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

By Ryan Whitwam

Magic jazz alarm.

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.

YOSUL

Developer 111% has been a fixture in the roundup lately because every time you turn around, it's released another game. The games often mix and match similar elements, but the gameplay is there, and the in-app purchase setup is totally reasonable. The latest title is called YOSUL, which is essentially the love-child of Tetris and Space Invaders.

Your goal in YOSUL is to keep the monsters from reaching the bottom of the screen. It's turn-based, so each turn you get to cast one spell, then the monsters move down one row on the grid. The twist is that there's one monster to a square, and your spells come in various familiar shapes. Yeah, a lot of them are Tetris blocks.

For each turn, three random spells from your arsenal will appear at the bottom of the screen. Just drag the one you want to use up and place it on the grid where it will do the most good. You can upgrade the damage of your spells with gold earned from playing, so it's often about choosing the right spell at the right time. If even one monster makes it off the bottom of the board, you fail that level and have to try again.

YOSUL is a puzzle game in some ways, and the turn-based nature means you can play it as fast or slow as you like. That's a good quality in a mobile game as it doesn't require your undivided attention. It's also quick; each level takes about a minute to play (or less if you are overwhelmed early).

There's only one currency in YOSUL, which makes the IAPs pretty inoffensive. You can pay to get rid of the occasional popup ads, or pay a few bucks for unique spells. Alternatively, the gold you earn from playing unlocks new spells with random patterns. It's a bit of a gamble, though. Sometimes you end up with a pretty useless spell. Other times you get a unique that covers a huge number of squares.

YOSUL is completely free, and it's not annoying to play if you choose not to spend anything. So, give it a shot.

Jazz Smash

It's hard to really explain this one. Not the game—that's simple. It's hard to explain exactly why it grabs you so strongly. It's essentially a rhythm game, and there have been a lot of those. Still, toss in a catchy soundtrack and you've got something I can't put down.

All you need to do in Jazz Smash is tap the screen at the right moment to swing your floating bad and smash the objects flying at you. The action is dictated by the music, which is an essential part of the game. Seriously, turn your volume up. If you get into a groove, it's easier to swing at the right time.

The targets start coming faster and in more complicated patterns the further you get. Each "section" of the song requires one more smash to move on to the next one. So, you need to hit 10 objects to beat the 10th level, 11 to beat the 11th, and so on. There's a counter at the top that shows you how many you have left to go, but you can't risk more than a quick glance. When you miss an object, you have to start that section again. The pattern will be different each time, too.

The objects you smash get more varied—for each level you beat, a new smashable thing is added to the random assortment. There are teapots, cowbells, tubas, baseballs (fitting), fish, potted plants, and so on. Each one makes a different sound when you smack it with the bat, thus giving the song a different feel.

A big part of Jazz Smash is just the catchy nature of the song. There's a neat little drum bridge between each section, which signifies you've beaten another level. The bat even does a little dance to celebrate. The graphics aren't anything special, but they're clean and it's obvious at a glance what all the objects flying at you are.

Jazz Smash is free with ads that pop up, but not while you're playing. A $0.99 in-app purchase gets rid of the ads forever.