Latest StoriesAndroid App Roundup
    Google Play App Roundup; Volume Notification, Lumino City, and Zombie Offroad Safari

    I don't know if you could say there are too many apps out there, but there are certainly enough that it can be hard to find the ones worth your time. This is the problem that Google Play App Roundup is seeking to solve. Every week we tell you about the best new and newly updated apps in the Play Store. Just click the app name to head right to the Play Store and check things out for yourself.

    Volume Notification

    The volume of your Android phone is not a monolithic setting—there's media, ringtone, notifications, alarms, and more. Changing the right one at the right time can be annoying, but Volume Notifications can help. It's a simple app that gives you two ways to quickly access specific volume controls.

    All devices can run Volume Notification as a notification, as the name would imply. That means it shows up as an item in the notification shade, but the location and style of that notification can be controlled from the app's settings. The main screen of those settings includes a list of volume types, which you can rearrange and enable/disable as you like. These control which shortcuts appear in the notification version of Volume Notification.

    You should also check out the full settings for this app, which allow you to tweak the performance of several of the buttons. For example, the default behavior when you press the buttons is to bring up a slider to control that particular volume setting. If you prefer, you can have the media or ring buttons simply toggle mute when you press them. The theme of the notification can be changed as well.

    When you're using the notification version of the app, you might also want to check the notification priority settings. The app can be set to produce a status bar icon, which keeps it at the top of your list. I think it looks nicer when you have the notification shade open to have Volume Notification at the top. That way you can theme it to match your phone's settings UI.

    Your other option for using Volume Notification requires Android 7.0 or higher. With Nougat, you can modify the quick settings on your phone and add third-party tiles. Installing Volume Notification adds the tiles to your list automatically. Simply open the editing UI and drag the tiles up into your quick settings. These tiles operate the same way as the notification—tap to get a popup volume slider.

    Volume Notification is not a complex app, but it could potentially fix a big pain point when using your phone. It doesn't hurt that it costs absolutely nothing.

    Google Play App Roundup: YouTube TV, Quantum Revenge, and Tempest

    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.

    YouTube TV

    Google is trying to worm its way into your living room again, but not with a new piece of hardware. It's just launched the YouTube TV streaming service, and the associated Android app. The Android app is a vital piece of the experience because there's no Android TV version, nor will it work on streaming devices like Roku. Luckily, the app is pretty good.

    First thing's first—YouTube TV is only available in five markets right now (Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, and the San Francisco Bay Area). It costs $35 per month, and for that you get about 40 channels of live streaming TV. That includes all the local channels as well as ESPN, USA, FX, NatGeo, and many more. There's also an online DVR with unlimited storage. It's one of the missing pieces of the cable cutting puzzle.

    The app is one of the cleanest and most interesting Google has put out recently. It's split up into three tabs: Library, Home, and Live. The Home tab is where you land when opening the app. It includes a feed of popular live channels at the top, followed by several tiers of suggestions below that. The live stream thumbnails are actually animated; they reflect what's happening on the channel at that moment. So, it's more like channel surfing on a cable box.

    The live tab lists all your channels in a vertical column. Like the Home tab, there are live thumbnails for each channel as you scroll through. All the animated thumbnails play silently, which I'm very pleased about. Tapping on one will open the full player interface. Rotating the device to landscape will set the video to full screen automatically. If that's not big enough, tap the Chromecast button at the top and pick a display to move the stream.

    The Library tab is where you'll go to see all your recorded content (which is stored for nine months) and find out what upcoming recordings you have. Throughout the app, there are "plus" icons next to program titles. You can tap to add a subscription, which automatically records all upcoming instances of it on live TV. There's also some on-demand content available in YouTube TV, and that is bundled in with your recorded content when you subscribe.

    The YouTube TV app is fast, and easy to get around in. It really is fantastic compared to the awful streaming apps that most networks and cable providers have. The only real drawback is availability. You have to be in one of those supported markets to sign up, and the local channel feeds are disabled whenever you leave. Still, it's the most robust live TV streaming service available right now.

    Google Play App Roundup: Oversec, Chicken Jump, and Stellar Wanderer

    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.

    Oversec

    Encrypted communications are available in various apps on Android, but that requires you to get your friends to actually use those apps. Not everyone is going to be keen on switching from their preferred messaging app just because of privacy concerns. Oversec offers an alternative. It uses accessibility and screen overlays to add encrypted communication to almost any app.

    After granting access to Oversec to read your screen, you'll get a list of compatible messaging apps. It works with most of the big ones, and you can also enable it to work with many others. You can set which apps you want Oversec to be active in via the settings. I tested Oversec with Hangouts, but it should work the same with most others. There are some tutorial popups that appear as you begin using Oversec, but in general it's a bit confusing at first.

    Rather than actually encrypting what the app sends, Oversec just runs encryption and decryption on the local devices. Everything is still sent as plain text. It just happens to be nonsense text. Here's how it works: you enter a message, tap the encryption button floating on top of your messaging app, and Oversec turns the text into junk. On the other end, your friend's copy of Oversec decrypts the junk and displays the original text as an overlay. That's how Oversec works with all these unencrypted apps. It's pretty clever.

    Oversec requires a bit of setup before it will work. Specifically, you have to decide on an encryption key. This has to be shared with your friend ahead of time, preferably in person (the app has a QR scanner for importing keys) or via some secure method. The app includes several options for setting up a key. There's a simply password version where you choose the phrase you want to use for encryption. This is the weakest but fastest to set up. You can also have a random key generated in the app, or use a PGP provider.

    Oversec isn't the prettiest app with the bright orange overlays and floating buttons all over, but it does what it says it'll do. The concept is a bit confusing at first, but it really can encrypt your communication via any app. The basic functionality is free, but you can buy a full version license for a few bucks. The recommended fee depends on what you're going to do with it. A Student license is a buck and a government license is $109. I'd wager a lot of "students" will buy Oversec.

    Google Play App Roundup: Toucano, Super Mario Run, and Crash of Cars

    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.

    Toucano

    It's an unwritten rule that Twitter apps need to be named after birds. Thus, the newest Twitter option on Android is called Toucano. Why Toucano and not Toucan? No clue. At any rate, Toucano is a very new (and still beta) Twitter client. It's clean, fast, and offers a few unique features.

    The main feed in Toucano looks a lot like other Twitter clients. A series of tabs are arrayed across the top with the main timeline on the left, then mentions, and so on. The "so on" is a little different here. The activity tab isn't like the activity tab in other apps. It's a stats-based approach to tracking the impact your tweets have. It shows you how many favorites, replies, retweets, and more elicited by your postings.

    In a similar vein, you can view stats for any profile (your own included). There's a tab that shows you how many tweets have been posted, follower stats, and other interesting bits of data. You can also add notes to specific user profiles to be viewed later. If you need to keep tabs on any accounts, you can add them to your favorites. These will remain at the top of your timeline as profile links.

    The default theme is white and blue, just like the official Twitter client. However, there are plenty of other themes included, and you can build your own by choosing different primary and secondary colors. There's also a handy night mode toggle in the settings.

    Toucano does some cool stuff, but it's very clearly a young app. It lacks things like layout customization, widgets, and background sync. The notification controls are also rather rudimentary.

    It might be worth picking up if you're bored with your current Twitter client. Toucano is currently priced at $2.99.

    Google Play App Roundup: GrammarPal, Cosmic Express, and Too Many Dangers

    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.

    GrammarPal

    In the age of the internet, grammar has taken a backseat to memes and emoji. Let's bring it back. GrammarPal can help. This app scans the text you write on your device, looking for more than simple misspellings. It offers corrections to your grammar in a handy popup window. I could point out the irony of a grammar app having a CammelCase name, but let's just move one.

    You have to go through a few steps to set up and use GrammarPal, but it does a good job of walking you through the process. When enabled, GrammarPal shows up as a floating button next to your text input field. You can safely ignore it if you're just typing a few words that don't need to be checked, though it's bright green and there's no option for transparency. It kind of sticks out. At least you can move it around, and GrammarPal will remember that position for each app.

    After you type something out, tap the GrammarPal button and it'll scan your text. It does spell checking, but your phone probably does that too. The value here is that it uses the context of your sentences to figure out if you made any typos that are technically correctly spelled words. For example, using "to" when you meant "too." The GrammarPal icon will indicate the number of detected problems after scanning. Tap it again to open the editing panel at the bottom of the screen.

    The expanded GrammarPal interface shows you the text with color coded highlights for the various issues. Misspellings are red, style issues are blue, and all others are yellow. Tap on any of the highlights to get a suggestion of what to change. The buttons at the top allow you to copy the new text or automatically replace the old text. You can also just close this panel without changing anything. Unrecognized words can be added to the GrammarPal dictionary too.

    I've found GrammarPal's corrections to be right most of the time, and it does catch things that normal spell checking misses. It could be useful, depending on how concerned you are with using proper grammar in text messages and Facebook posts. The app is free and has no ads. There's a $1.99 in-app purchase that adds a few new features like dictionary backups and layout customization.

    Google Play App Roundup: Focus Timer Reborn, Mushroom 11, and Hardway

    A new week has dawned, but you can ease the transition with some new apps and games. You've come to the right place, too. This is the Google Play App Roundup, the weekly feature where we tell you what's new and cool in Google Play.Just hit the links to zoom right to the Play Store.

    Focus Timer Reborn

    Making time to get work done is not always easy. In fact, your phone can sometimes be a tempting distraction that keeps you from digging in and making some progress. With Focus Timer Reborn, it might be quite the opposite. This app helps you split up your time for more efficient work.

    Focus Timer Reborn is based on the idea that you can be more productive if you use a series of short break and slightly longer work periods. The app defaults to using 25 minute periods of focused work, short 5-minute breaks, and longer 25 minute breaks. This is based loosely on the pomodoro method. The app includes options to set goals, configurable lengths of time, and stats to help you do this. The customization lets you use whatever version of work timers you like. Some people prefer the a 52-minute session of work followed by a 17-minute break.

    The main screen in Focus Timer Reborn is the timer, which makes sense for an app that's supposed to help you get work done. Just tap the start button and get to it. You can also choose a short or longer break from this screen. Again, these lengths of time can be changed in the app's settings. There's also a handy notification available when the timer is running. It includes the remaining time and a stop button.

    All your work periods are automatically logged in the Log tab, accessible at the bottom of the UI. This is a scrollable week view showing all the work blocks you entered. If for some reason you forget to start the app, you can manually enter a block of time in the log. The far right tab is for tracking goals. The default setting for each day is 8 blocks of focused work per day.

    Focus Timer Reborn is also available online, and it syncs with the app. The app supports Google login. Thus, you can start a session on one device and pick it up on another, as long as you log into the app and web with the same account. Focus Timer Reborn is a solid app if you want to give a time management scheme a shot. It's free and there are no ads.

    Google Play App Roundup: GlassWire, Linia, and Island Delta

    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.

    GlassWire

    Android has tools for tracking data usage, but they're clunky and haven't been improved much in years. GlassWire is a new app that tracks your data usage with higher precision with an eye toward monitoring your privacy. You can see which apps use data, when they do it, and understand how that fits with your overall data usage patterns.

    After granting the app usage access it will begin logging data usage in real time. That means an ongoing (but low-priority) notification to keep the service alive. The main screen in GlassWire is a graph that shows data usage over time as a series of peaks, color coded for up and download. Below that is a list of each app that has used data, also with color coding for up and down. The data displayed on this screen can be set to various lengths of time from five minutes to 90 days. The graph also has options for all data, WiFi only, and mobile only. On the shorter time scale, you can actually see the graph change as apps run tasks in the background.

    You can get additional info including a graph of just the data usage for that app with the same controls as above. You also get information about when it was installed, updated, and when data usage was first detected. There's a permission settings link as well.

    The usage section of the app breaks down all your data by month with a smaller graph, a pie chart, and an individual list of apps. Then there's the data plan monitor, which you need to set up with your plan details. Tell it your cap, plan reset data, and set up alerts. The app can tell you when you're almost out of data. There are custom alerts as well.

    GlassWire is a free app, which naturally leads you to wonder what they're after. GlassWire is not a marketing or advertising company, so the devs claim they don't want your data. There's a desktop version of GlassWire (linked in the app) that has a premium upgrade. There's no such upgrade in the Android version, but I would not be surprised to see that happen later. So, if you believe what the company says, your data is not being collected. For now, it's just free.

    GlassWire looks like the best of these data logging apps. It has a modern material design, good features, and it's not after your personal data.

    Google Play App Roundup: Shortcutter, Avalanche, and Gravity Galaxy

    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.

    Shortcutter

    Google's included quick settings tiles are pretty robust these days, and some OEMs even add a few more for good measure. They don't have everything, though. That's where Nougat's new quick settings tile API comes in. Shortcutter is one of a new breed of apps that add additional tiles to the quick settings. This app has a lot of features in the free version, and there are some goodies exclusively for rooted users.

    After installing Shortcutter, you'll need to open the app to run through a quick setup process. The app needs access to modify your settings and change the do not disturb features. It only takes a few seconds and the app is very clear about what you have to do. The only settings in the app to be modified are the custom URL and app shortcuts. There's only one of each in the free version, but the upgraded premium app (a $2.99 ad-on) increases that the four of each.

    Adding Shortcutter tiles to the quick settings works just like managing the stock tiles. Open the editing panel and long-press to drag in the new tiles. If you're not rooted, you get a reasonable selection of tiles (in addition to the aforementioned custom URL and app shortcuts). There's next alarm, screen timeout, ring mode, haptic feedback, camera launcher, and more. With root, you get tiles for things like Reboot, ADB, ambient display, and network mode.

    It's quite robust for a free app. One thing I would like to see added is a way to disable Shortcutter toggles you don't intend to use. The list of tiles in the quick settings edit panel can be a little unwieldy, especially if you install a few tile managers.

    Google Play App Roundup: EasilyDo Email, Splitter Critters, and unWorded

    Money doesn't grow on trees, and those $0.99 app purchases do add up. It's best to go into the Play Store with some idea of what's up your alley and what isn't. That's what the Google Play App Roundup is here to do. We bring you the best new and newly updated app and games every week. Just click on the app name to head to the Play Store and test it out yourself.

    EasilyDo Email

    Your phone came with the Gmail app, and maybe you've since branched out to the Inbox app. Support for non-Google email accounts in Inbox is poor, but the new Email app from EasilyDo is a bit like Inbox for whatever email account you want to use. It's essentially an email app wrapped around the EasilyDo Assistant app.

    Adding an account is very quick, especially for Gmail accounts you already have on your phone. Just select it and you're done. There's also a guided setup process for popular apps like Yahoo, Outlook, and AOL Mail. You can also plug in any other account via IMAP. Syncing and general app navigation are quite fast.

    Your inbox defaults to a Gmail-style conversation view—the app doesn't try to imitate Inbox's bundling. The style is a little different, though. Instead of seeing all the emails collapsed in one screen, tapping on an email brings up a new screen with a list of all threaded messages. I don't know if I like it more than Gmail's approach, but it's something new.

    One of my favorite things about EasilyDo Email is the customizable swipe gestures. Each message in the inbox can be swiped left or right. You can have those gestures do things like archive, delete, and mark read/unread. The assistant functionality is neat as well. You'll find this in the navigation panel. The app automatically finds emails that fit into categories like travel, subscriptions, and packages. Tap on any of them to get a filtered view of your inbox. Some of these lists will include a handy breakdown of all the relevant details. For example, flights found in the travel list have flight numbers, reservations, seat numbers, and times. The assistant seems reasonably smart, but it does miss some things.

    The subscriptions section also showcases one of Email's main features; one-tap unsubscribing. You'll see this button at the top of any email it detects as a subscription with a supported method of removing yourself from the list. It seems to work on most of my email subscriptions. Simply tap the button, the app thinks, and you're unsubscribed.

    EasilyDo Email is free, so check it out if you want to get a different take on your email.

    Google Play App Roundup: Peek Launcher, Fire Emblem Heroes, and Glitchskier

    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.

    Peek Launcher

    Most of the alternative home screens on Android are generally similar, but every now and then a developer just goes in a different direction. Such is the case with Peek Launcher. It eschews many of the things that other launchers have, relying almost entirely on T9 text input. It's an interesting minimalist take on the home screen.

    When you start up Peek Launcher the first time, you'll get a regular phone dial pad at the bottom of the display and two rows of icons. The icons that show up are predictions based on what you've been using most lately. Newly installed apps will also pop up here. To find an app, just start tapping the keys to spell out the name. So for Gmail you'd tap 4, 6, 2, and at that point you'd probably be left with just Gmail. It filters the list of apps live as you tap.

    There are other launchers that include features like this, then there are some apps that just do this alone. Peek Launcher is the only one I'm aware of that is based almost entirely on T9 input. In addition to filtering apps, you can long-press the icons to pin important apps so they'll always show up on the main page. There are swipe gestures too. Drag down to get your Google search bar, and drag up to reveal a full scrollable app list.

    Peek Launcher includes options to change the background and button color of the keyboard. It will also change automatically when you set a new background to match the colors. You can set a custom icon pack as well.

    This app is still early in its development, and it's changing fast. It is a little light on features right now, but it's free. I'll be watching to see what Peek can do down the line.

    Google Play App Roundup: BitTorrent Live, A Normal Lost Phone, and Xenoraid

    There are far too many apps flowing into the Play Store on a daily basis to find all the good stuff yourself. This is the problem that Google Play App Roundup seeks to solve. Every week we tell you about the best new and newly updated apps in the Play Store. Just click the app name to head right to the Play Store and check things out for yourself.

    BitTorrent Live

    There are a number of services that offer access to live TV streams on Android, but they tend to want money. BitTorrent Live is a streaming TV service from, you guessed it, BitTorrent. It's completely free. It's been available on some streaming boxes and desktops for several months, but the app has now showed up in the Play Store.

    As with most things BitTorrent does, this streaming video app is based on the company's p2p technology. It uses many of the same techniques that have allowed Torrent sites to become so prominent as sources for… well, everything. BitTorrent itself is a legitimate business, though. The content on BitTorrent Live is fully licensed.

    Because this is based on p2p technology, the quality of the stream will vary based on how many people are viewing it. Just like with a Torrent download, you both download and upload to keep the swarm of watchers going. The result is a system that's much easier on the video source. How does it look? From my testing, I'd say it ranges from middling to good. Some channels look like a standard 480p stream, and other are almost as good as what you'd get streaming HD video from a source like YouTube.

    The interface is minimal, and I think it could use a bit of work. You can tap to bring up the current stream info, then tap the arrow at the bottom to get the full channel list. There are nearly 20 channels, some of which are not going to have wide appeal, like the far, far right One America News network. You do get the NASA TV and NASA UHD stream, though. Scrolling through the horizontal channel guide is not pleasant. Inertial scrolling is ramped way up, and any downward movement is interpreted as a swipe to close the guide.

    There are some other bugs here too. For example, the stream fails to load on mobile data, so you need WiFi right now. It also strikes me as odd there's no Chromecast support at launch. Still, the app is free and it does offer free streaming video as advertised.

    Google Play App Roundup: System Panel 2, Soul Knight, and PixelTerra

    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.

    System Panel 2

    Sometimes you need to know what's going on inside your phone, and System Panel is one of the apps that helps you do that. However, the original System Panel app hasn't been updated in ages. Now, there's a new version available in the Play Store. It's actually a completely new listing and rewritten app. That means you'll have to buy it again if you had the original.

    There will be some concern over the new version so I'll just point out the original System Panel was supported for about 6 years. That's not bad for an app people spent a buck on. The new one has better support for modern versions of Android and has a vastly improved UI. However, changes to the way Android works will limit your ability to track and manage running processes (you shouldn't be "managing" them anyway). You need root access for System Panel 2 to access these tools.

    Even without root, there are a lot of cool things to do in System Panel 2. On the main screen you have a dashboard of your phone's current activity. At the top are read-outs of what's going on with your processor, RAM, storage, battery, and network connection. Below that is a historic graph of battery charge and CPU usage. This can be useful troubleshooting an app or performance issues. At the bottom is a panel showing how many apps you have installed, and your device's ID.

    Tapping on any of the panels in the main app UI will open additional information. For the top few, you'll get the live streamed data with additional information. Opening the history panel (also accessible from the nav menu) lets you drill down into more historical stats. The device ID panel gives you access to system information like reported specs, network conditions, and location data.

    The app manager is one of the most interesting parts of System Panel 2, I think. It has sections for your installed apps, system apps, archived apps, and a permission list. Tapping on any app in the list shows you the package name, install date, last update date, and more. You can archive any app, saving the APK for the current version. The APK is placed on your SD card in a simple folder hierarchy so it's easy to find. With archived apps, you can compare the package stats using the drop down in the app details screen. You can, of course, install those old APKs or export them elsewhere. Note: paid apps can be archived, but the licensing will prevent them from working on devices without a valid account license.

    System Panel 2 is still in beta, but it seems really solid for what it is. I'd like to see some widgets, and a few alternative data filters might be nice. If you need a system info app, this one is a good choice and it's free. If you want to remove the ads, it's a $1.99 in-app purchase.

    Google Play App Roundup: Weather Wiz, Towaga, and Dynasty Warriors: Unleashed

    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.

    Weather Wiz

    Weather apps with a lot of data tend to be not very attractive, and apps with attractive design tend to be lacking in data. Weather Wiz seems like a good compromise between pretty and functional. It's also completely free, at least for now.

    Weather Wiz reminds me a little of the weather app HTC builds into its phone, but it has a lot more data and features than that app. In the main view, there's a temperature readout at the top along with some notes on the current conditions. At the bottom is an hourly forecast that can be scrolled through to see what's coming up in the future. I really appreciate having this data so easily accessible in the app.

    The animated background image on the main screen is controlled by the theme you've chosen. It will, of course, change based on the current conditions. This is where you'll encounter the upsell—some of these themes cost $0.99. There are about 12 themes right now, and five appear to be paid. They don't seem any better than the free ones, though. I'm particularly into the Material theme (right) and the space theme.

    If you scroll down from the main screen, you'll find all the other data in Weather Wiz. Oddly, you have to scroll from the bottom section with the temperature timeline. Swiping on the background doesn't work, which seems awkward and wrong. At any rate, the background is blurred as the new weather readings slide into view. You get more details about current conditions at the top, then as you scroll down there's a rundown of weather for tomorrow. Below that is a 10-day forecast. At the very bottom is a cool sunrise/sunset graphic.

    Weather radar is accessible from the navigation menu, and it'll get the job done. It is very pretty with animated wind patterns, but there's no true animations for radar changes over time. The accuracy of the precipitation (the most important radar use case, I think) seems lacking. This data comes from a third-party, so this isn't necessarily the developer's fault.

    Lastly, there's a full suite of widgets for Weather Wiz that are mostly very good. There are several different sizes, and each theme has its own backgrounds for them. However, you can also use the more generic stock ones if you like. There's an add that pops up when you add a widget, but after you've cleared it, you won't see it again until you add another Weather Wiz widget. Overall, I think this is a great weather app with a not too annoying monetization setup.

    Google Play App Roundup: Stringify, Road Not Taken, and War Commander: Rogue Assault

    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.

    Stringify

    Many of us have ended up with various smart internet-connected things. Cameras, lights, and of course our smartphones. There are a number of services that tie these things together, but Stringify is a new take on this with a more visual and potentially powerful approach. Simply link up your services and start playing around.

    If you've used something like IFTTT or Tasker, you'll be able to figure out Stringify pretty fast. It's sort of a combination of those two (although it can actually plug into IFTTT as well). Stringify uses "flows" to control your devices and services. You can use one of the flows from the starter pack to get familiar with the process, but ideally you will want to create new flows based on the things you have.

    I've been playing around with Stringify and my Arlo home security cameras. In a few minutes I was able to create flows to arm and disarm the cameras based on my location and manually trigger a video recording when I tap a special Stringify button. One thing that really sets Stringify apart from services like IFTTT is that it can have multiple triggers and actions, and they're pretty easy to follow with the flowchart setup process. IFTTT by comparison only allows a single trigger and action. You can even plug into IFTTT to integrate recipes within your flows.

    To create flows, you pick the services you want to use, and drop them on the provided grid of circles. There are plenty of built-in triggers like time, location, and so on. The ones needing configuration have gear icons to let you know. After all your icons are set up, you can drag between them to create the flow. I've found Stringify to be very reliable, but there are still some bugs. A few services are also unsupported in the Android client. Not surprising as this is a beta app. If you choose to use a button trigger in Stringify, you can access those from the app's control center. Although, I've had trouble getting the home screen widget version working.

    Despite the issues with this early build, Stringify is something you should keep an eye on. It could potentially be a very powerful automation app.

    Google Play App Roundup: Screens, Ookujira, and Empty

    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.

    Screens

    Android 7.0 added support for split-screen apps in the core of Android, meaning all those janky OEM implementations can go the way of the dodo. This also opens developers up to play around with the feature, and maybe even improve it. Screens is an attempt to do just that. It lets you create shortcuts that launch multi-window mode with a predetermined pair of apps.

    Setup for Screens requires only one trip into the settings, and you don't need root or anything fancy like that. All this app needs it access to Accessibility controls. It's basically launching apps and triggering split-screen mode automatically.

    To create shortcuts, just open the Screens interface and pick a name for your shortcut and the two apps you want to open. Note which one is on the top and which is on the top and which is on the bottom—that's the orientation they'll show up in when you launch the app. If you have a device in landscape mode, the "top" position is on the right side of the display.

    The shortcut on your home screen can be moved around like any other, and launching is fast. You'll probably see the very basic Screens UI flash for a split second, then your chosen apps will appear. It's a good idea to make sure the apps you've chosen will actually open in split-screen. Some developers specifically disallow that because it breaks something. However, the apps don't have to be running in the background to launch in split-screen via Screens.

    The app is free and it definitely does what it claims to without trouble. I'd still like to see a few more niceties added. For example, a way to edit previously created shortcuts or custom icon support. Sprucing up the app's interface might be a smart too. Still, it could be a really useful app for anyone who uses the feature on Nougat.

    Google Play App Roundup: Pigment, Oceanhorn, and RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic

    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.

    Pigment

    Just because you're a grown-up doesn't mean you can't chill out with a coloring book and some markers. Adult coloring books are a big deal these days with mental health experts citing them as a great way to relieve stress. There's also a way to get your coloring fix digitally with Pigment. This app includes hundreds of free pages to color, plus a ton more if you subscribe.

    Adult coloring books tend to have vastly more detail than the ones intended for kids, and it's the same way with the pages in this app. They come in various categories like animals, fantasy, and geometric. The default settings make it pretty easy to get up and doodling right away. There are plenty of color palettes to choose from, and you have several different brushes. These also come with distinctive textures. For example, the paintbrush has rougher strokes than the marker, and the airbrush is completely uniform. Each one has configurable size and transparency too.

    When you tap in an area to start coloring, the app will keep you inside the lines. This lets you be a little more free with the way you apply brush strokes without getting a mess. You can turn this off. But you need to be pretty careful—a capacitive touch screen isn't the most accurate input device. At the very least you'll need a stylus with a fine tip to go completely free-hand. It's certainly doable, though.

    The images have a lot of little nooks and crannies to be colored, so you'll have to zoom in with multitouch to get them all. You can also pan across images with a two-finger drag gesture. The pages have very high detail in general. Even zooming way in, the lines are still rendered smoothly.

    Pigment lets you just fill things in solid if you want. However, it also includes the tools to create some very pretty works of art. You can layer colors on top of each other with different brushes and weight to create some very neat effects. All your work will be saved in the app, allowing you to come back to a partially finished page later or export something you previously finished. Exported images have watermarks, though.

    There are around 300 free pages in Pigment, but upgrading to premium gets you thousands more. That also adds more color palettes and removes watermarks. This is a subscription app, so you pay monthly for access. The developers say that more pages will be added every week as a justification for the subscription. It's a little spendy at $7.99 per month. If you're really into coloring, maybe you'll be down with that. Otherwise, the free content it pretty cool too.

    Google Play App Roundup: Pyrope Browser, Time Locker, and Retro City Rampage DX

    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.

    Pyrope Browser

    I find that I don't often have cause to stray from Chrome on Android. While it's not always been the fastest browser, it has improved markedly in recent years. It's also deeply integrated with my other Google stuff. I think to be interesting, a browser has to bring some distinct features to the table, and Pyrope Browser. This is a revamped version of the CyanogenMod browser (sometimes known as Gello) that runs on all Android devices. It's based on Chromium, but there's a lot of cool stuff going on here.

    The first thing you'll notice about Pyrope Browser is how minimal the on-screen UI is. There's a URL bar, favicon, tabs, and overflow menu button. If that's too much, you can even enable immersive mode with hides the system UI (status and nav bar) unless you swipe to reveal them. Tapping on the favicon for a site shows all the permissions and security information on that domain. Pyrope Browser has built-in ad-blocking on a per domain basis, so this is where you can enable ads for sites you know and trust. Because this is Chromium under the hood, you also have access to Incognito Mode for sketchy browsing.

    One of the most useful things in Pyrope Browser is the edge navigation, which you will be asked to enable the first time you stumble upon it. Swiping in from the left or right can be interpreted as a forward or back gesture. This can interfere with pages that have edge gesture navigation, but I've found it still usable in those instances. The edge gesture navigation is particularly useful in Pyrope Browser because it loads pages so fast. As you drag inward, you can see the other page slide over. The browser flashes for a moment as the page reloads, and you're all set. Pyrope Browser is definitely faster at loading pages than Google's standard Chrome releases on Android. Devices running Qualcomm Snapdragon chips can take advantage of special APIs that increase performance even further

    Some of the more exotic features include power saving modes, restricted access to webview data, and night mode. That last one is quite interesting. Pyrope Browser simply inverts all the colors on the page. Most pages are black text on a light background, so it's much easier on the eyes in the dark. However, it's smart enough not to invert the colors on a page that uses a dark background by default.

    Pyrope Browser is free, and it might be just the alternative browser you've been waiting for on Android.

    Google Play App Roundup: Trusted Contacts, Dawn of Titans, and Bully

    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.

    Trusted Contacts

    Google knows where you are, and from the context of your movements, it can often figure out what you're doing. This is all part of the trade off for leaving location services on. You get a lot of cool features, but there's sometimes a little bit of a creepiness factor. It's about time to put Google's location awareness to good use, and that's what Trusted Contacts does. After registering the app with your account and verifying your contacts, you can share your location securely in a snap.

    Trusted Contacts is technically part of Google Play Services, which is on nearly every Android device. However, you need to install the app to enable the feature. After logging in, you can choose which of your contacts you want to set as "trusted." They also need to install the app and confirm the connection.

    Doing all this gives you both access to the other's location, but no unfettered access. Let's say you're supposed to meet your significant other and they're running late. You can use the Trusted Contacts app to request a location. Simply tap on their entry in the app, and send the request. On the other end, your trusted contact gets a notification that you want access to their location. The notification lets them deny or grant access. If they don't act on the notification within five minutes, the request is automatically granted. This is an emergency measure.

    On your device, contacts that have granted location access are visible in the list for 24 hours with a live updating map. This is not an additional battery drain, though. The location information is tied into Play Services. So you're just getting the same location information as Google. When you tap on the map for a shared contact, you have the option of opening the location in Maps

    Your trusted contacts can also, of course, request your location. You don't have to wait for that, though. You can also foist your location upon them by tapping the action button at the top of the app. You can choose individual recipients or just send an alert to all your trusted contacts with your location. This is another emergency measure.

    Trusted Contacts is a neat and useful app. I would not be surprised to see Google require this on GMS-certified devices going forward.

    Google Play App Roundup: Clip Layer, Battleship Lonewolf, and Samorost 3

    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.

    Clip Layer

    Android has always supported copying text, even back when that was unusual on mobile devices. However, there are still lots of places in the OS that text isn't accessible. There are a few apps that let you grab that text, but Microsoft's Clip Layer seems to be the best at it. There is, however, a drawback. You'll lose Google Now on Tap. Okay, admittedly that's a pretty minor drawback.

    Clip Layer is bound to the long-press home button shortcut—it takes over the Assist command in the system settings. On most phones, that's still Google Now on Tap. The lone exception being the Pixel phones. On those devices, the long-press action launches Assistant. Assistant is useful, so I don't know that I'd recommend using Clip Layer on the Pixel. Everyone else is only losing access to Now on Tap (AKA screen search), which Google has effectively abandoned.

    Your screen is overlaid with a grid showing all detected text when you long-press to launch Clip Layer. To select text, just tap the boxes. These can be app icon labels, contents from widgets, or just text in an app that doesn't expose it for selection. Then, tap the floating text icon in the upper right corner to see all the text you've selected.

    Like other apps, Clip Layer can only grab an entire block of text at a time. However, you can edit a bit in the text popup. You can long-press here to select and copy just a part of the text you've pulled out of the screen.

    At the bottom of the screen in Clip Layer mode are several action buttons including copy, task, email, and share. The copy button is self-explanatory. Task plugs into Wunderlist to turn the text into a to-do (you have to log into Wunderlist first). Email drops the text into a new email, and share simply opens the system sharing menu so you can send the text anyplace else.

    Clip Layer is free, and it's a good solution if you often find yourself needing to copy text from odd places. Losing the long-press shortcut is a minor drawback right now for most phones. If Assistant comes to more devices in the future, you may be less keen on it, though.

    Google Play App Roundup: Contextual App Folder, Jade Empire, and Hopeless 3

    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.

    Contextual App Folder

    As you install more apps and games, your app drawer will increasingly become a pain to navigate. You can add shortcuts to your home screen, but eventually you end up with the same problem—too many things and not enough space. Contextual App Folder can help with a simple folder that changes its contents based on triggers like time, location, and connected devices.

    To start, Contextual App Folder comes with a "Default" folder and one for "Headphones." All you get in default is a link to the Contextual App Folder settings. The Headphones folder will include any apps Contextual App Folder recognizes as audio or music-related. Default is the folder what appears on your home screen when no other of your contextual settings have been triggered. You can change the name of this folder, as well as what's in it. The same goes for the Headphones folder.

    Those two are just the start. Contextual App Folder includes conditions for the time of day, location, various device status triggers like being on a phone call, getting a notification from certain apps, and charging. When you select a new condition to create a folder, you have to choose which apps you want included in it. The order of these apps can also be changed.

    To use Contextual App Folder, just add it as a widget to the home screen. One thing I've always disliked about similar dynamic folder apps is that they don't look like folders. That's not the case with Contextual App Folder. It looks and acts like a regular folder on your home screen, but you can also tweak the style to use different colors, font sizes, and layouts.

    As for the basic functionality, I'm very impressed with Contextual App Folder. The folder updates to the right context extremely fast—within a second or two of plugging in headphones, for example. This app is still in early access, but it seems really solid. It's free right now, although I imagine there will be an in-app upgrade option when it's officially released.