The work week might just be getting underway, but that doesn't mean you can't have some fun. Why not check out some new Android apps direct from Google Play. This week's Google Play App Roundup brings you the best Android has to offer. Just click on the app name to head right to the Play Store so you can check things out first hand.
This week we've got an app that promises anonymous international phone numbers, a game with a familiar name, and a unique puzzler.
So let’s say you need to make a call on the down low, or you need an international number for some (I assume) above board business. How are you supposed to do that? If you’ve got an Android phone, the new Hushed app can provide you your own international anonymous number with all the features you need. Of course, it will cost you.
Using Hushed is basically like buying one of those burner prepaid cell phones for temporary use. The distinction being that you can get numbers from over 20 different countries, and it runs on your existing phone. When you first open the app, you have to register your real phone number so the app can identify your device. No other account or log-ins are required.
The next step is to check out the phone numbers and choose a rate plan. Simply pick a country from the list and find a suitable number. Then you have to decide how long you want access to it. North American 3-day numbers are the cheapest, starting at $0.99 for just a few minutes of total calls and a few SMS. If you want a number from, say, Bahrain, your only choice is a $6.99 30-day pay-as-you-go. Australia? That’ll be $10.99. Basically, it varies depending on the country you need to have your number based in. All the transactions are handled through in-app purchases.
Most plans are limited based on minutes, but you can add on usage at any time and even extend the time frame. Another important limitation is that the SMS service is only accessible in the US, Canada, and the UK. If you need to kill your temporary number, just use the Delete button in the settings at any time.
You can place a call from inside the Hushed app like you would from any dialer, but be aware this is VoIP, so you need a solid data connection. If you receive a call, Hushed will appear and handle the answering process. All numbers come with a voicemail system to catch the caller if you reject.
In my testing, the voice quality was good, but not great. It sounded a little digitized from time to time, but no worse than other VoIP solutions out there. SMS arrived quickly, and voicemail notifications hit the phone in no time - faster than Google Voice, in fact.
Hushed is certainly a niche product. Most users will be fine with the free Google Voice service, but that’s not available everywhere, and Hushed is international and anonymous. If you think you've got a use, definitely check out Hushed.
Temple Run 2
The original Temple Run was a hit when it debuted on Android, even though it was pretty late. This time Temple Run 2 is launching in short order after its appearance on iOS. If you’ve played the original, you know what you’re getting into. I was a little lukewarm on the first game, but this one is more compelling out of the gate.
The basic premise is the same as it was last time. Your have a third person view of your character running out of the temple with a very unhappy money on his tail. True to their word, Imagani Studios has increased the size of the money by at least 50%. You want to stay away from that thing.
You have to maneuver your avatar through the maze for as long as possible without hitting an obstacle or running afoul of the monkey. When you get to an intersection or corner, swipe in the direction you want to go. A gap in the path or and kind of similar barrier requires a swipe upward to jump. Low bridge ahead? Swipe down to slide.
As you time your swipes, there are also coins to pick up. In most areas the path is several times wider than your character. You can tilt your device to sweep back and forth to pick up the coins. The coins are used to get upgrades, and yes, you can buy more through in-app purchases.
Temple Run takes a similar approach to Beach Buggy Blitz. You can play for free and rely on the random power ups, or you can buy improved skills and abilities to make it just a little further next time.
The graphics in Temple Run 2 are a marginal improvement over the last version. I particularly like the extended view distances, which makes the environment feel larger and less like a random maze (which it technically is). Smoothness and stability are also great. The first incarnation was very crashy when it launched on Android, so i’m happy to see this one doing better.
Temple Run 2 is fun -- there’s no denying it. The in-app purchases don’t feel terribly aggressive, but if you wade in there you’re going to spend a lot. You earn lots of gold organically, but Temple Run 2 has an additional Gem currency that you get very little of in the game. You need these for some of the bigger unlocks. But take a look at the game. It’s free and a great way to kill a few minutes.
Math is not traditionally seen as a leisure activity, but Quento actually makes it entertaining in the context of brain-teasers. You’ll need to have some affinity for numbers to get into Quento. If that’s no problem, get ready for some of the most devious number puzzles you’ve even experienced. Sudoku? Nah, that’s for wimps.
Quento is based around a small 3x3 game board. Five of the tiles have single-digit numbers, and four have addition or subtraction operations. In each round you will be given a number to reach by swiping through the game board. Sound easy? Not at all.
Each round has a few challenges of different difficulty levels. All these challenges use the same board, but require you to use a different number of digits. For example, you might have to reach the number 13 by using 3 number blocks. Even if you can do it in less, that’s no good. So you start with a number block, then pass through an addition or subtraction operator, then on to the second number, and then another operator, and a third number. If you get 13 at the end of that, good job. You can try as many times as you want, but random swiping isn’t likely to do much good.
It might sound like there isn’t much going on in Quento, and that’s true to a degree. There are no bells and whistles, no power ups, and no tutorials. It’s just you and the numbers. I’m not sure what it is about this game, but I keep opening it and puzzling over the numbers when I have a few spare minutes. It’s strangely cathartic.
The graphics aren’t anything special, but the game is very cleanly designed. The background color changes in each round and I like the font used throughout. This super-minimalist game should run fine on absolutely any phone capable of running Android.
In addition to the regular game mode, there is Free Play. Here, you just have to match the indicated number in any way you like. Access this by swiping the level selector all the way to the left. Be aware that this game is not completely free. You can play several levels for free, but as things start to ramp up, you have to pay $0.99 through an in-app purchase to unlock the whole game along with Free Play.
I think Quento is definitely worth your consideration if you’re a fan of math, or just like a good brain-teaser from time to time.
That it for this week. Check back next time for more apps, or let me know if you want to see anything in particular in the Roundup.