These are the apps we're loving this week
Apps — we all love them, and Google Play has a ton of them. Some are good, some are great, and some are mind-bogglingly terribad. Some are even Flappy. See what we're digging this week, and give them a try. There's a good chance you'll like at least a few, and apps need love, too. Think of the apps!
As always, be sure to tell us about any great apps we need to be using. The best part of our jobs is playing with apps — especially great ones.
Phil Nickinson — Google Admin
I've finally gotten a little more serious about using my Google Apps account, exploring features and setting up email groups and the like, and Google's got a handy mobile tool for managing things. With the Google Admin app you can manage users and groups from your phone or tablet. You also can see the full Audit Logs (for a detailed look at everything that's been going on in the back end of your account). There's also one-touch access to Google Apps Support, and a notifications section for new features to GApps. If you're managing a Google Apps account for business or your family, this one's worth taking a look at.
Download: Google Admin (Free)
Russell Holly — MyRoll - Smart Photo Gallery
The constant struggle between whatever stock Gallery app is included on the phone I am using this week and the Google+ Photos app is more than a little frustrating, especially since neither of them do everything I want. MyRoll is a simple, clean alternative that works well and looks amazing on tablets and phones alike. The app does a reasonably good job organizing groups of photos into "Moments" and gives you some basic edit controls over how the photos are organized in these groups. Most importantly, the app works with multiple folders on your device and across cloud storage systems on Facebook and Google+, so it grabs almost all of your photos for you to play with.
Download: MyRoll - Smart Photo Gallery (Free)
Andrew Martonik — Vivino Wine Scanner
Vivino is basically a barcode scanner, but with wine bottle labels. You take a picture of a label and Vivino will attempt to match it — if it can't match automatically you can search for previously-entered labels or have them match it manually. Once identified, you create an entry tied to your account with information on the wine, your own rating and ratings from other Vivino users who have drank the wine before.
Once your wine history starts to fill up you can search through your entries or share them with your friends through the app. It even supports single sign-on from Facebook or Google to help you get your account started quickly.
It's a pretty awesome way to keep up with your wine adventures (at least that's what I like to call them) and remember which ones you did and didn't like for the next time you're looking to buy a bottle. Best of all the basic service is completely free — a pro version will only set you back $4.99 as well.
Ara Wagoner — Google Play Music
Despite all the hub-bub recently about the de-authorization limit (which will hopefully be replaced soon), Google Play Music remains my daily music driver. Thanks to Tasker, I wake up to Google Play Music. I listen in the shower, I listen in the car, and I listen while working. I listen a LOT while working. Currently working my way through some playlists comprised of music from the Disney Parks because my withdrawals are flaring up again, and the soothing area loops keep me calm and keep me writing. I'm still a little antsy about the de-auth limit, but I haven't hit my limit of 10 devices yet, so I'm not gonna worry until I start getting review devices that I'll be adding to my account for two weeks and then not being able to remove for four months...
Download: Google Play Music (Free, 9.99 a month for All Access)
Alex Dobie — Fragment
Released for Android this week, Fragment puts a new spin on photography apps, allowing you to create beautifully customised, geometric artworks from your photos. Start off by picking an image, then choose from the selection of patterns to distort your image — and pan around, rotate or shuffle. Once you're done arranging your kaleidoscopic creation, you can tweak brightness, hues, saturation and other properties before exporting. If you're looking to turn some of your favorite photos into wallpaper-worthy images, Fragment is definitely worth a look, and for $1.99 you can do so without breaking the bank.
Download: Fragment ($1.99. (£1.20 in the UK)
Richard Devine - Lampshade.io for Hue and Lifx
I just – finally – got my first set of Philips Hue light bulbs and so the first thing I did was jump into the Google Play Store and see what apps are out there besides the official one. One of the first that caught my eye was Lampshade.io (also compatible with Lifx bulbs) because it looked a lot less fussy to use than the official app.
And that's exactly what it's like in practice. You've got a selection of "moods" on tap that you can enable and just let the bulbs cycle through the colors involved or you can manually control your bulbs colors just as you can with the official app, and you can also set up and control groups. But this feels a lot more like an Android app to use, it's simple, well laid out and even in the free version gives you enough basic functionality to make it worth having. If you upgrade to the premium version you'll also get support for alarms, NFC tags to trigger moods and an automation plugin that works with Tasker, Locale and Llama.
Download: Lampshade.io (Free)
Jerry Hildenbrand — Duet
Get your headphones out, kick back and chill with this great game. Two "vessels" are synchronized together on a circular plane. Tapping on the left of your screen rotates them counter-clockwise, and tapping on the right rotates them clockwise. You'll need to be tapping and rotating with a bit of skill to maneuver around the obstacles as you move forward. The free version has ads between levels every once in a while, but a $3.00 in-app purchase removes them, and unlocks challenges and an endless mode.
Simple controls, wonderful design, Google Game services (including game save syncing!) and an incredible soundtrack make Duet one of those games you'll not want to put down.
Download: Duet (Free, in-app purchase)