Another weekend worthy of showing off the apps we're using this week
Weekends are great for many things, but for us here at Android Central it's a great time to show off our Apps of the Week column. Every Saturday afternoon we use this post to show off an app pick from each of the writers at the site, and give a quick explanation as to why we're using it on our phone or tablet. It could be a tool, service, game or random app we found and like — all that matters is we're using it.
This week we have a full list of great apps, including a couple of games that will be worth your time, a few utilities and a way to keep up on sports scores. Read along and see what this week's list has to offer.
Simon Sage - Shadow Fight 2
Shadow Fight 2 has enjoyed enormous success since its launch last month and after putting some time into it this week, I can see why. Players get into some good old-fashioned Kung Fu fighting in one-on-one matches with superbly-animated attacks. The pace might be a little sluggish compared to what you might be used to in the likes of Mortal Kombat, but this allows for careful, deliberate attacks. Hit boxes are extremely refined, as shots to the head and other key points cause extra damage. As you progress in the game, you can outfit your hero in a wide variety of weapons (both ranged and melee), armor, and even magical abilities. The silhouette style is also extremely cinematic, and complemented by rich backgrounds.
There are two catches, here. First, it's jam-packed with freemium mechanics. Not just premium currency for fast-tracking, but also an energy system for limiting how much you can play at once. Secondly, I had no love getting hardware controls to work on the Moga Pro, which is really ideally suited for this kind of game. Regardless, Shadow Fight 2 remains a highly polished fighting game with high quality animation.
Download: Shadow Fight 2 (Free, in-app purchases)
Phil Nickinson - Pebble Locker
Hang on — if you don't have a Pebble smartwatch, don't stop reading. I've long crowed about the importance of using some sort of lock screen password on your phone. And I've also been high on the "Trusted Bluetooth" feature the Moto X made standard. And we've previously talked about apps that will keep your device unlocked when you're on specific Wifi networks. Well, Pebble Locker combines all that into a single app. By default and for free it'll use your Pebble to keep your phone unlocked. Disconnect, and it's back to a PIN. But it'll also allow other Bluetooth devices and Wifi networks to serve as the gatekeeper. That'll require a one-time $2.99 in-app upgrade. But for me, that's well worth the cup of coffee. This is one of the first apps I install on any phone now.
Download: Pebble Locker (Free, with $2.99 in-app upgrade)
Jerry Hildenbrand - Fing
I recently did a headless install of an appliance on my local network here at the house, and had to use a network scanner to find it so I could remote in. Of course I grabbed my phone and fired up Fing, and in no time I was up and running.
There is a long list of network tools and scanners in Google Play, but I'm partial to Fing. For starters, you get the whole network — not just the first few devices — with the base install. You also can customize the list, giving each network client a unique name, icon, and any notes you might want to keep. Tap on any of the clients and you'll see a list of all the services running which is great for a quick security check or if you can't remember that crazy port you used for FTP. And if you're a real network guy, you can use it with the Fingbox service for complete administration of any server. If you have a need to see exactly what's going on with your LAN, at home or at work, give Fing a try.
Download: Fing (Free)
Alex Dobie - Plague Inc.
Plague Inc has been around for a while, but if like me you haven't played it since its first release, you'll find plenty of new stuff to discover. The idea is simple: control and evolve your own plague and eradicate all life on Earth before the cure is found. Along the way you'll need to spend DNA points to evolve new symptoms, allow your disease to spread in different ways, and keep one step ahead of medical research.
The standard game has seven modes, each requiring a different balance between deadlines, infectivity and resistance. And new unlockable modes allow you to command a zombie virus outbreak or a brain-burrowing parasite. Either way, Plague Inc is a lot of fun, and with the basic version being free, definitely worth trying out.
Download: Plague Inc. (Free)
Andrew Martonik - ESPN FC
The World Cup is on the horizon, and as the national teams get ready to call up their preliminary rosters in the next few weeks, there's no better time to start following all the action than now. ESPN FC is a great app to cover every league around the world, and it's installed right alongside the MLS Matchday app on my phone. It's the best way to keep up with any team — club or international — that you want, and when the World Cup finally gets going there will be no better place for comprehensive coverage of the tournament.
Download: ESPN FC (Free)
Richard Devine - Yahoo News Digest
We briefly mentioned Yahoo News Digest when it dropped earlier in the week but it's so good it's well worth highlighting again. I've been using the iPhone version of this ever since it first arrived in the UK and I'm happy to report the Android version doesn't disappoint in any way. It's a fine example of how an Android app can be 'non-Holo' yet still look fantastic and perform faultlessly. The scrolling in this app is so ridiculously smooth.
The content isn't bad either. News Digest came from the acquisition of Summly and aggregates the days top news stories for you and delivers a run down of them for you twice a day – one in the morning, one in the evening. If it's not enough, you can look at more digests to get your fix. Each story comes with social links, background information, interesting facts, more than just repeating a news story. Definitely give it a try.
Download: Yahoo News Digest (Free)