Androidify was a neat distraction when it came out a few years back, but it quickly fell by the wayside. Forgotten, it waited in the Play Store for its chance to shine again, and here we are. Google has updated Androidify with a new UI and some spiffy holiday duds.
Shortly after Android 4.4 hit Nexus devices, a new beta of the popular Nova Launcher home screen added UI elements borrowed from the Google Experience Launcher. Now that version has hit the Play Store with some refinements and additional features. While the Google Now integration isn't possible with a third-party launcher, this is about as close as you'll get to the Kitkat look without going stock.
You'd have to look twice to tell Nova from the stock Google Experience Launcher – the icons, fonts, and colors are all reproduced here, but with the fully customized Nova settings underneath.
Reading long articles on the web can be a pain, but Pocket makes it easy to save and read content in its slick minimalist UI. This app has been great since it was redesigned (it used to be ReadItLater), and the most recent update makes things even better with the ability to share and tag content as you're saving it.
Now when you save a page to Pocket on Android, there will be a Quick Save popup at the bottom with a direct link to the app, a tag button, and a share button.
Wondering what that sign says, but you don't speak the lingo? You might want to figure it out – signs convey important information. Maybe it says "keep off the grass," but it could also say "high risk of electric shock." Word Lens can help with that by doing live translation of text using optical character recognition and the camera. It's neat, and the newest version adds support for tablets.
Dead Trigger 2 is certainly one of the prettiest shooters on Android, and it also has one of the highest zombie densities of any game on Android. The developers have been pretty serious about adding new content and responding to player suggestions with past updates, and it's the same with today's. Version 0.2.5 has hit Google Play with some cool stuff and insights into the next update.
Third-party music players are a little less important ever since Google cleaned up Play Music, but there's still something to be said for the venerable old doubleTwist. This app has gone through several UI iterations and adjusted its feature set to better serve Android users as time went on. With the newest update, the app improves support for tablets with a UI overhaul, among other improvements.
The Chromecast is only $35, but CheapCast is as cheap as it gets – free. Just install it on your Android device and it shows up on your network like a Chromecast. This is handy in a number of situations, but the app has been lacking some features since it launched. The new version that just showed up in Google Play should address some of that.