Your phone or tablet might be cool, but it could be a lot cooler with the right apps. So what? Spend like mad until you find the apps that suit your needs? Nah, just read the weekly Google Play App Roundup here on Tested. We strive to bring you the best new, and newly updated apps on Android. Just click the app name to head to the Play Store.
This week you can chat about apps with other people, defuse bombs, and battle dots.
You've probably got at least a few apps installed on your phone, and so do a lot of other people. If only there was an easy way to connect with people who use the same apps. Hey, that's a thing now that AppChat is available. This app is still very new and basic, but you can get it from Google Play and instantly start chatting up people who use the same apps as you.
AppChat basically hosts a live chat room for each app and game it detects on users' devices. You can open AppChat to browse your installed apps and the associated chat rooms. The app lists how many registered users have each one installed, and how many new messages have been posted since the last time you looked.
You can also access the chat room for an app by dragging up from the bottom right corner of the screen in any app. This displays a shortcut button to jump right into the AppChat room for that app or game. Edge gestures tend to be somewhat wonky on Android, but this one doesn't seem to get in the way too much.
So maybe you're wondering why you'd want this. Let's say you've got a calendar app on your phone that you're quite fond of. There's an update, and something seems broken. Rather than digging blindly through Google results to see if it's something others are seeing, you can just ask in the chat room. You could also chat about features you might not know about or get tips in a game.
AppChat is light on features right now, but you can mention users, delete your own messages, and share links/screenshots. AppChat will actually detect which app a screenshot was taken in and offer to share it to the right room, which is neat. The account system is a little too rudimentary right now. Once you set a username, you can't uninstall the app and then use the same name again later. There's really no account system -- you pick a name, and if it's used (even by you in a previous install), that's it. The app also doesn't offer any control over notifications. You can either disable them at the system level, or see notifications every time there are new posts in a chatroom you've been active in.
This app is completely free, and I feel like it's got real potential. You should check it out and see what wisdom you can gleen from your fellow app users. And yes, there's an AppChat room. It's so meta.
Defusing a bomb is probably a lot more complicated than it seems in Wire Defuser, but this game is planety challenging. On the upside, you don't actually get blown up when you cut the wrong wire. And you will make many, many grievous errors playing this game.
You can probably guess from the name what the goal of Wire Defuser is. It's a sort of times puzzle experience with a healthy dose of manual dexterity thrown in. In each level, your phone or tablet becomes a dashboard of switches, buttons, and dials, all of which need to be manipulated at the right time and in the right order to avoid an unpleasant result.
The game does a good job of easing you into the more difficult puzzles. It introduces new mechanisms slowly, and gives you a little time to get used to how they work before they become just another element of a deviously complex bomb. You have to play through the first set of levels to really get a feel for how interesting this game can be. At first it's just one button or switch after another -- hold this one for two seconds, then flip the switch. Easy. They you start seeing more than one button, each of which needs to be held for different lengths of time while you're also flipping switches or spinning a dial at the proper time.
The graphics in Wire Defuser do what they need to do, but it's not really a game that needs to have mega-high resolution textures and 3D lighting effects. It renders the somewhat quirky panels of esoteric buttons and switches nicely, and the UI is responsive -- it really has to be when you consider the nature of the gameplay.
This is a free-to-play game, but that's nothing to worry about. There are occasional ads that pop up, but making an in-app purchase will get rid of them forever. The IAPs themselves are for wirecutters that will remove one of the elements from a puzzle, thus making it easier. You don't have to buy any of these if you don't want to, and the most expensive purchases are only a little over ten bucks. So this isn't a game that's trying to push $100 IAPs on you.
Battledots is one of those rare games that manages to be both fast-paced and ruthlessly strategic. Your game board consists of five lanes that stretch across the screen, and all you need to do is defency the blue side from the red dots. The problem, however, is that there are a lot of red dots and you have only one puny human brain to keep track of it all.
Your goal in Battledots is to drain the red side's energy by sending blue dots all the way across the board. At the same time, you need to account for where the enemy is sending dots, and make sure you counter as needed. You can pick the dot type you want to send by tapping on it at the bottom of the screen. Then simply release it on whichever line you want.
When two dots collide, they obliterate each other. Well, most of the time. There are special dots like the shield that can take several hits before blinking out. Others, like the hourglass can stop freeze all enemy dots on a line for a few seconds or do something else nifty.
The numbers at the bottom of each end of the game board tells you how much energy you and the enemy have. If either of those reach zero, it's game over. A single dot hitting the enemy spawning point will drain a single point from the energy. Battles are extremely fast, even with a lot of energy at the start. Every now and then a battle will be fought for a few minutes as dots obliterate each other in the middle, but it's usually only a minute or two before the momentum swings one way or the other.
In the early stages you can just blast your opponent with wave after wave of dots, but the difficulty ratchets upward the longer you play. In the middle of your dot armory at the bottom of the screen is a number that constantly counts upward. This is how many points you have to spend on dots. Each one has a different value, so you need to make sure you aren't blowing through all your ammo at the wrong time. Maybe you unleash a bunch of high value dots and gain a few points with little resistance, but it's smarter to do that when you can also defend yourself from heavy enemy attacks.
Battledots comes with a lengthy single-play mode, but there's also cross-platform multiplayer too. If you have a real life friend who wants to play, you can also have a battle on a single device. That's a rare feature in games, but much appreciated. Battledots is only a buck, but it's a ton of fun.