A healthy selection of app picks to check out this week
It's Saturday, and along with all of the other great things that come with the weekend we have the Apps of the Week column for you to enjoy. We take up this time slot every week to show off a collection of apps from the Android Central writers, each one showing off an app they've been using in the last week.
This week's collection is primarily made up of some great games, with a few different tools and other apps thrown in for good measure. Read along after the break and take a look at what we've picked out this week, you may just find an app or two that suit you as well.
Jerry Hildenbrand - Smart Voice Recorder
If you picked up a Nexus 5, and this is your first trip to Nexusland, you'll be needing a few utilities from Google Play. Luckily, Google Play is filled with them so you're covered, and all you need to do is pick from the thousands available. If you don't want to try them all (and if you do, I can't blame you) here's a great voice recorder to get you started.
It's got three really good things going for it — It's free, it has an adjustable sample rate (between 8 and 44k), and it will run in the background while the screen is off. For most of us, this is all we ever need from a pocket voice recorder. Give it a try.
Download: Smart Voice Recorder (Free)
Chris Parsons - Meltdown
It has been a while since I played any top down / isometric shooters so when I saw Bulkypix’s Meltdown I figured I would give it a go. After having run through all the ‘training’, I was pleasantly surprised at how awesome Meltdown was despite it being a free game. You get to play as Zed and have to battle your way through 30 randomly generated levels, fighting enemies that each have their own special AI. If that’s not enough action to keep you busy, you can join the online cross-platform co-op games and play with up to 4 others players. Overall, Meltdown is a fun game though it’s certainly not for everyone. The ‘tap to go places and do things’ nature makes it a bit slow but if that’s not something you’re worried about, there is great action to be had here and the IAP nags are kept to minimum, making that free price tag even better.
Download: Meltdown (Free)
Alex Dobie - Rayman Fiesta Run
Following the generally well-received Rayman Jungle Run, the limbless platforming hero is back in Fiesta Run, another colourful, fast-paced running title from Ubisoft. There are 76 individual levels to traverse across a range of fiesta-themed worlds, which challenge your reflexes and memory as you collect coins and brightly-colored critters. The game also introduces the new "invasion" mode, unlocked after completing each stage, along with three boss battles to contend with.
For the price — $2.99 in the U.S. and £1.99 in the UK — there's not much more you could want out of a mobile platformed like this.
Download: Rayman Fiesta Run ($2.99 / £1.99)
Richard Devine - Star Wars: Tiny Death Star
This week Lucasarts delivered us an absolute treat in Star Wars: Tiny Death Star. Think Tiny Tower, with an Imperial twist. You're building your own Death Star complete with karaoke bar, plush apartments and interrogation facilities in the back.
It's an amazingly fun and addictive little mobile game, and sees you trying to earn money to complete the Death Star construction. It's either that or The Emperor and Lord Vader go out and get jobs. Yeah. It's a free download supplemented by IAP's but honestly I've been letting it run without spending a penny so far. And I haven't been able to put it down.
Download: Star Wars: Tiny Death Star (Free)
Simon Sage - Rabbids Big Bang
Though Rayman Fiesta Run might be the Ubisoft title grabbing a lot of attention this week, I finally got a chance to try out Rabbids Big Bang, which came out in October. I've always been a fan of the absolutely insane, bulgy-eyed rabbids, and their latest title doesn't disappoint. Players work their way through a series of space-themed physics puzzles, earn coins to upgrade their rabbid, The puzzles are vaguely Angry Birds-ish, but the jetpack mechanic adds something fresh, plus the graphics, cartoony as they may be, have plenty of polish. The only real downside is that they're pushing in-app purchases for a game that already costs a buck.
In any case, Rabbids Big Bang offers up great, casual brain-teasers with a dash of the absurd.
Download: Rabbids Big Bang ($0.99)
Phil Nickinson - TripIt
I am forever on a search for the perfect travel app. Some coordinate my itineraries better than others. Others have better mapping, or more specific data. But for me, Tripit continues to be at the center of that maelstrom. There's simply not an easier way to input all of your trips — be it flight info, hotel bookings, rental cars or whatever. Just forward the email to firstname.lastname@example.org and the system does all the work. I pony up for Tripit Pro as well, so I get faster alerts and easy sharing with my family — and with other apps. If you're going anywhere, you have got to take Tripit with you.
Andrew Martonik - theScore
Now that my home soccer team's (Seattle Sounders) MLS season has unfortunately ended, I need something to keep me in the sport. I honestly don't follow the European soccer leagues all that much, but when it's MLS offseason that's about the only thing going on. I've installed theScore to track all of the major leagues across Europe, and found the app to be very well done and informational. Not only can you track scores across the EPL, Champion's League, La Liga and the rest, but you can also get push notifications for specific games (or all games) and read news from across the leagues.
If soccer isn't your thing (for some reason), the app covers any other sport you could imagine as well. For someone looking to follow a sport (or three), this app seems to hit the spot. It recently received a nice redesign that makes it look and work drastically better as well, which is always a plus.
Download: theScore (Free)
Happen to miss previous editions of our weekly app picks? You can check them out right here. Our continuing weekly app coverage can also be seen right here as well.
Widgets and icon packs are fun, but a simple home screen is the way to go
Now that iOS 14 is out, there's been a renaissance in smartphone customization. Widgets, icon packs, and custom launchers are great, but you just can't beat one that's boring and simple.
Google's giving up too much ground in the smart home fight
We're in the thick of our fall launches, but after the tidal wave of new products from Amazon last week, Google's Launch Night In looks like it'll barely make a splash. That's not good, because Alexa and Ring are rapidly gaining on Assistant and Nest.
Luna is both a safe bet and Amazon's best idea in years
Is "rolling your own" Netflix-style game library what we really want? Amazon thinks so.
The Xperia 1 II is our favorite phone for shooting video
If video recording is your thing, then look no further than the Sony Xperia 1 II — it offers a large screen, three great cameras, and extremely robust manual video controls.