Google Play App Roundup: SwatchMatic, Granny Smith, and Horn

By Ryan Whitwam

Colorful help, apple racing, and robot slaying.

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.

This week a color sampling app that impresses, a simple yet attractive platformer, and a truly in-depth action game.

SwatchMatic

We’re not all gifted with the ability to recognize what colors go well together, let alone to devise a pleasing visual palette for a project. I am one of these color impaired individuals, which is why I find SwatchMatic so interesting. Just point your phone’s camera at an object, and the app will figure out what the exact color is, and build a color palette on the spot. The best part? Robots.

When you open the app, it immediately starts live analyzing the scene. There is a crosshair in the middle of the screen, which is where the visual color sampling takes place. Just center that on a color that strikes your fancy and watch the magic happen. The color wheel around your crosshairs will display the main color, as well as the rest of the palette as small slices with trendy names. To capture the color, just tap anywhere on the screen.

It is here that the app goes from just neat, to really fun to use. SwatchMatic will give your color palette a name and uses a funky robot to show it off. For example, scanning a box of Pocky gets me “Androids Dream in Guardsman Red.” How fun is that? If you like the look of the colors, you can save the palette and go back to it later.

Across the top of the app are a number of buttons to choose what kind of colors the app will pick for you. On the far left you can change the overall functionality by picking between complements, analogs, and triads. You can also change the contrast and saturation of the chosen colors. There is also a button to jump to your palette list where you get previews of all your hues, as well as the necessary values to recreate them in Photoshop or with printers and paint suppliers. If you want to tweak any of the colors, you can edit them with the built in sliders.

The responsiveness of the buttons is a little sluggish. I assume this has something to do with the constant image processing going on, but it’s still a little annoying. The app also exits when you hit the back button on any screen. It definitely should not do that.

As for the accuracy, I captured a few color palettes and then recreated the values in Photoshop using the hex color codes, as well as RGB numbers. Granted, I lack the eye of an artist, but the colors looked accurate to me when compared to the real object. If you’re doing any sort of remodeling or decorating, get this app now. It's free.

Granny Smith

Sprinkle has long been one of my favorite games on Android, and now the developer of that title has come back with a new game called Granny Smith. In this game you play a serious rollerskating grandma that’s out to collect her apples before that darn apple thief gets to them. Granny Smith has simple gameplay, but it’s really engrossing from the start.

Granny Smith is a 2D racing platformer that relies on your timing and understanding of the physics at work in the game. Each level sees you chasing after the apple thief as he tries to get to your apples first. You will accelerate downhill automatically, and there are only two controls to worry about; a jump button, and a cane button.

When an obstacle comes up, press and hold the jump button to make granny do a flip as she clears it. You have to time your release so she lands with her skates under her. If you fall, the thief can catch up fast. The game often uses a line of coins to show you the preferred path of a jump, but you can ignore that. There are also places where there will be a cable or wire above the ground. Hit the cane button to latch onto it. You often have to do this to get across large gaps.

Sprinkled amidst the coins in each level will be three apples. To get a perfect score, you need all three, but only one is needed to advance. The coins are not mandatory pickups, but you can use them to buy some bonuses to slow down the thief, or even to skip a level you can’t master. You can buy coins through an in-app purchase, but there are only 36 levels right now. It doesn’t seem worth it to be spending more money on this game.

The simple controls make this game instantly playable, and there are a surprising number of mental calculations you have to do in each level. It’s not just tap now, wait, tap now. You have to time your jumps so you keep your speed up and make sure you hit the destructible objects at the right angle.

The graphics and presentation in Granny Smith are awesome, to put it bluntly. The game is a 2D platformer, but the environment is fully 3D. You can watch the background move and change as your perspective does. There is also some motion blur when you get up to speed. As for the breakable walls and buildings, they look cool too. If you have a Tegra 3 device, there are enhanced particle physics and more breakable items. Even on a non-Tegra phone, I really like the clean graphics in Granny Smith. As a fun little extra, you get an optional sepia tone replay of each level after you finish.

Granny Smith is a little short, but it’s only $0.99. You should pick this up if you want a nice casual platformer that is good for killing some time.

Horn

It was just a few weeks ago that Horn arrived on iOS, and it’s now on Android ahead of schedule. Horn is a third-person action-adventure game with some RPG elements and an emphasis on killer graphics. This is a pricey game, and it has limited device support. Should you jump into Horn? Let’s find out.

The concept in Horn is that you wake up one day to find that everyone in your village has been transformed into huge mechanical golems called Pygons. Right from the start you begin encountering these creatures, and they’re none too friendly. By defeating the Pygons, you return them to their human form, and get a Pygon seed. Collect enough seeds, and more areas of the game are opened up.

The controls in Horn is are definitely unique. Instead of using dual analog sticks, you move your character (who’s name is Horn) by tapping on the ground where you want to walk. You can pan around in the environment by tapping and dragging. If you need to jump a gap, you just run up to it, then tap on the opposite side. Remarkably, this is basically the entire standard control scheme. It’s very easy to use, and I like almost everything about it. The only strange part is that you can’t walk backwards because you can’t see the ground back there.

The combat aspect of Horn is probably the best thing about it. When you approach one of the Pygon monsters, you automatically switch to the combat control layout. There are left and right dodge buttons to get you out of the way of incoming attacks. To fight back, you just swipe across the screen, and your sword will follow. This is a really satisfying element of the game.

The game does have an element of exploration to it. Each zone has a central hub you can poke around in, but most of the action comes in the form of missions that you start. It is linear, and you start to notice that the longer you play. That said, it doesn’t get boring or overly repetitive. The puzzles you encounter are mostly pattern recognition tests. Some of them are a little tricky, but it’s not the focus of the game.

The visuals in Horn are good on most devices, and absolutely stellar on Tegra 3. The environments are rich, and the Pygons look really cool. The game feels gritty and real with the right hardware. It’s also very smooth for me on the Nexus 7. There was some odd lag when I first installed, but a quick restart fixed that.

In addition to the high-end graphics, the sounds and voice acting are wonderful. The dialog is written smartly, and read extremely well. There are some chuckles to be had as the story unfolds. Horn is $6.99 in Google Play, and that is a hefty price tag. There are also in-app purchases buried in the menus. I didn’t feel like the game was pushing me to buy things, though. You should be able to play through it just fine without paying extra.

If you want a game with a little more depth, check out Horn. Be aware it has a 1.8G download through the Play Store. This is a game mainly for tablets, and some popular slates aren't supported. Make sure you check it out before you get too excited.

That's all for this week. If you get into Horn, it will definitely keep you busy until next week's Roundup happens. Keep me in the loop if you find a great app you'd like to see featured in a future post.