The Best New Android Apps and Games – June 2018
It’s June, which means the sun is out, the air is heating up, and it’s the perfect time for barbecues, pool parties, and camping. After a rough spring that felt more like an extended winter in parts of the United States, we’ve finally reached the point of no return for cold weather. For college students around the country, school has been out for nearly a full month, and high school students and younger only have a few days left to go, give or take some final exams. Summer is truly here, with two months or more of warm weather, relaxation, and vacation time ahead of us. Whether you’re planning on taking a long vacation or you’re just looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of your town or city for a few days, this time of year can help to provide a much-needed sense of relaxation and calm.
If you’re looking for some apps and games to help keep you occupied during those long summer road trips, or you’re just aiming to get some new content on your phone, we think we can help. This past month has seen a load of new apps and games for your Android phone, with some seriously impressive additions to what you might normally keep on your device. Two new games, including a minimalist ping pong title and a brand-new puzzle game with a morbid theme and some incredible pixel art, have arrived on Android to help you waste the summer away in the comfort of air condition. Meanwhile, we have four new apps to help you manage your summer, including an automatic do-not-disturb mode for driving, a notetaking app first made famous on iOS, a minimalist launcher designed to help you limit your phone usage, and an app made to stream your PC games right to your phone or tablet.
So, whether you’re looking for a new game to keep you occupied in the back of the car, or an app to help you manage your summer plans safely, we have plenty of additions and ideas for your phone this month. These are the best new apps and games for Android in June 2018.
In 2010, famed Japanese developer Capcom released a game for the Nintendo DS entitled Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective. Development on the game was led by Shu Takami, creator of the Ace Attorney series, and the title featured both unique art stylings and a captivating game mode. In the game, you play as Sissel, a ghost who must use his powers in order to save the lives of the living. The game featured smooth animation, and was praised for both its storyline and its gameplay. Though the game eventually arrived on iOS, it never found its way to Android, leaving gamers without the ability to revisit an underrated DS classic without emulation.
Death Coming doesn't quite replicate the look and feel of Ghost Trick, but it does use an almost identical setup to introduce players to the game at hand. In Death Coming, you begin the game as a character who has recently died, without any memory of what has happened. But unlike in Ghost Trick's opening sequence, Death Coming doesn't put you in the shoes of someone looking to save lives, but instead someone hired by Death itself to begin working to kill innocent humans through the act of accidents caused by your own hands. The game introduces you to this concept by using some gorgeous artwork. Though pixel-based artwork in games has become something of a trope in the past few years, it works here. The design behind both the levels and the character of Death look amazing, and though it may not be as unique as Capcom's Ghost Trick, it makes you feel similar emotions all the same.
The gameplay is as simple as the premise implies it to be. As Death's assistant, you are destined to spend the afterlife working to claim the lives of as many individuals as you can. That may sound bleak, and indeed it is, but that doesn't stop the game itself from being unique and adorable all the same. As you work around the world map, you'll click on items throughout the world to discover what can and can't be used to kill the townsfolk. Whether you're dropping flower pots, electrocuting a nearby puddle, or causing a lawnmower to go rogue, it's easy to both activate gameplay elements and to see a preview of what will happen when you trigger an item. You'll want to rack up points and combos as you play, attempting to get multiple deaths in one move in order to collect ghosts and gain a multiplier.
Not to underplay the visuals here, the pixel art truly shines. In fact, this game features some of the best pixel-art work we've seen in ages; the photos here really do not do it justice, and the small screen your phone has won't either. The gameplay, originally developed for PC and sold on Steam, translates really well to a mobile ecosystem, making it easy to click on specific elements on the world and to zoom in and out of certain aspects of the game as you play. Every element within the game world is fun and funny, and there's something about playing through the game that feels almost cathartic. The game has some amount of violence in it, as you might expect from a game designed around helping to lead people to their own respective dooms, but it's cartoonish in a way that makes it feel less violent than it might actually be.
Though it's a free download, Death Coming isn't a free game. The tutorial and the entire first level can be played for free in their entirety, but once you've finished playing through those missions, you'll have to drop some cash to unlock the rest of the game. At only $1.99 as an in-app purchase, Death Coming is relatively cheap, especially since the Steam version runs players $6.99 for the same experience on a different platform. If you're looking for a way to make up that cash in Google Play credit, you can make $1.99 fairly quickly in Google Play Rewards in order to pay for the full game. The game lacks ads, too—it's just the in-app purchase, nothing more, nothing less. Overall, Death Coming is a fun, inventive title that feels great to play on mobile, with a free trial to get a feel for the game and a low cost of entry to unlock the rest of the experience.
If you go on vacation this summer, there's a strong chance you'll be driving to get to your destination. Whether you have to drive to the airport, or you're driving to your actual, proper destination, some amount of road trips will be involved in your travel plans. Obviously, traveling by car involves some amount of danger. Modern cars today are safer than ever, but car accidents occur all the time all over the world, and your chances of being in one are higher than you might think. No matter how good of a driver you are, mistakes can be made. In 2018, distracted driving is more of a danger than ever before, thanks to the barrage of notifications and interruptions that appear on our devices. Even if you swear off texting and driving, it's all too easy to glance at a text on your device while cruising down the interstate.
With the Pixel 2, Google rolled out a new mode as part of their Pixel Services, which allowed you to auto-enable Do Not Disturb mode when your phone detects you're in a car, something it does by using a combination of GPS and motion sensors to pick up where you are at any given moment. As of writing, this option is still a Pixel-exclusive feature for Android Oreo and Android P betas, but you can add it to any phone using a brand-new application from Vasil Vasilev on the Play Store. Driving Detective takes the implementation of the auto-Do Not Disturb mode on the Pixel devices and allows you to be added to any phone running Android 4.1 or higher, helping to make both your own driving, and traffic in general, a little more safer.
Setting up the app couldn't be easier. The tool, available for free and without advertisements or in-app purchases, installs to your device and opens on a basic-looking menu display. The app highlights the obvious use case for a tool like this: using mobile devices while driving is dangerous, and notifications are a big part of distracted driving. Driving Detective works to detect when you're in a car in order to enable Do Not Disturb mode automatically. Flipping the switch on the screen asks you to enable some permissions for the app, after which, a rule in your Do Not Disturb mode will automatically be added to your device.
As far as settings go, Driving Detective has very few. The app works in the background to detect when you're in a car, just like the Pixel version of the same feature. It'll activate Do Not Disturb mode automatically and in the background, and the two options available for changing within the app—Preferences and Priority Only Settings—lead to your device's Do Not Disturb settings, allowing you to customize your traditional options instead of opting to customize a unique Do Not Disturb menu. In our tests, the app worked well; on a drive, it quickly determined based on our speed that we were in a car, and enabled Do Not Disturb mode. We didn't see a noticeable drop in battery life from running the app with the setting enabled, though we did get a false positive where Do Not Disturb mode was enabled as we were preparing this article (and sitting at a computer).
Still, despite the false positive, the app works well for what it's setting out to do. Driving is something most of us have to do on a daily basis, and whether you're running to the grocery store or driving between multiple states, distracted driving can affect all of us. The only feature we wish was offered here that isn't comes in the form of being able to easily send messages from your device when receiving a text while driving, to let the person on the other end know that you're occupied at the moment. That feature, however, can be fulfilled by a number of other alternate apps on the Play Store, allowing Driving Detective to focus on what it's made for: enabling Do Not Disturb mode without making itself a hindrance on your drive.
Sometimes all you need for a long road trip is something to keep your mind off of the monotony of the road in front of you. Sure, a deep RPG with complexities and challenging gameplay can keep your mind off the hours you're spending on travel, but if you're on a trip—with your family, your friends, or your significant other—you probably want to make sure your focus isn't too far away from the actual people surrounding you. Whether you want to have a long conversation, help the driver of the car (since you won't be playing games if you are the driver) navigate the road around you, or just take in some of the scenery as you drive from one location to another, it's a good idea to not dive too deep into a game on your phone. So while there are plenty of games on Android worth sinking hours into, allow us to recommend a gorgeous new minimalist game for your road trips: I'm Ping Pong King.
In I'm Ping Pong King, you're tasked with playing ping pong against all sorts of enemies, waiting to set you up to challenge you. The game features one of the most revolutionary minimalist designs we've ever seen in a mobile title thus far, with solid colors filling the full display of your phone and some basic stick drawings representing the gameplay action in front of you. It's gorgeous, especially on newer and taller displays you'll find on devices like the Pixel 2 XL or the Samsung Galaxy S9. There's something so great about the subtle touches of the game, you can't help but feel enthusiastic about the design.
We've played plenty of minimally-designed games before; it's the gameplay here that also happens to just as minimal as the art around it. Playing Ping Pong King is as easy to learn as it is difficult to master. The game faces you off with an opponent across the table from you, with the table featuring four squares. Instead of acting like a normal ping pong game, your opponent will simply aim the ball at one of the two squares. The square will light up, and you'll have a fraction of a second to reply to the hit by pressing the correct button on your display. Choosing the left button makes your character move to the left, while choosing the right button pushes your character to the right. There's no other reacting or direction; just hit the ball in the correct pattern, and you'll be able to score on your opponent.
Of course the game grows more difficult as you build throughout the course, working towards battling it out between yourself and one of more than ten opponents. As you work your way up, you'll have to begin to react with faster timing in order to make the hits count. I'm Ping Pong King is a free game with ads and in-app purchases, but as we write this guide, the game remains in an "unreleased" beta state that doesn't seem to feature either. We'll have to see if the game remains free and fun to play as content gets added in down the line, but for now, I'm Ping Pong King (clunky name aside) remains the perfect game to waste a few minutes on while traveling in the back of a car, stuck in that summer vacation traffic.
There's no shortage of notetaking apps on Android. From the popular Evernote, Microsoft OneNote, and Google Keep options to more underground selections like Squid or ClevNote, there's plenty of options to choose from when looking for a way to keep to-do lists, notes, and other productivity options in check on your phone. We've long recommended Google Keep for its simplicity and its lack of a price, but for some, Keep doesn't offer enough utility to truly make it a feasible product. Evernote has long been a favorite of many, but the software has stagnated in recent years, and the platform keeps some of their best features behind a paywall.
In 2016, a brand-new competitor to Evernote was launched for PC, Mac, and iOS. Called Notion, the app is incredibly powerful, the perfect application for anyone looking to ditch Evernote for something just as powerful. Notion finally arrived on Android just as we prepare this article, and we simply had to include it in our roundup of some of the best new apps for Android. As a notetaking app, Notion is aimed more at businesses and professionals than almost any other app we've tried, including Evernote. In some ways, it may remind users of Slack, an app designed for businesses and teams of people but something that can simultaneously be used for personal and individual needs as well.
When you first log into Notion, you'll be greeted with a simple question about your profession. The sample answers all center around basic corporate job tasks—human resources, information tech, customer support, programmer, and so on. If you work in a more creativity-based profession, you'll want to select other, which will allow you to continue through your basic setup of Notion in order to get to the main display. Because Notion is designed as a workplace application, creating your account involves creating a Notion workspace, which includes a URL so that anyone with an approved email address can enter and add to your Notion lists and pages. The setup page allows you to automatically add email addresses you'll need in your workspace, but if you're unsure on who exactly you need to add, don't stress. You can always add more in the settings of the app.
Notion starts by giving you some times on basic creation within the app. It's not the easiest notetaking and to-do list to learn, but that's largely due to the power Notion adds to your productivity. While Notion works well as a notetaking application, it's also designed as a project management tool, and the features in the app allow you to do three main things with its utility. Tasks, which function how most users have seen in Google Keep or Evernote, make for an easy way to keep track of what needs to be done between now and a deadline. A documents editor allows you to create and edit work right within Notion, without having to leave the app—the perfect solution for anyone looking to take college notes within the application. The third use is creating Wikis (or "Knowledge Bases") of information, locally edited and created directly from your Notion account. This is almost like creating a website just for you and your team to track content within the app.
All of this works to make Notion a powerful application for any Android user or team of users looking to get work done, and done quick. Like Evernote, Notion uses a pricing tier that allows for some free access of features, with monthly priced options available after that. If you're just going to use the app on Android, you can stay on the free tier and gain access to unlimited members working on your project, a 1000 "block" storage system, and a 5MB limit on file uploads. At $4 per month for the personal level, you're reduced to a single member but gain unlimited storage, no file limits, and priority support. If you're a team of users, you're better off on the $8 per month team plan, which has the same features as the $4 per month plan but is designed for multiple members. And of course, both paid plans gain access to the PC and Mac versions of the app.
Ultimately, you'll know at first glance whether Notion is right for you. The app is incredibly powerful, but not all users will need that level of utility and power in their toolset. Since the app is available for free on Android, there's no reason not to give it a shot if you think it might be something you're interested in. Notion won't please everyone looking for a notetaking app, or even a productivity tool, but it's absolutely worth a look on Android—especially if you're getting bored with tools like Evernote.
Launchers are a dime a dozen these days, with plenty of options ready to be downloaded on the Play Store for free or just a couple bucks. You have the mainstays, your Novas and your Action Launchers that are designed to allow you to gain a stock Android experience while simultaneously giving you some more features and utility through gestures, customizable icons, and more. On the other hand, there are launchers like Microsoft Launcher, which syncs with your Windows computer and allows you to transfer content between the two devices, and launchers like Evie, which completely changes how your phone acts and feels. There's no shortage of launchers on the Play Store these days, so color us surprised when we found Siempo, a launcher trying to do something we haven't seen before.
Well, at least, we haven't seen from a third-party launcher. Most launchers fall into one of two camps: either designed to simply give you a new experience or designed to help you find the apps you need faster than before. Siempo doesn't line up with either platform; instead, the app actually mirrors what both Apple and Google have been focusing on in 2018 with their new software updates. Known generally as "digital wellness," these efforts from the two main smartphone OS developers are focused on helping you stay connected while limiting the amount you're on social platforms like Instagram or Twitter, helping you to stay in the moment at any given time and to focus on what's around you as opposed to the computer in your pocket. While these efforts are rolling out this year in Android P and iOS 12 this fall, Siempo's beta release allows you to give your phone a complete overhaul, focused primarily on reducing distractions and pushing you to accomplish your goals.
When you first launch the app, you'll be asked to enter a personal goal that you're working towards in your day to day life. Siempo asks you to keep the intention positive, short, and goal-focused. You can enter whatever you want here, whether it be "Stay Focused," "Get to Work," or "Be Positive." Anything you want to enter here will work; just know that it'll be displayed on the next screen within the app. Once you've entered your goal, the app will ask you to make Siempo your default launcher, and then will bring you to a white and gray display that represents your new home screen. The app is incredibly minimal; your launcher is basically a blank display minus the mention of your custom intention, which you can change at any given time by clicking on the box.
Siempo uses a minimal color scheme in order to keep you focused, as studies have shown that an app lacking in color and displayed in grayscale will have you focus on it less than you otherwise would. Despite the lack of shortcuts on the main display, you aren't out of options for launching your apps. Scrolling to the right side of the page will display the date, a search box that allows you to find apps, send messages, or save notes, along with the necessary apps you need to use your phone daily without getting distracted. You can launch maps, rideshare apps, your calendar, the weather, and more. All of these apps require you to set the default application you want launched from the icon, so make sure you set up this part of your launcher. If a specific tool you need for your work isn't here, you can add it by holding down on the main display and clicking on the "select tools" page.
Keeping in line with the digital wellness theme, Siempo focuses on making sure you aren't distracted by both time-wasting applications and by notifications. To handle the first category, Siempo looks at the apps installed on your device and recommends flagging specific applications known for eating up your time and moving them to a distant page on the launcher. By flagging these apps, the app pushes them to the side and displays your intention above the apps to remind you of your current goal. Though you can launch any of your flagged apps without much effort from this page, Siempo pushes you not to do so. The app automatically suggests apps installed on your device to flag when you first setup the launcher; on our test device, the usual suspects were flagged, including YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram. You can manually flag any other apps in order to add them to the list as well.
While flagging apps is a neat feature, it's the way Siempo handles notifications that is really, truly interesting. On the main page of the app, you'll find a small notification bell icon, similar to the same bell used on YouTube to alert you to your subscription updates. This bell icon allows you to enable Tempo, Siempo's main way of handling notifications. Tempo might be the best feature in Siempo: it handles your notifications for you, allow you to either gain notifications as usual (when they come into your phone), to access notifications all in a single bunch at a given time (with your phone remaining in Do Not Disturb mode until then), or in a middleground mode, with al notifications rolling in batches every 15 minutes. That last selection is really interesting; it basically allows you to turn off your notifications except for when you need them, so you can focus on the work at hand.
The settings menu is fairly basic, as is expected for an app in an early beta like Siento. As it stands currently, the settings for the app mostly allow you to disable some of the more interesting features included here. There's a dark theme that looks good, especially at night or on AMOLED displays. You can disable the intentions mode, which leaves your home screen blank. You can set a background image if you wish, but that doesn't gel with the goal the app is trying to achieve. The features designed to reduce your app usage can be disabled if you wish, including the randomized flagged-apps feature and the app icon replacements, but again, all of these features work in favor of Siempo's goal.
Siempo isn't perfect yet, but for an early beta, we're pleasantly surprised. The app meets both a certain level of complexity and simplicity in order to be your daily driver. Being able to push you more towards a solid workflow focused on keeping you busy is a good thing, and it's something that we're seeing more and more of from all sorts of phone manufacturers. Though Android P will arrive in the coming months on Pixel devices with system-level ways to make your life less focused on distractions and more focused on work, Siempo is here today. If you're interested in reducing your phone usage, or just trying out a new launcher, you owe it to yourself to check out Siempo.
Steam is the gaming community's most valuable and vibrant online marketplace for PC gaming, the go-to place for most gamers looking to build a virtual library of titles. The marketplace, first launched by game development team Valve in 2003, has become known for its massive site-wide sales and for its community of gamers. Though Steam has seen its fair share of controversy since its launch, it's also been one of the main spearheads behind the success of PC gaming throughout the late 2000s and 2010s, the relaunch of the PC as a successful place for gaming aside consoles like the PS4 and the Nintendo Switch.
One thing Steam has made really easy is streaming, with the ability to stream your games between multiple PCs in your household and to your PC by using a small $50 box known as the Steam Link. The Steam Link often goes on sale for just a few bucks on Steam and in other marketplaces like Amazon, allowing you to hook it up to your home theater to stream Steam titles right to your television with little effort. Now, Steam has made a free beta version of the Steam Link as an application designed specifically for Android phones and tablets, allowing you to stream your entire gaming collection right to your device without any additional effort on your part. So, is the app any good? Is it worth streaming over WiFi, or is the experience less than stellar? Let's take a quick look at the Steam Link application.
First things first: you'll need to make sure you have a compatible Bluetooth controller that syncs with Android. We have an entire list of Android-friendly gaming controllers right here; basically anything on this list will work properly with your phone. We tried using a PS4 controller, which can hook up to Android via Bluetooth without much of an issue. Unfortunately, once you've hooked your controller up to your device, you'll find it's unable to actually command anything in the Steam Link app, so make sure you stick with one of the devices that actually properly works. from that list. You'll also need fast wireless internet running on a 5GHz network, as 2.4GHz presents lag and is generally unusable; you'll need a Steam account and a computer capable of playing devices; finally, you'll need a phone or tablet running Android 5.0 or higher.
Assuming you have everything you need, you can start streaming games in just a few minutes. The Steam Link app will look for Steam running on your network from your gaming desktop or laptop PC, and will automatically connect to Steam (if an update is needed, Steam will auto-download the necessary files to stream over the network). There's no need to log into Steam; instead, your Android device will show a four-digit code for you to enter on your computer. Once the two devices are synced, Steam Link will perform a network test. If your internet isn't fast enough to stream to your mobile device, or you're streaming on a 2.4GHz network, you'll be told by Steam that you can't use the network you're currently on. Likewise, you have to be on a WiFi network; you won't want to stream over Verizon or AT&T.
At minimum, try to have at least a 15Mbps download speed on your network, and as high of an upload speed as you can. The faster your internet, the better off you'll be in terms of both visual appearance of the game you're playing and any latency within the app itself. We tested the app on an internet connection with 36Mbps down and about 4Mbps up; by no means is this the top internet speed you'll find in America, but it's a decent middle ground for testing the application. Once we were all set to go, we started by setting the app to the "Fast" connection, which emphasizes network speed over visual graphics, and connected to our computer.
When you connect with Steam Link, Steam automatically loads into Big Picture Mode, the utility designed for controlling your PC from your couch. Steam Link is only mirroring your PC, so it's best to think of Steam Link as an extension of your computer. Everything you interact with on your phone while connected to Steam will also be displayed on your computer's monitor, so if you'd rather just display the content on your phone, it's best to shut off or disable your monitor. When you're inside of Steam's Big Picture Mode, you can scroll through your library to select the game you wanted to play. We tested two games with Steam Link, on the opposite ends of the spectrum for age, gameplay, graphics, and basically everything else: 2013's Spelunky and 2018's Windows port of Final Fantasy XV.
First, let's discuss Spelunky. As a 2D puzzle-platformer crossed with a roguelike, Spelunky is ideal for a game to stream from your PC to your phone. It doesn't require much reading, so it can be played on smaller displays without having to deal with small, unreadable text or difficult controls. The game isn't graphically intense, which means it can be played on Fast mode without losing much detail, and the game itself isn't subjected to much lag. All in all, Spelunky played through Android was a complete win. We played through the tutorial and, as expected, the game was fantastic. While we could've ran some actual tests to find out whether or not the game was lagging, in our general feel tests, we didn't notice any sort of lag or slow connection. The sound is automatically muted by Steam on your PC and redirected through the phone, and it worked great. Basically, Spelunky was a complete win on Android through Steam Link.
Final Fantasy XV is, as one might imagine, a bit more of a mixed bag. It's a demanding title, a full RPG with some lush environments and realistic-looking characters. It's much newer than Spelunky, and requires a much higher-spec PC to run it in general. We loaded into the game with Steam Link still set to Fast mode, and the experience wasn't great. At only 10Mbps, the game had half a second or more of input lag while playing the game, and the textures were jagged and blurry. It was a poor experience to say the least, with dropped frames occurring every couple seconds. Bumping up the speed to Balanced mode made things a bit better, specifically when it came to textures, but there was still some input lag that made movement in the game difficult.
It wasn't until we played the game on the Beautiful setting, taking advantage of the full 30mbps download speeds on our test connection, that the game became playable. Not perfect, mind you, but playable in a way the game hadn't been on the previous two settings. It looked the best and played the best, with little input lag throughout most of the game. Controlling both Noctis and the camera was easy, but when the party got into a battle, it became a bit harder to control. Still no input lag, but there was most definitely some dropped frames within battles that made it more difficult to control overall.
Despite the problems with Final Fantasy XV's stream, Steam Link is shockingly well-made for a beta application. Obviously it's better for less-taxing games than playing 100-hour RPGs, but playing a brand-new Final Fantasy entry on your phone is still pretty radical. If you have a Moto Mod-capable device, you can even use the Game Mod made for the phone to essentially create a mini Nintendo Switch for playing PC games around your house, similar to how the Gamepad worked on the Wii U. And, though we haven't mentioned it, because this device is just creating a mirror of your PC to send to your phone, you can even use Steam Link to mirror your desktop right to your phone.
If you're a PC gamer and you have an Android phone or tablet, along with a Bluetooth controller and a fast home network, absolutely give this a shot. Whether you're interested in it for the novelty or for playing some RPGs or platformers while lying in bed, it's a pretty cool piece of technology that's also shockingly easy to setup.
For some, nothing is more enjoyable than a night out eating at your favorite restaurant. Depending on where you live, you might have a favorite taco stand, or an Italian place with the perfect pasta. Maybe there's a diner you love to frequent where the staff knows your name and your order. Whether you like to stick to your old favorites or you love to try out new foods in your area and when travelling, ChefsFeed is the perfect app for you. Recently relaunched with a brand new application, ChefsFeed is perfect for reading up on restaurants in your area, looking for the hottest places in your next vacation spot, and for reading some great takes on food, drinks, and more.
ChefsFeed is the mobile app version of the website of the same name, offering a wide variety of food and drink coverage and publishing expert advice on what and where to eat. The app starts by syncing to your location, in order to offer hot spots and restaurant suggestions close to you. This, unsurprisingly, works best in metro areas. Testing the app with rural, suburb, and urban areas, the app picked up the best coverage for both editorials and restaurant suggestions in high-activity areas like Los Angeles and New York City. Moving outside of large metro areas and your results for restaurants and articles begins to slim. ChefsFeed will tell you the nearest popular location, though depending on where you live in the country, it could be hours away. If you manage to live near—or you often visit—popular locations in North America, you'll likely have a better time with this.
The homepage of the app lists the trending content in your area, giving you a solid list of articles and editorials, videos embedded within the application, and opinion pieces on how we eat. The hot spots tab gives you nearby popular restaurants, though again, you'll need to live in a fairly popular metro area to get much out of this. Looking at two nearby cities, it became obvious that ChefsFeed was much more oriented towards the larger of the two cities. While the more populous area has more than two dozen suggested places, the smaller area—despite some fantastic places surrounding the city—only featured a few well-known establishments, with three of them known as local tourist traps more than "essential" places to eat.
If you're focused more on the features aspect of ChefsFeed, there's an entire tab of videos, articles, and most importantly, guides to the area you've chosen. This tab is one of the best options within ChefsFeed, offering a whole selection of content to choose from and allowing you to easily find the videos and articles you want to read. This goes without mentioning the entire tab devoting to finding and creating good drink mixes. Each restaurant and featured food item have a full list of open and closing times, phone numbers, maps and more, making it easy to find new places to eat. Ultimately, ChefsFeed is a fun app to keep on your phone for foodies everywhere, even if it might be limited to high-profile metro areas like New York, LA, Chicago, and more. Early users seem to love the app too: it's sitting at a 4.9 on Google Play.
Developer RebelApes released Blocky Snakes earlier this year, combining endless runners with the classic Snake gameplay from early Nokia phones to great success. The visual appearance used in the retro-stylized app reminded us of the visual style of Minecraft or Crossy Road, the app the game was clearly trying to ape off of in an interesting gameplay twist. Perhaps inspired by the endless runner version of Snake, RebelApes has now developed a more standard version of Snake using the same graphics engine created for the original version of the game. With this new version of Snake, you can both enjoy the original gameplay mode in a multitude of levels while playing with some great-looking graphics along the way. Let's take a look at what's offered by the game.
First things first: as mentioned, the graphics here look excellent. The block-filled world translates well into a grid-shaped format, making it easy to see where the snake is when you're moving around the map. Everything is pretty cute here, with the fruits you're gathering throughout the level appearing as blocky as the snake you're controlling in your gameplay. The graphics are honestly simple enough that there isn't much more here to discuss. They look great, with a modern-yet-retro aesthetic that has become popular throughout the 2010s, and the only thing you could really say negatively about them is that they're a bit derivative of similar titles.
When it comes to gameplay, things are equally simple. Starting with the settings, Classic Snake Game includes two different modes to control the snake with. A virtual D-pad (pictured) is available here, allowing you to select up, down, left, and right with ease. You can also play with just the left and right buttons on the bottom of the system, making it closer to what the original game was like twenty-plus years ago, where pressing right rotates the snake 90 degrees clockwise, and pressing left does the opposite. When starting a game, you get the choice to select from eight different map patterns, starting with a blank screen and getting progressively more difficult as you work your way through the maps at hand.
Like most free to play games, there's a certain level of gimmicks and additions in the game you should expect to have to deal with while playing. Coins are collectable throughout levels, which grants you the ability to unlock new snake colors, customization, and map themes from a loot box-style game mechanic. There are ads as well, though these can be removed by dropping $2.99 on the ad-free version (either through the Play Store or by paying with an in-app purchase). Overall, Classic Snake Game is a new addition to the popular retro genre, taking a classic style game and combining it with a wonderful design aesthetic to bring Snake into 2018.
Released at the tail end of 2017, Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy is the newest in a long line of meta-style games that are self-referencing, winking to their audiences of players worldwide. Games like Doki Doki Literature Club, Undertale, and Garry's Mod use the trappings and tropes of their respective genres to either say something interesting about how we play, to comment on our society, or to reinvent and reference gaming ideas that, as the public, we've all widely accepted. Getting Over It doesn't quite follow the leads set by those games, though; instead, we're supposed to take that subtitle—with Bennett Foddy—quite literally, as game developer Bennett Foddy narrates the entire game while you play.
Let's start from the beginning. Though you might not be familiar with Foddy's name, you're definitely familiar with his output. The Australian-born, New York-based game designer (who also happens to be a trained moral philosopher with a focus on drug addiction) who became a game instructor at NYU after the popularity of his browser-based 2008 game QWOP. You've probably heard of QWOP; it was a viral success that became well-known for its intense difficulty in 2010 after appearing in multiple press outlets and, eventually, landing a featured spot on The Office in its final season. QWOP was a game designed around being frustrating, a game where you had to control an athlete by using the Q, W, O, and P keys on your keyboard. In some ways, Getting Over It is a spiritual sequel ten years later, albeit with a much deeper well to dig from.
The game revolves around a silent man who exists in a hellscape of a world that exists to force you, as the man, to get to the top of a mountainscape in the world. The man is stuck in a cauldron from the waist down, and has only a hammer in his hands to help him navigate the world. Using (on the Android version) your finger to swing the hammer around the world, you must latch onto objects, swing yourself around the world, and work through trial and error to navigate the world around him. Needless to say, the game gets frustratingly hard very, very quickly, and if you don't have a solid sense of patience, you're probably going to find the game infuriatingly difficult to play.
While you work through the game world, a voice will begin talking to you early on. That voice represents the dulcet tones of one Bennett Foddy, effectively playing himself as the designer of the game. Foddy discusses various topics while you're playing his game, typically focusing on various philosophical ideas about what you're trying to do and the various ineffectiveness of it all—not to mention your major failures. The entire idea comes off as something of a joke, but there's a real message here, narrowing down to Foddy's love of older, extremely difficult titles (as well as a 2002 Czech game Sexy Hiking). Foddy, who has spoken at length about the joy he gets from difficult games, looked to older titles like Jet Set Willy, along with newer games like Dark Souls and Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice (the latter of which would erase your save data if you died) as a rebirth of love for difficult games.
There truly isn't much to the gameplay here. You make your way around the mountain, attempting to climb over your various minutes, hours, or days playing the game (the game can be completed in under two minutes if you're good enough; you probably aren't). No matter how calm you try to enter the game, you'll likely feel enraged at certain points, especially if Foddy's philosophical musings managed to get under your skin. At $4.99, however, Getting Over It is an innovative title, something absolutely worth playing for its unique outlook on games as a whole, for its unique challenge, and for the sense of success you'll feel when you hit the top of the mountain. Just try not to break your phone in the process.
For years, Google's software has largely been praised by users and the tech press alike, both for its visual design and the general usefulness of many of the apps shipped by the company. Google Duo has seen its fair share of success as a cross-platform FaceTime alternative. Google Photos allows for full cloud backup of high-res copies of your favorite photos and memories. Gmail recently received a full redesign with a modern app appearance, incorporating some of the ideas Google has had for email since rolling out Inbox a few years ago. Unfortunately, not all of Google's software has been a home run. Google Allo, for instance, was recently sidelined after flailing for more than a year, and Google Play Music has stalled in terms of updates as Google attempts to prepare to relaunch the app under the YouTube branding.
Google Tasks has spent much of its life in the second category of Google's software suite, with the app's major problem coming from a lack of a centralized location for users to add, view, and remove tasks from their to-do list. Tasks have been accessible from within Gmail, Inbox, Google Calendar, and even secondary apps like Google Keep and Google Assistant, but without a hub for Google users to turn to when they need to accomplish things or finish tasks on their lists, Google Tasks has largely been ignored by a large percentage of Google users. So, when Google finally announced they were rolling out a brand new Tasks applications for Android and iOS (alongside the reinvention of Gmail), people were pretty excited for what was coming down the pipeline.
Ultimately, Tasks is something of a mixed bag, especially depending on what you're looking for from Tasks. This isn't the most powerful application we've ever seen, both from Google and from other third-party to-do list apps, when it comes to managing your tasks. There's a lot to love here, starting with the visual design. The general appearance is clean and clear, with the app using the newer version of material design we've seen them slowly rolling out to apps. This app is all white, all the time, which may bother some people looking for a dark theme that the app, admittedly, would look fantastic in. The rest of the app is laid out fairly simply, with your tasks at the top of the page, your completed tasks listed below (in a drop down menu), and the option to add a new task to your device's list at the bottom of the page.
Once you've created a task, you have a few options available for editing. Each task has its own additional notes field, allowing you to add extra information to a headline. You can set a date the task is due by, making it easy to add the task to your calendar automatically. Finally, each task has the option for subtasks, so you can add information like "buy wedding gift" to "make hotel reservation for wedding." The app does have support for both multiple accounts and multiple lists, with the option to change accounts available by tapping on the left-side menu button. Here, you can create a new list, change between multiple lists (say, for home and work), and switch to the other Google accounts running on your phone. Tapping on the menu button to the bottom-right allows you to reorganize and rename your lists, but outside of those options, Tasks lacks any major settings menus.
The main critique surrounding this application is simple: is this Tasks app even enough if all it can do is some basic functionality (sub tasks, additional details, and due dates)? The major problem comes from the similar apps offered by Google. Keep has the ability to create reminders, to-do lists, and more, while syncing to a full web client that makes it easy to pair your notes together. Tasks lacks any sort of reminder option right now, which means you have to manually check your tasks as you work through your list. In our tests, Tasks didn't seem to sync with Google Assistant in any way, despite Assistant syncing directly with Google Reminders, an app that also syncs with Calendar.
Considering the strict competition for fully-featured to-do lists on Android, Google Tasks has a lot of catching up to do in the next few months to make it a more interesting option than what's currently offered. Combining Tasks and Reminders would be a start, as would building a web-centric hub where you can view your tasks on your computer in addition to your phone. Ultimately, there's still a lot to work to be done with Tasks, though the base of a solid app is there. The visual design is striking and modern, a sign of things to come for Google with Android P. Hopefully the next few months show a ton of improvement for Tasks, though as of writing, the app is still on its initial release.
Ketchapp is one of our favorite developers on Android, with a wide variety of Android games available that we've recommended in a number of "Best Games" roundups. The team at Ketchapp excels at creating fun, innovative, and minimalist games for mobile platforms designed around limited gameplay time. In some ways, Slashy Sushi, their newest title in a long list of games designed for playing for minutes at a time, might be one of their best yet. Not only is the game fast-paced and fluid, with a gorgeous art style that makes it one of the best looking games on Android today, the entire gameplay structure is perfect for two minute-sessions when you're standing in line at the supermarket or waiting for your Lyft to come pick you up. Let's take a look at this quick, quirky title.
In a lot of ways, Slashy Sushi acts like a combination of two classic titles, one mobile and one from fifteen years ago. The first game, Ridiculous Fishing, is a 2013 mobile game for iOS and Android that features a similar visual design to what you'll see here with Slashy Sushi, a minimalist and flat appearance that shines on all sorts of mobile devices, especially with high-resolution displays. The other game Slashy Sushi seems to grab its influence from is older and far more well-known, especially in the gaming audience: WarioWare, the 2003 game (and its various sequels) designed around "microgames," where you had a limited amount of seconds to accomplish the goal in a game. Slashy Sushi acts similar to this idea, giving players a general idea of the goal of the mission given early on.
Once you jump into Slashy Sushi, you're presented with a basic mission: follow the goal on screen before time runs out. Each small mission presented in the game gives you a general how-to before quickly dropping you into the game and leaving you on your own to figure out the game. In some ways, the game presents itself as a sort-of virtual Bop It, a game designed to force you to think fast and to perform the correct task, with each small game based around preparing sushi. Sometimes you'll have to tap on the screen to cut the sushi a certain number of times; sometimes you'll need to hold toast in a toaster or grind a carrot on a grater to create a certain amount of food. The background color changes to act as an in-game clock (of which there is also one, but it's definitely easier to see the background change).
The real challenge of each minigame is having to pay attention to how much you do an action. It isn't enough just to complete the task in a matter of two or three seconds; you'll also need to pay attention to your actions. If the game asks you to chop a piece of sushi three times and you tap four times on your display, you'll lose your run—the game's over. That means it isn't just enough to recognize what the task Slashy Sushi is asking you to accomplish; you need to finish the game fast while also making sure not to overdo it.
Like most of Ketchapp's games, Slashy Sushi is free with both ads and in-app purchases. As far as the latter goes, the game seems to only have one in-app purchase available: removing ads. You can remove ads from the game if you want by tapping on the "no ads" icon in the top-left corner, which gives you a prompt to delete advertisements from the game with one $2.99 ad. There is in-game currency you can use to purchase the hands that are accomplishing your tasks (by default, it's a squid tentacle), some of which can only be gained by syncing the game with your social accounts. You gain coins for both completing runs (you can find coins scattered throughout the level) and by logging into the game each day (with streaks gaining you more coins throughout a full week).
At its core, Slashy Sushi is an excellent addition to the free-to-play games offered by Ketchapp, another winner focused squarely on providing minutes of fun at a time for free whenever you find yourself with a bit of spare time. It's not something that will likely addict you the way Getting Over It is such a winner, but ultimately, Slashy Sushi takes the gameplay style of WarioWare and converts it to a mobile game in an interesting and unique way.