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.
In the age of the internet, grammar has taken a backseat to memes and emoji. Let's bring it back. GrammarPal can help. This app scans the text you write on your device, looking for more than simple misspellings. It offers corrections to your grammar in a handy popup window. I could point out the irony of a grammar app having a CammelCase name, but let's just move one.
You have to go through a few steps to set up and use GrammarPal, but it does a good job of walking you through the process. When enabled, GrammarPal shows up as a floating button next to your text input field. You can safely ignore it if you're just typing a few words that don't need to be checked, though it's bright green and there's no option for transparency. It kind of sticks out. At least you can move it around, and GrammarPal will remember that position for each app.
After you type something out, tap the GrammarPal button and it'll scan your text. It does spell checking, but your phone probably does that too. The value here is that it uses the context of your sentences to figure out if you made any typos that are technically correctly spelled words. For example, using "to" when you meant "too." The GrammarPal icon will indicate the number of detected problems after scanning. Tap it again to open the editing panel at the bottom of the screen.
The expanded GrammarPal interface shows you the text with color coded highlights for the various issues. Misspellings are red, style issues are blue, and all others are yellow. Tap on any of the highlights to get a suggestion of what to change. The buttons at the top allow you to copy the new text or automatically replace the old text. You can also just close this panel without changing anything. Unrecognized words can be added to the GrammarPal dictionary too.
I've found GrammarPal's corrections to be right most of the time, and it does catch things that normal spell checking misses. It could be useful, depending on how concerned you are with using proper grammar in text messages and Facebook posts. The app is free and has no ads. There's a $1.99 in-app purchase that adds a few new features like dictionary backups and layout customization.
Cosmic Express is a game about railroads, but not just any railroads. These are railroads in space, and it's not easy to build them. That's the goal of this slick puzzler. Build the railroads so everyone gets where they're going. That seems easy at first, but it gets complicated quickly.
Your goal in each level Cosmic Express is to deliver the aliens to their destinations and arrive at the exit. That means you need to draw out a path for the space locomotive to take that hits all the right stops. The aliens are color-coded with their destination, so you have to includes picking up the right passenger before arriving at its corresponding destination. Picking up and dropping off simply requires your passenger pod to be within one square of the alien or drop-off point. There are usually multiple aliens and possible destinations, so there's a lot of trial and error involved to make sure all the loose ends are tied up.
The way you create tracks is very intuitive. Simply tap and drag to lay down blocks of track for your train to follow. If you want to delete segments, slide back the way you came. You can test the track by hitting the play button. If your track isn't right, the train will stop wherever it runs out of options. Often that will be at the exit, which isn't activated until all the aliens are at their destinations. The animation can be aborted at any time, but if you solve the puzzle, it ends with you chugging off toward the next level.
Each zone in Cosmic Express has a different game mechanic to set it apart. For example, one area of the game includes a train with two seats instead of one. Another has special green aliens that will contaminate your passenger pod so that no other aliens will use it after them. That's not very nice, but it adds a new level of challenge to the game. The different zones also have varying color schemes done in the same cute pastel style.
Cosmic Express is $4.99 in the Play Store, but that's all you pay. There are no in-app purchase for hints or power-ups. It's just good old-fashioned puzzling goodness.
How many dangers are "too many?" You're about to find out in Too Many Dangers, a new game from Ketchapp. You may know that account as a purveyor of casual games, and Too Many Dangers is certainly that. It's also free-to-play, but it's not annoying about it.
In Too Many Dangers, you have to run away from dangers. It's an endless runner sort of title, but it usually ends pretty quickly. Why? It's right in the name—all the dangers. Most of the dangers come in the form of dinosaurs, which seems a little odd at first glance. The premise of the game is, apparently, that you've been abducted by aliens and transported back in time. Happens all the time, right?
There's a bit more going on here than your average endless runner. There are two tracks to run down. You can tap the left side of the screen to switch between them. Tapping on the right side jumps, and a second tap double jumps. A large carnivorous dinosaur of some sort chases you, so that's something to be wary of. There are also ample dangers ahead of you. Running into an obstacle will instantly end your run, but there are many smaller obstacles that you can trip over. Those slow you down and bring you closer to being chomped by your pursuer.
The early part of the game (which is all randomly generated each run) is mostly prehistoric. However, things get increasingly crazy the further you get. Your alien abductors will show up sometimes, as will giant spiders, meteor showers, and much more. There is a lot going on here, but the simple, clean graphics make it feasible to keep track of everything.
As for the upsell, there are no lives or energy points to worry about. You can keep playing as long as you want. The coins you pick up while playing can be used to unlock more characters and skills, but it goes much faster if you spend a few bucks. There are also different runners to unlock, some of which have special abilities to help you along. Too Many Dangers is enjoyable enough that you might want to put a few bucks into it.