Our weekly app picks
It's Appday Sunday and that means we're back with more of our favorites to share. Every week we bring a handful of great apps to the table and share them with everyone. Sometimes they are new apps, sometimes old standards, but every time they are apps we love to use.
Give these a look and then take a minute to tell us all about the apps you are using and love so we can give them a try. We all find some of our favorites right in the comments on these posts!
1. Phil Nickinson — A Good Snowman
I love me a good puzzle app, and A Good Snowman is a good puzzle app. The premise is simple: Build a snowman with three balls. One's small, one's medium and one's large. You grow the snowballs by rolling them over … wait for it … more snow. It's as simple as it is challenging — but there are some trickier elements as well. Mind your surroundings. Don't be afraid to have a seat. Kick something if you must. (These are hints, kids.) But really just enjoy the scenery. This is a very well-done app.
2. Jared DiPane — Relay for Reddit
I'm not a huge Reddit user, because it intimidates me a little bit. There are so many sections, so many threads, so much going on, and I just don't know where to begin really. As part of my daily job, I check Reddit to see if there is any news, any sales that people notice, etc, and Relay is a great Android app that makes it easier.
The Material Design look is visually appealing, and its super easy to navigate. You can bounce between various threads and topics with ease, and commenting is super simple. The push notifications let you know when people reply to you. There is a free version, and a paid one if you want some extra features like no ads. If you use Reddit on your Android phone, check this app out.
3. Russell Holly — Snow Down in Google Santa Tracker
We see something new in Google's silly Santa Tracker app each year, and this time around there's a snowball fight in VR. Snow Down is a simple snowball fight game you can play either in 2D on your phone or in 3D through Google Cardboard. You knock down the three red elves before they knock you down, choosing to either throw single snowballs or a massive pile of them each time.
It's a cute little burst of fun, it's free, and it works with Cardboard. What more could you ask for?
4. Jen Karner — Plague Inc.
Every now and again you might have had the evil thought about destroying the world via a pandemic that wipes out civilization. If you have, then checking out Plague Inc should be a choice for your future. You choose between a variety of diseases, and then use them to wipe out life as we know it on earth. You'll mutate your disease, deciding how it spreads, and what the symptoms are. As you continue to play through you'll unlock perks and unique diseases including Zombies, and the Simian Flu from Planet of the Apes.
You can access and play this game for free, but opening up certain scenarios or diseases does require purchasing the add on content. I've bought all of it at this point, and it's entirely worth it for the additions to gameplay. This is an older game, but I just keep coming back to it.
5. Andrew Martonik — Chrome Remote Desktop
We're all more likely to be traveling around the holidays, and that means you're bound to leave something behind on another computer when you're out of the house. Whether you need to access a file on a home (or work) computer from your phone, tablet, laptop or a friend's computer, Chrome Remote Desktop is the simplest way to go.
There are plenty of other remote desktop solutions out there, but I haven't found one that's easier to use than Chrome Remote Desktop — and this one's completely free as well. Just install the extension on the computer you'll need to access, give it remote desktop privileges, and you can now access that computer from any Android device or other computer with the extension installed.
It's surprisingly useful on a phone, but really shows its power if you load it up on a large tablet. If you have a solid Internet connection on both ends it can be a quite reliable experience, too, though for the most part I use Chrome Remote Desktop to access some local files and get them uploaded online so I can use them on my other machines. No matter your use, Chrome Remote Desktop means you won't be stranded when you're traveling away from home.
6. Ara Wagoner — Google Play Music
You've probably seen dozens of yule log DVDs during your holiday shopping. Heck, there are thousands of different yule logs on YouTube, including Nick Offerman drinking Whisky by the fire. But these videos usually come with either a snooze-inducing playlist of tired holiday anthems or with the nap-inducing sounds of a crackling fire. But no more!
Take back the yule log and blast some kicking jams with Google Play Music and your faithful Google Chromecast. Under Settings on the Google Play Music website (not the app), you'll find the Chromecast Fireplace Visualizer under the experimental Labs. Google notes that these features may change or disappear at any time, but after two years, I'm fairly confident it's staying.
Once you turn on the lab, when you cast music from your devices, instead of album art, you'll get a lovely fireplace to stare at while you listen to your holiday playlist... or listen to The Force Awakens soundtrack for the umpteenth time.