Free-to-play Android games aren't difficult to come by, but this one has a little more going for it than mere affordability and simple play mechanics. CastleStorm made quite the name for itself on consoles this past fall, and now a touch-friendly adaptation is hitting Android as a private beta. The game combines tower defense with destructive physics, crisp graphics, fully voiced characters, and over 100 quests. The game isn't entirely free, as you need to spend money to get your hands on some in-game items, but with any luck, this won't hinder gameplay too much.
Update: While the app is no longer behind the Play Store beta wall, Opera is apparently waiting before they throw the switch. The Opera blog post said access to the general public was first come, first serve, but there's a waiting list in the app right now. Opera is allowing everyone access, but it's happening slowly, probably to manage server load.
Unlimited data is becoming a rarity these days, so you might need to watch your usage more closely.
Klinker Apps is on a roll lately. In addition to debuting the excellent Talon for Twitter and EvolveSMS apps last month, they've been consistently updating their portfolio with new features like Pebble integration. Yesterday Talon was updated to version 1.4, and there's a new version of EvolveSMS in the pipeline for the next few days as well. But perhaps most interesting is the way that the small developer has issued a secondary support app, Klinker Apps Portal.
Wink It Keyboard may not yet be the most obnoxious Android keyboard, but give it time, it's still in beta. This product comes from the developers of Adaptxt Keyboard, which made a name for itself by being feature-rich and customizable. Wink It's approach is decidedly less useful. Its goal is not to improve your typing. Oh no, it wants to change the way you use emoticons. It sticks various images in the suggestion bar as you type, encouraging you to stick them into your messages more often.
The CyanogenMod team is hard at work making the popular ROM more user-friendly and ready for the mainstream. After taking the wraps off its partnership with fledgling device maker OnePlus last week, CM is releasing its new gallery app to Google Play for beta testing. It is called (fittingly) GalleryNext.
Feedly has become the new darling of the RSS world after Google threw itself out of the market last year, but there are still plenty of users (including yours truly) who aren't crazy about the Feedly app itself. Hopefully the changes shown off in the newest beta release will change that. You can check out the beta via the usual Google+ community method: join this community on Google+, then head to this page in the Play Store.
Android's lock screen hasn't really changed since 4.2, but app developers keep coming up with new ways to wow us. Case in point: Cover. This alternative lockscreen replaces the default screen with a selection of quick-launch app icons, not unlike some of the manufacturer skins out there. But unlike TouchWiz or Sense, Cover automatically learns which apps you use at what times, and it comes with a ton of impressive UI features.
Good news, Mozilla fanatics: the updates that hit the beta channel of Firefox's Android browser back in November are now ready for prime time. Version 26 was uploaded to the Play Store today, complete with some notable interface changes and a few under-the-hood tweaks as well. The browser is free as always, and it's compatible with Android devices running 2.2 or later.
The biggest user-facing change is to the home screen, which is now tabbed Holo-style.