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Google Play App Roundup: Google News and Weather, Back to Bed, and Month

By Ryan Whitwam

News, bed, and calendars.

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.

This week Google finally updates one of its old apps, you go back to bed, and calendars get pretty.

Google News and Weather

Google included a neat news and weather widget in stock Android back in the Froyo days. This widget has continued to exist over the years, but never saw an update--until now. The News and Weather Widget had been updated and added to the Play Store for most devices. It's pretty awesome.

This is actually an app and a widget, but the app portion has been expanded quite a bit with this update. It used to do almost nothing. You've got two choices for widgets. One is a simple 3x1 widget that can be set to display weather, news, or both. This one isn't resizable, though. That makes it a little hard to fit into your homescreen layout.

The other widget is 2x2, but that's just the default size. It can be changed and the content will be reorganized dynamically. Weather is up at the top and there's a scrollable list of news stories below. Tapping on any of the headlines sends you straight to the browser, but the weather boots you to the full News and Weather app.

You won't get as much weather data in this app as you would in a dedicated app. Expanding the weather section at the top offers weather and precipitation graphs. Each news story has a drop down that shows related headlines as well. The default view is all the top stories, but the slide out navigation menu can be used to change news categories.

I've tested this app on devices like the LG G3 and Nexus 5 and it works the same on both. It's responsive and very modern looking. This is another example of Google bringing its preferred Android experience to more devices. The app works well, but I'd say the reason to use it is the cool widgets. It's free, so check it out.

Back to Bed

Bob is an unfortunate fellow. He suffers from narcolepsy and sleepwalking, which is one of the worst combinations of disorders you can have. Lucky for Bob his subconscious is looking out for him. You take on the role of Bob's subconscious (known as Subob) to keep him from falling off the edge of something tall in the new game Back to Bed.

Back to Bed is a 2.5D puzzle game that makes use of perspective in a sort of M.C Escher way. There are walkways that take you to unexpected places based on the way the 3D structures are flattened. If you've played Monument Valley, this is a similar deal. It doesn't make as much use of perspective as that game, but this is still a rather distinct game style.

Bob starts each level strolling across the screen, but he's going to plummet over the edge if you don't stop him. You do this by guiding Subob over to a huge apple, pick it up, and drop it in Bob's path. He always turns clockwise when he encounters an apple, and you have to use this to get Bob into the bed someplace in the level. If he falls off the edge, he'll drop back down in the starting location so you can try again.

The first few levels are pretty easy and give you a chance to get familiar with the game. The difficulty ramps up slowly with multiple apples and sometimes not enough of them. At times like that, you have to move the apples around after Bob bounces off of them. You might wrestle with the controls a bit, but they're certainly usable. Just drag in the direction you want Subob to go and tap to pick up and drop the apples.

The visual style is one of the reasons to check out Back to Bed. The cool perspective is part of it, but the textures and layout of the levels are neat as well. The game feels very surreal and cohesive from one level to the next without getting too repetitive. It might have ended up a bit repetitive if it had been longer, but there's only a few hours of gameplay in Back to Bed.

Despite the short length, I think this is a fun game that's worth buying. It might be a little expensive at $4, but you could wait on a sale if you're on the fence.

Month: The Calendar Widget

This app has a rather descriptive name, doesn't it? It tells you pretty much everything you need to know about the concept. Month: The Calendar Widget displays a full month view of your calendar with a ton of skins and layout options, and you can try it for free.

Month comes with a single entry in your widget list that's 4x4. If that sounds limiting, prepare to be pleasantly surprised. After you place the widget on your home screen, you can change the size to be as small as 4x1 or anything bigger if you're on a device with a larger grid. If you shrink it down to a single line, the calendar view will default to a single week on most skins.

Speaking of the skins, there are a fair number of them and they look awesome. There are clean single color options, some Material Design looks, and Google Now-ish styles. In addition to all the free ones, there are packs of additional skins in categories like minimal and colorful. There's also a full unlock currently on sale for $1.99, but that's just for the launch. It'll be more expensive later.

When you have the Month widget on your home screen, tapping on a day brings up a cool card-based list on top of everything with all your appointments. This interface can also be swiped side to side to access different days. Tapping on the month at the top of the widget opens a full-screen year calendar so you can jump around.

Keep in mind Month isn't an agenda-style widget--there are a ton of those in the Play Store, but very few full month widgets. It's not a style that will appeal to everyone, but if you can devote a full home screen panel to this widget, it's awesome. I would like to have an option to show the full event names on the calendar, but the developer says there are some skins on the way that will support that.