See the apps we recommend this week
Sunday is app day here at AC. We look back at the apps we found ourselves using this week, and each of us pick out one that we want to recommend. Sometimes, the apps are boring utilities that work really well, sometimes they are games that keep you occupied and on the edge of your seat, but they are always applications that we think are done well and worth a look.
Have a gander at what we're recommending, then be sure to holler in the comments to tell everyone about any great apps you've found.
Andrew Martonik — Parkopedia
If you're visiting a dense city (particularly if you don't live there), parking can be a serious frustration. Even around Seattle if I get out of my usual neighborhood I don't know the best places to park, and that's where an app like Parkopedia can come in handy. Parkopedia takes crowdsourced information on parking availability and pricing and displays it on a map overlay to help you pick the cheapest parking spot and know whether it'll be available when you get there.
In the free version of the app you can search specific locations and see how much the hourly rate of parking is, including surface lots, parking garages and straight up street parking. When viewing a parking garage you'll see the total capacity, if available, as well as exactly how far away it is. If you're looking for street parking, curbs are highlighted in green if you're allowed to park there during your selected time. You can then favorite parking spots, check in there to remember where your car is or press a button to navigate there.
The real value of Parkopedia shows if you decide to sign up for the $1.99/year subscription (done through a recurring Google Wallet payment), though, letting you see prices for the exact amount of time you plan to park, as well as more sorting features to find garages based on open spots and ratings. The premium subscription also lets you narrow searches to just street parking or garages.
If you prefer to do wider research before you leave, there's also a website for the service that can show the same information and sync up with your signed-in account.
- Download: Parkopedia (Free, $1.99/year sub)
Ara Wagoner — Bluetooth Auto Connect
Bluetooth Auto Connect isn't an app most people would need for its primary use — most phones nowadays are much better about automatically seeking out connections — but there's one feature that makes it a pretty sweet free app for certain users: Tasker integration. Tasker can do some bluetooth magic on its own, but using Bluetooth Auto Connect is FAR simpler, and allows us to make a sweet as pie Driving mode to mimic Moto Assist — which is great, because my Moto X hasn't quite recognized my car as my car yet and isn't triggering Driving consistently yet.
Bluetooth Auto Connect's event context allows us to execute profiles based off connecting or disconnecting to certain Bluetooth devices. You can select multiple Bluetooth devices that trigger the profile, meaning that even if you only drive the truck on the weekends, you can still have it trigger Driving mode like your daily sedan.
A quick tip for users who will use this to crank up their jams — currently rocking out to holiday pop and Disney Parks music from Japan — is to leave a few seconds between the connection being established and Tasker hitting play. If your player is still switching channels when your profile hits play, it can cause it to not switch properly and play silence until you disconnect and reconnect, which is no good when you're in traffic.
- Download: Bluetooth Auto Connect (Free)
Alex Dobie — Sky Force 2014
Fans of classic shoot 'em ups should check out Infinite Dreams' Sky Force 2014, a game with surprising depth and replayability that pits players against an onslaught of aerial foes. There are nine stages to progress through, including increasingly tougher levels unlockable by earning in-game trophies. Upgrading your ship with more fearsome weapons and tougher defenses is another big focus, using stars earned through destroying enemies (although you can also buy these through in-app purchases.) But Sky Force isn't your average payment-centric mobile game — the focus is on playing to earn stars and upgrades, not paying your way to success. The game is a free download, and definitely worth a try if you're after a classic shooter with challenging gameplay and high-quality visuals.
- Download Sky Force 2014 (Free, in-app purchases)
Richard Devine — Aftership
The holidays mean lots of packages being shipped (more so than usual) which left me looking for a good tracking app for Android in recent weeks. And that led to Aftership.
It looks really nice, and part of that is how clear the tracking information is laid out. It supports probably all the shipping companies you'd ever need and will also give you contact information, and who has signed for the package when it's been delivered. I particularly like the accuracy in recognising carriers automatically. A simple app that executes well.
- Download: Aftership (Free)
Jerry Hildenbrand — Jigty Jigsaw Puzzles
I love doing jigsaw puzzles, and have probably tried every puzzle app in Google Play. Jigty Jigsaw Puzzles is one that I can recommend.
There's nothing magic here. You take a picture, and chop it up into a bunch of pieces, then put them all back together. You can choose the number of pieces (you'll need to upgrade to a paid version to break things into more than 64 pieces) and decide if you want the pieces to be able to rotate or stay in the correct position. There are a handful of nice images to use as puzzles included, and the paid upgrade allows you to choose your own image.
There are ads, and of course you're nagged to sign into Facebook, but I can overlook both because the app is done so well and there are no silly permissions being asked.
- Download: Jigty Jigsaw Puzzles (Free, in-app purchase to paid version)
Phil Nickinson — Un Petit Monde
Now that official Android Wear watch faces are a thing, I've pretty quickly settled on Un Petit Monde. It's simple, it looks cool, and it has that font that looks cooky and familiar at the same time.
- Download: Un Petit Monde (Free)