game play is also reminiscent of Mega Man. You can dash, shoot, jump, and all of that during combat. Even PvP is real-time as you battle it out. The game is far from perfect. Players have experienced crashes and some laggy gameplay. It definitely needs some polish, but the premise is actually pretty fun. The only long-term issue I can see is the PvP, which becomes pay-to-win after a while.
DraStic has been the go-to Nintendo DS emulator for a long, long time. MelonDS will hopefully add some competition. It’s a Nintendo DS emulator currently in early development. The app includes the basics like save and load states, a light and dark theme, and fast forward support. It also supports hardware controllers and customizable software controller layouts as well. Again, it’s in early development so you can definitely expect some bugs. We’ll see how well it works when it fully launches.
MARVEL Future Revoluion
Price: Free to play
MARVEL Future Revolution is the latest mobile RPG set in the MARVEL universe. This one boasts an open world map, action RPG mechanics, and, in true MMORPG fashion, a near endless list of quests and missions to play. Players create their own MARVEL superhero and play in a world with other MARVEL superheroes. To be honest, it’s a refreshing break from the typical MARVEL mobile RPG. The PvP is, predictably, pay to win as accessing similar gear through grinding simply takes too long. Otherwise, it’s a solid MMORPG with a different feel from most others in the genre.
If we missed any big Android app or game releases, tell us about it in the comments or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us about it.
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