Apps & Games

Apps & Games

New Daydream View headset colors begin shipping, new apps officially launch

Google officially confirmed that its Daydream View VR headsets are now shipping in two new colors, Crimson and Snow. The new color choices were available for pre-order on the Google Store last week, but both are now officially available in the US, UK and Australia for the price of $79 each. Both colors will also be available at Verizon and Best Buy stores in the US soon, along with Carphone Warehouse and EE in the UK.

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Daydream VR apps roundup

4 weeks ago

Google also confirmed what we learned in late November; the Moto Z and Moto Z Force have now been updated with Android 7.0 Nougat and support for the Daydream View headset, alongside the Google Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones.

Finally, the company noted that a number of new Daydream VR apps are now available to download in the Google Play Store.  They include the previously announced figure building game LEGO Brickheadz, the space shooter Gunjack 2: End of Shift, and the HBO Go and HBO Now apps, which will allow subscribers of the pay TV channel to view its movie and TV library on a virtual big screen. Other Daydream VR games that are currently available include Layers of Fear: Solitude, Wands and Underworld Overlord.

Google also announced that two more Daydream VR apps will be released sometime in December. One is the EA racing game Need for Speed: No Limits VR and the other is the Netflix VR app, which again will let subscribers check out its thousands of movies and TV shows as if they were watching them on a huge screen.

Cortana for Android gets a refreshed look as it makes its UK debut

It’s been nearly a year since Microsoft officially launched the Android version of its Cortana digital assistant. Today, the company revealed that the app is finally available in the UK. At the same time, it will roll out an update this week that will give Cortana a fresh new look.

The revamped UI for the Android app includes what Microsoft is calling “Quick Actions”. Basically, Cortana now shows a number of features that can be called upon with one tap of the finger, in case you don’t want to use its voice features. These kinds of actions are available for things like showing the current weather forecast, the latest meeting schedule, a quick look at the most recent news and more. Quick Actions also allows users to set up new reminders, again with just one tap.

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Best personal assistant apps for Android

2 weeks ago

In addition, when you need Cortana to answer a question, such as, “What’s the weather going to be like tomorrow?”, the Android version will now display that info on the screen in full page view, with a much cleaner look compared to earlier versions. Finally, Microsoft says it has made some changes under the hood, which will offer a faster overall performance for the app.

Overall, it sounds like Microsoft is still very interested in extending its Cortana assistant to as many platforms and markets as it can. You can grab the latest version now from the Google Play Store at the link below. Do you use the Android version of the app for your daily reminders and schedules?

Get it at Google Play

PS2 classic ‘Bully’, from the makers of Grand Theft Auto, gets a mobile release

Throw equal parts Grand Theft Auto, nostalgia and a legendary console into a time warp and what do you get? Bully: Anniversary Edition on mobile devices. Rockstar Games has today released its classic Playstation 2 title Bully on Android and iOS in celebration of its 10th birthday.

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15 best games with gamepad support for Android

November 1, 2016

The game will set you back the princely sum of $6.99 but for fans of Bully that’s a very small price to pay. You can enjoy the entire original game along with all the extras included in the 2008 Scholarship edition of the game. For the mobile release though, Bully has received updated graphics for hi-res displays and features both on-screen gamepad controls.

In case you’re not familiar, Bully is like a high school version of Grand Theft Auto. Featuring the usual colorful cast of characters and situations, Bully sees a 15 year-old prep school misfit named Jimmy make his way through all the fun hi-jinx you would likely remember if you went to a school with a name like Bullworth Academy.

It’s pretty classic stuff, from its dated texture mapping to in-game mechanics you wouldn’t have seen in several years. Bully offers you the chance to “stand up to bullies, get picked on by teachers, beat the jocks at dodge ball, play pranks, win or lose the girl and survive a year in the worst school around.” If you’re looking for a stroll down memory lane, hit the install button below.

Did you play Bully back in the day? What other classics would you like to see revived on mobile?

INSTALL BULLY: ANNIVERSARY EDITION

The Pokemon Go Starbucks collaboration is official

When you’re out hunting Pokemon this holiday season, you can now officially rest your weary feet at one of your numerous local Starbucks for a Pokemon Go Frappuccino and a little monster battling action. Starbucks has made official what has been frequently rumored lately: 7,800 Starbucks locations will be evolved into either PokéStops or Gyms.

At 2 PM EST/11 AM PST the transformation will be begin and you’ll be able to get the exact same Starbucks experience you know and love, but with Pokemon. The promotion comes hot on the heels of the Sprint Pokemon Go collaboration, which turns over 10,000 Sprint stores into PokéStops or Gyms as well.

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Niantic: There’s a secret in Pokemon Go that nobody knows about

4 weeks ago

Niantic has promised to reveal the details of its massive December update on Monday December 12. Current rumors claim over 100 new Pokemon will be added to the game and at least one legendary Pokemon will be included. Other additions are expected to include in-game trading, PvP battles and the ability to raise Pokemon like Tamagotchi.

If all that sounds exciting, stay tuned for more details on Monday, and don’t forget your Pokemon Go Frappuccino, which consists of a “Vanilla Bean Frappuccino blended beverage and raspberry syrup blended with freeze dried whole blackberries and topped with whipped cream.” So once you’re done training in the Starbucks gym, you can go make an appointment at the dentist.

What legendary Pokemon are you expecting on Monday? What feature does Pokemon Go still need?

Dawn of Titans launches on Android: but does it go “beyond” console gaming?

NaturalMotion, the team behind the CSR Racing series, has just released its new title, Dawn of Titans. The free-to-play fantasy strategy game, which soft-launched in March 2015, features sweeping, real-time battles with thousands of on-screen units, all fully rendered in 3D. I recently had the chance to speak to NaturalMotion CEO Torsten Reil to take a look at the game and ask about the company’s aims for the title.

Reil said Dawn of Titans began by asking: “Wouldn’t it be cool if you could have a game where you could control thousands of troops in real time on your mobile phone with a swipe of a finger? And wouldn’t it be cool if those troops were being led into battle by these larger-than-life creatures called Titans?”

As it happens, even beginning to answer those first questions would be a big undertaking.

“It turns out that it’s actually not that trivial to have thousands of troops all in real-time on your mobile phone,” he said.

The NaturalMotion team did eventually make it work, however, and Reil told me that this breakthrough was the foundation of Dawn of Titans.

Dawn of just another fantasy strategy game?

Dawn of Titans is entering a market already crowded by fantasy-themed strategy games – think Clash of Clans, Game of War et al – but Reil believes Titans sets itself apart from competitors in several ways; one of the most obvious being its graphics.

NaturalMotion started out developing software for use in games rather than as an end-to-end games developer, and Dawn of Titans runs on an engine the company designed in-house.

Reil streamed part of the game for me on an iPhone (for “technical reasons” only – Reil assured me it runs “extremely well” on Android devices), to show off the technology used in the game. The attention paid to the graphical fidelity was immediately clear.

As he walked me through the game’s hub area, Reil appeared to take pride in pointing out what could be considered minor details to an uninitiated onlooker, such as the use of real-time lighting animations on characters who are stood in menus – and the activities occurring behind them.

“In many ways, we feel like we’re actually now – on mobile – going beyond console in terms of visual fidelity,” he said. Reil also discussed marketing materials for mobiles games which feature content that doesn’t look anything like the game you play, “We wanted to make a game that looks [just] as good as the videos,” he told me.

With this engine, Reil also said that the team had essentially managed to eliminate loading times from the game.

Given the level of detail, however, I had concerns about the kind of Android device you would need to be able to run Dawn of Titans. I suspected a high-end smartphone would be a requirement, which could stand in the way of widespread adoption, but Reil reassured that it would be supported on a “very wide range” of Android handsets.

Titan-ic?

NaturalMotion has a good track record when it comes to shipping polished, accessible mobile titles – and fantasy strategy games have the potential to achieve huge downloads on Android. Dawn of Titans is clearly built from solid stuff, as it were, which should help ensure it doesn’t sink without a trace.

In an interview last year, Reil talked about Pixar and how it was almost like a technology company, using its product – in this case, CGI – to deliver “amazing” experiences. I see a parallel between it and NaturalMotion (Pixar also started as a business that delivered animation services for others before creating its own entertainment products), but – as anybody who saw The Good Dinosaur would likely attest to – great looks don’t count for much when there’s no substance beneath it. Here’s hoping Dawn of Titans is as successful in its gameplay, too.

You can download Dawn of Titans for free here, and if you do, please share your thoughts on it in the comments.

INSTALL DAWN OF TITANS

Google Drive on Android now has a dedicated app and device backup section

Using Google Drive to back up your data makes a lot of sense. You can save game progress without signing in to Google Play Games, keep a device backup handy in case of accidents and create an easily transportable copy of your WhatsApp chats. Fortunately, the Google Drive app on Android has now added a dedicated Backups sections for keeping track of all your app and device backups.

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October 23, 2016

While workarounds were previously available, the latest version of Drive available in Google Play now includes a more user-friendly way of managing your various backups (the web client already has this function). In the navigation drawer of Google Drive you’ll now see a cloud icon labelled Backups; tap this and you’ll be taken to a summary page of all your cloud-stored backups.

Backups of your current device are listed up the top, followed by other device and app backups below, with expiry dates given for old backups. Tapping a device entry brings up a list of what has been backed up (call history, apps, device settings etc) and you can easily delete unwanted backups via the overflow menu.

Google Drive on Android now has a dedicated app and device backup section

Note that only apps with official Google Drive integration – like WhatsApp, for example – will appear in the Backups list. Other apps that regularly have their data uploaded to Drive (assuming you have enabled app data backup in your backup and reset settings) can still be accessed via Drive > Settings > Manage backups.

The latest update also lets you preview Excel spreadsheet files directly in Drive. You can grab the update via the button below, and if you don’t see the Backups option immediately, just go to Settings > Apps > Drive, clear app data and then relaunch the app.

Do you use Drive backups regularly? How do you backup your apps and devices?

UPDATE GOOGLE DRIVE

Latest AirDroid beta update reportedly fixes older security issues

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A few days ago, the security firm Zimperium publicly revealed that the popular remote access management app AirDroid had some serious security issues. Today, the developer behind AirDroid has released a beta version of the app that it hope fixes these problems.

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3 weeks ago

Zimperium stated that it had found that AirDroid in its current form could allow an attacker on the same network to gain full access to the owner’s device through the app. The firm actually found this flaw a number of months ago and informed the app’s development team, but for some reason that team did nothing until Zimperium make the decision to publicly reveal their findings earlier this month.

Now, the team has quickly pushed out beta 4.0.0.2 of AirDroid that reportedly does fix the security problems. Zimperium is apparently going to test the beta out to make sure all the holes are closed up before the app team releases the non-beta version in the Google Play Store. In the meantime, we don’t recommend using AirDroid until it has been verified that the app has indeed plugged its security leaks. You can’t be too careful.

Alto’s Odyssey will follow up on Alto’s Adventure in 2017

Alto’s Adventure quickly became one of the most acclaimed mobile games released in the past few years when it debuted in 2015. The open-ended snowboarding game combined real-world physics with a minimalist, but still beautiful, art style. Today, the team behind the game, Snowman, revealed its next project, Alto’s Odyssey.

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2 days ago

At the moment, the team is saying little to nothing about Alto’s Odyssey. The teaser image, shown above, would seem to indicate that it takes place in a warmer climate than Alto’s Adventure, complete with hot air balloons flying overhead, fantasy-style buildings and steep mountain ranges. Other than that, we have no idea what kind of gameplay Alto’s Odyssey will have, but we would guess that, based on the title, it is related in some way to the first Alto game, if not a direct sequel. The game itself is scheduled for release sometime in 2017.

The small team at Snowman seems to be quite busy these days. In addition to Alto’s Odyssey, it is also working on another game, DISTANT, alongside an Australian-based team, Slingshot & Satchel. The game is due on PC, consoles and Apple TV and appears to be a platformer set in an underground cavern, but it shares the same kind of minimal art style as the Alto titles. No release date has been revealed for DISTANT, nor is there any indication yet it will be released for mobile devices.

Google Play Store testing separate Apps and Games sections for some users

The Google Play Store has historically lumped Apps and Games into one section, but that could be changing in the very near future. Some Android users have reported their version of the Play Store now shows Apps and Games as separate selections on the main interface page.

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September 6, 2016

Google Play Store testing separate Apps and Games sections for some users

The new layout was first reported by Android Police. It may be a very simple change in the UI of the Play Store, but for many people it will be a highly welcome one. With so many apps and games to choose from, placing everything in one section is a pretty cluttered approach and so it’s great to see Google is finally doing something about it.

 

There’s no indication on when Google plans to make this Play Store interface change available for all Android users, but since it has already started popping up for some of users, it hopefully shouldn’t take too long for it to roll out to everyone else.

What do you think of the change? Any other major Play store UI changes you’d like to see from Google? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Pokémon Go creature reveal due Dec. 12, Sprint stores to become PokéStops and Gyms

Pokémon Go is finally getting close to adding some new Pokémon creatures to the mobile augmented reality game. Developer Niantic Labs has confirmed it will reveal the details about the additions on Monday, Dec. 12.

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How to make Pokestops in Pokemon Go

October 13, 2016

Rumors about the game adding as many as 100 new creatures have been making the internet rounds for the past few weeks, but it looks like Niantic now has a firm date for when they will be let loose for players to catch em all.

In the meantime, the game has received a new update to version 0.49.1 for Android. That update will allow trainers to transfer multiple Pokémon at a time to Professor Willow by pressing and holding on a Pokémon.

The update also adds Pokémon-type icons to the Gym battle approach and Gym battle screen, and the total Candy count for your Buddy Pokémon has been added to the buddy info screen. Finally, you can check out the total number of kilometers a Buddy Pokémon has walked on that same info screen with this update.

As if that were not enough for fans of Pokémon Go, Niantic Labs and Sprint have announced a partnership that will turn 10,500 Sprint, Boost Mobile and Sprint at RadioShack locations in the U.S. into PokéStops and Gyms. In addition, Sprint stores will feature in-store charging stations for players of the game to keep their smartphone powered up.

Get it at Google Play