June didn't see any huge releases in terms of Android apps, though we did finally get a publicly-available version of the Kodi Media Center, and Photoshop for Android (yes, yet another version of Photoshop). There are also some new tools for cloud storage fans, and probably the best cooking app on the Play Store. We've got some notable extras (especially if you're a Stephen Colbert fan). Here in no particular order are the best seven new apps from June, along with some honorable mentions.
The original CSR Racing racked up over 130 million downloads, becoming one of the top free-to-play games on mobile devices. It's no surprise that Zynga snapped up the developer, NaturalMotion last year for half a billion dollars. Now, the sequel has just been announced, and it's predictably titled CSR2.
Like its predecessor, this game will focus exclusively on the drag racing aspect with a ton of officially licensed cars from Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, and others. It's very, very pretty, but the gameplay is also quite simple. That's the formula that made the first one so popular, I suppose.
We've seen a ton of Android games launch in June, but even so there are some clear standouts. There are true premium games for fans of top-down shooters, space flight games, tactical RPGs, and crafting... and that's without even dipping into the Honorable Mentions section. On a technical level we've got everything from 60fps 3D masterpieces to a game that looks like it was made in Microsoft Paint. Check out the best offerings from an extremely generous month on the Play Store below.
Ooops! Noah is gone... but fortunately you can still see what happens to the animals on the Ark. The 3D animated film All Creatures Big and Small is now debuting exclusively in the Play Store, and you can download the HD film in its entirety for free.
This light-hearted movie asks the question of what happened to the animals that didn't make it on board Noah's Ark. It follows Finny and Leah as they try to survive the flood and find safety on the tallest mountain. Meanwhile, their parents attempt to turn the Ark around and rescue their kids. The subject matter may be Biblical, but the tone is hardly preachy.
Look, I've got nothing against the pixelated graphical style, sometimes erroneously referred to as "8-bit." But for the last few years it's often been used as a crutch for developers who can't be bothered to make truly good 2D graphics. That doesn't apply to Sword of Xolan, the latest game from developer Alper Sarikaya of Manuganu fame. The environments, enemies, and main character have enough definition that you can actually see what's happening on screen, and the excellent animations make the world come to life in ways that developers could only dream of back in the old SNES days.
Aside from being a visual treat, Sword of Xolan is a joy to play.
Birds gonna fly, fish gonna swim, dogs gonna bark, and unscrupulous people are going to find ways to steal digital content. Video piracy is more or less unstoppable (though reasonable prices and more convenient streaming have taken it down a peg), but if you brazenly sell gadgets with the sole intention of stealing TV shows and movies, expect a visit from Johnny Law soon enough. Several shady retailers in the United Kingdom have reason to reflect on this today, after police raided multiple locations selling "Android TV" set-top boxes designed more or less as piracy machines.
TorrentFreak reports that raids yesterday and earlier in June resulted in the seizure of hundreds of cheap white box Android devices, mostly running AOSP Android adapted for television use (and probably not the more legitimate Android TV software), loaded with illegal apps and tools for streaming and downloading pirated video.
Solid Explorer is one of the most popular file managers on Android, but the app has never been particularly attractive. It's much improved today, though, with the release of Solid Explorer v2.0. I know what you're thinking, is that really just happening now? Well, it's been in beta for more than six months.
After the launch of Music Key in November, we've had good reason to expect quite a bit from YouTube. We've seen things like 60 fps live streaming, 360-degree videos with cardboard support, and big updates to the Kids and Creator Studio apps – and that's just some of the stuff from the last two months. We also know there's plenty still to come, particularly an ad-free subscription model. The latest update doesn't seem to deliver any new features, not unless Google is planning to flip a switch server-side, but it gives a few hints about what to expect in the future.
YouTube is just over ten years old. That's about the time that a global and ubiquitous web service oughta straighten up and stream right, throw off adolescent comforts and maybe start considering some branch-off services, like Music or Games. The development team has decided to release news of upcoming features in that time-honored and totally not aggravating format, the video list. The following is specifically for "creators" (read: people who upload regularly and/or try to make money with videos), but some of the information is interesting for mobile users.
If you don't have four and a half minutes to spend watching for the new stuff, here's a breakdown in the old-fashioned and completely dead text format.
NVIDIA changed the landscape of Android gaming with the original SHIELD. And with that, came top-tier titles of recent years, like Valve favorites Portal and Half-Life 2. Since then, the company has released a slew of killer games specifically for SHIELD devices, including Half-Life 2: Episode One. Today, the saga continues with the third Half-Life game available for Android, Half-Life 2: Episode Two.
HL2: E2 (which is available exclusively for SHIELD Android TV) is joined by a handful of other kickass titles, all of which should be available today in Google Play. Here's a quick rundown, starting with the star of the show.