Latest StoriesAndroid App Roundup
    Google Play App Roundup: Fenix 2, Iron Marines, and To:War

    Your phone or tablet might be cool, but it could be a lot cooler with the right apps. So what? Spend like mad until you find the apps that suit your needs? Nah, just read the weekly Google Play App Roundup here on Tested. We strive to bring you the best new, and newly updated apps on Android. Just click the app name to head to the Play Store.

    Fenix 2

    Fenix 2 was my go-to Twitter client for a number of years, but there was some drama related to Twitter's third-party app limits in 2016. That was worked out eventually, but the developer has since embarked on a complete rewrite of the app. The result is Fenix 2, which has just launched after a few months in beta. This is a new app with a new listing, so you will have to buy it again, even if you already bought the first one. It's worth the price, though.

    Twitter clients are pretty well fleshed out at this point, so I'm not going to tell you that Fenix 2 is breaking any new ground. However, it has all the features you could want in a Twitter client, and it looks great. Not that the old Fenix didn't look good, but it was adapted to material design after the fact. Fenix 2 was born into it. There are multiple light and dark themes with various accent colors, and you can set a schedule for switching from light to dark. The great design extends to the widget, which is scrollable and includes various themes.light and dark themes with various accent colors, and you can set a schedule for switching from light to dark. The great design extends to the widget, which is scrollable and includes various themes.

    Like many Twitter apps, Fenix 2 uses multiple columns in the main UI to make all your tweets, replies, and other content available. You can change up the default arrangement, and even add new columns like saved searches and lists to feeds. The way you interact with tweets (eg. taps, swipes, and long-press) is configurable as well.

    I'm particularly fond of the way Fenix 2 handles conversation views. Some apps make it hard to tell who a reply is directed at, but Fenix 2 has a clear "in reply to" header for each block of tweets. Replies to your tweets are delivered as the app updates in the background, and you can, of course, choose how often that happens. However, Fenix 2 also supports intercepting notifications from the official Twitter app. That app has special push notifications from the Twitter servers, so you can get faster pings via Fenix 2 if you have both installed.

    Fenix 2 is priced at $1.99 in the Play Store, which is a fantastic price. A lot of comparable Twitter apps cost $5 or so. This is an excellent purchase if you're not feeling great about your current Twitter experience.

    Google Play App Roundup: Split-screen Creator, Data Wing, and Run-A-Whale

    A new week has dawned, and with it comes a new list of great things happening on Android. This is the Google Play App Roundup where we tell you what needs to be on your phone or tablet right now. Just click the links to head to Google Play and grab these apps for yourself.

    Split-screen Creator

    Android 7.0 added support for split-screen apps, and it's relatively quick to get two apps up on the screen as long as you've had both of them open recently. If not, you have to launch them, and then go into split-screen mode. It can be a bit of a pain, but Split-screen Creator is here to help. This app lets you make shortcuts to instantly launch two apps in split-screen mode, even if they aren't running.

    Split-screen Creator itself has very little interface. There's just a single page of settings and a page for settings up shortcuts. The app uses Android's widget system and accessibility controls to make its split-screen magic happen. As long as you enable accessibility from the app's settings, everything should work fine. It almost goes without saying, but you need to be running Android 7.0 or higher for Split-screen Creator to function.

    To create a new split-screen shortcut, simply open your home screen widget menu and add Split-screen Creator's 1x1 widget. The settings page will appear, asking you to choose which apps you want the shortcut to launch. You can choose any installed app you want, but remember that not all of them work in split-screen mode. Additionally, Split-screen Creator warns that certain apps like Chrome and the Play Store don't like being launched in split-screen via the shortcut. However, I've tried both and they seem to work fine. The last step in setting up a shortcut it to pick a name.

    When you tap on the shortcut, it will launch your chosen apps in split-screen mode. Sometimes you might need to reverse the order to ensure they open correctly, but I've seen very few issues in my testing. Be default, Split-screen Creator generates an icon composed of the two apps you've chosen. However, you can pick a custom icon via icon packs. That's a premium feature, though. It only costs $0.99 to unlock the full version, but there's not much else to it. There aren't any ads in the app, so you're mostly paying to support the developer of an app you (presumably) like.

    Google Play App Roundup: Clockwise Smart Alarm, YOSUL, and Jazz Smash

    We're really getting spoiled these days. There are great Android apps coming out all the time, but it can still be hard to find them amid all the clutter. The Google Play App Roundup is all about clearing the junk out of the way so you can find the best apps. Just click on the app name to go straight to the Google Play Store and pick up the app yourself.

    Clockwise Smart Alarm

    Waking up in the morning is not likely to be anyone's favorite part of the day. Thus, the app that wakes you up can become a source of scorn and maybe even outright hatred. It takes a lot of careful work to make a likable alarm app, but Clockwise Smart Alarm has a pretty good shot. This app includes plenty of thoughtful features and you can give it a shot for free.

    When you first start setting up an alarm, Clockwise Smart Alarm seems like any other app. You can pick from various sounds, use your own music, and control on which days the alarm is active. I'm not overly thrilled with the app's UI, which doesn't conform to any Android guidelines I've ever seen. It's usable, but the locations of menus and other features are not intuitive. You'll get the hang of it, but you shouldn't even be worrying about this stuff. That's what design guidelines are for.

    At any rate, after you've created the alarm, you can add modules. This is what sets Clockwise Smart Alarm apart from the competition. There are currently ten modules listed in the app that will trigger each time the selected alarm goes off. These are all alerts and bits of info that are read to you after the alarm. For example, you can have the app read off the weather forecast or list the top titles from your favorite subreddit. These require setup, but there are simpler ones like a fact of the day and this day in history.

    The modules don't just trigger instantly once the alarm is dismissed, but there's a notification you can tap to begin the playback. Keep in mind, the order of modules can also be changed. If you want to snooze your alarm, Clockwise Smart Alarm has a neat feature called Quick Snooze. Rather than looking at the display and tapping something, all you need to do is put your hand over the top half of the screen. It uses the proximity sensor to activate snooze and get you a few more minutes of blissful slumber with a minimum of fuss.

    Clockwise Smart Alarm Is free and full featured, but there is an in-app upgrade. $0.99 gets you the full version of the app, but the only difference is no ads. In the free version, full-screen ads will occasionally pop up on the screen while you're using the app. That's a bit annoying, but the upgrade is cheap.

    Google Play App Roundup: Island, Framed 2, and JetCrash

    You probably want more apps, but more than that, you want the right ones. That's what we're here to deliver with the weekly Google Play App Roundup. This is where you'll find the best new and newly updated apps and games on Android. Just click the link to head right to Google Play.

    Island

    Android has support for work profiles, which can be used by a business to deploy and manage apps on employee devices. This keeps personal and work data separate, but you can also leverage these features for personal use with Island. This app creates a "work" profile on your device that can be managed to copy apps and run multiple copies in parallel.

    Setting up Island is easy, but a little counterintuitive. It creates a "work" profile, but it's not attached to any corporate accounts, and there are no "administrators" who can access your data. The app uses the metaphor of an island to make usage easier to understand. The "island" is where all your cloned apps live. They use the same binary as your "mainland" apps, but the data and accounts are totally separate.

    When you start using Island, you get a few stock apps in the list including the Play Store, contacts, and downloads. These are all empty until you start using them, and you will need to log in with your Google account all over. Remember, no data carries over from the mainland. A folder is placed on the home screen with all your Island apps, but you can get rid of that if you don't want to use it.

    You can manage apps in your island using the Island app. Use the drop-down at the top to choose either mainland or island lists. To create an island version of a mainland app, just tap on it in the list and hit the "plus" button. The Android package installer pops up briefly to install the app into your island, and that's it. Island apps can be run from the home screen folder, or you can use the app list in the Island app itself. The apps also appear in your app Drawer with a work badge to indicate which icon is which. Apps in your island can also be frozen, preventing them from running until unfrozen.

    Island allows you to test different settings and configurations in an app without screwing up your main installation. You might also want to use a cloned app for privacy purposes, keeping that data sandboxed from other apps and services. It can be used to run a second instance of an app side-by-side with the first as well.

    Island is a neat app with a lot of potential utility, and it's completely free. It's still in beta, so it's possible some paid features will be added later.

    Google Play App Roundup: Adapticons, Miracle Merchant, and Flippy Knife

    A new week has dawned, and with it comes a new list of great things happening on Android. This is the Google Play App Roundup where we tell you what needs to be on your phone or tablet right now. Just click the links to head to Google Play and grab these apps for yourself.

    Adapticons

    Icon packs have existed on Android since time immemorial, but they require you to jump through some hoops like using a third-party home screen (usually) and making do with a lot of icons you might not particularly like. Adapticons is a new app for Android that lets you create custom icons in just a few steps, and you can use them on any home screen you want.

    Adapticons includes an assortment of icons shapes, which is the basis for all of your custom icons. Simply find the app you want to edit in the list and tap on it to advance to the editing screen. The shapes range from the typical circle and square to a more exotic squircle and far weirder stuff like puzzle pieces and pentagons.

    The shape will act as a frame by default, and it's themed to match the icon's default colors. So, if you have an app with a square icon and no included circle version, you can create a version that has a circular frame to match all your other round icons. It gets better, though. You can also change the size of the icon, which is sort of like zooming it within the frame. That lets you crop out the square edges so the logo is all you can see in the round frame. You can also reposition the icon within the frame. Although, there are times the frame looks better, so don't be afraid to play around. Adapticons includes an assortment of other tweaks like icon size, rotation, color, grayscale, and icon text.

    Once you've created the perfect icon, you can use it in several ways. There's an option to export as a PNG, which you can then apply in certain launchers. Alternatively, you can export an icon pack file to be applied. Again, only with certain launchers. The most intriguing option is just to use it on the home screen instantly. This places your icon in the next open space, ready for use.

    The way Adapticons makes your icons work is clever. The shortcut is technically for Adapticons itself, but the activity is passed off to the app for which you made the icon. Happily, this handoff doesn't cause any confusion with the multitasking interface, and there's no discernable delay when pressing the icon.

    Adapticons is free with a limited set of icon shapes. A $0.99 in-app purchase unlocks a dozen more shapes (mostly the wacky ones), and includes the option to edit more than one icon in the same batch. The upgrade also lets you grab and edit icons from icon packs you have installed. Even if you only have a handful of icons that are bugging you, Adapticons is really neat and worth the upgrade.

    Google Play App Roundup: Hurry, Fowlst, and Questy Quest

    Your phone or tablet might be cool, but it could be a lot cooler with the right apps. So what? Spend like mad until you find the apps that suit your needs? Nah, just read the weekly Google Play App Roundup here on Tested. We strive to bring you the best new, and newly updated apps on Android. Just click the app name to head to the Play Store.

    Hurry

    Countdown apps are not usually something I think of as innovative, but leave it to Sam Ruston, developer of Weather Timeline to prove me wrong. The new app "Hurry" provides a number of cool features in a countdown app that will make you actually want to use it.

    The basic concept is not dissimilar to other countdown apps that you'd use to keep track of events like a vacation or birthday. However, it's much cleaner and feature-rich than others. It's also not crawling with intrusive ads like a lot of the competition is. So, we're off to a good start here.

    To start a countdown, just open Hurry and press the plus button in the corner. This app uses the material design guidelines wherever possible, and the floating action button is just the start. To get set up, just create an event name, choose a type, location, time, and pick a photo source. Technically, all you have to do is set a name and date, and the countdown will work. However, Hurry is a lot more fun if you fill in all the spaces. After creating an event with photos from the web selected, you get to choose which ones the app uses in your countdown widgets and hero images. This is a nice touch, but you can also use your own photos if you prefer.

    There are several ways to view your countdowns, including just opening the app. Your countdowns show up in a list, with active timers ticking down. You can tap on to open any of them and see all the other info you provided. There's also a clever little minigame where you can guess how many times you could perform certain activities in the remaining time. Hurry also pings you occasional notifications so you don't forget about your upcoming event, but those can be disabled on this screen.minigame where you can guess how many times you could perform certain activities in the remaining time. Hurry also pings you occasional notifications, so you don't forget about your upcoming event, but those can be disabled on this screen.

    The other way to see what's happening with your countdowns is to use widgets, and I suspect this is how most serious users of countdown apps (is that a thing?) will do it. There are seven different designs, many of which provide access to multiple countdowns and have background images. They're all resizeable with dynamic layouts, too.

    Hurry is incredibly well-designed from top to bottom. It's completely free right now, but it looks like an ad-supported/upgrade model will be added later.

    Google Play App Roundup: Caffeine, Subdivision Infinity, and Touchdowners

    You probably want more apps, but more than that, you want the right ones. That's what we're here to deliver with the weekly Google Play App Roundup. This is where you'll find the best new and newly updated apps and games on Android. Just click the link to head right to Google Play.

    Caffeine

    Caffeine is a simple app; so simple in fact there's very little "app" to it. However, it solves a problem I've long had with Android and requires zero setup. With just a few taps, you can keep your screen on for a predetermined length of time using Caffeine. Sound good? It's free, too.

    Caffeine plugs into Android 7.0's customizable quick settings, so you need to be using a phone or tablet running Nougat or higher. That's still far from everyone, but we're getting to the point that even super-cheap phones like the Moto E4 are shipping with current software. All phones have to support the custom quick settings API, so Caffeine will work with anything on the right versions.

    To use Caffeine, just open your quick settings and tap the edit button. On some phones (eg. Samsung), that option might be hidden under a menu icon. You should have the Caffeine icon in your list of unused toggles. Long-press and drag it up to a suitable position and close the editing interface.

    Tapping on the Caffeine icon in quick settings instantly overrides the screen timeout setting with a five, ten, or thirty-minute timer. Another tap also flips it over to unlimited mode, so be careful you don't accidentally leave that one activated. Caffeine saves you from digging into the setting when you want to extend the screen-on time temporarily. Maybe you're reading something long, or you have a live feed of some sort running. This way, you don't have to constantly touch the screen to keep the phone awake.

    The icon helpfully counts down so you know when the screen timeout will return to normal. After you've closed the quick settings, going back and tapping Caffeine will disable the timeout. So, cycling through the various timers has to be done all at once when activating it.

    Caffeine Is a clever app that I've already used quite a few times. It's something I play to install on all my devices.

    Google Play App Roundup: Motion Stills, Leap On, and Vista Golf

    Grab your phone and prepare to shoot some new apps and games over to it from the Google cloud. It's time for the Google Play App Roundup where we tell you what's new and cool in the Play Store. Just click the links to head to each app's page to check it out for yourself.

    Motion Stills

    Google released an app last year for iPhone called Motion Stills, which jived nicely with Apple's Live Photo feature. Still, Android users like GIF photos, too. So, Google has finally gotten around to releasing an Android version of Motion Stills with an improved image processing pipeline. That means it's faster, and fast things are good.

    Motion Stills is basically a GIF camera, but it's a really good GIF camera. It's got amazing image stabilization, which results in very smooth animations that look like you had your phone on a tripod. All you need to do is tap the capture button, and the app takes a three second video. You can scroll down to see the video, and it's ready instantly. Google's improved processing renders each frame as it's captured to make this happen.

    The clips default to having the super-stabilization on, but you can turn it off just for fun. The app basically crops a bit out of each frame and lines up the action so nothing moves in an undesired way. The videos can be exported as the native MP4 or as GIFs. You'll probably do GIFs because they're more easily shared, and that's what this app is aimed at. Make sure to take a peek at the settings to tweak the GIF quality. You can increase this setting for a smooth GIF and it's only a little bigger.

    The gallery itself is rather mesmerizing after you've taken a few videos. All the clips play as you scroll through with stabilization enabled. It just feels very alive. Sort of like live photos for iOS, but with longer clips and higher quality animation.

    In addition to the motion stills, this app also supports "fast forward" mode. Think Microsoft Hyperlapse, but from Google. Here, you can take videos up to a minute long, then adjust the speed of playback between 2x and 8x. Just as above, you get Google's powerful image stabilization features.

    Motion Stills is a simple app, but it does what it's supposed to do. There's nothing to complain about here, and Motion Stills is free.

    Google Play App Roundup: Camera Roll, A Planet of Mine, and Virtua Tennis Challenge

    We're really getting spoiled these days. There are great Android apps coming out all the time, but it can still be hard to find them amid all the clutter. The Google Play App Roundup is all about clearing the junk out of the way so you can find the best apps. Just click on the app name to go straight to the Google Play Store and pick up the app yourself.

    Camera Roll

    Every phone comes with a gallery app of some sort, but they're usually quite barebones and some are downright ugly. There are several good alternatives in the Play Store, including the new Camera Roll app. The name will probably appeal to recent iOS converts, but it's more than just a name. This is a capable and configurable gallery app.

    The app opens with each folder on your device containing photos displayed as a large rectangle with a thumbnail image. This is only the default, though. There are several different layouts including small cards, large cards, and scrollable horizontal blocks. The dark theme can also be flipped over to light or completely black, if you so desire.

    When you open a folder, Camera Roll starts showing off with some slick animations. The photo grid slides up from the bottom, and the images start as black and white. They re-saturate in about one second as you scroll. It's a neat effect. Tapping on individual photos also offers up a cool zooming animation. When you go back, the photo zooms back out into its place in the grid. Again, so slick.

    Unfortunately, there's no built-in editing for Camera Roll. I'd like to have at least seen some support for cropping. However, tapping the edit button does bring up compatible apps like Snapseed. The info button hides a few interesting surprised, though. Tap this when viewing a photo to get all the EXIF information, along with the ability to edit. At the top, you also have a bar of the most common color swatches from the image. Tapping on any of them copies the hex code. I don't know how useful this is, but I really like it.

    Should you have files that aren't showing up in the app, there's a toggle to show hidden files. Additionally, there's a file browser in the overflow menu. Launch that and you can navigate to any folder on the device to view images.

    Camera Roll is free and has no ads. Give it a shot if your current gallery app is getting old.

    Google Play App Roundup: Astro, Mini DAYZ, and All That Remains: Part 1

    A new week has dawned, and with it comes a new list of great things happening on Android. This is the Google Play App Roundup where we tell you what needs to be on your phone or tablet right now. Just click the links to head to Google Play and grab these apps for yourself.

    Astro

    Google is pushing its AI muscle with Inbox, but not everyone wants to commit to the radically different way of organizing and managing email that comes with that app. The new email app Astro has some similar features, but it's more recognizable as a standard email client. It also supports Office 365 in addition to Gmail.

    Astro has a built-in chatbot that feels a little like Assistant in Allo. When you open the app for the first time, the bot asks what email account you want to add, then fires up the login tool. With that done, the bot also conducts a quick tour of Astro's features. Later on, you can use the bot to send quick emails, set reminders, and more. The bot can also help with things like unsubscribing from mailing lists and "zapping" emails, which appears to be a form of bulk archiving. It is by no means as smart as Assistant, though. The bot can be accessed at any time by tapping the action button at the bottom of your screen.

    The Inbox in Astro is split into two parts; there's the priority side and "other." The split is determined entirely by Astro's AI smarts. Messages from contacts that you often open and reply to are filtered into priority, and everything else ends up in other. It seems to be much more cautious in marking things as important than Gmail's built-in importance filter.

    The AI stuff is fun and all, but I think the mail management in Astro is its biggest selling point. You can swipe to archive or snooze an email. The length of snoozing can be configured as well. There's even an option to "snooze" a notification until the next time you open Astro on your desktop. Then, you'll get the notification for that email immediately. There's also an option to have your emails delayed until a later time. When composing, just look for the options button next to the send icon (a rocket). Set the time, and then let Astro send it for you at a more appropriate time.

    Astro plays nicely with all your existing Gmail labels, and It can handle multiple accounts. It even plugs into Slack so you can search Slack messages, get notifications all in one place, and easily attach files. If you use Amazon Alexa, you can connect that as well. The Alexa skill lets you control your email by voice.

    Astro is free and it's worth checking out if you're a little bored with Gmail.

    Google Play App Roundup: XDA Feed, Enemy Waters, and Turretz

    A new week has dawned, and with it comes a new list of great things happening on Android. This is the Google Play App Roundup where we tell you what needs to be on your phone or tablet right now. Just click the links to head to Google Play and grab these apps for yourself.

    XDA Feed

    XDA is a well-known source of modding and customization chatter, but it can be tedious to dig around in all the specialized forums and articles to find useful things. The new XDA Feed app is a curated list of mods and tips for your phone or tablet, and it's free with no ads.

    Some sites have their own apps that merely replicate the site in a different wrapper. I've never been fond of these when the mobile sites are usually more convenient to use. XDA Feed carves out a niche by limiting what it shows you to the best or most interesting stuff, chosen by the operators. The main page has a list of selected items across a number of categories like ROMs, icon packs, wallpapers, and more.

    XDA Feed is an excellent example of material design. It defaults to a dark UI mode, but there's a light one available in settings. You can move between the main feed, starred items, and a filter list. Filters are handy if you're interested in things like icon packs, apps, and wallpapers, but aren't into flashing ROMs or custom kernels. Although, those last two are big deals on XDA.

    Tapping on an item in the feed brings up all the relevant info from XDA, whether that's an article or a forum post. Everything loads in the app with buttons that can open the source in your browser or download the content. In the case of apps and icon packs from the Play Store, the download button links you to the listing. For wallpapers and other items, it's a direct download.

    The default setting in XDA Feed is to get notifications of new items. So far this isn't too annoying as only a few pieces of curated content are added daily. However, you might want to play around with the settings so you're only notified with certain items are added.

    This app is still in the early stages of development, but it seems solid. I'll be interested to see where it goes.

    Google Play App Roundup: Firefox Focus, Altered Beast, and Rider

    If you're going to be supporting app development on Android (and you should), you might as well pay for the best content you can. That's what the Google Play App Roundup is all about. This is where you can come every week to find out what's new and cool on Android. Just follow the links to the Play Store.

    Firefox Focus

    Most browsers for Android seem to focus on adding more features, but Firefox is focusing on something else with the aptly named Firefox Focus. This is a stripped down browser that preserves your privacy and offers a fast browsing experience.

    When you open Firefox Focus, all you have is a bar in the middle of the screen for a search term or URL. The default search engine is Yahoo, which is kind of weird at this point. You can change it to Google, and I'm sure most people will. The app has an interesting purple and pink color scheme with a gradient sweeping across all the UI elements. Gradients usually look pretty old-fashioned, but I think it kind of works here. Firefox Focus has a neat 80s vibe.

    Firefox Focus uses ad-blocking and do-not-track by default on all pages. Additionally, it saves no data locally. While you're browsing, there's a floating action button in the lower right corner with a trashcan on it. You can tap that at any time to close your page and delete all browsing data. Additionally, there's a notification whenever Firefox Focus is running. There's even a "Stealth" mode that prevents screenshots and app previews in overview. You can turn that off, though.

    You only get a single page at a time in Focus, so no tabbed browsing. That makes sense considering the mission of Focus to provide simple, fast browsing. The overflow menu shows you how many trackers were blocked on each page, and there's a toggle right there to shut blocking off. That's useful on pages where there's ad-block detection that blocks you from seeing content. The menu also includes options to open a page in Firefox or your default browser.

    Using Focus for all your browsing is tedious seeing as there's no bookmark system, history, or tabbed browsing. You can set it as default, if you want (there's a toggle in the settings). However, it's a good choice for opening links from other apps as it'll block all tracking and doesn't keep history. Some of the privacy features are a bit heavy-handed, but that's what you get in a privacy-oriented browser.

    Google Play App Roundup: CineTrak, Mr Future Ninja, and Infinity Merge

    A new week has dawned, and with it comes a new list of great things happening on Android. This is the Google Play App Roundup where we tell you what needs to be on your phone or tablet right now. Just click the links to head to Google Play and grab these apps for yourself.

    CineTrak

    Have you ever heard someone online or in real life talk about a movie and think it sounds like something you should check out, and then, months later you realize you completely forgot about it? CineTrak might be able to help you avoid that. It's a movie watchlist tracker and info browser that pulls in data from various sources and syncs to the Trakt.tv service.

    The app is done in Google's material design from top to bottom. The main interface is the "Discover" page. At the top are a series of tabs that show movies based on criteria like trending, popular, most watches, and box office. You can use the app without Trakt.tv login, but your lists and watch stats won't be available on other devices. You can switch to upcoming, my lists, or my collection in the navigation menu.

    Whenever you come across a movie, you can add it to your watch list by tapping the floating action button. That same button then becomes a "check-in" button. You can tap that indicate that you're watching the movie, and share that activity with the app of your choice. When it's over, tap again and the movie goes into your previously watched list. To undo all of that, tap one more time and the movie is removed.

    The info page for each film includes the sort of data you'd get on something like IMDB, but I find the interface much more pleasant. It has ratings aggregated from Rotten Tomatoes, IMDB, Metacritic, and Trakt.tv. There's also a cast list and a trailer.

    The bookmark icon at the top of the info page lets you add a film to your library. It seems like this should get a more prominent button as it's one of the main features of the app. When adding, you get to pick the format, resolution, and date of acquisition. Then, you can scroll through the collection page to see all your stuff.

    CineTrak is free to use, and you don't have to sign into Trakt.tv if you don't want. However, there are a few ads in the app by default. A $2.99 in-app purchase will remove them and add staff picks and additional curated lists.

    Google Play App Roundup: Audvel, ZOMBIE AnnihilatoR, and Topsoil

    You probably want more apps, but more than that, you want the right ones. That;s what we're here to deliver with the weekly Google Play App Roundup. This is where you'll find the best new and newly updated apps and games on Android. Just click the link to head right to Google Play.

    Audvel

    The Play Store has a number of popular podcast apps, but it's been a while since a new contender has emerged, but Audvel is promising despite its newness. It might not have as many features as the more mature alternatives, but it's free. That counts for something.

    One of the cool things about Audvel is that you don't have to set up a separate account—it supports Google account logins, but a standard email account login is available too. After logging in, your subscription data will be synced to new devices upon setting up the app. After opening the app for the first time, Audvel offers up some suggested podcasts in categories like tech, science, and business. I think the top picks are pretty universally liked, but there aren't many in each group. A few more suggestions would be nice.

    Once you've got some subscriptions, you can view them all on a single page with big thumbnail icons. Each podcast has a details page that lists recent episodes, a description, and controls to unsubscribe and refresh. I like that the page is themed to match the podcast's thumbnail as well. You can tap on an episode to stream it, or hit the arrow to download it. There are also settings in the app to have new episodes downloaded automatically. Unfortunately, you can't import a podcast list from other apps, but you can add custom feed URLs.

    While some of the advanced features from other apps are missing (importing, Android Auto, themes, etc.), you do have built-in support for multiple playback speeds. You can increase to 1.2, 1.5, or 2.0x speed. The app correctly downshifts the pitch to compensate for the higher speed as well. There are also persistent playback controls at the bottom of the app while you've got an episode going.

    Audvel still has a way to go before it's the match of something like Pocket Casts, but it's already impressive. When you consider it's also free, that's even better.

    Google Play App Roundup: Adobe Scan, Galaxy on Fire 3, and Epic Little War Game

    You probably want more apps, but more than that, you want the right ones. That;s what we're here to deliver with the weekly Google Play App Roundup. This is where you'll find the best new and newly updated apps and games on Android. Just click the link to head right to Google Play.

    Adobe Scan

    Adobe offers various PDF viewing and editing capabilities in its app, but surprisingly it has never released a document scanner app until now. Adobe Scan lets you use your phone to scan documents and convert them instantly to a PDF. It also plugs into various Adobe online services and apps.

    Scanning a document with Adobe Scan is very slick. Just set the page down and point your device's camera at it. The built-in scanner identifies the edges and captures only the document. I've seen a lot of apps try this, but Adobe Scan is one of the best at detecting edges; I hardly ever have to readjust the crop. To add more pages, simply move the sheet and place another one in the camera's frame. Adobe Scan only captures an image when it sees a document.

    By default, Adobe Scan places all the pages in the order you scanned them. However, you can easily reorder them before converting to a PDF—it's drag and drop. You can also apply filters like grayscale and high-contrast. Tap the save button at the top, and you get a PDF of all the images. It only takes a few seconds even with a lot of pages. I tested this with a 24 page document, and it worked like a charm. It's also impressive how well the app straightens and rotates the images. They look more like pages captured by a traditional scanner than what you get from most Android apps.

    Annoyingly, you have to sign in with an Adobe account to use Adobe Scan. You don't need to have a paid membership, though. By signing in, all your PDFs will be synced to Creative Cloud. You can also share them with the app of your choice on Android.

    Adobe Scan runs text recognition on your documents, but you'll need Adobe Acrobat for Android to do anything with it. The app links you to the Play Store if you don't have it. I would have preferred to have basic text selection in the scanner app as Acrobat does a lot of things I don't need. Still, if you work with PDFs a lot, Acrobat is probably already something you use.

    Adobe Scan is completely free. I think it'll be my new go-to for document scanning on Android.

    Google Play App Roundup: Path Guide, Zombie Gunship: Survival, and Reckless Getaway 2

    A new week has dawned, and with it comes a new list of great things happening on Android. This is the Google Play App Roundup where we tell you what needs to be on your phone or tablet right now. Just click the links to head to Google Play and grab these apps for yourself.

    Path Guide

    Apps like Google Maps are great for getting you to a location, but that location needs to be an address. Once you get there, finding your final destination can mean navigating hallways that are every bit as confusing as the roads you took to get there. There's a new app that could ease the burden, and it comes from a surprising source: Microsoft.

    Path Guide allows you to create walking directions that aren't reliant on GPS or mapping data. Instead, it uses your phone's sensors to keep people on track. To create a recording, you begin by snapping a photo of the starting location. This is the only part of the process that requires a visual cue. Then, the app instructs you to get in position to begin recording.

    Each step is counted by Path Guide, and that's used as the standard of measurement for your directions. It also picks up each turn you make based on the phone's sensors. So, you end up with a sort of treasure map. Take X steps, turn right, take another Y steps. As you record, you can also add voice to text notes to the directions.

    When your directions are finished, you can save and share with your contacts. They will see a scrolling timeline on the bottom of the screen, which advances as they walk. The top of the screen tells you want you should be doing and for how long. For example, it'll estimate how many steps you need to take and which direction you should turn after that.

    I know this sounds kind of crazy, but it actually works. It's not exact, and anything tricky really needs a note of some sort, but you can easily figure things out based on the directions. There's also a secondary mode where you record your steps and then get the reverse directions saved. It's like leaving a trail of breadcrumbs you can follow later. It'd probably be handy for remembering where you parked.

    Path Guide is completely free, though I have to wonder about Microsoft's commitment. The directions require the app, so you'd be out of luck if that falls into disrepair.

    Google Play App Roundup: NOISE, Lode Runner 1, and No Stick Shooter

    If you're going to be supporting app development on Android (and you should), you might as well pay for the best content you can. That's what the Google Play App Roundup is all about. This is where you can come every week to find out what's new and cool on Android. Just follow the links to the Play Store.

    NOISE

    You may not be a great composer, but you can probably put together a neat little tune with NOISE, a new music creation app from Roli. They make the Blocks modular music pads, and now you can use your phone to do some of the same things. This app is still in the early stages, so it's a little unstable and not all phones will work. That said, it's already a really neat experience.

    There's a quick tutorial when you first open NOISE, which you ought to pay attention to. There's very little in the way of instruction within the app itself. The gist is that you have four sets of loops for each project. One is for rhythmic sounds and the other three are for the melody. Each square in the song view is a loop, which you can tap to queue up during playback. It's a little confusing, but I found it informative to play around with the pre-made sample track included with the app.

    The song view is where all your loops live (you can have up to won from each line playing at a time). You can swipe down to the instrument view to make new loops. Simply tap a square to select it, then pick an instrument. All the instruments come in the form of digital touch pads, and there are a few dozen of them in the app. You can tap on the pads to produce sounds for the loop, or just drag across them. There's also a number of other effects and ways to control the nature of the sound, all of which are admittedly beyond me.

    My first attempts at making songs in NOISE are… not impressive. If you've got a better sense of rhythm than I do, the app has the tools to make some cool stuff. It gives you a 4-beat count before you start recording a loop, and you can even keep a "click" going in the background to keep you on the beat. Should you own any Blocks device, you can even connect them to the app via Bluetooth.

    Eventually, your creations in NOISE will be exportable to the noise.fm community. The app has a little way to go before it's ready for prime time, though. Right now, you'll need a device with robust audio processing capabilities like the Pixel, Galaxy S8 or LG G6. it's completely free if you want to give it a shot.

    Google Play App Roundup: Flick Launcher, Injustice 2, and Spaceplan

    A new week has dawned, and with it comes a new list of great things happening on Android. This is the Google Play App Roundup where we tell you what needs to be on your phone or tablet right now. Just click the links to head to Google Play and grab these apps for yourself.

    Flick Launcher

    You interact with your home screen more than any other app, but some devices ship with rather annoying launchers. You can swap them for a better launcher, but which one? There are so many options, including the new Flick Launcher. It's still in beta, but Flick looks and feels like a good stand-in for the Pixel Launcher with more customization.

    Out of the box, Flick Launcher is designed to look like the Pixel Launcher. It's possible to get a similar look by customizing other launchers, but this one goes for the pure stock look right away. That means you have a vertically scrolling app drawer that is opened with a swipe. It even has the predicted apps and search bar at the top. Launcher shortcuts are present as well, so you can long-press an icon to get quick actions. Developers have to add support for this, but a lot of apps are already on board.

    This launcher is very snappy, much like the Pixel Launcher it's emulating. You don't get that Google "pill" search widget, but there is a custom rounded search box that jives with the launcher's style better than Google's rectangular one.

    Flick Launcher has two features that set it apart from many other launchers. One if swipe gestures, which some third-party launchers have but no stock ones. You can set one and two-finger swipe gestures to launch apps or change settings. Then you have password and fingerprint locking of, well, everything. Flick Launcher lets you lock any apps from being launched unless a password or valid fingerprint is entered. If you have the pro upgrade ($1.99), you can also create folders that cannot be opened without the right biometrics or password.

    There are plenty of other standard launcher features like support for icons packs, custom grid sizes, icon sizes, unread counts, and more. You don't get as many features in Flick Launcher as something like Nova, but this is a much newer app. It's off to a good start as it currently stands, and most of the features are available for free. There are no ads or "suggested apps" lurking around there either.

    Google Play App Roundup: Socratic, Battle Bay, and Desert Island Fishing

    There's no reason you wouldn't want the best apps on your Android device, but the Google Play Store makes that hard sometimes. Don't worry, though. That's what the weekly app roundup here on Tested is all about. This is where you can go to find out what the best apps are, and why they're the best. Click on the app name to go right to the Play Store web site to grab the app for yourself.

    Socratic

    School is just getting out for most kids, but there's a new app in the Play Store that could be of great use once classes are in session again. Socratic is an app that snaps photos of homework questions, then offers up answers from a variety of sources. This app has been in beta testing for a while, but now it's available to everyone.

    Socratic is essentially about saving time. You could look up the answer to most questions with some Google searching, but this app makes it easy—you don't even have to type anything. And really, typing mathematical expressions is annoying. After opening Socratic for the first time, it will ask to be granted camera access, which is necessary for scanning in questions.

    Just point the viewfinder at the question and tap the capture button. Don't worry about the framing; after capturing the image you have a chance to drag the border to crop out anything that isn't part of the question.

    Socratic is supposed to work for math, science, English, and history questions. I've found it to be most accurate with math, which should give you answers for anything up through advanced algebra. The answer interface is displayed as a series of cards that scroll left to right across the screen. The first card will offer a definitive answer, if one is available. In the case of math problems, it shows you the solution step by step. Scrolling over to other cards includes additional background information from the web, as well as videos.

    I've found Socratic to be excellent at reading the text. It gets the right input virtually every time, even if it sometimes doesn't have an answer. Math is the best right now, as long as you don't throw anything too heavy at it. Basic scientific and history queries are solid too, as long as they're formatted as a standard question.

    Socratic has a lot of potential in this first release. The developers plan to add more advanced math skills later this summer as well.

    Google Play App Roundup: Mobile Witness, Penarium, and Neon Chrome

    A new week has dawned, and with it comes a new list of great things happening on Android. This is the Google Play App Roundup where we tell you what needs to be on your phone or tablet right now. Just click the links to head to Google Play and grab these apps for yourself.

    Mobile Witness

    There may be times when you'd like to have some sort of digital record to back up your own words. Evidence, you might say. That's where Mobile Witness comes in. This app can record location data, audio, or video even if your phone is asleep.

    The setup process is a bit more laborious than you think, but there's a good reason for that. Mobile Witness needs a few permissions and settings tweaks, and it takes you through each of them individually. Most apps just throw up the system permissions one after the next, so I appreciate the explanation of each permission. The app needs to access your location, microphone, and camera to work. Additionally, Mobile Witness asks to be exempted from Doze Mode. This is what allows it to continue recording when the app is not in the foreground or your phone is asleep.

    The app has three tabs across the top for location, audio, and video. You can visit any of them to start a new data collection. You can also have it record data at regular intervals. And of course, everything the app does is silent—no shutter sounds to give you away. I've done some testing, and the app does indeed continue to record when it is closed or when the screen is turned off.

    Collecting this information is of little use when your phone might be taken away or damaged, so Mobile Witness includes a number of cloud backup solutions. It has built-in support for Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, and OneDrive on the third-party side. Plus custom settings for a personal server. Recordings are uploaded to your preferred cloud as you take them, so you'll have the data even if you don't have your phone. However, I've noticed the video files are a bit on the large side; a few hundred megabytes for a 1 minute video.

    I suppose you need to live with a certain amount of paranoia to feel like you need Mobile Witness, but it's good at what it does. It's completely free, but you can donate to the developer or upgrade to a "premium" version of the app that includes a few experimental features.