Latest StoriesAndroid App Roundup
    Google Play App Roundup: Radon, Exploding Kittens, and Zenge

    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.


    Google has made a lot of cool APIs available to app developers, and many of them get a lot of use. One API that I think has gotten short shrift is Nearby. The Nearby API was announced about a year ago as a way for devices to talk to each other with a minimum of setup. Radon is a new app that makes sharing content between devices super-easy by using the Nearby API.

    In case you're not aware, Nearby is a set of tools that can allow devices to pair and exchange information using Bluetooth, WiFi, and ultrasonic pulses. It's similar to the guest mode on the Chromecast in that it uses ultrasonic tones to pair with devices that aren't on the same WiFi network. You'll have to approve Radon to use Nearby services when you first start it. After that, you can simply share things to Radon from the system sharing menu.

    Radon is not intended to push large amounts of data, so you'll be able to share things like links, videos, and so on. Radon opens when selected and begins looking for other devices in the vicinity running Radon. The receiving phone just needs to have the app open, and it'll start searching for a sender. When the devices spot each other, the content will be pushed over immediately. The app itself has a snazzy material UI with a purple and pink theme.

    The main barrier to entry here is that both parties need to have Radon running. That means getting people to install it. The app includes quick links to the app and a QR code to help your friends get the app installed. Radon is free, and the lack of any signup process makes it at least feasible to get people on board.

    Google Play App Roundup: Screenshot Join, Redcon, and Warhammer Freeblade

    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.

    Screenshot Join

    One of my favorite features Samsung built into its newer Galaxy phones is the scrolling screenshot. Whenever you take a screenshot, you have the option of automatically scrolling down and stitching the next screen onto it. Screenshot Join is a new app that gives you similar results on any Android phone. It's not quite as easy, but it seems to get the job done more easily than using a general photo editor.

    To start, you'll need to snap all the screenshots you want to stitch together using your phone's native button combination. With that accomplished, it's time to open Screenshot Join. The app offers the option of exploring just the screenshot folder or using the Android file picker to see all recent images. Odds are the screenshot option will be easier.

    After selecting the first and second photos, you'll be taken to an interface with a split screen allowing you to line up the spot where the images match. It's sort of like sliding the second pic under the first one until the stitch isn't visible anymore. Note, you can pick vertical or side-by-side orientation for the photos. Vertical will probably be more common.

    So, that leaves you with two joined screenshots as one file. What if you want more? Just hit the arrow action button and you'll go back to the image selection interface with the new stitched image as the top photo. Add the next image in the series to the bottom and go through the process of lining it up again.

    You can add as many images as you like to the final product before saving. It's a little more tedious than I'd like, and some sort of finer control while lining the images up would be appreciated. Still, Screenshot Join is faster at this than the alternatives and it's free. You will have to put up with a few ads when attaching images, though.

    Google Play App Roundup: Quote, Toby: The Secret Mine, and Velociraptor

    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.


    The number of RSS readers ballooned a few years ago when Google announce it was retiring Reader. People who had never really used an RSS reader before thought Reader sounded like a good idea, and developers were there to provide alternatives. Many of them plug into one service or another, so what you're really looking for is a good front end. The newly released Quote (from the developer of Fenix for Twitter) has a clean design with support for popular feed aggregator services.

    You can log into Quote with Feedly or Inoreader accounts. The pro upgrade includes the ability to have multiple accounts as well. The main screen shows you your overall counts at the top, collections in the middle, and individual subscriptions at the bottom. The layout is much less dense than some apps, and if you have a huge list of subscriptions, it might seem sub-optimal. For most people, it's a much more friendly and easy UI to get used to.

    Whenever you tap through to a different list, you can always swipe back to return to the previous screen. Swipe gestures are used throughout Quote to keep the UI clean and avoid the cluttered toolbars and menus you get with many other RSS readers. There's also a neat swipe gesture to mark items as read or unread.

    The reading interface is one of the best I've seen in an RSS reader, and this is just the first public release. It's full screen, so the status bar hides when you scroll down. At the bottom is a toolbar that also hides, including buttons to skip to the next/previous feed item, star a post, and change your reading mode. Most sites limit the RSS feed to just snippets, so Quote lets you open in the browser, or more interestingly open "readability" mode. That just grabs the full text and renders it in the Quote UI. It feels completely native.

    Like any self-respecting RSS reader, Quote has support for syncing your subscriptions for offline reading. This can be triggered automatically in the background or only when you open the app. However, you can choose to exclude images from that or only allow them to be downloaded on WiFi.

    The free version of Quote has two themes to choose from, as well as some ads. For $2.49 you get the pro version with two more themes (the sepia looks great) and no ads. You should check out the free version and see if it's right for you. This is great for a first release.

    Google Play App Roundup: Scarlett for Chromecast, Pokémon TCG, and Chameleon Run

    Android devices do a lot of neat stuff out of the box, but you can always load it up with new apps to make if do more stuff. And maybe some games for good measure. This is the Google Play App Roundup where we tell you what's new on Android. Just hit the links to head to the Play Store.

    Scarlett for Chromecast

    Google's Cast screensaver is okay, but there's not much to it even after customizing with the Cast app's backdrops. Scarlett for Chromecast aims to make your Chromecast or Android TV a little more useful by turning it into a dashboard for information.

    To use Scarlett, you'll need to have a Chromecast or Android TV (obviously). Just open the app on your phone and tap the Cast button to select the target. You'll immediately get a feed of information dictated by your settings. Scarlett offers to set all this up on your first run, but you can edit the settings later.

    The feed includes content from YouTube, Twitter, Reddit and more. Facebook and Pinterest are apparently coming soon. The bulk of the interface is taken up with the current item in the feed list. If it's a video, you can play it on the TV and control via the app. Other content cycles through automatically every 30 seconds. The app can also advance through feed items with a swipe. You can also open any of the content on your phone from the app. After logging in, your Twitter timeline and YouTube playlists will be accessible in Scarlett, which is pretty cool.

    The dashboard is accessible in the second tab of Scarlett. Selecting that will kick the TV over into that mode. It's a bit less interactive, consisting of weather, a clock, and images from 500px cycling through. It's more like the standard Cast screen with a few more features. The last tab is for search, which is handled by voice input. That allows you to look for specific content and have it appear on the TV screen inside Scarlett.

    Scarlett for Chromecast is still in the early stages of development, but it's a really solid idea with lots of room to add functionality. It's free too. You should check it out if you've got a Google Cast device connected to your TV.

    Google Play App Roundup: Monospace Writer, Hammer Bomb, and Ultraflow 2

    Despite being a search company, Google hasn't really made it very easy to find the apps you're looking for. That's why we do the Google Play App Roundup. Here you'll find the best new and newly updated apps on Android. Just click the app link to head right to the Play Store to download for yourself.

    Monospace Writer

    The Google Drive quite is pre-installed on every Android device, but it packs in a lot of features that many people don't want when they are writing on a mobile device. Let's face it, doing any significant amount of writing on a touchscreen isn't ideal, but Monospace might make things easier. This app has been in beta for a few months, but now it's available to everyone. Plus, it's free to try.

    With Monospace, you just start typing and add formatting along the way. The toolbar at the top only has a few buttons for color theme, undo, and sharing. The theme options are helpful if you're working in a dark or bright environment, and the dark theme has an optional AMOLED true black mode. All the formatting commands are accessed by highlighting text with a double-tap or long-press. You can bold, italicize, underline, strikethrough (pro), add bullets, and more. It's smart to keep all this stuff out of the way until you need it, and when you do see it, it's in the same area of the screen you just tapped to highlight.

    Having all this only exist on your Android device wouldn't be very useful, so Monospace has syncing abilities too. You can connect to Dropbox to access your documents on other devices and stay in sync. With the $4 pro upgrade, you can also use Google Docs to automatically sync. That's more useful option as the files are accessible in the Docs editor more easily. Monospace saves files as text with markdown, so it can be copied into various other programs and services. There's also a plain text export option.

    When creating files in Monospace, you may notice that there's no apparent way to organize into folders. You actually can, and it's very cool. Monospace uses hashtags for organization. At the end of your document, add a hashtag (#name) to set a folder. The app will create a folder and add the document to it. You can also create nested folders with hashtags (#name#anothername). One of my favorite features is the ability to quickly encrypt important information by adding the #encrypted hashtag. The app will ask for a passcode, and you'll have to enter that to decrypt the file each time.

    Monospace Writer is a great option if you're looking for a minimalist text editor on Android. It's still quite capable even without the pro upgrade, but the $4 price tag is fair for what you get.

    Google Play App Roundup: Klara, Exit Hero, and Hex Defender

    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 apps have always been a big part of the mobile application ecosystem, ever since the earliest days when we just had to decide if we hated Weatherbug or Weather Channel less. There are much better choice these days, and Klara the newest one. This is a forecast-focused weather app that uses a timeline interface, but it's not a knockoff of the popular Weather Timeline app.

    Klara's main interface is laid out in a series of tabs across the top of the screen. The one on the left that Klara opens to first is the one you'll probably look at the most -- temperature and precipitation. The current conditions are on the far left of the timeline. You can tap and drag across the scale at the bottom to move the indicator. As you do, the data shown by the app changes to match the chosen time.

    Across the top you have temperature and conditions (denoted by icons). In the middle is a graph of temperature forecasts. This is a nice way to visualize things, but I wish it was bound to some real scale on the Y-axis. It seems to use the lowest point on the graph as the bottom of the graph. Making the current conditions more easily accessible would be smart too. Precipitation is shown at the bottom as a series of blue bars. The taller they are, the more precipitation per hour.

    The other three tabs are set up in a similar way, but they show different data (except for the condition icons, which are on all the screens). The next one over shows you wind speed and direction. Again, the present time is on the far left, then the next few days extend off to the right. The next tab is cloud cover, and the last one has pressure and humidity. This one has the most data, but it's of less use to most people.

    In addition to the main UI as described above, there's an extended forecast screen with less detail that is accessible from the slide-out nav menu. There's a widget too, which is an essential feature of weather apps as far as I'm concerned. It's clean and shows the forecast data well. I just wish (again) current conditions were more easily discerned.

    There are a few things that need to be improved in Klara, but it's a well-designed app and it's completely free right now.

    Google Play App Roundup: WhaToDo, Monster Mountain, and Rayman 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.


    The age-old question of what to do when you're planning a trip can be solved with searching and reading of guides, but the aptly named WhaToDo app just tells you what to do with a pleasant material interface and location-based deals. You can even book tickets and reservations right from the app.

    WhaToDo supports a fair number of cities, but it's far from everywhere. Most of the more common destinations I could think of are available in the app, though. There are apparently about 1000 destinations available in the app. To find a city, just use the search bar at the top. If WhaToDo has results, they will be split up into tabs along the top. There's also a floating action button at the bottom of the screen that switches between the list view and a map.

    The first tab is all the most popular options, then you've got attractions, shows, tours, and so on. Each item WhaToDo has a full description page with photos, videos, duration, and more. There's an integrated Google Maps page to help you figure out where it is as well.

    If you decide to book something, the app includes full support for booking tickets. I'm impressed that this isn't just a webframe or something, but an actual function of the native app. You can get select tickets, enter payment info, and access them easily from the reservation section of the slide-out nav menu. The bookings are apparently all handled by the company that makes the app, and there are exclusive deals on events that are only available in the app.

    The design of WhaToDo is a rather good example of what material design can look like when it's done right. The navigation is self-explanatory with the scrolling tabs, and there are animations throughout that don't get in the way of using the app. WhaToDo seems like a solid way to plan a trip.

    Google Play App Roundup: Join, DIRAC, and Universal Copy

    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.


    For me and many others, Pushbullet has been an indispensable part of the Android experience for years. It's has consistently added features and improved the ones it already had over that time, but it does cost money now. It was inevitable that people would try to build replacements, and now the most prominent of these apps is out of beta. It's called Join.

    Like Pushbullet, Join connects all your devices, making it easier to transfer text, files, and other content between them. Join implements most of the core features of Pushbullet, but I'd say it's overall not as clean or easy to use. It is still early, though.

    After you install Join on your phone, you need to get it on your other devices too. There are some browser extensions, a Windows app, and a web interface. To push a link, text, or file, you can either share it to Join or open the app and find the device you want to send to. It has a messaging-style layout rather like Pushbullet (sorry, these comparisons have to happen). The pushing seems to work well, but it uses your personal Google Drive for file pushing. Some people might like this, but it will clutter things up if you use it for other uses. I also don't see any way to push files to other people.

    Notification mirroring is one of Pushbullet's most important features, at least to me. It takes all the notification content from your phone and mirrors it on a desktop. Join has that same feature, but setting it up is a bit of a pain. You have to manually select each app you want to push notifications. There's no indication in the app that you need to do that until you venture several levels deep in the settings. Along with notifications, are SMS replies. You can reply to SMS directly from your computer, which is pretty handy.

    The SMS stuff and clipboard syncing are two features that are partially or totally restricted to Pushbullet's pro plan. Join allows unlimited access to both with the full version of the app. Clipboard syncing works well for me, but the bubbles that pop up on the phone to make sharing to a specific device just get in the way, so I turned them off.

    Join has a robust feature set, and if you've never used Pushbullet, this might be a good way to go. Join is free to try, but a $3.99 in-app purchase is needed to continue using it and remove the ads. It isn't quite as full featured or as reliable as Pushbullet, but it's close.

    Google Play App Roundup: Xcerpt for Twitter, Thumb Drift, and Rocketfella

    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.

    Xcerpt for Twitter

    Twitter is rumored to be planning a feature that will let you tweet more than 140 characters, but that's currently the limit. So what if you want to tweet something a little more detailed? Xcerpt has an interesting take on that. With this app, you can use a screenshot to build a custom image that is embedded in your tweet, giving you space to talk about the content too.

    To start, you fine a page that you want to share and take a screenshot. Then, head over to Xcerpt and use it to choose that screenshot. You want to make sure the screen has the text you want to share clearly visible. The next step has you crop the screenshot down to get rid of all the extraneous elements possible around the text. Xcerpt uses OCR (I believe) to process the text and insert it into a clean little frame.

    You have the option of selecting and highlighting text to add emphasis or call attention to a choice quote. This interface has a second tap at the top where you can modify the source for the image. The app is very smart about pulling that automatically, but you are also able to paste in a URL if it gets it wrong.

    When you've assembled all the pieces, you'll have to log into Twitter to send the Tweet from Xcerpt. What you get is a post with a link to the source, the image with the text you've framed, and whatever you what to add to the body of the tweet. You should have about 100 characters left after the two links. Because most Twitter clients automatically show images in the stream, it makes your Tweet much more eye catching. You can also just save the image to your gallery if you want to Tweet it from another app.

    Not everyone will have a use for Xcerpt, but those that do will find it gets the job done quite well. If you find yourself bumping into the character limit when sharing links, you might want to give it a shot.

    Google Play App Roundup: Boost for Reddit, Epic Flail, and iSlash Heroes

    Time once again to check in on what's new in the Play Store. This is the Google Play App Roundup where you can come every week to find out what's new and cool on Android. Just hit the links below to head right to the Play Store on your device.

    Boost for Reddit

    Boost is yet another Reddit client for Android, and you may be wondering why you need another one of those. Well, maybe you don't but this one is still just in beta and it's already rather impressive and full featured.

    Boost has several different layout options out of the gate including a standard list, gallery, and card view. You can further customize the look and feel of the app with day and night themes, with the option of an AMOLED black night mode. There are also a few alternative colors.

    This app has a proper material look, and the app has a dedicated multi-column UI for tablets in landscape mode. I think this is the best way to browse Reddit on a mobile device, and a lot of apps don't get it right. Boost's multi-column UI is reasonably good, but I wish it loaded the browser in only one of the panes. Reddit is Fun continues to be the best at this.

    You can, of course, log in and view your subscribed sub-Reddits using the slide-out navigation menu. It also has an option to quickly visit a sub you aren't subscribed to from this menu, something that some clients lack. I do, however, wish the multi-usb were at the top of the list, whereas they're at the bottom right now.

    Commenting, voting, and submitting, filtering and even viewing the sidebar are all supported in this initial release. There are Reddit apps that have gone through several updates that don't have all these features. The overall smoothness and speed of Boost are also where I'd expect a quality app to be.

    When Boost launched a few days ago, there was a persistent ad at the bottom of the screen and no way to get rid of it. The developer has since added a $2.49 in-app purchase to remove the ad. You should at least check out the free version. With a few more updates, Boost could rival the top Reddit clients on Android.

    Google Play App Roundup: Qapital, Dub Dash, and Evo Explores

    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.


    Saving can be hard, but there are apps that can make it easy. In the case of Qapital, it makes it almost completely invisible. This app lets you configure various rules that drop a few bucks here and there into a savings account with specific goals. Setup is a bit involved, but it seems like a really interesting financial app.

    As with many apps that plug into your bank account, Qapital requires you to go through a few steps. First, you make an account and lock PIN for the app. Next, you'll register your bank account. You'll probably need to get the unique access code from your account to connect Qapital. Lastly, you have to wait a few days for Qapital to make two small deposits in your account, then use those amounts to verify with the app.

    Okay, now that that's all taken care of, what can Qapital do for you? You can configure the service to dump money into your Qapital savings account each time something specific happens. The app comes with several built-in rules that can be configured to your liking. For example, the round up rule allows you to round all your purchases up in whatever dollar increments you want. The extra money is deposited in Qapital (which is a standard FDIC-insured account, by the way). You might also want to use the budget rule to deposit money into Qapital when you're under budget for a certain thing. There's even a neat "guilty pleasure" rule that transfers money each time you do a certain thing, like eat fast food. Yes, regular old manual transfers are a thing too.

    The other side of Qapital is setting goals. Your savings can just be a big lump of money if you want, but the app makes it easy to track your progress toward purchasing an item or going on a trip. The main screen in Qapital keeps you appraised of all your recent activity and how much has been saved toward your goals.

    What makes Qapital a bit different from the other trendy saving plan apps out there is that it has IFTTT integration. IFTTT is a cloud-based automation platform that plugs into a ton of connected devices, apps, and services. With IFTTT, you can create recipes with Qapital that make it much more powerful. For example, you can have all of your Qapital transfers automatically logged to a Google spreadsheet. You might also want to trigger a transfer to savings when you hit your goal (or don't) with your Fitbit. Qapital is a clever app.

    Google Play App Roundup: Flyperlink, Alto's Adventure, and GTA: Liberty City Stories

    Apps move quickly on Android. No sooner have you found an app you can get cozy with, a better alternative has come along. We're here to make sure you're ahead of the curve. That's what the Google Play App Roundup is for. Just click on the links to head to Google Play and get the best new apps and games for your device.


    Android still doesn't support split-screen or windowed apps, even though we know it's been in the works for a long time. There are a few third-party alternatives, but the new app Flyperlink might be the best so far. This is a floating browser that loads links in the background that's optimized for multitasking.

    This isn't a full browser like Chrome, but it should be good enough to get plenty of basic browsing taken care of. Simply open links in Flyperlink, or set it as the default for web pages. You can always bounce a link out into Chrome with the toolbar button if you need the full browser. Sharing links to Flyperlink is another way to get pages open in bubbles.

    The default behavior for Flyperlink is to open pages in full screen, then minimize to a floating bubble on command. You can drag multiple bubbles around and open them one at a time. This is all part of the free version of the app. I strongly suggest doing the $0.99 in-app upgrade as it adds the popup page option in settings. Turn this on, and each browser window becomes a resizable window, which is very cool on larger screen devices. I'm testing this on a tablet, and I find it quite useful. On a phone, maybe not so much. You can also toggle the "stay open" option for any of your windows. allowing you to open other floating bubbles at the same time.

    Whichever mode you choose, Flyperlink always has a themed toolbar that pulls colors from the website and favicons on the floating bubbles. It includes the ability to force desktop versions of pages and open the link in other apps via the share menu. You can also have the bubbles accessible on top of the lock screen if you want.

    The performance of Flyperlink seems fine to me -- every bit as good as Chrome at least. It lacks some of the features you'd get in a full browser like bookmarks and account synchronization, though. It's definitely worth checking out the free version, and that $1 upgrade will be very tempting for tablet users.

    Google Play App Roundup: Promo Codes, Merged, and Space Grunts

    It's time again to dive into the Google Play Store and see what apps we can find. Every week we find the best new and newly updated apps for the Roundup, and this week is no exception. Just click on the app name to head to the Play Store.

    Promo Codes

    In case you haven't heard, Google has finally started offering promo codes for apps and games in the Play Store. That means developers can produce promo codes that grant the user (that's you) a free copy of an app/game or in-app content. This is handy for reviewer (that's me) of course, but it's also going to lead to more giveaways. There's already an app from a noted developer that seeks to take advantage of this feature called Promo Codes. Can you guess what it does? Yep, distributes promo codes… if you're lucky.

    This app was created by Jack Underwood, the developer of the popular Today Calendar app. It's an incredibly simple app, but an interesting idea. When you open Promo Codes, you have a chance of winning a free copy of an app or game, provided via a Play store promo code. that means you own the content completely and will continue getting updates normally.

    To play, just tap the I'm Feeling Lucky button and wait. More than likely, you'll be taken to the Play Store listing for the promoted app, and see a popup message stating that you didn't win. If, however, you are the lucky winner of a code, it will be automatically copied into your clipboard. Simply open the Redeem menu in the Play Store and paste it in to get your free app or game.

    Promo Codes only gives you one chance to win per day, and there's an option in the settings to have it notify you when you can try again. Actually, that's the only setting right now. I did say this is a simple app, right?

    Underwood is basically looking for developers to sponsor Promo Codes and have their apps featured as the prize you can win. Whether or not they respond positively will determine the fate of Promo Codes, but it's already given away some licenses to good stuff. You might as well install it and give it a look.

    Google Play App Roundup: Guides by Lonely Planet, Downwell, and Punch Club

    Another week is upon us, and that means it's time to check out the state of the Google Play Store. Your phone is only a shadow of itself without the best apps, so it's a good thing we're here to save the day. Just click on the app name to pull up the Google Play Store so you can try things out for yourself.

    Guides by Lonely Planet

    Planning some travel? If planning is the operative word there, you might want to get the new Lonely Planet app on your mobile device. Lonely Planet is the largest publisher of travel guides in the world, making it a great resource for getting your trip lined up in advance, or even spur of the moment.

    The Lonely Planet app includes comprehensive guides for a lot of cities (a few dozen), but not everywhere you might visit. If you can't find a guide for a city, the app can notify you if a guide is released. The guides you want will be downloaded locally to your device for offline accessibility. That's handy for those times when you're visiting a place where you won't have reliable (or reasonably priced) internet access on your phone.

    The app shows your downloaded city guides right at the top. Upon opening it, there are categories for food, entertainment, shopping, attractions, and so on. There's also a map at the top you can view that has all the points of interest on it. Importantly, this map is also available offline. Below the categories are "interests, " which are specific groups of places like museums and historic points of interest.

    This is a material app with proper implementation of the slide-out navigation menu with different sections of the guide. The default view is Discover, but there's also Need to Know with basic overview information and cost data. It's impressive how deep these guides go. You can drill down to get reviews of individual restaurants and attractions. The app itself is a bit plain (predominantly white), but there are various material animations and the content is all native, not webframe. It's fast and easy to get around in if you've used any other modern Android app.

    If Lonely Planet has a guide for your destination, it's a no-brainer to download and use it. The guides are great and the app is free.

    Google Play App Roundup: Chrooma Keyboard, Crashlands, and AppLock

    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.

    Chrooma Keyboard

    Google's stock keyboard is a good alternative if you want a faster, simpler keyboard than the one that came with your phone. Then there's SwiftKey for themes and customization. What if you want a little from column A and a little from column B? That's sort of what Chrooma Keyboard is. It's a keyboard that adapts its theme to the app you're using without any configuration on your part.

    Starting in Android 5.0, developers have the option of theming the status and navigation bars in their apps. However, most only add colors to the status bar. Chrooma Keyboard simply looks at the color specified by the app and matches it. The result is a really neat, colorful UI. It might be to everyone's liking, but there's not really anything else like it.

    An app like SwiftKey has plenty of themes, but let's face it, most of them are ugly. Even the ones that aren't might clash with the theme of various apps. Chrooma always matches, and it has a lot in common with Google's light, fast stock keyboard. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's based on the AOSP keyboard (it's released under the Apache license). That means you get word prediction, swipe input, a voice input button, and more.

    Chrooma's headlining feature is obviously the context-aware theming, and there are a few settings to tweak it. The default is single-color mode, but you can change to palette mode where Chrooma uses lighter and darker shades of the app's accent color on each row of the keyboard. I think this looks pretty snazzy. There's also a night mode that uses darker colors. The other settings are slim with a few layout tweaks, UI settings, and icons. There are plenty of languages, though.

    Text input using Chrooma seems to be just as good as the stock Google keyboard, of which I'm generally quite fond. Swipe input is also solid. In fact, Chrooma retains the multi-word swipe input that Google dropped a few versions ago.

    Chrooma is $1.99 in the Play Store, and I think it's worth checking out if you like the stock keyboard, but would like something a little more colorful.

    Google Play App Roundup: SKWRT, The Room Three, and Pocket Mortys

    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.


    This isn't just another photo editor app for Android. SKWRT will have more limited appeal, but it's really the only app built specifically to correct for lens distortion in smartphone photos. If you don't know what that means, you aren't alone. However, it's one of those things you might not be able to unsee once it's pointed out. Lucky for you SKWRT exists now.

    Smartphone cameras have come a long way in recent years, but it's important to note that the short fixed focal length is bound to cause a little distortion. This can cause lines that are parallel in real life to end up slightly bent. They appear to converge somewhere off-frame. This is particularly noticeable when taking skyline or architectural photos, and it's not always easy to fix. This is where SKWRT comes in.

    When you open the app, it offers you the option of taking a new photo or opening an existing one. I will say I'm not overjoyed about the layout of the app. It does the same thing VSCO does with the unlabeled buttons and dials. Once you figure out where everything is, it's not so bad.

    Across the bottom of the screen are all the transformations SKWRT includes. There are basic things like vignette adjustment and rotation. I'm particularly impressed with the rotation with automatic cropping that preserves the frame and won't leave you with empty pixels in the corners. You can also adjust the horizontal and vertical perspective lines, and of course, do lens correction. SKWRT has built-in modes for adjusting smartphone, GoPro, wideangle, and fisheye lens photos.

    SKWRT shows you a live preview of the photo as you're making adjustments. When you're satisfied, you can tap the export button at the bottom of the screen (which is uncomfortably close to the navi bar, by the way) and save it to your device or share directly to Instagram. You can optionally replace the original photo too.

    SKWRT will cost you $0.99 in the Play Store, and that's it -- no in-app purchases for filter packs, more tools, or anything else. This app has limited utility, but for those who are serious about their photos, it's an important tool.

    Google Play App Roundup: Open Link With, Worms 4, and Defenders 2

    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.

    Open Link With

    Android offers you a lot of power to install multiple apps that handle the same types of links, and even replace the defaults. However, that can sometimes backfire when a link is opened in a browser when you meant to open it in a dedicated app. It's not always easy to get to the right place, but Open Link With can fix that. It does what the name implies.

    To get a handle on what this app does, here's a scenario. You tap on a short URL in a message or news feed that turns out to be a YouTube URL. However, it is resolved in the browser. You can either watch it in the browser, which is a pretty mediocre experience, or try to search for it in the YouTube app, save it to a list for later, and so on. It's just kind of a mess. Open Link With remembers your app preferences so you can just share a link to it, and the right app will open. If you wanted to have the Medium app always open Medium posts, you can do that too.

    The nice thing about using this app is you don't have to reset your default apps. Just share to Open Link With and it remembers your preferred defaults. Open Link With works best if you grant it usage permissions, which is requests during initial setup. That lets it see what other apps you're running and make it easier to open links in the right place.

    To use Open Link With, just use the Android share menu to share a link with it. This can be a little confusing, but the next dialog popup actually lets you set the preferred app in Open Link With, not the system. As long as you select "Always" in that dialog, the app will remember your choice and always open links to that domain in the chosen app. If you ever want to change a preferred app, the list of domains is in the settings.

    Open Link With doesn't need to run a service in the background or monitor your browsing. All it's doing is relaying a request automatically to the right place in a single tap. It's straightforward and free. Can't argue with that.

    Google Play App Roundup: AutoMate, Ambient Battery, and Rust Bucket

    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.


    Android Auto is in the wild now, but the aftermarket head units are expensive, and not all new cars have it as an option. What's an Android user to do behind the wheel? Well, there's AutoMate. This app has been in closed beta for a few months, and now it's available in the Play Store for everyone to try. It's basically Android Auto on your phone.

    If you've ever seen Android Auto, AutoMate will look familiar. It has almost the same layout, but it actually does more. Android Auto is designed to be safer to use than hopping back and forth between apps, and sometimes that means features you are used to having are not available. AutoMate is in the middle, acting as a hub for certain features and apps, but there are still times when you're going to be forced to mess with the phone more than you should. It can be set as the default action when a car USB cable is connected, though.

    The app is laid out across five tabs, which are accessible at the bottom of the UI. From left to right you've got maps, phone, home, music, and favorites. The map tab is just a standard Google Maps frame with access to search and turn-by-turn navigation. It actually works surprisingly well. Then there's the phone tab, which actually makes it easier to access your contacts by touch than Android Auto's inexplicably limited system of voice commands. The audio tab grabs whatever media you have playing via notification access, so it works with everything. By comparison, Android Auto only works with apps that have been updated with specific support. Then there's the favorite tab which links to commonly used apps and settings. This one seems not particularly useful as you shouldn't be mucking around in a bunch of apps while driving.

    You'll probably spend most of your time in AutoMate looking at the central home tab. This has a series of cards in a Google Now-style list. There are ongoing cards for the weather and your speed/location, but also things like appointments, reminders, navigation directions, and media playback. It's not quite as smart about pulling up cards as Android Auto, but it tends to have a lot more stuff in general.

    AutoMate has a huge, huge number of settings so you can make it work however you like. Most of them are unlocked in the free version too. Some of these features are just things that Google wouldn't do for liability reasons, though. For example, AutoMate will offer speeding alerts and notifications of red light cameras (premium feature). This is a good alternative if you don't have a smart screen in your car already, and the premium upgrade is only about $3.

    Google Play App Roundup: Clipboard Actions, Cavernaut, and The Beggar's Ride

    There was a time when the Google Play Store was lacking in content. Now there are many, many apps, and quite a few of them are good, and best way to find them is to check our Google Play App Roundup. Every week we bring you the best new, and newly updated app in the store. Just click the links to head right to the Google Play Store and download everything for yourself.

    Clipboard Actions

    Android has had copy and paste support since the early days, but there are some apps that can be used to make the clipboard more than a tool for moving text around. Clipboard Actions parses the text you copy and lets you trigger a variety of actions right from the notification shade.

    Clipboard Actions is extremely straightforward -- after it's installed, you can just go along and copy text like always. If you don't need to do anything else with it. the notification can be ignored. However, just a quick swipe down and you might save some time. If you've just copied a single word or term, the Clipboard Actions notification will have a definition and link to more info online. it can also detect currency and automatically convert it in this top section. The buttons at the bottom of the notification are where things get really interesting, though.

    The notification has a series of buttons for different actions along the bottom. Some will be more useful than others, depending on what you've copied. On the far left is the option to share using the system sharing intent. You can also do a web search with the clipboard contents, which is useful for a wide variety of things.

    If you've copied an address or name of a location, you can tap the map button to search in Google Maps. The translate button will dump your clipboard contents into the Translate app for instant translation as well. It also recognizes content info like a phone number or email address, offering links to the dialer and email respectively. Similarly, if you copy a link, there's a quick option to shorten it. This full turns the link into a link and copies that to the clipboard. You can also create a QR code with a link (or text, but that's less useful) right from the notification.

    All the features of Clipboard Actions are configurable, so you don't have to keep everything active. If all you need is sharing and link shortening, all the rest can be turned off. It also doesn't need any crazy permissions, though keep in mind it is reading your clipboard contents. There's no reason to think it's up to no good, but still.

    Clipboard Actions is clever, and it's completely free.

    Google Play App Roundup: Chromer, Scribblenauts Unlimited, and Star Skater

    The time has come again to shine a light into all the shadowy corners of Google Play to find the best new and newly updated stuff for your phone or tablet. The Google Play App Roundup is where you can come every week to see what's cool on Android, and this week is no exception. Click on the links to head right to Google Play and download for yourself.


    Android has supported webviews as an alternative to launching a full browser for the last several versions, but more recently Google created the Chrome custom tab. This became available to users in Chrome v45, so it should work on virtually all devices (the stable channel is already at v47). The problem is waiting for developers to start using Chrome custom tabs, but Chromer lets you do it all yourself.

    Chrome custom tabs are a middle ground between the extremely stripped-down webview and the full Chrome browser. A custom tab is still rendered by the Chrome Blink engine, but it doesn't have to load all the extra stuff that comes along with a browsers. This means a Chrome custom tab can load a page extremely quickly and accurately. It also has access to Chrome data like fill forms and passwords.

    Developers are advised to use custom tabs for all external URLs, but we're still a long way from universal adoption. Chromer lets you set it as a default browser in Android, essentially routing all URL intents through a custom tab. There will probably be situations where this isn't convenient, but when you think about the links you click on, how often do you really jump from that page to another site or access your bookmarks in the same tab? I find that I often back out of these pages and simply open chrome manually when I'm going to be poking around multiple sites. So, why have the whole browser startup just to look at a single link?

    The main advantage of using Chromer is that it's really fast to load pages -- noticeably faster than Chrome or a webview. The rendering is also spot-on and I like having access Chrome services including data saver and the aforementioned personal datastores. The custom tab has a menu option to jump into the full browser as well.

    There's very little configuration to be managed in Chromer. The app includes settings to toggle the colored status bar, page title, and a slide animation. Otherwise, it's all in Google's hands. Chromer (i.e. Chrome custom tabs) will get better as Chrome itself does. This is a free utility and something you should definitely take a look at.