Games are a little more complicated to review than apps. Maybe the story and premise are intriguing and engulfing, but the controls are horrible. Or maybe the graphics are gorgeous, but the gameplay is terribly bad. What rating do you give? You might err toward an average rating, but wouldn't it be better if there was an easy way to specify which aspects were good and which were disappointing, for the benefit of the devs as well as other users?
One Play Store interface change might solve that problem. New Feature Ratings circles have started showing up for some users, letting them see separate ratings for a game's controls, gameplay, and graphics.
You wear a disguise, to look like human guys, but you're not a man, you're a Chicken Boo. The classic Animaniacs sketch, wherein a six-foot chicken passes himself off as human in various Chaplin-style short farces, might very well be one of the inspirations for indie gaming hit Octodad: Dadliest Catch. In this casual physics game you play an eight-legged cephalopod trying to live the American dream, passing himself off as an average Joe as he gets married, enters the workforce, and raises a family.
I dare you to try and get through this story without getting Devo lyrics stuck in your head. Ready? Here we go: FireWhip is a casual game from developer Trichotomy that's unlike just about anything on the Play Store, despite its simplicity. You play a tiny pixelated blob which, for reasons that aren't adequately explained, has a whip made of fire. The objective is to kill as many bad guys (also represented by pixelated blobs) as possible, in a sort of 360-degree version of a top-down shooter.
The unique part of FireWhip is the control scheme. To activate your whip you simply swipe in a circle, the faster the spin, the longer and more powerful the whip.
A couple of weeks ago, I shared with you a selection of lesser known music players for locally stored media that had some special powers and functions. However, playback and streaming aren't the only functions a music aficionado looks for, especially when your favorite app sometimes lacks a certain functionality. So how do you fill this void, or how do you improve on your basic listening experience? Here are 10 utilities that can be used in conjunction with your preferred music apps to complement them.
Viper4Android (Root only)
This entire article stemmed from the comments mentioning Viper4Android that we received on the original music player selection post.
It really is staggering how much customization you can do with the flexible Xposed Framework, even on a stock phone or tablet. The latest interesting Xposed module adds some much-needed options to Chrome for Android, at least if you're a root user who knows your way around the tool. ChromePIE is not a delicious browser-flavored snack cake, it's a module that adds swiping controls to Chrome, modeled after the popular LMT-PIE navigation bar replacement.
The old AOSP Android browser actually had a settings menu option for controls very similar to PIE, activated by swiping in to the page from the side of the screen.
If you thought (like me) that Update Wednesday had concluded, you thought wrong. It appears Google's also started pushing an update to Google Play Games, bringing the app up to version 2.0 with Level-up notification controls, XP rankings, and a few UI changes.
Readers may remember Quests and Level-up notifications from one of our exclusives last month. The functionality, along with Snapshots, was confirmed in the official announcement of Google Play Services 5.0. Today, though, Level-up notification controls are live, along with a new card on the "Play Now" screen showing users their XP level and how much XP they'll need to level up.
Newsflash: touchscreen controls are almost universally bad. They're so bad that companies like Sony, Archos, and NVIDIA have created entirely new devices just for the novelty of shoving console-style physical controls onto Android hardware. There's got to be a way to make make non-tactile control schemes suck less. This Kickstarter project... isn't it.
They're stickers. Stickers for your screen, shaped like controller buttons. How bad is this? Oh, let me count the ways.
The idea behind the Invisible Gamepad isn't all that terrible - place some thin, translucent, capacitive controls over a touchscreen, and it's at least better than nothing, right?
Whether due to neglect or a topsy-turvy set of priorities, Android developers sometimes leave out basic features like lock screen or notification (I'm looking at you, Spotify) controls. Well, Pandora is fixing at least some of its problems with an update that brings the ability to pause or skip tracks from the lock screen. Unfortunately, notification controls still aren't available but, hey. One step at a time.
Here's the full change log:
What's in this version:
- Lock screen controls for devices running Ice Cream Sandwich and later - Added elapsed and remaining timestamps to the track progress indicator - Reduced startup time - Bug fixes and enhancements
Aside from the lock screen controls, it's not a huge update, but it's always encouraging to see a prominent developer truly take advantage of what Android can do.
Yesterday, Google added support for audio playlists and media controls to Google Currents. We thought this sounded like a pretty neat feature, and, hey! We're on Google Currents! So why not put two and two together? Today we updated our Currents edition to include a feed of our audio podcast and it's actually kind of beautiful. Take a look:
It was possible to add audio before, but it wasn't quite this nice. The feed works on both phones and tablets. Just open up the Android Police edition, tap the drop down that will initially say "Articles", tap on "Podcast" and boom!
Google released an update to the news reader it hasn't abandoned today, adding a bunch of support for audio-centric features. Playlists are now available for editions that contain audio content, and users will be able to play, pause, and jump forward or backward in the playlist. There are even status bar controls added for when audio is playing, so you don't have to sit staring at a blank playback page while listening.
Here's the full change log:
What's in this version:
* Audio playlist for editions with audio * Audio media bar in app for stop, start, next, previous * Story scanner audio icons for launching Audio directly * Status bar audio controls when Currents audio is playing * Syncing post read state between devices * Bug fixes
It sounds a lot like Google is gearing up to make Currents more than just a guided content scraper.