Welcome to the 469th edition of Android Apps Weekly. Here are the big headlines from the past week.
- India’s Supreme Court this week upheld a court ruling on Google’s handling of Android. The ruling requires Google to allow OEMs to choose which Google apps to include, let users choose their preferred search engine, and a host of other changes. The changes could also change the way Google handles Android in other parts of the world. Click on the link for more information.
- Google reportedly currently has more than 20 AI products in development. The company switched to AI to compete with ChatGPT, which is a much bigger disruption than Google thought. Some products are for developers and others will be useful to us consumers. This includes a possible chatbot function within Google Search. We will keep you posted if any of these projects are made public.
- Apple is reportedly waging a silent war against Google. The company is apparently investing in a variety of products to directly fight Google, including an Apple-powered search engine, online advertising, and more. This is a pretty big deal if true, and it could affect how Google handles some of its products in the future.
- The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Google. The allegation is that Google has a monopoly on the digital advertising space that unfairly favors its own products. The lawsuit alleges that Google has a monopoly on everything from advertising to digital creation tools and that other competitors are being squeezed out as a result. With its 92% dominance in search engines, there is a case, but with rival companies such as Meta, Microsoft and Amazon also making money from advertising revenue, the lawsuit may fail.
- Google has long wanted to hide old and abandoned apps in the Play Store, and Android 14 could be the start of that. The new operating system is said to have tighter restrictions on older apps and may even prevent users from sideloading old apps to their devices. The idea is that older apps give users a worse experience. However, many people use older versions of apps to get around new changes in apps they don’t like. We’ll learn more once Android 14 is released later this year.
Price: Free to play
Flash Party is a fighting game very similar to Super Smash Bros. Players take on opponents in a platform arena where they fight until the opponents fall off. The game contains more than 20 heroes to play with. There are four classes of heroes and each class specializes in a different playstyle. The game also features free-to-play 1v1, 2v2, and 4 players for all game modes, along with a football mode and a number of limited-time events. It’s surprisingly fun to play and it includes controller support. There seems to be a bug where on-screen controls aren’t saved correctly, so hopefully the developer fixes this soon.
Price: Free trial / $10.99 per month / $109.99 per year
Heark is an audio recorder and transcription app. It can record anything, but the developer designed it for things like lectures. It records the audio, transcribes it and makes the text searchable. So if you want to see something someone said, you can record the whole conversation and search for the part you want. It is not a complicated app and the user interface is functional. It worked flawlessly on our tester devices. The app also includes a 7-day free trial, after which you’ll need to subscribe to continue using it.
Devolver Tumble time
Price: Free to play
Devolver Tumble Time is a match-three style game with a physics-based tumbler. The matches will disappear from the tumbler and you will continue until you clear the level. The game includes power-ups and hero skills to help you drain the tumbler faster. It’s not a complicated game, so once you get the hang of it, you can just keep playing. The only criticism we have is that the game definitely needs a few coats of polish. It feels a bit like a beta game, especially on lower end devices. Once everything is cleaned up, it becomes a fun waste of time.
AI Assistant widget
Price: Free / $4.99 per month / $9.99 per year / In-app purchases
AI Assistant Widget is a chatbot that uses ChatGPT, which is GPT-3. It’s not a very complicated app. It puts a little face on your screen. You click on it, ask a question and the OpenAI bot answers. It worked well in our testing. I asked it some math problems and for a recipe, and the bot answered all questions correctly. However, if you ask it for something longer, it will stick around for a while. This is an interesting app because there are a lot of OpenAI apps popping up, and many of them don’t work or are scams. At least this one seems to work most of the time. The bot replies in natural language and you can copy and paste the answers if necessary.
However, the developer went a little too far. They implemented weekly subscription fees that no one should buy, and use the phrase GPT-4 even though the app uses GPT-3. Plus, there don’t seem to be many customization settings, and the ones that are there are “personality” themes that cost extra to unlock through the subscription or as standalone in-app purchases. If your application contains a link, it would be nice to click the link instead of copying and pasting it. Little things like that need to be improved. It works, which is promising considering most apps like this don’t. However, the developer should definitely clean it up.
NBA All World
Price: Free to play
We haven’t heard much from Niantic lately, so it sure is nice to see the Pokemon Go developer release a new game. This one revolves around basketball. It uses the familiar Pokemon Go style gameplay loop but with a basketball twist. Players walk around their neighborhood to find and challenge NBA players in the game. The mechanics are pretty good and there are little mini-games to keep players engaged. The item management could be better, as you often lose items if you short them. The game is surprisingly good overall though, and while we don’t think it’ll reach Pokemon Go hype levels, it’s another good GPS game in a market where we don’t have a lot of it.
If we missed any major Android apps or game releases, tell us about it in the comments.
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