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.
You probably already use your phone to make reminders, but how often are those reminders related to sending a message? Ask someone about something or wish that guy a happy whatever—you know the drill. Scheduled is an app that takes the middleman out and lets you schedule messages for the future.
Scheduled works with a wide variety of messaging apps and services like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Telegram. There's also support for good old-fashioned SMS. In fact, SMS is the most powerful option in Scheduled. When setting up an SMS, you can choose to have the app send the message automatically when you configure it.
To set up a message, simply pick a contact, date, time, and repetition. Toggle on the auto-send feature if you're sending an SMS and you want to speed things along. The app fires off a notification at the appointed hour, allowing you to quickly open up the message details. A tap on the send button brings up menu of supported apps. Tap the one you want to use, and the message is dropped in.
Again, SMS is the coolest part of the app as Scheduled can simply act as the SMS sender. That's a single tap to send, or no taps if you choose to send automatically. You can schedule as many messages as you want in the app, and there's even an option to sync the birthdays in your calendar for easy messaging of happy birthday wishes.
The basic functionality is free, but you might be wondering why the app's reviews in the Play Store are a bit mixed. Well, people aren't jazzed about the payment model. The app has some ads, and the auto-sending feature is locked unless you pay. Oddly, the developer has opted for a subscription model. It's $0.99 per month for the premium features. A lot of people will probably steer clear for that reason, but if you use this app frequently, I can see the $12 annual cost making some sense.
Hexa Turn is a deceptively challenging puzzler about shaped. Some shapes are good, and other shapes are bad. Your goal is to use hexagons to protect the squares from triangles. Why? Triangles are bad. Duh.
Hexa Turn starts off slow with a single square and a single triangle. You're basically taking turns with the triangle—it moves one space on the board, and then you can fill in one of the hexagonal spaces to make it impassable. You need to either wall off the triangle or build a wall around the square one turn at a time to win.
The first few stages are simple almost to the point of being boring. It's a bit of a slow start, but the difficulty ramps up dramatically after about ten levels. You'll be faced with multiple squares to protect, as well as multiple triangles. Many levels also offer you a limited supply of double turns, allowing you to place two hexagon blocks at once. Later, more power-ups like "freeze" and "distraction" will enter your arsenal. Still, the location of your moves must be precisely planned. The triangles will always take the shortest route to a square, so you need to make sure to herd them where they can be controlled.
There are 96 levels in Hexa Turn, all with the same muted grayscale colors. It's a clean and efficient design, but I think some unlockable alternative themes might be nice. The quality of the puzzles is absolutely top-notch. They're varied and challenging, but not impossible to figure out.
There's a button at the bottom of the screen to undo a move, and you can completely reset the puzzle at any time. I appreciate very much the developers didn't implement any lame lives or paid bonus mechanics for these basic features. There is the option to get an extra move by watching an ad, but all the puzzles are designed to be solved without that. There's just a single $1.99 in-app purchase to remove the (not too annoying) ads.
It's hard to get fighting games right on mobile devices, but the new Skullgirls gets as close as any fighting title I've seen. This game takes the various mechanics of fighting games, and brings in a system of basic taps and swipes to make the gameplay more accessible. It might be a little too simple at times, but Skullgirls is a solid, fast-paced fighting experience on Android.
There's a story mode with a real story—it's about a character called Skillgirl (shocker) who is out to destroy the world. You have to stop her. I didn't find the story terribly compelling, but I like that there's a ton of single-player content. In each fight, you have between one and three enemies to fight using a similar number of your own fighters. You can swap between them based on the element type, which offers combat bonuses.
The controls are all explained in a quick tutorial at the beginning of the game. A regular attack is just a tap. You can also swipe forward and back to lunge attack or retreat. Pressing and holding with two fingers is a block, and swiping down with two fingers is a grapple. I won't bore you with the rest of the controls, but it's all pretty straightforward. The controls work well. The game feels responsive to your actions, and your strategic choices do determine how well you do.
Special moves are a big deal in Skullgirls. You can equip several moves for each fighter, and they can be upgraded independently from the character. If you unlock a better compatible fighter, you can just swap in the special attack. Each fighter has an energy level that is depleted when you lose matches. If you lose too many times in a row, the fighter has to recharge before you can go again. I don't love this mechanic, but it's not the worst version of lives or energy I've seen.
My favorite thing about Skullgirls is the artwork and design. This game just oozes style—the character design is fantastic, and I love the 2D hand-drawn style. Each character has unique animations, and every special attack is new and different. There are characters with giant arm hats, some that appear to be made out of orchestral equipment, and others that look like perverted 30s cartoons. It's all so fun and imaginative.
Skullgirls is a free-to-play game, so there's a fair bit of grinding if you want to avoid dropping any cash. Completing boss battles grants you a few "relics" that unlock new characters and moves, but a few bucks gets you much more. I'm not saying you should spend $5 on the starter pack, but it does seem like a good deal.