Welcome back to our monthly gaming retrospective, this time for January 2014. We've got a good mix of triple-A console-style games and more mobile-friendly casual titles for your consideration, some of which are so bizarre that they have to be played to be understood. We've also got plenty of picks that didn't quite make it to the top of the list, but are still worthy of attention. Check out the profiles below for screenshots, videos, and easy links to the Google Play Store.
January is generally held as a gloomy month, a time when there's nothing but slush on the ground and crap in the movie theaters. But it gave us more than a few fine apps, which you should take the opportunity to peruse. If you don't feel like meticulously combing through our massive bi-weekly app roundups, we've gathered the best of the best right here. Dig in, why don't you?
12Hours is one of those ideas that's so brilliantly simple you wonder why no one has done it already.
If we've learned anything from World of Warcraft, it's that strategy games and MMOs go hand in hand. Blizzard's role-playing game has been consuming lives for over a decade now, but it began as an RTS that was arguably every bit as engrossing. Line of Defense is taking a different approach. This MMO has now spawned a tactics game available for Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, and, yes, Android - all on the same day.
Do you use your smartphone while watching TV? Yeah, put your hands down. We're all guilty here. Yahoo hoped to take advantage of this habit of ours with IntoNow, an app that could identify whatever show was on and provide extra information about it (think SoundHound for TV). Yeah, the end result was still distracting, but it could be less disruptive than performing a Google search. Regardless, it doesn't matter anymore.
Newsstand is one of the younger apps in Google's portfolio, but today it's getting a significant update to version 3.1. The biggest change - and a welcome one for at-a-glance newshounds - is a brand-spanking new widget. It's a pretty basic 4X3 affair - the widget will display a single story at a time, complete with headline and embedded image. Tap the arrow button to advance to the next headline, or anywhere else to go directly to the story in Newsstand.
Google has pushed out an update to the Google Search app, which now means there's also an update to the Google Experience Launcher. We've got the APK for you to install below, and this is looking like a substantial update – it looks like the new (and probably official) name for the Google Experience Launcher is Google Now Launcher.
Update: Here's the official changelog.
● More fixes for sending/receiving MMS
● Fixed a bug that prevented some from sending SMS longer than 160 characters
The latest version of Google Hangouts for Android, 2.0.303, has begun rolling out to handsets this morning. This new version doesn't appear to bring much in the way of changes; the only thing we've spotted so far has been a new option to enable or disable sending of usage statistics to Google to improve the app.
Looks like another big "Update Wednesday" for Google, starting with the Drive app. Today's update brings just a couple of small-ish changes... unless, like the rest of the internet, you have an obsession with animated GIFs. Or you scan a lot of documents. Or both.
- New 1x1 widget for faster document scanning
- Support for animated GIFs
- Bug fixes
It's worth noting that the widget doesn't actually show up under the widgets menu on launchers like Nova, but rather under the "shortcuts" option.
Google's begun rolling out an update to Maps, bumping it from version 7.5 to version 7.6 just after flipping the switch on dynamic rerouting. Officially, what's new in the update hasn't been laid out, but as usual we've managed to get the APK and take a quick peek inside. In this post, we'll outline some of the new, interesting bits we've found in the new app, and those who don't want to wait for the update can grab the APK themselves at the bottom of the post.