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. Russell Holly — TransPlan
I often find puzzle games on mobile devices to be kind of tedious. It's not easy to make a decent puzzle game touch only, and controls get a little messy on smaller screens. You basically have to build the puzzles around the control mechanisms you want people to use, and that's what it feels like happened with TransPlan.
It's a simple puzzle game with even simpler animations, and I am absolutely hooked right now. If simple physics puzzle games are your thing, you need to check this out.
2. Alex Dobie — Skyward
The most addictive mobile games are often the most simple, and Skyward, by developer Ketchapp, definitely falls into that category. With a visual style inspired by M.C. Escher (and, let's be honest, popular puzzler Monument Valley), Skyward challenges you to tap your way through a constantly changing isometric labyrinth. The basic game is free and ad-supported, though the ads can be disabled through an in-app purchase. And it's also possible to track your progress against friends through Google Play Games.
Skyward is simple to learn but hard to master, and the "hardcore" mode is there to provide an even tougher challenge once you've got to grips with the basics.
3. Jared DiPane — Weather Timeline
I can't tell you how many times I have attempted to make plans, not thinking about how the weather would affect them, and have to change them because of it. Sure, Google Now provides weather updates, but I never think to check it, and I am not a huge fan of its widget. Weather Timeline is a weather app that I stumbled across that shows the upcoming forecast is a super clean way.
My favorite part of the app is the widgets, and the amazing selection of them. There are tons of different widgets, ranging from the current weather to a weekly forecast, and everything in-between. For just $0.99, you can't really go wrong giving it a shot, and seeing just how nice it is.
4. Andrew Martonik — Google Opinion Rewards
For those of us who spend a lot of time on Android devices and like to buy apps, Google Play Store credit is about as good as cash. And with the Opinion Rewards app, Google gives you a chance to increase your Play Store balance just by answering surveys now and then.
It's a simple setup — you install the Opinion Rewards app and agree to take brief surveys about all sorts of things, and Google then gives groups wanting to survey a wide swath of people to submit their surveys to the system. You may be answering a survey from an individual, a university or a business, and many times the survey will disclose who's asking the questions and what they're for.
Not all surveys yield Play Store credit, but most do and you can expect to get between $0.10 and $0.75 per survey — not bad for a few seconds of your time. You'll be notified when new surveys are available, and credit goes right into your account to be used instantly. It isn't going to fuel all of your app buying habits, but after a few surveys you'll likely be able to pick up a $0.99 app without busting out the credit card.
5. Phil Nickinson — Android Pay
Never mind new functionality. Android Pay earns a new mention on our weekly app picks because the app is beautiful and everything you'd expect from the new version of Google's contactless payments system. Adding cards is a breeze (as is importing cards from Google Wallet.) Loyalty programs finally look good and are front and center, no longer buried behind some other section. And you have proper control over what notifies you as you go about your day. Well done, Google. Well done.
6. Jerry Hildenbrand — Seashine
Seashine is a great immersive game that plays well on both budget phones and high-end models alike. You're a jellyfish, on the ocean floor (a fine place for a jellyfish to be) deep in the dark abyss. But you have an eerie jellyfish inner light that illuminates your close surroundings. What you need to do is move around and explore the various caves and terrain to search out more light to absorb. That's kind of important, because when your light extinguishes, you die. There is no exit, nor any princess to find — you just move about and enjoy the stunning visuals in an environment that's different every time you play.
The soundtrack is beautiful and spooky, and the sound effects blend well with it. Playing this one in the dark with headphones is recommended for maximum effect. Until some big hulking monster comes along and scares the living piss out of you, that is.
Seashine uses stars as currency to buy upgrades like speed boosts or limited immunity. You can find these while playing, or buy them for a couple bucks per pack. You can also watch advertisement videos to earn free stars at three per view. I cheated and bought a few hundred, but the game is completely playable (and fun) without using any stars.