Latest StoriesAndroid App Roundup
    Google Play App Roundup: Graphice, Tower Fortress, and Faraway 2

    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.

    Graphice

    What color is that in your photo? It can be hard to say, what with the variance in display calibration and our own woefully inaccurate eyeballs. Graphice is a new app in the Play Store that can tell you, objectively, what colors are in a photo. It's free to try, but there's also a paid upgrade with more features.

    Graphice looks and works a bit like your standard gallery app. Open it up, and you see all the images on your device. You can tap on any of the thumbnails to open in full-screen. At the bottom of the screen is a toolbar, which expands with a tap. It opens a full palette of colors from your image. Each one has a swatch and the hex value of the color. A long-press on any square copies the hex value, which you can then paste into other apps. As an aside, Google search understands hex values, so you can get more info on the color.

    The toolbar also includes a share button, but this isn't just a regular photo sharing feature. This button brings up the image along with your color palette. You can tap on as many hex values as you like, which are then included at the bottom of the image. This new JPEG is what's shared via Graphice. You can send it to any of the apps on your phone that plug into Android's share menu.

    So, that's neat, and it's all free. If you pay for the $2.49 pro license, the app gets substantially more useful. With the upgrade, you can specify areas of your photo to generate multiple palettes. These are all saved in the app, and you can do the same things with those palettes (eg. sharing and copying hex codes). The multi-palette options are grayed out if you don't pay the license fee.

    Graphice seems like a solid way to obsess about colors. The free version will be fun to play around with if you're not super-serious about design. There are no ads, either.

    Google Play App Roundup: Files Go, Monument Valley 2, and South Park: Phone Destroyer

    It's that time of the week again. Time to shake off the weekend vibe and get back to work. But you can probably spare a few minutes to check out some new apps. This is the Tested Google Play App Roundup, which is where we tell you about the best new and newly updated apps on Android. Just follow the links to Google Play.

    Files Go

    Google announced a new budget phone initiative at I/O last year called Android Go. The "Go" build of Android is intended to run on lower-specced devices and will include a special suite of Google apps. One such app is apparently the newly launched Files Go. This app showed up in the Play Store recently, and Google has now opened it up to almost all devices. It's not a full file manager, but it includes several features that could help keep your device storage tidy.

    When the eventual Android Go phones launch, they will have a limited amount of internal storage. Thus, many of the features of Files Go have to do with clearing out old files that you no longer need. Even if your phone has plenty of internal storage, you may eventually run low. Files Go is a fine way to clear space on any phone.

    Upon opening the app, you are greeted with a number of suggested actions in a vertically scrollable list. They're all based on the actual files on your device, not just general actions. For example, you might have a card that suggests you clear temporary files from your app cache to save a certain amount of space. On my phone, that's 500MB. The app also detects duplicate files on your internal storage, allowing you to delete one of the copies. If you grant usage access in the system settings, Files Go can also alert you to unused apps that you can safely remove from your phone.

    That's all in the Storage tab, but moving over to the files tab reveals an entirely new set of features. You can tap on the various file type options to see a list of all matching files on your device. Again, this isn't a full file manager, but it offers essential tools to find out what's on your phone. There's also a built-in option to send files to other nearby devices with Files Go without using the internet. It uses Bluetooth, so it's not going to be fast. It's obviously more geared toward usage in places where mobile data is scarce or expensive, but you can use it simply as a convenience.

    This app is still in beta, so Google is liable to add features and improve the ones that are already there. If this is indicative of what we can expect from the other Android Go apps, it'll be a fascinating platform to watch.

    The Best Unlocked and Carrier Android Smartphone (November 2017)

    There have been a ton of phone releases in the last few weeks, so it's even harder than usual to figure out which phone is the best purchase. While LG's phones have been getting better, Samsung is reaching new heights with the Note 8. Meanwhile, OnePlus has something big planned for the near future, and Google has encountered some push-back with its Pixel 2 launch. What's an Android fan to do?

    Carrier phones: Samsung Galaxy S8 or Note 8

    If you want to get a phone directly from your carrier, the latest offerings from Samsung are the way to go. If you don't want to spend as much, there are a lot of extremely compelling deals on the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus. If price is no object, the Galaxy Note 8 is an even better phone.

    The Galaxy S8 has a 5.8-inch curved display, whereas the Plus has a 6.2-inch curved panel. They both have a resolution of 1440 x 2960 pixels, among the highest you can get on a smartphone. Despite the large screen sizes, the tall aspect ratio and small bezels make the phones easy to hold. They have an even higher screen-to-body ratio than the iPhone X. Samsung's AMOLED displays are still the best you can get with incredibly high brightness and (optional) accurate colors.

    This phone is very comfortable to use with the symmetrically curved front and back glass— there's nothing pointy or angular on the phone. Although, the curved glass is vulnerable to breakage when dropped. Broken Galaxy S8s are apparently common, and the glass back is very slippery.

    The Galaxy S8 was the first Samsung phone to move to on-screen navigation buttons. Thankfully, there's an option in the settings to change the order of buttons to the "correct" one used on most other phones. The home button is also accessible at any time thanks to a pressure-sensitive region on the screen. Even when the phone is asleep, simply pressing harder will trigger the home button—this is a great feature. I really like this feature, and I find myself missing it when I use a different phone.

    Google Play App Roundup: Notification History, Ahead, and Turn Undead

    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.

    Notification History

    Android's notification system is usually a joy to use, but there's no way to recall notifications after they've been dismissed. Sometimes you regret swiping something away, but the system logs only basic information about the notification, and you can't even access that very easily. Notification History makes your past notifications more accessible and actionable, and you can give it a shot for free.

    This app requires just a little setup, but it's easier to get running than I expected. After opening, you have buttons at the bottom for the "advanced history" and "notification history." The notification history option isn't technically part of the app—it's just a link to the hidden settings menu in Android that logs the basic data from all your notifications. It's not very useful for actually doing anything with your old notifications, but you can see what apps have produced notifications and when.

    For the Advanced option, you'll have to grant the app access to your notifications. After that's done, the app will continuously log all the notifications that pop up on your phone. Since it's connected to the system-level feature, Notification History doesn't need to run a service of its own or a persistent notification to stay alive.

    Simply open the advanced history to see your notifications organized from most recent to oldest. It logs all the notifications too. That means even something like the Google Camera app that pops up a temporary notification when it's processing a photo will be included in the list. You can tap on any notification to open the app, pull up the app info, or open the Play Store page.

    If you want to clear the clutter a bit, the pro upgrade is going to appeal to you. For $1.49, the advanced history menu lets you swipe to remove notifications, blacklist apps from appearing, and removes all the ads in the app. It seems like a good deal.

    Google Play App Roundup: One-Handed Mode, Ready For Reddit, and Battlevoid: Sector Siege

    Well, 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.

    One-Handed Mode

    Some Android phones come with a built-in mode for one-handed use. These features vary a bit in implementation, but they all aim to make it easier to use the phone by shrinking the UI down to a smaller part of the screen. The new One-Handed Mode app lets you do this on any phone or tablet, but it comes with a bit more setup than most apps.

    One-Handed Mode takes advantage of a permission called "Write Secure Settings" that is usually only granted to system apps. If you're rooted, the app can be enabled automatically by granting it root access. For non-rooted devices, you'll have to plug the phone into your computer to enable the permission. The developers link to instructions for this, but it's only a single command in ADB. If you already have the Android SDK tools on your computer, it takes about 10 seconds.

    With One-Handed Mode turned on, The screen shifts downward to place everything in reach of your thumb. The top section of screen is just filled with a solid block of color based on the app you're using. Some apps won't tolerate this change very well, but most of the apps I've tried behaved fine. The home screen is probably going to do some strange things due to the DPI scaling, though.

    In the settings, you can adjust the size of the screen when the app is active. The default layout still spans the entire width of the screen, so you might want to adjust that to "justify" the screen to one corner or the other. You can also turn off DPI scaling if that's causing issues with an app you want to use with One-Handed Mode.

    One-Handed Mode can be turned on by opening the app, but there's also a floating toggle. The toggle is only available with an in-app purchase of $0.99, though. If you're not turning one-handed mode on and off all the time, the toggle isn't strictly necessary. Let's face it, the app is a bit of a hack, but it works well enough to drop a buck on.

    Google Play App Roundup: Lawnchair Launcher, Another Widget, and Dragon Hills 2

    We care about your phone almost as much as you do, so we're here every week with more apps and games to make it better. This is the Google Play App Roundup, which is where we tell you about all the best new stuff on Android. Just click the links to head right to Google Play.

    Lawnchair Launcher

    There are various third-party Android launchers than can make your device more configurable and "Pixel-y." The most popular options are Action Launcher and Nova Launcher, but those both have paid upgrades that are needed to unlock all the features. The new Lawnchair Launcher doesn't have quite the same feature set, but it's respectable and costs nothing.

    After installing Lawnchair Launcher, you'll get a home screen that looks a whole lot like the Pixel Launcher. That's possible with other launchers, but you need to do some configuration. This is already done for you with Lawnchair. The app drawer is accessed via a swipe-up, there are launcher shortcuts, and you can even get the Google Feed on the left of your main panel. Note: that requires you install a separate app from the launcher developer, which isn't listed in the Play Store. It's the same setup Nova and Action Launcher use.

    Lawnchair Launcher includes plenty of tweaks for your icons, which is table stakes for Android launchers these days. You can toggle labels, change the size, and apply an icon pack in the settings. You can also add a dedicated Assistant button to the search bar, which is neat. Don't want the search bar? You can just get rid of it. There are also some ways to adjust the dock, but it mostly stick to Pixel styling.

    You get some basic theme settings in Lawnchair Launcher, but this is one of the weaker aspects of the app compared to more mature options—just light, dark, and black themes. However, you can pick and choose which parts of the launcher get the theme applied. So, you can get the handsome dark search bar without making the rest of the UI dark-themed.

    There's not a ton of custom stuff running behind the scenes of Lawnchair Launcher, so there's not much opportunity for things to get janky and buggy. It's a mostly stock launcher, and it runs like one. That is to say, performance is great. Sometimes I forget I'm not using the real Pixel Launcher. There's just enough customization that it'll satiate a good number of Android users, and it's free.

    Google Play App Roundup: Microsoft Edge, Into the Dead 2, and KickAss Commandos

    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.

    Microsoft Edge

    Internet Explorer was a staple of Microsoft Software for many years, but it was replaced by Edge with the release of Windows 10. With Microsoft focusing on other mobile platforms so much, it was only a matter of time until Edge branched out from the desktop, and now is that time. Edge is currently rolling out for iOS and Android, but these two versions are slightly different.

    On Android, Edge is based on the Chromium project, which itself serves as the base for Google's Chrome. On the desktop, Microsoft has its own EdgeHTML engine, but that's not designed to operate on Android. The iOS version, meanwhile, uses Apple's WebKit engine as required by Apple's developer guidelines.

    Chromium is open source, so Microsoft has been able to make ample changes to the way it looks and works. However, some of the basics are the same. Upon opening Edge, you get a search/URL bar at the top of the screen and some frequently accessed sites right below that. Scroll down further, and you have a feed of top news stories. This is similar to Chrome, but it's all tied to your Microsoft account.

    You don't have to sign in with a Microsoft account to use Edge, but it adds to the experience. Down at the bottom of the screen is a "continue on PC" button. That sends your current page from the phone to one of your synced devices. However, this feature requires the new Fall Creators update on desktop, which is still rolling out. Your bookmarks, history, and reading list also sync across devices in Edge.

    Pages load quickly in Edge, and it keeps multiple tabs in memory well. The navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen allow for quick access even on large devices. Speaking of larger devices, there's a dedicated tablet UI that moves some of the controls up to the top more like a traditional browser. If you want to access a site without saving it in your account, there's built-in private browsing mode, too.

    Edge is still in beta, but it's a perfectly capable browser. If you're deeply tied into the Microsoft ecosystem, it's something to check out.

    Google Play App Roundup: Microsoft Launcher, Stranger Things, and Modern Combat Versus

    It's time again for us to dive into the Google Play Store and see what treasures we can dredge up. The Google Play App Roundup brings you the best new and newly updated Android apps and games each week. Just click on the links to head right to the Play Store.

    Microsoft Launcher

    When gave up on keeping its software and services exclusive to Windows Phone some years ago. It even started an incubator called Microsoft Garage to come up with new apps for iOS and Android. One of the products that came out of the Garage was Arrow Launcher for Android. Now, this alternative home screen has graduated to being a full-fledged Microsoft product called Microsoft Launcher. It's not just a name change—the new update includes new features, a new look, and more.

    It should come as no surprise, but Microsoft Launcher works best if you log in with a Microsoft account. That's technically optional, but many of the included widgets and features will be inert without that connection. There's also a folder of Microsoft apps on the home screen, even if you don't have them installed. In that case, they're links to download the apps.

    Getting started with Microsoft Launcher is quick, and users of Arrow Launcher will notice many of the old features have remained in the new version. There's nothing particularly wacky about Microsoft's approach to the Android home screen. You can place apps and widgets on the home panels wherever you like, add new panels, and your apps are accessible in a vertically scrollable app drawer. There's a search bar at the top of the screen that, no surprise, goes to Bing. I also like the nifty swipe up system info bar at the bottom of the screen.

    To the left of the main home screen panel is Microsoft's customizable feed. Several of the included widgets here won't do anything without a Microsoft account login, so feel free to remove them. If you do log in, you get things like weather and integration with news. The feed also has widgets for your calendar, recent contacts, recent apps, and recent actions (photos, app installs, and so on).

    You do have to grant a lot of permissions for all these features to work, so that's up to you. However, using Microsoft's included widgets makes the themes look very nice. You can pick from several styles and accent colors to make the home screen and feed look just how you want.

    Microsoft Launcher is free, and there are no in-app upgrades. It should come through as a regular update to Arrow Launcher, but you can install the new version directly by joining Microsoft's testing group in the Play Store.

    Google Play App Roundup: Network Speed, Karl2, and Raceway Heat

    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.

    Network Speed

    Whether you're troubleshooting a problem or just showing off, there are times you want to know exactly how fast your phone's data connection is. There are a number of tools for finding that out, but few of them are as clean and easy to use as Network Speed. This app not only tracks data speeds across your phone, it offers a cool floating widget so you can obsess over data speeds non-stop.

    This app needs usage access in order to track data usage across your device, but there's nothing unexpected about that. Grant the requested permissions and Network Speed will start tracking your up/down speeds and logging your bytes. It doesn't tell you which apps and services are using the data, but you get a breakdown of when data usage is happening.

    The main screen has a chart that shows your speed history over the last few minutes. There's also a listing for your current speed, fastest speed, and network type. Below that are counters for how much data you've used in various intervals of time. Tapping on any of them opens the detailed view, which breaks down your data usage by day. You can use Network Speed to alert you to high data usage if you don't like the built-in Android tools as well.

    My favorite part of the app is the floating data monitor widget. This display updates as often as you like (the default 1 second update is too fast) with up and down speeds. It appears up in the status bar, but you can move it elsewhere. In the middle of the status bar, it's mostly out of the way of other things, though. Several different looks and layout settings for the widget are available in the settings. It can also be configured to hide automatically in full-screen mode.

    Network Speed uses a persistent notification to stay alive. By default, it has a status bar icon with your speed. If you want to use the much better widget, this is rather redundant. You can set the notification to low-priority instead, and it will be collapsed at the bottom of the shade. That should be good enough for most users.

    Network Speed is free to use with ads, but a $0.99 gets rid of them.

    Google Play App Roundup: Can't Talk, Gladiator Rising, and Flat Pack

    We're really getting spoiled these days. Great Android apps are 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.

    Can't Talk

    Sometimes it can seem like you only get calls and text messages when you can't pick up the phone. There's nothing to indicate to the person on the other end of the line what you're up to or why you can't answer the phone. That's where Can't Talk comes into play. This app runs in the background to automatically fire off a custom reply when you get a call or message.

    Setting up Can't Talk can be a little intimidating because it does need a lot of access to your data. It can't work without plugging into the notification listener, but it links you to the right menu to grant that. You also have to allow permissions for calls, contacts, and messaging if you want all the features. None of this feels like overstepping, considering what the app does.

    The functionality is split up into three groups for calls, SMS, and app messages. For calls and SMS, the app sends an SMS reply when active. In both cases, you can choose which contacts get auto-replies from Can't Talk. There's also a "rate limiter" option that controls how often replies will be sent to the same contact, which is a thoughtful bonus.

    The app reply functionality is my favorite aspect of the app as most of my contacts have moved away from calls and traditional SMS. To get this working, you simply need to tell Can't Talk which apps you want it to reply to. Anything that uses standard Android notifications for messages should work, so Hangouts, Facebook, and more are supported.

    When Can't Talk is running in the background, there's an ongoing notification to make sure you're aware. I'm not usually a fan of this behavior from a UX perspective, but it's necessary to keep apps from being killed by the system. And in this case, it makes a lot of sense. You don't want to accidentally leave your auto-responder running when you're no longer unavailable. The notification has a handy "disable" button so you can turn Can't Reply off. To get rid of the notification, just turn the main toggle in the app to the "off" position.

    Can't Talk is completely free in the Play Store. It's technically in beta right now, so maybe it'll get in in-app upgrades at a later date. For now, there's no reason not to give it a shot.

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

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

    Fenix 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Split-screen Creator

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Clockwise Smart Alarm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Island

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Adapticons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Hurry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Caffeine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Motion Stills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Camera Roll

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Astro

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

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

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

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

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

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