Welcome to the 279th edition of Android Apps Weekly! Here are the big headlines from the last week:
- We have some rare Apple app news this week. A FaceTime bug lets users hear what people are saying before they pick up the call. You simply add yourself to the FaceTime call and it auto-answers the other person’s call. It affects anyone on iOS 12.1 or later. This is a rare privacy gaff by Apple and the company took the app offline while it fixed the issue. There shouldn’t be any long term ramifications, but it’s an interesting development.
- Google Chrome is doing more in the fight against phishing schemes. It now warns users if a link is a look-a-like masquerading as a normal website. This is a great idea for security because disguising links to look like legit websites is one of the most popular ways to phish. It likely won’t work on more obscure or less popular websites. However, it hits the big sites and that’s really what matters most.
- Google+ got one foot out of the door this week. Starting next week, Google+ will shut down new profile creation and begin removing Google+ comments from Blogger. From there, Google+ sign-in buttons will stop working. Finally, it will shut down proper in April of this year. None of this is really new information. The big update here is that the process of shutting the site down has officially commenced.
- Nintendo delayed Mario Kart Tour for mobile until Summer 2019. The original launch date was March 2019. The company announced the delay during its Q3 2018 earnings report. Nintendo says they want to improve the game quality and expand the content offerings before setting it live. Thus, it hopes to avoid the same problems as Super Mario Run (probably). Hit the link for more details.
- Facebook and Google saw some trouble this week. Facebook was paying teens to sell their privacy to Facebook. Facebook was wide open about this and it wasn’t really a secret. However, Facebook’s research app was pulled from the Apple App Store anyway. As it turns out, Google was using a backdoor on Apple devices to collect data as well. In addition, Apple blocked Google’s internal (non-consumer) apps from iOS. It’s kind of funny that both of these news pieces hit within a day of one another. In any case, hit the links to learn more about each one.
Angry Birds Dream Blast
Angry Birds Dream Blast isn’t a normal Angry Birds game. It’s a match-three game and the second one in the Angry Birds series. Players pop bubbles to score points and use power-ups to make popping bubbles easier. The more bubbles of the same type you combine, the higher the score when you pop them. The game also boasts hundreds of levels, a kid-friendly atmosphere, and a consistent supply of new levels. It gets a little harder the longer you play, but it’s a match-three game so you all know how these work. It’s a freemium game as usual. It’s not a bad play aside from the occasional bug. We’re also not fans of watching ad videos for additional moves given how often the game asks you to use them in later levels.
Pollination Network is the largest network of beekeepers and growers. Yeah, this one is obviously not for everyone. The app shows you the location of growers that need the help of bees and beekeepers can respond to the postings as necessary. You can list things like your crop type, number of bees needed, and how much you want to pay. Beekeepers then choose the jobs from there. The app is brand new and has the occasional bug. We also couldn’t test it out all that much because we don’t grow crops or keep bees. However, we’re sure this is better than nothing. It’s also kind of neat that apps like this exist.
The Escapists 2: Pocket Breakout
The Escapists 2: Pocket Breakout is the sequel to Escapists, a popular sandbox escape game. It carries over a lot of elements from the first game. You find increasingly clever ways of breaking out of prison. However, this game adds more scenarios, bigger prisons, more stuff to do, and more ways to break out. This one also includes local multiplayer and more game mechanics overall. The $6.99 price tag may seem high. However, this is a top notch release and an early candidate for game of the year. Yes, it’s that good, at least if you like simulation games, escape games, or breaking out of prisons.
Web SMS is basically what the name says. It’s a method to see, send, and receive text messages over the web. It works with a PC or a smart TV. It works like most text-to-PC clients. You install the app on your phone, go to a website on your computer, and scan the QR code. It’s very similar to how Android Messages works, except you can use this with almost any SMS provider. The phone is in early beta so it obviously still has bugs to work out. It’s also free for right now, but that may change too eventually. This one could be pretty neat when it gets a full release.
Another Eden is an interesting new mobile RPG. It very obviously has roots in Chrono Trigger and it’s because the main writer and music composer are from the original Chrono Trigger. Players embark on a story with time travel and save the future, just like Chrono Trigger. Even elements of the opening cut scenes share some Chrono Trigger elements. In any case, at its core, this is a gacha mobile RPG. You collect characters, complete the story, and enjoy the extensive voice over work. The combat and navigation around the game world are more similar to traditional JRPGs than the usual mission-style navigation of most mobile RPGs. This one might actually be really good, but we’ll have to test it more to know for sure.