Spring is the best time to pick up some of the best Android apps from all of the major development studios.
One of the nicest things about Android is that most of the testing has already been done on iOS, meaning that you don’t have to worry that any newly released app you download will be buggy, or break your phone. Instead, you can just download these and already have all the features you want, without having the pain of being an early adopter.
Here are our top picks for what you should be putting on your phone this season:
1. Apple Music
One of the first apps developed by Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) ever announced for Android, the Apple Music Android app finally allows you to access Apple Music and your iTunes account on your Android Phone.
Quality and quantity wise, Apple Music service is on par with the already well established players, Spotify and Google Play Music.
Unlike Spotify and Google Play, Apple offers a generous 90 days free trial, allowing you to listen to everything the service has to offer for free. This means that you can find out if is for you, but trust us, after spending only a few days with it, you will never go back.
The collection on Apple music is just as big as, if not bigger than, the Spotify selection. In fact, if anything, Apple have the advantage here as almost every artist will be publishing their songs via iTunes. Whereas Spotify may have to wait for the newest albums and songs, so that record labels can try to get people to buy the music, the moment an album is placed on iTunes, Apple can instantly offer it to you via Apple Music.
Apple, of course, also make sure to do things different to other music services. As well as everything you expect in a music screaming service, Apple Music also allows you to access the exclusive Apple Radio, where professional DJs will be broadcasting 24/7. This isn’t a computer generated thing. Real life people are picking the songs, adding commentary, and talking about music news. It is Apple’s version of the car radio, and not only do they just play great music, but they are also very entertaining.
Perhaps one of the best reasons to use Apple Music is that it can play recommended songs to you based off of one of the most robust music suggestion engines; Beats Music. After Beats has scanned your iTunes library, or your currently listed to tracks, Apple Music plays well matched, new music for you to listen to.
If this is Apple’s way of converting Android users into their ecosystem, we are certainty listening now.
A rising star on the app scene, Disa keeps all of your messaging under control in one place.
We’ve all had the problem of having conversations from friends in many places. You might be arranging a party with a friend on Facebook, then, while away from your computer, move to text messaging. Using Disa, these conversations appear all in one place, underneath the same name, allowing you to keep easy track of what is being said and what has been said. When you go to respond, Disa will instantly use the best network to send your message on, wherever that be Whatsapp, SMS, or even Viber.
This amazing app works on a plug-in system. This means that even if a new messaging service comes out, someone, somewhere, will make a plug in for it. You will be able to carry on using Disa for your messaging needs.
And once you start using the Disa interface, you really won’t want to go back to any other messaging service. The interface is beautiful, without letting anything extra get away from the core purpose of talking to people.
One problem other universal messaging apps is that they normally struggle with multimedia. That is, you can never be sure if that image you have sent has actually gone through. Disa, however, never has any problems with any kind of media file.
There is also one extra hidden feature of Disa, which is very handy for travelers. If you have a dual-sim phone, you can actually run two Whatsapp accounts on it using a the Whatsapp plug in, as opposed to the one account per phone on the normal Whatsapp application.
And one of the greatest things about this app? It’s completely free. There are no ads, and no paid options. It is one free download for features that could really help you organize your life.
Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s admittedly late, answer to Siri and Google Now, Cortana is now available on Android.
Even if you have fully assimilated into using Google Now, it is still very much worth checking out Cortana as an alternative. It might just be better.
One of the great things about Cortana is how easy it is to train it to your specific needs. Cortana uses a special notebook service, which allows you to easily see all of the stored data you have on it. One of the problems of Google now is that you may have goggled for something with no interest in it; maybe you did a Google search for a friend. Then, Google Now will persist in using this data it thinks it has collected on you to personalize your voice commands and Google Now cards. With Cortana, you can view the notebook, find this piece of information, and delete it. In fact, this is perfect if you are constantly searching for Movies or TV Shows you haven’t seen, maybe because you were just curious about when they are coming out. With Google, there is always the risk that a Google Now card will pop up, ruining an important plot development for you. With Cortana, you can just tell her to forget that piece of information, and it won’t come up again until you are ready for it to.
It is this training that makes Cortana a true contender in the voice app scene. It allows you to keep your privacy in check, allowing you to deny access to certain information. Or, if you want, you can also spend some time training Cortana, telling her what you want updates on, what contacts you are likely to call and what nick names you are likely to give them. It’s surprising that Google Now, with Android’s focus on customization, doesn’t allow you to edit your data in this way.
Snowball aims to solve a common problem every phone user has. That of far too many notifications.
It does this by allowing you to set apps you want to ignore, right from your notification bar.
There is no set up involved with this program, as it links up with the Android notification service, instantly being able to interact with all of your notifications. When one appears, you can simply swipe to the left to mark the notification as “Not Important”, meaning that you’ll be bothered by it rarely, if at all. Perfect for those apps that are far too enthusiastic about you coming back to them.
Snowball, however, isn’t just about hiding the apps you don’t want to see. Using Snowball, you can also be smarter about how you respond to everything. Almost all notifications will also include options for how you want to manage it. Say you have friends you get Facebook notifications on whenever they post something. You can choose to, right in the notification, like or comment on the post. This also works for messages; the notification will have a handy text box, allowing you to instantly respond without having to open up the app.
This would be impressive by itself, but the app can also link into third party apps for the notification. So, let’s say you have a Google Calendar event pop up. Straight from the notification, you will be able to call a taxi, consult Google Maps, or text your friends that you are on your way.
We are all guilty of looking at our phones a bit too much, and then have to painstakingly navigate to different apps to get what we want to do done before we can carry on with whatever we were doing before. With Snowball installed, you can instead deal with your important notifications quickly and get back to your task.
Other weather apps have a problem in that they rely on resources that are behind the times. As clever as weather services are, they always do seem to get it wrong. PressureNet, however, has a very novel solution to this problem.
It hooks into the smart phone sensors of every user who has installed the apps. Most smart phones come with a barometer, one of the key tools in measuring weather. With this, PressureNet collects a network of data from users around the world, giving it real-time data to use in predicting what changes are going to be happening.
Whereas other weather apps can only really tell you in general terms what today is going to be like (“It might rain”), and maybe give a prediction of tomorrow, PressureNet can instead tell you exactly what the weather will be like in a few hours.
The app, of course, comes with a widget, allowing you see right on your home screen what it’s current prediction is, as well as allow you to give yourself an accurate feed on the exact temperature measurement at the moment.
Because of its accurate, up to date reading, it is one of the few weather apps that can give you notifications when things are going to change. For example, if it detects a fall in pressure nearby, indicating that it will rain very soon, your phone can actually beep, allowing you to quickly finish your outside tasks and get back inside (or alternatively, if you are too far away from home, grab an umbrella while you hope for the best.)
Another great thing is that this app will anonymize your data and make it publicly available. Other apps are already using this data to provide fun and unique experiences. For example, the Patient Zero game, whereby you attempt to spread a virus to other players, will take note of the weather to determine how well you have succeeded. By installing PressureNet and submitting the data it gathers, you can help the development of great new apps in the future.
With all of the messaging services on the market; Whatsapp, Snapchat, Messenger, Hangouts, etc, do we really need another one? Well, we do if it is fully featured, or different. LiveText ticks both of those boxes.
From Yahoo, LiveText is a mixture of Skype and Vine. Whenever you are typing to someone on it, or open up their message, your phone front camera switches on giving them a video feed of yourself. Once your friend joins, you can then see them. You can then start typing messages to each other, with voice not being an option.
The implications of this might not be apparent at first. Think about how many times you have sent a message to someone, and have had to use smiley faces to make sure that you got across the emotional content you wanted to. With LiveText, your partner will be seeing all of your reactions in real time, and you there’s. I’m sure we’ve all sent a text where we’ve wondered what the other person was actually thinking, and we’ve all felt the existential dread of watching a typing symbol on our screens for half a minute, and then getting a one word answer. Now we can see what they are thinking.
And don’t worry about privacy, like Snapchat, LiveText will delete all of your video conversations as soon as you close the chat.
LiveText has already proven itself to give a bit of the magic back to communicating. How many friends do you have who you only talk to in text messaging? How often do you see each other’s faces? Sure, you can set up a Skype call, but that feels like you have to be on there for at least half an hour to get the most use out of it. Watching videos and seeing pictures on Facebook also isn’t quite the same, as it misses out on the private moments of friendships. LiveText is actually the perfect answer to all of these problems. Give it a try and convince your friends to message you on it instead of any other way for a day. You will fall in love.
Although this game came out in April, a lot of new content has come out for it in Fall, with the release of a new “expansion” called “The Grand Tournament”, making Hearthstone feel like a completely new game.
For those who haven’t got hooked to Hearthstone yet, you are really missing out. Based on card games like Magic the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon, you play cards based on World of Warcraft characters. The game is a bit like chess, in that your goal is to outwit your opponent. But the fact that you never know what card you are going to get means it’s up there with Poker in terms of excitement.
The animations of this game are gorgeous, and the game play is fast and addictive. You will be climbing up in power and ranking very quickly with the game.
One of the great things about Hearthstone is that it is a free game. Although you can pay real money to collect cards faster, you don’t actually have to spend a single penny to enjoy the game. Instead, you can earn coins for buying extra pack of cards each time you win a match.
The new expansion, released just near the end of August, contains a series of cards that will make even newcomers decks super powerful. Perhaps key to the expansion is the new Inspire mechanic. When you build a deck with your cards, you pick between one of nine characters from World of Warcraft’s history. Each one of these characters has special powers you can use each turn. The new cards in The Grand Tournament, including new favorites such as the Disney inspired Brave Hunter or Nexus-Champion Saraad (yeah, some of the names can get pretty silly…), all gain in power every time you activate your hero’s ability. As a new player, you will be experimenting with your hero power quite often, making this release the perfect time to catch up.
8. Fallout Shelter
This game could have easily been a simple and cheap tie in for the new Fallout console game. However, it is actually a genuinely addictive and amusing game in it’s own right.
In Fallout Shelter you are placed in charge of… a Fallout Shelter. Basically, after a past war, humans now live underground, and it is up to you to manage the shelters that people now find themselves in.
In some ways, the game works very much like the Sims. You have to manage the needs of a core group of people, and build them new rooms in your shelter. You also have to set your current lot of people to different jobs, some of which help to keep your shelter up and running, some of which allow you to get more money to make your shelter bigger and better. It is in some ways, your standard resource management game. Do you focus on expanding, or keeping what you have going? After all, what’s the point of having money if your people don’t have enough water, because you haven’t assigned someone to the water plant?
What makes this game exciting though, especially in comparison to other resource games, is the random events. It is here that the games humor really shines, and also where things can get really tough. If you haven’t spent enough in game money, or your workers time, in building up your defenses, you can get attacked, reducing your output and causing you to have to rethink your whole resource management process.
And yes, this is another game that funds itself based on Micro-transactions but, again, this game does things a little bit differently. Whereas other games might ask you for real life money if you want to increase the speed of buildings being made, or if you want to get more in game money without working for it, this one doesn’t. Instead, the only thing that you can buy are items that all of your characters can find during random events anyway. You can easily play the whole game and not once feel like you need to spend a cent to carry on enjoying it.
9. Pokémon Shuffle
Like Apple Music, this is another first for Android; the first Nintendo Co., Ltd (ADR) (OTCMKTS:NTDOY) produced game.
Not just your simple match three game, this game picks up one of the most enduring parts of the Pokémon franchise; that of fire beating grass, grass beating water and water beating fire. You have to do battle with Pokémon at the bottom of your screen by matching up the right type to defeat that particular monster.
One of the most addictive parts of this game is the follow through on the popular slogan, “Gotta catch them all.” After the match, you have a chance to capture a new Pokemon, adding it to your collection and unlocking further puzzle levels in the game. After gaining new Pokémon, they are added to your puzzle board, helping you defeat the Pokémon at the bottom of the screen with their enhanced powers.
Whereas Fallout Shelter and Hearthstone take a little bit of time to learn, Pokémon Shuffle is very much a pick up and play game, with the rules being explained very clearly when you first start and very simple to pick up.
One of the only complaints the game has had is with it’s micro-transactions. You have a total of five hearts in the game. Starting any level causes you to spend a heart, and these hearts only return at a rate of one per half hour. And this is without even getting into the other power ups that you can buy with real money, such as Pokéballs that give you a greater chance at adding a Pokémon to your collection
However, if you are looking for a game that you can pick up for a few minutes here and there, and not a game one to spend all of your time on, you can ignore all the micro-transactions in the game. This makes Pokémon Shuffle a great choice for your Android Gaming App needs in Fall 2015.
10. Angel Stone
Now, Angel Stone is what you want if you are looking for a game to spend a lot of time. This is a game that has been growing in popularity, and it is very easy to see why.
Almost no other game on Android offers the same mixture of high quality graphics, and detailed yet simple combat.
Inspired by games such as Diablo, Angel Stone sees you take the role of one of three classes; your standard warrior, thief, and magic user types.
What really sets this game apart though from similar games on the App store in 2015 is the amount of customization and options your characters have. Each one has a range of unique items and skills that you need to master and use to be able to complete the game. These items are linked to micro-transactions, in that you can pay for better items, but you can also simply earn them during the progress of your normal game play.
You will need a powerful device to play this game, due to the amount of detail in it. Everything in the game has been done in glorious full 3D. Playing through the game isn’t just fun because of the action, but also because of wanting to see what cool things you are going to see next.
And the game gets even better with friends, as any player can come in and join your game through the co-op system. The company that’s made this game, Fincon, have also thought of something most others haven’t and have allowed for iOS users to also join in on Android games. This actually might be one of the few Action RPG games that you and your iOS friends can play together.
Really, this game would not look out of place on a console or computer. So if you are looking for a fully featured gaming app to get you through Fall 2015, look no further.