We care about your phone almost as much as you do, so we're here every week with more apps and games to make it better. This is the Google Play App Roundup, which is where we tell you about all the best new stuff on Android. Just click the links to head right to Google Play.
There are various third-party Android launchers than can make your device more configurable and "Pixel-y." The most popular options are Action Launcher and Nova Launcher, but those both have paid upgrades that are needed to unlock all the features. The new Lawnchair Launcher doesn't have quite the same feature set, but it's respectable and costs nothing.
After installing Lawnchair Launcher, you'll get a home screen that looks a whole lot like the Pixel Launcher. That's possible with other launchers, but you need to do some configuration. This is already done for you with Lawnchair. The app drawer is accessed via a swipe-up, there are launcher shortcuts, and you can even get the Google Feed on the left of your main panel. Note: that requires you install a separate app from the launcher developer, which isn't listed in the Play Store. It's the same setup Nova and Action Launcher use.
Lawnchair Launcher includes plenty of tweaks for your icons, which is table stakes for Android launchers these days. You can toggle labels, change the size, and apply an icon pack in the settings. You can also add a dedicated Assistant button to the search bar, which is neat. Don't want the search bar? You can just get rid of it. There are also some ways to adjust the dock, but it mostly stick to Pixel styling.
You get some basic theme settings in Lawnchair Launcher, but this is one of the weaker aspects of the app compared to more mature options—just light, dark, and black themes. However, you can pick and choose which parts of the launcher get the theme applied. So, you can get the handsome dark search bar without making the rest of the UI dark-themed.
There's not a ton of custom stuff running behind the scenes of Lawnchair Launcher, so there's not much opportunity for things to get janky and buggy. It's a mostly stock launcher, and it runs like one. That is to say, performance is great. Sometimes I forget I'm not using the real Pixel Launcher. There's just enough customization that it'll satiate a good number of Android users, and it's free.
Since you just got a peek at Lawnchair Launcher, how about something else to make your phone more Pixel-y? Well, it just so happens there's a new widget that does a very good impression of Google's new Pixel 2 widget. It has a few more settings that Google's version, though.
On the Pixel 2, this widget is called "At a Glance," and it shows the date and weather most of the time. However, it can also offer up additional bits of data from your account as needed. This contextual angle is replicated in Another Widget on the Play Store, plus you get more theme options.
To use Another Widget, just add it to your home screen like… well, like another widget. After you grant it access to your calendar and location, it can show you the weather and any upcoming calendar appointments. Without anything imminent on your calendar, the widget shows the date.
There are some theming options in Another Widget that aren't available in At a Glance. You can change the text color and size, but that's all. The calendar feature has more settings, including filtering and how far in advance you want events to appear on the widget. Weather too includes a handful of settings to adjust the unit of measure and refresh frequency.
With the widget on your home screen, it behaves mostly like Google's At a Glance. You can tap on the weather area to open the Google Weather search page, which is styled to look and act like an app. Tapping the date opens your calendar, and if you've got an event, the tap opens that specific event in your calendar app.
It's not the most feature-rich widget, but it gets the job done and looks good. Oh, it's free, too.
Dragon Hills 2 doesn't just include dragons and hills. There are also zombies, spaceships, and more. Why does it have all these things? Honestly, that's not really clear, and I doubt the developers have a rationale. The point is, you have to save humanity from the undead by riding your mechanical dragon across and through the landscape.
This is a side-scrolling action game that can be played with a single touch. The mechanical dragon with your character riding will move continuously from left to right across the screen. All you have to do is press when you want to dive down underground and release when you want to shoot upward. Easy, right?
You can't just dive and leap into the air at any time. While the robo-dragon doesn't need air, the rider certainly does. Thus, you cannot remain underground too long. You can't always jump upward when you might like, though. There are are some obstacles on the surface like pools of toxic green sludge. That might be somehow related to the zombies, which are also green. Whatever the connection, you want to avoid that. There are also zombies with weapons that want to do you harm. With the right timing, you can knock the zombies into next week, which helps your character level up over time.
Your dragon starts with very basic skills, but you can improve its performance by spending coins. You'll find these scattered all over the levels, so just a few runs and you'll be able to make the dragon faster and stronger. There are special power ups to unlock as well. For example, you can find your own weapons in the game that help take out zombies even if you can't quite clobber them with the dragon.
There are currently 21 levels in the game, each of which includes a boss battle at the end. These are spread across several different worlds, and the exact layout of the level is different each time you play. That's good seeing as it'll definitely take you a few tries to beat each one. While this is a free-to-play game, there's only the one currency, and the maximum in-app purchase is under $20. It's not an unbalanced mess like a lot of games.
Visually, Dragon Hills 2 has a fun, cartoony vibe. These are quirky zombies, not scary ones. There are lots of bright colors, and the animations are smooth. The physics engine seems on-point as well. Objects bounce around and have real consequences. For example, if you blow up a gas station, the debris might fly through the air and kill a zombie a few screens away. The dragon rider also has some fun ragdoll physics going on. There are no performance issues on the devices I've used to test.
Dragon Hills 2 is a solid casual game, and you can enjoy it just fine without paying. Note, there are some video ads, but they don't pop up that often.