Apps of the Week

We're a day late but worth the wait! Welcome to the latest iteration of our Android Apps of the Week, where we showcase apps that we find interesting. Have an app you think we should take a look at? Feel free to e-mail us and we'll give it a gander.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, onto the show!

Kevin O'Quinn: Jelly Defense ($2.99)

Jelly Defense

 

Jelly Defense is a tower defense style game with a fun twist.  The premise is simple (and the same as any other tower defense game), stop the Jelly's from getting to your gems.  You have a choice of towers, some of which are stronger than others.  Of course they can all be upgraded also, increasing their strength and attack range.  The game has beautiful graphics and a quirky soundtrack, which makes it a blast to play.

There's one small twist with the gameplay.  The Jelly's come in two colors, red and blue, and your towers are also red and blue.  I think you get where I'm going, the tower will only attack Jelly's that are the same color, so that nice area affect tower you just built will be useless against the blue Jelly's.  Keep that in mind when you play and you'll be just fine.  This is a great addition to the tower defense genre of games. [Download from Google Play]

Sean Brunett: BeyondPod (Free, $6.99 premium)

BeyondPod

I’m a huge podcast listener, so I rely heavily on podcast apps on Android. I first used Google Listen, which quickly got replaced by Doggcatcher. Then I moved on to Pocket Casts, which I used for a while until I began experiencing problems on a couple of my devices. That’s when I decided to try BeyondPod, which I had heard a lot about but never tried.

Needless to say, it is my main podcast manager now, and will be for the foreseeable future. While the UI is not as elegant in my opinion as Pocket Casts, it still looks great and the functionality is solid. You can add feeds via searching or RSS, set auto-download options and a lot more. It has a lot of customizable elements which can really allow you to set schedules and make it operate however you want. If you’re into podcasts, I heavily recommend BeyondPod Podcast Manager. The lite version is free, but it also gives you a seven-day trial of the pro version, which costs $6.99 with an unlock key. There is also a dedicated tablet version which takes advantage of the screen real estate. [Download BeyondPod from Google Play: Phone | Tablet | Unlock key]

Alex Dobie: Bamboo Forrest Live Wallpaper (free, 99-cent donation)

Bamboo Live Wallpaper

App developer Kittehface has a reputation for producing some of the best-looking 3D live wallpapers available for Android, and their Bamboo Forest live wallpaper is a great fit for the just-released Galaxy S III. As the name suggests, the app populates your home screens with a serene forest of bamboo shoots, with added eye candy in the form of illuminated effects and orbs of light. The free version gets you the basic green forest, while the paid version delivers customization options, including the ability to tweak colors and visual effects.

The Bamboo Forest Live Wallpaper from Kittehface is available on Google Play for devices running Android 2.1 and above. [Download from Google Play: Free | Donation]

Jerry Hildenbrand: Battle.net Authenticator (Free)

Bettle.net Authenticator

With Blizzard releasing the RMAH (Real Money Auction House) for Diablo III in the very near future (we hope), Battle.Net account security is going to be important to me. I dont have time to run Whimsy over and over, but I want the cool legendaries and rares too, so I figure I'll spend a few bucks and buy some. I also am pretty certain that any player who registers for the RMAH is going to be on some crazy offshore hacker's list of accounts they want to try and get into, So even though I'm only talking tens of dollars I'm positive that I'm going to be a target. Besides a helmet of sturdy tin-foil, the next best thing a player can have is a Battle.Net account authenticator. It's a free app from Blizzard that ties to your Battle.Net account and forces authentication any (and every) time you want to connect to BNet services. Even if some crazed gold farmer gets my password, he won't be logging into my account without my Android phone in his hands, and my precious Helm of Command and crafting supplies will stay safe! It runs on any version of Android, is easy to set-up and use, and is free. Check it out! [Download from Google Play]

Phil Nickinson: Where's my water (free, 99 cents)

Where's my Water

This Disney game has taken up a surprising amount of my time. And my wife's time. And my daughter's time. The premise is that you have to get water to Swampy the alligator so he can take a bath. At first, all you have to do is dig your way to him, be sure to hit the ducks and collectibles along the way. But things get tougher with poisons, explosions, fans and balloons -- and combinations thereof. The graphics are simple but nicely done, and gameplay is simple and entertaining enough for a youngster, yet also challenging enough for adults. The game works fine on a large-screened phone, but it's best on a tablet. The 99-cent version gets you more levels than the free version, and there's a T-Mobile exclusive title, too. [Download from Google Play: Free | 99 Cents | T-Mobile Exclusive]

Richard Devine: One ​More Clock (free)

One More Clock

So this was a late discovery for me this week. After that leaked image of the Motorola Dinara, there was talk of the clock widget in the comments. Turns out, it's available in Google Play and is called One More Clock.

Actually, there is a whole host of clock widgets to choose from to suit all tastes. There's some minimalist styles, some in the veins of Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich, Sense and some just plain unusual. And FYI, if like me you want the clock from the Motorola render, you want Chrome Rings. [Download from Google Play]

 
There are 30 comments

ScottColbert says:

Jerry, Blizzard is making an authenticater mandatory for the rmah, so nice recommendation.

dipish says:

I'm currently checking out BeyondPod, and while it works, I find it way too bulky and overcomplicated in some places. In that context Doggcatcher looks simpler and imho has a better UI, can you tell what you didn't like in Doggcatcher? I haven't tried it yet so comments can be helpful...

E_man says:

I've tried them all. For me, I feel like Doggcatcher nails the workflow (ie, autodownloads, mark watched, delete, etc), and beyondpod is more complex in that scenario. Also, amongst the two, beyondpod (imho) has a vastly superior tablet interface, where doggcatcher wins on phones.

However, if you only care about phones, Pocketcasts crushes every other app I've used on iOS, android, and Windows Phone for phone podcasts. It's that good, and only 1/3 the price. If you want mostly phone, but some tablet, go Doggcatcher. If you want mostly tablet, go Beyondpod. All my opinion of course.

dipish says:

Thanks, I was hoping to get feedback like yours! Will definitely check out pocketcasts...

What all those apps are missing (or at least were missing the last time I tried them) is syncing your listened/not-listened state across devices. I've got multiple phones and a tablet, and it would be nice if I didn't have to mark as listened on all the other devices manually.

Even cooler would be to have playback position synced across devices. You'd think Google Listen app could do this, but it doesn't. There is an app I bought "Play, Look, Listen" that actually does that, but it's a bit buggy and the syncing doesn't always work correctly. With the push to everything in the cloud, you'd think this stuff would be standard on all apps.

icebike says:

Lowly Google Listen does sync your listened state across devices.

Its got some funky interface choices, but it does sync position and listened state.

Really? It doesn't on any of my devices. Is there some hidden secret setting I don't know about? Listen is my podcast player of choice, so I use it almost daily. When I take my Google Nexus out and about, all the podcasts I listened to on the HOX the day before show as unlistened on the Gnex. When I go to play a pcast that I hadn't finished on the HOX, I have to manually find my place in it. Same in reverse.

What's the trick?

dipish says:

While I don't currently need this functionality, I completely agree with you. Hope this gets more attention from devs in near future...

psyjohn says:

I've been using BeyondPod for a couple years but with the recent updates I find the UI to be cumbersome and often confusing. Also, several of my subscribed podcasts do not show up, but when I try to re-subscribe it tells me I already am. I hate to leave an app that was one of my must-have favorites, but as of this weekend I'm now using PocketCasts and it works much better for me.

HAAS599 says:

That SGS3 screenshot looks noticeably better than all the rest.

DoggCatcher 4 life.

BKHAWK3 says:

Jerry I have heard that some of the game authenticators will cause you problems should you ever reset or switch devices.

Phoenix Rev says:

Partially true.

If you reset or switch devices, you have to remove the authenticator from your current game account, then add the new one back. This is because, IIRC, each download brings a different serial number for the authenticator which is tagged to your account. If you erase the current one without removal from your game account, you have to call the game company and be verified and then they will remove it.

I moved from the OG EVO to the new EVO LTE and simply removed the authenticator from my Battlenet account and a couple of others. Then I redownloaded and synced the new authenticator. My accounts were left without authenticators for about 15 minutes.

Volvogga says:

I already ran into this with a new flash of my phone. Basically, each time you install the Authenticator, it creates a new serial number for the phone that you can tie to your account. I had thought that Titanium Backup would restore it as is, but I was wrong. This required a 5 to 10 minute call to Blizzard and they got me back up and running.

When you tie it to your account, you are given a recovery code for your serial number. Write this code and your serial number down and stick it in your Diablo III box (or other Blizzard game... or a safe place you'll remember). You can then perform a serial restore from within the app if you switch phones, reflash, etc. Otherwise, before you switch, flash, or what-have-you, you need to remember to log into your account on a browser (which should require the authenticator now unless you have it set to remember you for a bit) and turn the authenticator off before you do what you intend to do so you can sync a new serial to it later.

Acroanidd says:

This used to be the case, and was the whole reason why I wouldnt attach the app authenticator to my account because I flash a new rom at least once a week it seems when new stuff comes out.

i dont know when they changed this because i quit playing wow over a year ago, but due to diablo3 and the rmah i decided to test out the android authenticator app. But when you first start the app you get a restore code and serial number, just write that down or email it to yourself, whatever as long as you have it when you flash a new rom you click on restore and it asks you for the code and serial number and it restores it back so you dont have to detach anything. It works, I can confirm this as I have used it multiple times in the last few weeks since D3 came out.

Edit: I see I was beaten to the punch with the code (yay for posting in the very early hours).. either way, i will confirm what was previously stated, it works, do not fear :)

asd216 says:

I like the one more clock widget a lot!!

jcorv58 says:

How does One More Clock compare to others such as Fancy Widgets? How bad is it on battery life?

Uglyfido says:

I just installed Once More Clock thanks to this write up. That Chrome Clock looks to damn good to NOT be on my phone. :)

bdroc says:

rmah is for quitters! games are made for playing.

codiusprime says:

That's a pretty narrow view of games.

I think they are made for having fun, if Jerry wants to buy a few epics and go have fun with them then isn't that playing the game? Which fulfills even your narrow view of video games.

raineslc says:

I agree...and some people don't have time to farm gear for hours and hours but still want to have a nicely equiped character. I really only have time to play 1 day a week so ill probably hit up the rmah too.

dane79 says:

+1 for one more clock

gonzlobo says:

The only program worse than Google listen is itunes. Doggcatcher hands down.

DenverRalphy says:

One More Clock does indeed look really cool. Unfortunately there's very little function behind it. You can't tap the time to launch your alarm clock, you can't tap the date to launch the calendar, weather doesn't launch a weather app, etc...

chasstaf says:

in the options is a one tap options for doing just what you are asking for. . .

DenverRalphy says:

That only allows you to choose ONE action no matter where you tap the widget. So for example, if you assign weather forecast, tapping on the time/date/battery will still open the weather forecast.

Uglyfido says:

This is my one complaint that I have with this clock so far. Everything else is great. I would pay for this clock if it had the option to make tapping the weather open the the weather forecast, and tapping the battery open the batt. stats. But for a free clock, it's damn good looking at least.

Impulses says:

So many games, so little time... Already had both Jelly Defense (Amazon free app of the day, forever ago I think) AND Where's My Water (Google 10¢ sale) even tho I've yet to play either! Gonna try that Bamboo lwp tho, Kittehface does indeed make nice lwps.

Milk195 says:

I also went through the same progression as Sean when it came to Podcasts apps. Actually, I ended up wasting quite a bit buying premium versions of every single podcatcher available until finally ending with BeyondPod, but only since they made the ICS update and retooled the whole interface.

I would like to mention that by no means am I saying the other popular options are BAD at all, in fact for people who only listen to one or two casts a week should just pick whichever one looks like your style will do fine. But if you've got 30+ feeds and listen 5+ hours a day at work :) like I do - then Grab BeyondPod.

Bamzilla says:

As far as podcast players go one of the first ones I found when I got my smartphone last summer was Podkicker. It works great for me and is free. I listen to whichever sports talk podcast interests me the most that I missed during the day.

LordGenki says:

I'm hearing a lot of people suggesting Doggcatcher over Beyond Pod. I've been using Beyond Pod for the last year and really like it, but would be willing to try out Doggcatcher or some other pod cast manager.

Does Doggcatcher have these or similar features?
1. Playback speed control.

2. Smart automatic playlist creation.

3. Google reader sync.

4. Video podcast support

These are the features I like most about Beyond Pod and I don't think I'd switch to another app if they didn't have similar features.